Renee Moe, Class of 2004

IB is celebrating 20 years of the 40 Under 40 in 2020, and will be catching up with past recipients to see what they’ve been up to since they were honored. This week features Renee Moe, president and CEO, United Way of Dane County.
Watn–renee Moe (primary) Headsot

What have you accomplished in your professional life/career since your 40 Under 40 selection?

I was named president and CEO of United Way of Dane County in 2016. With our strong board, partners, and staff team, we have raised $260 million from our generous community, mobilized 6 million volunteer hours from 222,630 volunteers, and reduced acute family homelessness by 50%. We have also increased graduation rates from 87.8% to 90.8%, reduced the return-to-prison rate from 66% to 19%, and positioned 2-1-1 as a community hub, responding to local disasters, referring to addiction, trafficking, and flu resources, and maintaining the most comprehensive health and human service database for people to give and get help. Charity Navigator recognizes United Way of Dane County in the top 3% of U.S. charities for strong governance, best practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities, and consistent execution of mission in a fiscally responsible way.

What accomplishments, milestones, or endeavors have you attained in your personal life since your 40 Under 40 selection?

I married Jason Salus and had two kids, Nick (10) and Nora (8). I also earned my MBA from UW–Madison, and I’m on my way to earning a black belt in taekwondo!

If you were to “do it all over again,” what (if anything) would you do differently throughout your career?

I would work to get to objectivity faster. I always try to assume positive intent and I believe in the potential of every person, and that has made me overly optimistic about what could get done in a certain amount of time. I would have learned how to get the right people on the bus — or off the bus — more quickly. That said, I recognize mistakes and experience are invaluable and that ambiguity and disruption need some space to get to big ideas. I treasure every opportunity and mistake to keep getting better as a leader and person.

How did your 40 Under 40 selection help your career?

I remember being deluged with congratulations notes and emails. 40 Under 40 was wonderful recognition and elevated my leadership presence. The best part was great recognition of United Way and how United Way invests in young talent, as well as how we mobilize the business and broader community to make change together. To be recognized by In Business was very positive for our reputation.

What is something that you have a new passion for since the time of your induction — either professionally or personally?

Martial arts. I enrolled my son Nick in martial arts when he was 4 years old and joined him a few months later. Starting out, I felt awkward and embarrassed, but over time I just kept pushing myself to figure it out and now we’re almost black belts. Classes and practice are a chance to hang out with my kid while getting my workout in, learn something completely new, and an experience in humility, curiosity, and growth. It’s all very fun.

Based on your experience, do you have any advice for today’s young professionals (under 40)?

Take as many opportunities as you can to keep learning and connecting the dots. Everyone feels awkward when they’re doing new stuff and if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing. By taking on new challenges and by saying yes to opportunities that arise, you can continue to grow and get better. Remember that everyone has something to teach and learning never stops. And don’t forget to volunteer and invest in our community with financial and intellectual resources!

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