Peter Najera is the new president and CEO of the United Way of the Plains.
He replaces Pat Hanrahan, who retired in late June after leading the organization for 35 years.
Najera comes from the Rudd Foundation, where he served as president for nearly three years of the Wichita nonprofit.
Najera says he has dedicated his entire adult life to service. He served 20 years in the U.S. Army and has worked with a variety of nonprofits throughout his career.
“I am a student of servant leadership - I derive much more personal and professional satisfaction when serving others,” Najera said. “There’s nothing more powerful than a group of people motivated to do something larger than themselves.”
Najera attended the University of Notre Dame on an Army ROTC scholarship while getting his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also holds two master’s degrees: in business administration from Trident University and public administration from Harvard University.
Najera says he has plans to continue and expand the United Way’s efforts. Right now, he says, he will dedicate the organization to help those who have been affected by the pandemic.
Eventually, he would like to see the United Way get involved civically through the community to help grow and diversify the local economy. He plans to partner with the local government and nonprofits, as well as leaders and businesses in the community, to collectively make the most of their limited resources to make the greatest impact.
“I want to help Wichita achieve its potential and be a great place to live and work for everyone,” he said.
Najera will begin his new role on Aug. 10.
Hafsa Quraishi is KMUW's inaugural Korva Coleman Diversity Intern. Hafsa is currently pursuing her master’s degree in journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York.