Meet Abel Frederic, our new Vice President of Community Impact

What are you observing at United Way after three weeks here?
We are creating a very new culture that is … “good” doesn’t even describe it. It’s a phenomenal thing.

What would your definition of that culture be if and when we achieve it?
A place that, no matter how tired you are, you show up excited to come to work.

What types of things contribute to a good culture?
The ability to have an honest conversation with someone, and everyone leaves that conversation feeling respected. The sense that everyone in the office genuinely cares about you, and a culture where everyone is quick to ask you, ‘How can I help?’

What drew you to a career in nonprofit?
That’s all I have known for my entire professional career. I have a passion for helping people. When I was in college, I started a toy drive because I believed it was wrong for a kid not to have a toy on Christmas. The toy drive started really small, but by the end of my senior year, we were providing 180 families in one county with a Christmas. We had it to where each family got a trash bag for each kid, and they could fill it up with toys. When parents were ‘shopping’ for kids, we threw a Christmas party in an adjacent room for the kids to enjoy. …. At that point in my life, I was like, ‘This is what I want to do forever.’ I wanted to make sure people who didn’t have what they needed ended up in the right spot. That’s what I’ve used my education for.

What is your impression of Wichita?
This is starting to become a very inclusive city. One thing I really like that I see, and I have traveled a lot in my previous roles, is it seems like there is a sense here that I don’t have to agree with you or be on the same page as you, but I’ll respect you. The community is very passionate about making sure its people are in the right places and doing the right things. That’s exciting to live in a city like that.

What attracted you to this opportunity?
All the fun I had at United Way in Topeka. I had the opportunity to be part of some amazing, transformational work in Topeka, some real transformational opportunities. I made friendships that will last a lifetime. When Pete presented me this opportunity, and I heard his vision for what he wanted to do here, I said, ‘We can make this happen.’ I think he’s forward thinking and very passionate about the community. I believe when you combine that with the talent we have on staff and the fact that I am committed to being the hardest worker in the room, I think we are going to do amazing things for this city. I checked United Way of the Plains out on social media and saw a social media post that said #peoplehelpingpeople, and I said, ‘That’s what it’s all about.’

Abel Frederic chats with colleagues on his first day at United Way.

What are your goals for improving the community?
I want the community to understand we are here to help. I want people to understand that we are here to do the best work, that we are going to put a professional face on this United Way, stamp it with a professional standard, with an expectation of excellence, and they are going to receive the best services. I want this community to understand that we are committed and disciplined enough to always pursue the best possible outcomes for this community, whether that is through funding a program, partnering with different organizations around town to raise awareness for a need in the community, or growing some of the services we provide, such as 2-1-1, the GIV warehouse or Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library – we are looking for the best outcomes. We are committed to that.

What is the biggest challenge our United Way is facing now?
Not enough people know United Way’s story. This is an organization going on 100 years of history in our community, and we are still looked at as a pass-through organization. So we really have to change the narrative. This is not your grandmother’s United Way.

What would you say makes United Way more than pass-through organization (a place someone donates dollars to, and we donate them on to other nonprofits)?
We strive to be subject-matter experts in our areas when it comes to addressing what is facing the community. It doesn’t necessarily mean our health impact manager is akin to the U.S. Secretary of Health, but we are curious; we are constantly asking questions, constantly building relationships, constantly looking for the best data in addressing the needs the community has … We are committed to partnering with organizations that really want to advance the community.

What about your background has prepared you for this role?
I understand the needs of different people. I went from a community-based fundraising organization, to a health-care organization, to an education-based organization, to a niche nonprofit … in this role, we are talking about education, income and health. I have seen them all. I have raised funds for visually impaired persons to be able to do their jobs, for first-generation college students to live out their dreams to become educated professionals. I have also raised money for a healthcare center to provide cancer center services. I have a deep understanding of our pillars, how they are connected, and the ‘wrap-around’ services that our community needs. I have done the work. Hopefully my staff is able to lean on me a little bit. I am looking forward to seeing how they develop each of their impact areas and how they develop as professionals.

What do you want the community to know about your family?
My wife is a lot smarter than me, which is why I married her. We are kind of an old-fashioned couple. I am the head of the household, but my wife is the neck that turns the head. She is great at helping me listen. She is really good at coaching me into seeing another person’s point of view. She’s taught me it’s not always about me. I think because I have the privilege of being married to her, the community of Wichita is getting a better impact leader than Topeka got. She’s a great person, and I know she’s going to be a fantastic mother when our son is born in July.

Tell us about one of your hobbies.
I have been training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 12 years … It has become a lifestyle. I started training while in law school. After graduating from college I got out of shape because I wasn’t playing football anymore. I wrestled in high school, and I kept hearing on UFC this guy is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, or they were wrestlers – they were all in great shape. While in law school I found a place to train MMA. I walked in, and I got my rear kicked, but I stuck with it and started learning, and recently I earned my brown belt Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The next step is a black belt. … I am not chasing a belt. I am chasing being more competent, a better fighter, a better teacher, and No. 1, being a good teammate.


Published On: July 14, 2021Tags:


Our focus is on healtheducationfinancial stability and basic needs—the building blocks for a good quality of life and a strong community. Click below to learn more about what we’re doing, the programs we invest in and our lasting impact in each area.