CEO of United Way KFL&A to step down end-August

Kingston, ON (February 8, 2023) – After serving as the top administrator for 24 years, Bhavana Varma, president and CEO of United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, will be stepping down at the end of August, the agency’s board of directors announced today.

Under Bhavana’s leadership, the United Way of KFL&A became known for its record annual fundraising campaigns, which involved wide community and workplace participation. The agency has been ranked among the top 100 Canadian charities for the past four consecutive years by Charity Intelligence Canada, a registered charity that assesses over 750 Canadian charitable organizations.

Bhavana was also personally recognized with numerous national and civic awards, including the George Hart Award from United Way Centraide Canada, which is bestowed on a staff member whose commitment, vision, expertise, and leadership have made a unique impact on their United Way and community.

“We are very sorry to see her go,” said board chair Mary Rae. “Bhavana has worked tirelessly for the United Way, and she’s leaving our organization with a very strong foundation on which to build the future.  I thank Bhavana for her leadership, passion and commitment to the community.  She will be missed.” The board has begun a search to find her successor.

Bhavana, who worked for the St. Catharines & District United Way for eight years before accepting the top Kingston job, said it’s been an honour to serve as head of United Way of KFL&A. “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such amazing board members, volunteers, staff, agencies and partners for 24 years in this wonderful region. The board and I will continue to work together to ensure a smooth transition into the fall.”

Bhavana is a recipient of both the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. She has also received numerous local awards, including the Jim Bennett Achievement Award from Queen’s University, the Legacy Award from the Chamber of Commerce and Kingston Economic Development, and the Kingston & District Labour Council Community Advocacy Award. She was recently named Honourary Colonel with the 77 Line Regiment at CFB Kingston.

The time to leave just feels right, Bhavana said. “We’re coming out of the pandemic with great resilience, helping more people and raising more money than ever. Also, and just as significantly, we have built wonderful working relationships and partnerships geared to understanding our area’s greatest needs, and have invested where we can do the most good.”

The United Way of KFL&A has grown significantly under Bhavana’s leadership. In addition to raising record amounts of money in its annual campaign, the agency has attracted significant new sources of revenue from government and other organizations in support of critical human-service programs in the region. The United Way, with Bhavana in the lead, has helped identify and develop important community initiatives including the plan to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness , the Homelessness Collective Impact Committee and the Social Recovery Taskforce. The most recent achievements developed during the pandemic include the launch in 2022 of the Community Food Redistribution Warehouse, the Portable Outreach Care Hub, the Youth Mental Health Peer Support Program and A Great Start For Families: Kahwà:Tsire Ronwatiyenawá:Se Centre. 


For more information:

Bhavana Varma; President & CEO, United Way of KFL&A can be reached directly at: Cell: (613) 929-4828

Mary Rae; Chair, Board of Directors, United Way of KFL&A can be reached through Mandy Pasch, Email: Cell (613) 876-3088