Jessica Lehnsherr and Kathy Smith spoke about the United Way merger that created United Way of Kaw Valley and what it means for the program’s operation. Lehnherr was the CEO of the Topeka United Way and will now serve as CEO of the newly merged entity. Kathy Smith is in charge of Douglas County Initiatives and is affiliated with the Roger Hill Volunteer Center. The 2022 merger brought together United Way programs in Shawnee, Douglas, Jackson and Jefferson Counties. The merger is expected to create efficiencies by sharing resources. Funds raised in each county will stay in that county. The United Way brings together people, companies and non profits to address such problems as food security, education needs, financial stability, health and racial equity.