Our Culture

Our Purpose


To build a better community by organizing the capacity of people to care for one another.


We envision communities where everyone works together to ensure poverty is temporary, individuals and families live healthy lifestyles, and that children and youth have the tools they need to reach their full potential.


To build a better community by organizing the capacity of people to care for one another.


We envision communities where everyone works together to ensure poverty is temporary, individuals and families live healthy lifestyles, and that children and youth have the tools they need to reach their full potential.

What is United Way

The organization you know as the United Way of Lethbridge & South Western Alberta is a registered charity, part of the United Way – Centraide Movement. It is one of 67 United Way Centraides across Canada working to address a range of needs in their local communities.


The United Way was born from the idea that we can do more together than we can apart. The United Way concept in Lethbridge & South Western Alberta has roots dating back to as early as 1941 when it began as the Community Chest.


We do this by helping to bring to light the issues and needs of South Western Alberta communities and making it easy for people to get involved and make a difference. We raise funds locally and invest in programs that serve the people in Lethbridge & South Western Alberta.

The area served by United Way of Lethbridge & South Western Alberta extends from the B.C. border east to Highway 36, including Taber and Vauxhall, and from the U.S. border north to Claresholm.


United Way is accountable to its donors and partners. For over 80 years, United Way Lethbridge & South Western Alberta has been proud to belong to a federated organization of 67 United Ways across the country investing along with you in our communities to build Healthy People and Strong Communities, transform Poverty into Possibility, and to ensure that Kids Can Be All They Can.

Meeting Immediate Needs

The United Way focuses on the most vulnerable in our communities by funding local agency programs through Community Grants. United Way works with local agencies to understand and address immediate needs.

Addressing Root Causes Collaboratively

The United Way collectively works with the community to address root causes. We work by facilitating conversations, conducting research, and participating in committees and work groups that address homelessness, poverty, youth, mental health and food access. Our focus is to address prevention and long-term impact so that change is positive and significant.

Our Strategic Plan

View our Strategic Plan

Our Team

Jaci Zalesak

Jaci Zalesak

Executive Director
Jaci has always been passionate about her community. She came to the United Way looking to volunteer and quickly joined the Board and the Allocations Committee. Jaci holds a Canadian Society of Association Executive designation, and strongly believes in the work of nonprofits. Volunteering has always been a part of her personal mandate and has served on several boards and committees that align with the United Way’s values.

As a business development professional, Jaci has supported the region collaborating on various projects that have helped put Lethbridge & South Western Alberta on the map. She believes individuals and businesses play a strong role in supporting our communities; supporting financially is important but also your time, and examining the challenges communities face are also equally important. We can make a positive difference in people’s lives if we have a better understanding of the needs and challenges that people and organizations face.
Ryan Tunall

Ryan Tunall

Resource Development Coordinator
Ryan joined the United Way of Lethbridge & South Western Alberta in early 2024. Originally from a small farming community in Saskatchewan, he learned early on the benefits of giving back. He's called Lethbridge home for a while now and in that time has been part of different non-profits, special event committees and hockey teams.

Ryan holds a diploma in Communication Arts (Broadcast Journalism) from Lethbridge College and a Bachelor of Professional Arts degree from Athabasca University. He has an extensive history in sales and also works as a REALTOR® licensed in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Outside of the office he is the very proud father of two teenage daughters and is a dedicated Hockey & Dance Dad. In the winter you can find him at a random rink and in the summer on a random golf course. Ryan is very passionate about supporting his community and is always ready to lend a hand.
Alil Siees

Ali Siees

Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Ali is a dedicated member of the team at United Way. He brings a wealth of passion and dedication to the organization, with a deep-rooted commitment to supporting community and social entrepreneurship. Growing up with strong moral values of helping others and giving back, Ali has been involved in various charity and community activities from a young age and continues to be actively involved in volunteer activities with different non-profit organizations. He holds a business degree and brings a unique perspective to United Way, utilizing his academic knowledge and professional experience in the areas of marketing, business strategy, and social communications. Ali is proud to be a part of such a great and well-established organization like United Way and is thrilled to have the opportunity to make a positive impact in the community. His drive to make a difference and willingness to give back make him a valuable asset to the team, helping the organization achieve its mission of creating positive change in the communities it serves.

Our Board

Krysty Thomas

Krysty Thomas

President & Labour Liaison

As President of the Lethbridge and District Labour Council, Krysty was asked to serve on United Way’s Allocations Committee as a labour liaison in 2019, after which she was invited to join the Board. In 2020 she took on the additional role of chair of the Impact Committee and in 2022 became the board President.

Krysty moved to Lethbridge in 2004 and completed BSc (Biological Sciences, 2006) and a MSc (Molecular Biology, 2013) at the University of Lethbridge. She currently works as a research technician at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Development and Research Centre. She is very involved with her union (Public Service Alliance of Canada) and the broader labour movement. She is a passionate advocate for worker’s rights, accessible child care, quality public services, human rights and equity.

Krysty has two young children and in her spare time she enjoys road cycling, spinning, and cross country skiing with her family.
Crystal Good Rider

Crystal Good Rider

Vice President
Crystal Good Rider grew up on the Piikani Nation - part of the Blackfoot Confederacy - until she was 18 years old. Her Blackfoot name is “iidoomestayaiiki” (Dives First Woman). Crystal’s parents are Judy Wings-Crop Eared Wolf & Chris Good Rider. Her maternal grandparents are Ruth Wings & Pat Crop Eared Wolf from the Fish Eater Clan, and paternal grandparents are Madeleine & Hector Good Rider from the Lonefighter Clan.

Crystal graduated University with a combined degree (B.Ed./B.A.) in 2004 and obtained her Master's in Educational Leadership in 2010. She has enjoyed teaching, and interacting with students for the past 18 years. She is an Education Consultant who provides workshops on Indigenous Education in Southern Alberta Schools. Crystal is also an accredited fashion designer through the Visual College of Art & Design in Vancouver, BC.

In November of 2021, Crystal was appointed to the First Nations Women’s Council on Economic Security by the Alberta Government’s Minister of Indigenous Relations. The work of this council is to make life safer for Indigenous women and girls, and to achieve greater economic security for Indigenous women, their families and communities.
Catherine Filgas

Catherine Filgas

Catherine is a lifetime Lethbridge resident and an active volunteer in the community. She attended the University of Lethbridge and obtained a CGA designation. Upon joining the United Way board of directors in 2018, she put those skills to work as the Treasurer.

Giving time and skills is an important part of Catherine’s life as she volunteers to support not only United Way, but also the Lethbridge Symphony’s annual Love Notes event, and serves as a member of the Rotary Club of Lethbridge Urban Spirits.

In her spare time, Catherine can often be found reading, practicing yoga, or cross-country running.
Mark Scheffelmair

Mark Sheffelmair

Mark is currently working as an Inclusive Child Care Coordinator and Behaviour Consultant with Key Connections Consulting. Working in the human services field has allowed Mark to familiarize himself with various community agencies and programs while supporting diverse clientele in Lethbridge. Mark believes that his knowledge and perspective is a valuable asset to the Board of Directors. Being involved in a governance role to review, reinforce, and refine policies and procedures associated to the United Way mission statement is an area of interest. Mark’s experience and role in the development of the Inclusive Child Care program consisted of the development of standards of practice that guide the overall ICC program across Alberta ensuring a consistent approach for best practice within all associated agencies.

Fundraising often involves creating community connections, working with people and volunteers, and being a strong advocate promoting the United Way, its Community Fund, and its mission. Mark is dedicated to representing himself and organizations he’s associated with integrity and passion. This ensures he is able to be involved in fundraising opportunities with a clear focus and respect for all stakeholders. Mark looks forward to being a part of the United Way Board of Directors and reinforcing the great work that is done in the community.
Lori Harasem

Lori Harasem

Lori is the Health Promotion Coordinator at Lethbridge College. She started this new-to-her position in the summer of 2022, after one month shy of 19 years with the City of Lethbridge where she spent time supporting not-for-profits, and identifying and addressing gaps and needs around inclusion, accessibility and belonging. In her spare time, Lori volunteers with more than a dozen organizations in Lethbridge and believes in the importance of giving back to the community. She not only shares her time and expertise with organizations, she also always shares the importance of giving back, time and/or funds, with others.
Bailey Kester

Bailey Kester

Bailey earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Lethbridge. Throughout this time, she enjoyed her work in mental health crisis support and different roles within Lethbridge’s volunteer community. Bailey then moved to Queensland, Australia where she completed her law degree. She has since returned to Southern Alberta and is currently completing her articles at North & Company LLP.

Bailey values active community engagement and credits this passion to growing up in a rural community in Southern Alberta. She looks forward to the opportunity to serve on United Way’s Board of Directors and support the organization’s goals and initiatives.
Molly Pletsch

Molly Pletsch

Molly grew up in Okotoks Alberta; upon graduating high school she pursued her post-secondary education in Lethbridge where she fell in love with the community. After college graduation, Molly returned to Okotoks/Calgary and began her career but always imagined returning to Southern Alberta to settle down. Almost a decade later Molly returned to Lethbridge with her family.

Molly is a REALTOR® with Royal LePage South Country. After a successful career as a Recreation Therapist, Department Manager, and Regional Manager she made a huge career change in July 2022. Molly is a strong community-focused professional with a Bachelor of Professional Arts focused in Human Services from Athabasca University. In this new professional chapter, Molly wanted to ensure she could find a way to serve the community. Molly volunteers with Volunteer Lethbridge as well as serves as a Board Member on the United Way of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta. Molly is a strategic thinker with the root of process improvement, efficiency, and client satisfaction when making decisions.
Adam Addison Headshot For Website

Adam Addison

Adam is a compliance Safety Officer at the University. He has been working in post secondary for 8 years, and safety for just over 4. Adam completed his Bachelors of Business Administration in 2021 through NAIT.

Though new to volunteer organizations Adam looks forward to utilizing his relationship building and creative problem solving to help improve and give back to the community. In his spare time, Adam enjoys reading, and gathering with friends and family.

Joyanne Mitchell

With 30 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector, Joyanne brings knowledge & experience in managing Fund Development departments, with a primary focus on post-secondary education and community development. She finds creative ways to proceed, turning thoughts into action and understands that while getting the correct strategy in place is critical - transformation happens at implementation.
While at Lethbridge College, reporting directly to the President, Joyanne successfully lead the largest comprehensive capital campaign in its history, raising $27.8 million for a $25 million campaign while navigating changes in government and in college leadership. She played a key role in bringing partners to the table to support the largest Trades and Technologies Facility south of Calgary and for the Collaborative Centre of Excellence (CCE) in Agriculture while doubling the size of college endowments from $6 million to $12 million and exceeding the goal for Student awards by 80%. In addition, she provided executive oversight and leadership for the college’s sixtieth anniversary celebrations and championed the legacy project – Founders’ Square.
Prior to her role, at Lethbridge College, she held development roles at the University of Lethbridge, Olds College and the Foothills Foundation. She started her fund development career by spearheading the ‘Happy Trail’ system in High River through her role as Parks Committee, Chair.
Joyanne is an alumnus of Red Deer Polytechnic, was a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) from 2000 – 2023 and has taught Fundamentals of Fundraising for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) while also serving on AFP’s Board for 23 years.
She is looking forward to collaborating with community members to explore Lethbridge’s key issues and to build capacity.
Joyanne and her family love ‘the lake-life’, are avid travelers and actively support philanthropic initiatives that mirror their values.

Interested in joining our team?

Joining our team is a great way to give back to the community and expand your skills.

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United Way Lethbridge & South Western Alberta
#203B – 542 7 St S.
Lethbridge, AB T1J 2H1

Current Positions

At United Way Lethbridge & South Western Alberta, we are steadfastly dedicated to enhancing the lives of our communities.

While we do not have any open positions available at the moment, we value and appreciate your interest. Your passion for making a difference in Lethbridge & South Western Alberta is already contributing to positive change.

We encourage individuals interested in potential future opportunities to stay connected with us. Your continued engagement ensures that together, we can continue our mission of fostering lasting impact and meaningful change.

Submit Your Application

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