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New CEO aims to bring stability to United Way of Southern Nevada

Vegas Voices is a weekly series highlighting notable Las Vegans.

Kyle B. Rahn doesn’t fit the mold of a typical CEO.

She comes across more like the CEO in one of those body-switch comedies, the one who would be put in charge after a stuffy business woman has traded places with a blunt, folksy country singer played by Reba McEntire.

“I’m not your prototypical ‘Let’s go shoppin’ ’ kinda gal,” says Rahn, the new president and CEO of United Way of Southern Nevada. “My idea of shopping is Bass Pro Shops. I’m serious. Dead serious.” You can look for the executive, an avid bass fisher, in the jig aisle.

Rahn, who started leading the local chapter Feb. 4, is the nonprofit’s third new CEO since October 2015, following Bob Morgan and Scott Emerson, the latter of whom took over just last February. She comes to Las Vegas from the Washington, D.C., area, where she spent the past four years as senior director of fund development for the National Society of Black Engineers.

Before that, she was vice president for resource development for United Way of the National Capital Area. You could say she’s returning to an organization that’s in her blood, as both her father and grandfather were United Way pledge drive captains in her native Muncie, Indiana.

Rahn just turned 59. “And I’m single,” she adds. Asked if that’s something she wants included in this profile, she’s quick to laugh and reply, “Hell, yes! You betcha!”

She arrived just in time for Nevada’s Big Give, 24 hours of online crowdfunding that directly supports 200 nonprofits throughout the state. The event runs from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Thursday at nvbiggive.org. A kickoff party is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday on The Green at Town Square.

“We’ll always have the service industry, and we’re blessed by that. But we’re going to need more highly skilled people,” Rahn says of her mission to prepare the valley’s workforce for the future. “This is an imperative for me. This is what I love to do. And I lead from my heart, not from my head or my ego. This is what I’m supposed to do, and I know it.”

Review-Journal: So how’s Las Vegas treating you so far?

Kyle B. Rahn: I flipping love it.

Had you spent much time here before you accepted the position?

I had, but as a tourist. I don’t gamble. The only thing I gamble on is driving in Washington, D.C., traffic.

What is it about United Way that made you want to be involved again?

This is my last job. This is my last move. This is a dynamic, growing community which affords someone like myself an incredible quality of life, but it’s still got that small-town feel like I grew up with in Muncie. But, more importantly, with that explosive growth is going to come a huge need for United Way in the social sector.

There’s been a bit of churn atop United Way here recently. Are you hoping to bring some stability?

The genie’s out of the bottle. There has been instability. But my job is to come, stabilize and drive the United Way forward in an effort to make our community better and help those who need it most. And we are focused on cradle to career. It’s incumbent upon us to ensure that our citizenry is adequately prepared to accept the jobs that will be coming as a result of our community growing so quickly.

Can you talk a little about Nevada’s Big Give?

The average person probably doesn’t realize that at this time of year, a nonprofit’s reserves become low. The largest percentage of giving is the last three months of the year. … That day is focused to rebuild some of the money that’s needed to operate and to focus on all nonprofits in our community.

What are the benefits of focusing on a single day like this?

It’s a statement about our community that we really care. We really care about the nonprofits that are serving. We care enough that we might forgo a special cup of coffee from a special coffee shop and donate that. … You’re also creating, which is very important, a culture of philanthropy, for young and old. Statistically, too, we know it’s not the big givers — they are so welcome and wonderful — but it’s the people like you and I who give and give regularly at the lower levels that really can make the biggest difference. So (we’re) doing this at a time of year that’s not Christmas. It’s not Tiny Tim. It’s not your normal philanthropic time of year.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence @reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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