Googled: Michael Durkin ’77

Published: April 2008

Michael K. Durkin ’77 is four months into his term as the new president and CEO for the Massachusetts branch of the country’s largest charity, the United Way. Described by colleagues as “someone who is as comfortable in a homeless shelter as in a corporate boardroom,” Durkin has been with the United Way for 30 years, ever since he joined the nonprofit’s management training program after leaving Boston College with a degree in political science. From there, Durkin crisscrossed the country, working his way up the United Way chain in New Hampshire, Virginia, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia, and eventually as president and CEO of Mile High United Way in Denver.

He demonstrated his ability to work both tactically and strategically in 2004 during one of the Mile High city’s coldest winters. When the shelters were full, he opened United Way’s office to house 60-80 homeless men. At the same time, he partnered with the mayor of Denver to launch a 10-year plan to eliminate homelessness. Forging alliances with other nonprofits and organizations was also a hallmark of Durkin’s strategy as he collaborated with the Denver public schools on after-school programs, and with local nonprofits to raise $1 million to support 1,200 Katrina evacuees displaced in Colorado. Durkin also worked on the national level, cochairing a partnership that aimed to help families become more financially stable, and leads a task force analyzing the effectiveness of United Way in individual communities.

A Syracuse native, Durkin has ties to Massachusetts through his wife (a native of Melrose), and his daughter, a freshman at Boston College. His dedication to service also began here, when he volunteered at the Margaret Fuller House in Cambridge and the Haley House in the South End as an undergraduate. He returns to head the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley “at a time when the organization faces critical challenges,” according to the Boston Globe, “particularly in convincing increasingly sophisticated donors that it should remain a destination for their philanthropic dollars.”

“I’m not taking a job, I’m continuing to fulfill an intense passion that I have about helping people,” said Durkin in a press release. “United Way is a critical piece for how the community as a whole can be successful.”

This feature was posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 and is filed under Research.
Writer: Reeves Wiedeman '08