Proud to Welcome Cate Mellen as Resource Development Director
A Carlisle native with more than a decade of experience in nonprofit fundraising recently joined the staff of the United Way of Carlisle & Cumberland County.
Cate Mellen began her new role as Resource Development Director in February and will focus on fundraising, especially through the United Way’s annual campaign, as well as marketing and community relations. Cate spent the last 10 years serving as development director and board liaison at the Carlisle Family YMCA, where she helped lead the $10.7 million building renovation and expansion project alongside now-retired CEO Marcia Drozdowski and volunteer co-chairs Hubert Gilroy and Buz Wolfe.
“In general, fundraising is incredibly rewarding because it allows you to be the conduit for giving back to the community. It’s wonderful and awe-inspiring to witness such generosity. Not only did we raise enough money to build a new Y, to ensure that it’s still serving the community for generations to come, but in my 10 years there I also helped to grow the annual campaign, meaning the Y was able to serve more youth and families in the community, to enable access to services that they wouldn’t otherwise have. I’m proud of that,” Mellen said.
She is excited to get to work with many of the same donors and volunteers she knows from the Y.
“That was sad for me to leave some of those relationships, but here I do get to continue working with many of these same people,” Mellen said. “I’m just excited to grow the United Way annual campaign and hope to bring some innovative ideas on how to reach different audiences that we might not be reaching now … younger donors, especially, are hard to capture. That’s one of my big priorities.”
United Way Executive Director Lucy Zander said that Mellen has a proven track record of success in fundraising and commitment to the community. Mellen also has served on the Carlisle Borough Council since January 2022.
“We are very fortunate to bring someone with Cate’s experience and skills on board,” Zander said. “I am confident she will help us in our mission: To unite people and resources to build a stronger, healthier Carlisle and Cumberland County.”
Mellen is a graduate of both Carlisle High School and Dickinson College. While at Dickinson, and later as a graduate student at both Syracuse and Cornell Universities, she spent two years in England and six years in Italy studying medieval and Renaissance art and history, intending to become a college professor. The Great Recession changed her plans in 2008, and she ended up working as the coordinator of adult programming and community relations at Bosler Memorial Library. There, she said, “I happened to realize that nonprofits are where I should be.”
She believes her time living abroad has helped to inform her work in the nonprofit sector as well as her public service. “Anytime you enter a new community as an outsider, it takes you a while to find your way around, learn the lay of the land, and be accepted by others in the community and not just be viewed as a stranger or as different,” she said. “It helps to give you a greater degree of empathy and understanding toward others who are different, whether that difference is one of location or language or something more fundamental.”
She said she finds Carlisle to be an amazingly close-knit, supportive and generous community.
“If there’s someone in need, the community will band together to find a solution. People care about their neighbors here, and they care about making the community better. That’s a neat thing to be a part of,” she said. “I have lived in many different communities. I think it says something that I came back to this one.”
Individual stories are often the most touching, she said. She recalled working at Bosler and putting on a Movie Night every Thursday, complete with popcorn. One Thursday, she was busy and almost skipped making the popcorn.
“But I made it, and handed it to everyone as they came in. Afterwards, a smiling woman came over to thank me. She said she was 87 years old, she had recently been widowed, and she felt like she had been fading away at home alone. Her daughter encouraged her to come out, and she was just so tickled. She loved everything about it. She loved the movie. She loved the popcorn. She just loved being around people. It was rare at that point for me to feel the individual impact I had on somebody. So that was really rewarding,” Mellen said.
She said nonprofit work affords her the opportunity to help people who need support to get them back on their feet.
“We try to give everyone an equal shot at a fulfilling and happy life,” she said. “I think it’s important that we are able to provide that to everybody who needs it.”
Cate Mellen can be reached at [email protected] or 717-243-4805.
The United Way of Carlisle & Cumberland County funds 35 programs through its 23 partner agencies. For more information, go to www.uwcarlisle.org.