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Jaime Saunders

President & CEO, United Way of Greater Rochester

jaime-saunders_general1Years in current role: 3

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?

It’s about relationships. You can have a vision, hire great people, set up processes and procedures, but without people who believe in the work and feel supported, you go nowhere. The adage “change happens at the speed of trust” is a core belief and that fragile and essential ingredient is only built over time. It’s one of the many things I love about Rochester — our relationships and connections to get things done.

What’s been your biggest success?

Aligning incredible people to a common vision — the million little “successes” that turn into something extraordinary. Being able to witness the hard work and contributions of many to bring an idea to fruition — from a big event to a historical milestone to the culmination of tens of thousands of individuals contributing to help others. Personal standouts for me include opening the Shill Family Building for Willow Center, launching the 100th Anniversary of United Way, and being a part of the tremendous force for good working to help our community in myriad ways to overcome COVID-19.

Who have been the biggest mentors in your career?

There are just too many to list! Those who opened doors, saw something in me before I did, and gave me a chance. I try to pay this forward every opportunity I get. I draw inspiration from historical figures, personal mentors and sponsors, colleagues, family and friends. I am well aware that my career is a result of so many people with whom I was fortunate to cross paths and who took the time to invest in me and share their insights and wisdom. That has been such a gift.

What are your hopes for the Rochester community this year?

2021 will continue to be a challenging time for our community as we work together to overcome COVID-19 and turn to rebuilding for our future. My hope for Rochester is we continue to do what we do best — taking care of each other. That we hold onto the lessons of this time — of working together in new ways, the importance of our individual and collective roles, and the significance of human connection. I also cannot wait to be able to shake hands and hug people again!

What do you do to unplug in your free time?

I am a perpetual student. I spend my free time reading articles and books, devouring TED Talks and during this last year I enrolled in online classes. There is always something to learn and new ways to grow. It is fun for me to challenge my mind. While not “unplugging,” I unwind most nights with a Netflix show. I also enjoy family games where my kids crush me — they make me belly laugh like no one else.

This profile is part of Rochester Business Journal's Power 100 list for 2021. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at rbj.net.

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