By Shawn Wright:
Jeffrey Bergeron, managing partner of Ernst & Young‘s Detroit office, is quick to point out that he doesn’t do charitable works to get awards.
“Jeff is being modest, as he usually is,” said Doug Ferrick, vice president of donor relations for United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “He ran our campaign through some of the toughest economic times we’ve had, and he did it with great resolve, focus and determination to help us through a real challenging time. We’re forever indebted to Jeff.”
Bergeron’s work with United Way began in 1999. He started as a donor and later a member of the organization’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society, a society for generous United Way donors who are dedicated to advancing the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all.
Bergeron’s ability to engage with high-level executives and CEOs is evident. This year, he tapped Ford Motor Co. COO Mark Fields to become chairman of United Way’s campaign. Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne held the position last year, with a campaign focused on childhood hunger and poverty that exceeded its $35 million goal by $121,000.
In 2010, Bergeron’s background and relationships in the automotive industry helped United Way secure a record-breaking five-year $27.1 million corporate gift from the General Motors Foundation. The grant is the largest in the GM Foundation’s 34-year history.
The goal is to create a “network of excellence” among existing area high schools, with the intention of increasing graduation rates and rebuilding the area’s skilled workforce. The grant also funds the Early Childhood Learning Communities, which works to help young children begin kindergarten ready to succeed.
“United Way is focused on results. You want to see things get better,” Bergeron said. “I think it’s a much easier sell to get people to contribute when they see their contributions are making an impact.”
Bergeron also was chairman of the United Way Workplace Campaign in 2010 and 2011, normally reserved as a one-year chairmanship. The organization asked him to chair the campaign for two years in a row because of his leadership and success in that position.
He plans to retire from E&Y at the end of this year.