Tocqueville Member Spotlight: Penni McLean Conner and Nick Conner

We were so pleased in July to have Penni Conner take over the helm as United Way of Mass Bay Board Chair.  Penni is the Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President of Customer Group for Eversource Energy, which has been a loyal and generous United Way partner for many years.   Penni’s leadership in particular has led to immediate and profound impact in our community.

Penni’s passion doesn’t end with corporate support.  From early in her career, Penni, her husband Nick and their sons McLean and Tyler have given time and resources to United Way. The Conners are loyal Tocqueville donors, and McLean participated in the Youth Review for United Way’s Venture Fund last spring with other children from Tocqueville families.

The Conners’ commitment to philanthropy and volunteerism as a family has a long history.  They have participated in the Eversource Walk for Children’s Hospital for more than ten years. McLean and Nick are pre-adaptive winter sports coaches, and support people with disabilities enjoying snowboarding and skiing through their work with New England Disabled Sports.  Tyler and McLean have our regular fundraisers for their town’s food bank, Toys for Tots, and animal shelter. The Conner family has served as a host family for visiting Chinese students. And most recently, Penni and McLean shared their family’s volunteer experiences at the Tocqueville Celebration, an aspiration and priority many Tocqueville families share.

We asked Penni to share a bit more about her history with philanthropy and how she views the role of a company like Eversource in helping make our communities stronger.

Penni, can you tell us about the history of your relationship with United Way?

I have been contributing to United Way now for over 30 years. I started contributing with the employee campaign at Duke Power in the late 1980’s.  Back then and even more so today, United Way is a part of the fabric of a thriving community. 

At Eversource we deliver the gas and electric that powers our communities.  And we are mindful that power is a basic need for our customers and communities.  United Way has always maintained a laser focus on supporting community basic needs.  Working together with United Way, we can have a positive impact on providing resources to help bridge the gap for those basic needs. 

How have you been impacted by volunteering and giving to United Way? 

Our most recent work with the Youth Review for the Venture Fund is a great example and was a family experience.  McLean led our entire family in a review of the 8 innovative approaches to complex community issues. This exercise provided us with a better understanding of challenges facing families and left us inspired by the creativity and holistic approaches to these challenges.  It reminded us of the vital role United Way plays in ‘uniting’ people and organizations together to address and solve complex human challenges facing our communities every day. No single organization can solve issues of ensuring healthy, local food options in schools; supporting children of incarcerated parents with a comprehensive approach, or targeted skill-based training to underemployed workers where English is not their first language. Our family is proud to support United Way both by giving of our time and our resources.

What does being a Tocqueville Society member mean to you? 

Both Nick and I are honored to be Tocqueville members.  We are inspired by the passion and commitment these folks have for their community, and their generous desire to share their knowledge and resources.  We particularly enjoy the Tocqueville gatherings, where we hear updates on the work of United Way, and network with each other about how we can personally have a greater impact in our communities. 

What are your big picture goals for your chairmanship of the Board of Directors?

From my perspective, this is a pivotal time for United Way of Mass Bay.  My goals are to:

  • Enhance United Way of Mass Bay’s impact in our community by strengthening the partnerships with our community organizations.
  • Ensure a successful CEO transition by celebrating Mike’s tremendous accomplishments, and working with our amazing board of directors to select and on-board our new CEO next summer.
  • Engage volunteers and donors with valued community initiatives and transition to new digital giving platform (Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud).

Thank you.  We’re excited to see what the next two years will bring!