Volunteer of the Year

Northwestern Medicine
News July 01, 2014
A United Way volunteer for nearly two decades, Sue Lopardo was inspired by her mother to give back to the community.

“She always taught me to think of others before you think of yourself,” says Lopardo, director of Information Services for Northwestern Medicine®.

That guidance helped her earn the Volunteer of the Year award from United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. The award recognizes her work to help increase donations for community-based programs that tackle issues of health, education and economic stability.

Last year, Lopardo volunteered to serve as chairwoman of United Way’s Leadership Giving Committee, helping reach out to individuals who donate money at the organization’s highest level in order to fund programs that assist underserved populations. 

As a member of the committee, Lopardo represents Northwestern Medicine, which runs an annual United Way giving campaign. She also recruited representatives from other Chicago-area companies with robust workplace campaigns to join her on the committee. Together, they developed ways to reach out to leadership-level donors and recognize them for their generosity. For example, the group mails “thank you” notes and is creating a LinkedIn page that highlights individual donors. Under Lopardo’s leadership, giving increased by $300,000. 

"Sue is the perfect advocate for and liaison to our leadership donors,” says Eric Zoberman, relationship manager for Resource Development at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. “She immersed herself in the work and value of United Way and then ran with her charge to increase leadership-level giving for us. We feel very lucky to have her on the team."

Lopardo says even more important than the recognition is the satisfaction she receives from giving back and knowing that her efforts make a difference in people’s lives. Her experiences growing up in Chicago led her to pursue a path of volunteering.

“I saw people drop out of school to provide for their families or become too sick to care for their loved ones,” Lopardo says. “Turning to agencies like the ones United Way supports can be the only hope they have.”

In her 19 years with United Way, Lopardo has been heartened by the organization’s work with neighborhood groups that provide tutoring for students, health resources for families, job interview training for adults and other essential services.

She says she donates her time for the same reasons she gives financially during Northwestern Medicine’s workplace giving campaigns: Many small contributions can add up to significant assistance for those in need.

“I’m deeply touched that I would be recognized with this award,” Lopardo says. “But the real reward is knowing I’m helping others.”