Man and a woman standing while smiling at the camera

United Way of Kennebec Valley announces 2024 campaign leadership

AUGUSTA — United Way of Kennebec Valley (UWKV) has appointed TJ and Kerry Smart, a Waterville couple, as campaign co-chairs for the 2024 fundraising season beginning in September. TJ Smart serves as the chief operating officer at Milestone Funeral Partners, and Kerry Smart is the program coordinator for the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College. As campaign chairs, their responsibilities include the expansion and strengthening of community partnerships across the county starting this spring.

Having been part of the Kennebec Valley community for nearly two decades, the Smarts bring a wealth of experience and dedication to their roles.

“Our commitment to this community has been a significant part of our lives, especially through TJ’s work,” Kerry said.

“We were initially approached to chair the campaign for the Waterville-based United Way of Mid-Maine (UWMM) over a decade ago,” said TJ, referencing a time prior to UWMM’s closure and UWKV’s expansion to serve all of Kennebec County in 2021. “Our friend said, ‘If you can, you should,’ and that has stuck with us and was one of the many reasons we agreed to return to United Way to lead UWKV’s campaign this year.”

This year, the focus of the campaign is on Kennebec County’s ALICE population — those who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed but still struggle to meet the basic cost of living despite earning above the Federal Poverty Level. In Kennebec Valley, 42% of households are below the ALICE Threshold.

“Addressing the needs of the ALICE population is critical for our campaign. It’s about highlighting the real challenges faced by these individuals and mobilizing community resources so they will not be ignored,” said Kerry.

United Way’s annual fundraising efforts engage over 130 local businesses, representing more than 4,000 donors. Last year, these efforts raised over $1.9 million, supporting 58 nonprofit and school-based programs throughout Kennebec County. With the backing of the Campaign Champions, a network of local business and community leaders, the Smarts aim to expand the donor base to address the growing community needs.

Both TJ and Kerry have extensive backgrounds in community service and professional leadership. Kerry’s career spans several significant roles with Thomas College: program coordinator for HAIBI and professional and career development, development officer for athletics, and head men’s and women’s cross-country coach for 12 years. She holds a bachelor of arts in broadcast journalism from the University of Maine and is deeply engaged in community service through the Sunrise Rotary of Waterville, UWKV, Waterville Women’s Club, and Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

TJ began his career in the funeral industry in 1990 at his hometown’s Kiley-Birmingham Funeral Home, in Brewer, Maine. He graduated from the New England Institute at Mount Ida College, balancing his education with practical experience in Old Town. His early career was marked by roles in small community funeral homes, leading to a significant 22-year tenure with Service Corporation International in Portland, Maine, where he held various management and directorial positions. Over the past 15 years, TJ has been deeply involved in central Maine’s community efforts, including the Mid-Maine Chamber and the United Way, among others.

TJ and Kerry are avid golfers and enjoy spending time together and with their two children, Hunter and Gabriella, at their Messalonskee Lake cottage. Together, they share a commitment to the welfare of Kennebec Valley and the belief in the importance of supporting organizations like United Way to address community needs.

For those interested in joining the campaign or supporting United Way’s efforts, contact (207) 626-3400 or visit for more information.

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