Showing her spirit for the Bartlesville Regional United Way
by David Austin
Sitting in the audience at the 2018 annual meeting of the Bartlesville (Okla.) Regional United Way on May 8, Karen Leinen felt no pressure.
As a United Way board member as well as a ConocoPhillips senior analyst in Bartlesville Community Relations, she wasn’t expecting to have a role in the evening’s proceedings. She would clap as individuals and organizations were recognized for their contributions to the nonprofit organization, a sincere display of encouragement and support.
And then, things changed.
One of the Bartlesville Regional United Way’s most prestigious awards, the Spirit Award, is presented every year to an individual who goes above and beyond to support the organization and its nonprofit member agencies, including the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Samaritan Counseling & Growth Center, the YMCA and the Salvation Army, just to name a few.But as Karen sat in the audience listening to a description of this year’s Spirit Award recipient, the individual began to sound very familiar. It sounded like her.
“I started looking around the room, and the eyes of my friends and coworkers were on me,” Karen said. “Then, I looked at the big screen behind the stage where the awards were being given out, and there was a big image of me.
“It was quite an emotional moment.”
Karen was summoned to the stage to accept the award and pose for photos with Lisa Cary, United Way CEO and president, as well as board treasurer George Halkiades.
Following a rousing round of applause, she was asked to give an impromptu speech.
“I was so honored to be recognized by United Way, and to join the previous group of honorees is just amazing,” Karen said. “I was very humbled by the experience.”
When it comes to Bartlesville, her home for the last 35 years, Karen has a wealth of knowledge and experience. She has worked for ConocoPhillips for nearly a dozen years. Prior to joining the company, she worked for nearly a decade with the Bartlesville Chamber of Commerce.
These days, Karen often finds herself involved with United Way. In addition to serving as a board member for the last several years, she is Community Relations chair for ConocoPhillips’ annual campaign to benefit United Way and its 13 member agencies. ConocoPhillips’ 2017 fundraising campaign generated an estimated $1.1 million.
ConocoPhillips employees and retirees gave generously to United Way and pitched in during the organization’s Day of Caring, an annual event where volunteers assist with projects for nonprofit member organizations. During the 2017 Day of Caring, 377 volunteers worked 1,553 hours on 28 projects for 29 organizations in the Bartlesville area.
Karen was instrumental in organizing several of the events and activities.
“I totally support the organization’s stated mission, which is to improve the health, education and financial stability of those in our community,” says Karen. “I recognize that they are a champion for those who need help, so I’m very happy to assist them.”
And for that effort, Karen certainly deserves a rousing round of applause.