Rev. Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D., President and CEO of United Way of the Mid-South (UWMS), has informed the Board of Directors of his intention to retire after more than nine years at the helm of the region’s largest public, exclusively charitable foundation.

Dr. Robinson became President and CEO in February 2015 after nearly 25 years as a volunteer and Board member of United Way of the Mid-South. During his tenure, he has leveraged his expertise in public policy, healthcare, ministry, and community development to transform UWMS into a national leader in social service delivery.

UWMS continues to support area nonprofits through its aligned grantmaking, focusing on addressing poverty through a multi-sector approach. Through individual donations, corporate workplace campaigns, and corporate grants, United Way annually awards over $3 million of discretionary grants to local nonprofits. In addition, UWMS manages Emergency Food and Shelter Grants funded by FEMA; has supported local grassroots organizations through its own Equity Fund grants; and offers Free Tax Prep services across its eight-county service area. Last year 277,345 people – 94% of whom were from low-to-moderate income households – received services in programs supported by United Way of the Mid-South.

Dr. Robinson’s legacy at UWMS will be the social entrepreneurial approach that he has brought to human services through Driving The Dream™. Identifying poverty as the critical, underlying issue impacting every facet of our community, Driving The Dream™,established in 2016, currently connects over 170 independent agencies and organizations in a system of care for people living in, or at risk, of poverty. The network of support allows individuals in need to connect to available resources with a single phone call or visit to a participating agency. Through a shared database and communication system, multiple agencies are able to offer services to families. Driving The Dream™ Care Coordinators, or case managers, assist families in building their own roadmap to self-sufficiency. To date, Driving The Dream™ has helped over 15,000 individuals advance toward financial stability.

“When I was approached in the Fall of 2014 by the Chairman of the board with an ask that I consider accepting this position, I found the prospect of increasing the value, visibility and viability of this iconic organization totally aligned with God’s call upon my life.  Our United Way embodied so much good work and benefited from so many generous donors; yet so much need in the Mid-South remained.  Although I was already preparing to soon join my wife in “our” approaching retirement, I accepted the offer, anticipating a 3 to 5-year tenure, at most.  Today – it is a great season for UWMS, and also a great season for my family and me.  45 years of a marvelous marriage, our daughters’ weddings, grandchildren, and my evolving NextGen roles as family leader are now calling me to pivot.  I appreciate the board’s graciously accepting my request to begin an executive transition”, explained Dr. Robinson. 

“Over the next few months, I look forward to working assiduously to further solidify the unprecedented and unduplicated work we are doing to facilitate economic advancement and self-sufficiency for individuals and families; those who are served well by nonprofits we fund, and many more who also are benefiting from the accountable human services ecosystem we’ve built to holistically provide supports and services to them over multiple domains.  I have full faith in the extraordinary leadership and the deep and broad expertise of our board, in identifying the next executive of this exceptional organization; one which is meaningfully and measurably helping thousands of Mid-Southerners ‘move from where they are to where they dream to be!’”

In 2023, UWMS was awarded an $18.2 million grant from the TN Department of Human Services to expand the Driving The Dream™ network and the number of families helped. Dr. Robinson’s acumen and leadership in diversifying revenue streams for UWMS, such as securing grants, contracts, private foundation funding, and direct donations from individuals, has secured the financial health of United Way of the Mid-South for the future and expanded its impact on the lives of people served and the community.

The Board of Directors is grateful to Dr. Robinson for his many years of service to United Way. His dedication to the mission and his innovative approach to the work of UWMS has been truly transformational. This United Way is much stronger today, having achieved remarkable impact and success; rising to the challenge of improving the lives of Mid-Southerners in long-term, meaningful ways – even during what has been an extraordinarily fluid economic and cultural environment. I know that Dr. Robinson has positioned UWMS for financial and programmatic growth, and that his successor will be inheriting an organization on the cusp of even greater success in the future”, says Darrell Cobbins, Chairman of the UWMS Board of Directors.

A committee of the Board of Directors will conduct a selection process, the details of which will be announced in early July. Dr. Robinson will remain in the role until a successor is in place and will remain in an advisory capacity during the transition.


The United Way of the Mid-South works to improve the quality of life for Mid-Southerners by mobilizing and aligning community resources to address priority issues. Driving The Dream™ provides a network of resources, connecting agencies so that they can work seamlessly together to address the needs of individuals and families living in or at risk of poverty.