“I wasn’t really exposed to philanthropy growing up,” says United Way Board member and Tocqueville Donor Greg Lauze. That all changed when he met his future wife. Greg and Kristen met at Boston College, and it was Kristen who introduced Greg to United Way, through her father, who was Executive Director at The Friends Program, a non-profit organization supported by United Way in Concord NH. “The organization helped kids connect with mentors, which really struck a chord with me.” says Greg.
Over the years, Greg and Kristen’s involvement with United Way has centered on two core beliefs: everyone deserves a home, and all kids should have a chance in life. The natural connection between these values and United Way’s work, coupled with United Way’s local impact in the North Shore community where their family lives, have led to an increasingly deeper commitment over time.
“Part of what drives me is that I don’t think the United Way gets credit for everything they do. In some ways, I like that they don’t seek recognition – but at the same time I think it’s important to get the word out about all the great local organizations that the United Way helps,” says Greg. “The dollars and services United Way provides make an incredible impact on a very local level. You see where your dollars go – I want to continue to improve the work we do, particularly on the North Shore.”
As Co-Chair of the North Shore Regional Advisory Board (RAB), Greg’s work has helped fund services for youth experiencing and at risk of homelessness, food assistance for families in need, out-of-school time programming, and other programs that benefit local families. He has also been a motivating influence for other volunteers. “I have the pleasure of working side-by-side with Greg on the North Shore Regional Advisory Board” says Rodney Sinclair, of the Sinclair Real Estate Group and Greg’s RAB Co-Chair, “His commitment to the United Way mission is evident in everything that he does. He’s been the foundation for our group as we’ve moved to rebuild our board over this past year. His ability to lead has been evident in the successful planning of the annual Drive2Thrive fundraising event. And aside from his ability to get things done, he’s just a really great all-around guy who cares a tremendous amount about the communities we serve. I don’t know where we would be without him.”
Growing up, Greg’s way of making connections was through sports. “I have always been close with my parents, who still are my role models today. However, my parents did not go to college or work in “business professional” careers, so I was unaware of how networks and relationships in business lead to career opportunities. I was very lucky to have played hockey at Boston College which gave me a great network to land my first job” says Greg. So, when Greg and his business partner, Dean Atkins, founded their company NorthBridge Partners in 2014, they set out to create a non-profit organization that seeks to provide first-generation college students with career opportunities. Greg and Dean established the non-profit Coffee Connectors (managed in partnership with Inversant), which helps bridge the opportunity gap for first-generation college students/graduates who grew up in underprivileged neighborhoods.
Through the years, the Lauzes have seen the impact of their philanthropy first-hand, and now they’re looking forward to introducing their children to volunteering. “We’re just beginning to think about getting started with them,” Greg says of his son and daughter, ages 4 and 6. “We’re really looking forward to the Thanksgiving Project. It’s such a great way to start teaching kids about giving back.”