W.L. Gore’s Commitment to UWNA

Janet Leung, who retired from W.L. Gore & Associates in 2013, said one of the defining characteristics of her former workplace is its strong spirit of community.

“Everyone has a sense of ownership, of looking out for each other and the company as well,” she said recently.

That attitude extends to its commitment to the community. W.L. Gore not only encourages its employees to support local nonprofits, it matches their donations dollar-for-dollar, even after its associates have retired from the company.

The medical device manufacturer and the United Way of Northern Arizona have a shared history. The company opened its first plant (it now has 11) in Flagstaff in 1967, the same year UWNA began under the name United Fund of Flagstaff. W.L. Gore has always made supporting the United Way a key part of its philanthropic efforts, and together we have worked to improve our community.

Janet and John Leung in Xian, Shaanxi Province, China, in 2018, a few years after Janet’s retirement from W.L. Gore & Associates. John, Professor Emeritus at Northern Arizona University, had been invited to teach a course in Asian American History at Shaanxi Normal University that summer. The couple are longtime UWNA Summit Society members.

Janet joined W.L. Gore in 1991, after relocating to Arizona from her native Rhode Island. That first year, she participated in her first UWNA workplace giving campaign. Eventually she was part of the team running those campaigns for her plant within the W.L. Gore campus. Competition could be fierce to see which plant raised the most funds for UWNA, she said, which made the campaigns fun. 

After she retired, Leung said, she received a letter from her former employer reminding her that she was still a valued part of the W.L. Gore family. She would be invited to Gore celebrations, still receive the company’s internal newsletter, and could continue to have her post-retirement donations to UWNA matched by the company.

For her it was an easy decision to keep supporting UWNA. She and her husband, John, had been members of UWNA Summit Society – donors who pledge more than $500 annually – for twenty-some years.

“The United Way understands the needs of the community and finds the best ways to meet those needs,” she said. “They also encourage people to volunteer. It’s a mission and a focus I agree with, and I feel privileged to continue to support them.”