Honoree: Stephanie Cannaday
Honored by: UnitedHealthcare
Cause Area: Healthcare
Stephanie Cannaday: A Lawyer Who Practices Volunteerism
Community service is not an option, it’s the law.
You might say that Stephanie Cannaday lives by that credo if you look at her outstanding record of volunteering around Orange County.
At last count, Cannaday, a lawyer who serves as associate general counsel for Optum Services in Irvine, has provided help for at least nine local nonprofit projects or programs over the past several years. She is, without doubt, someone who has gone above and beyond when it comes to volunteering.
She has given her time and energy to work at homeless shelters, assist at food banks, lend a hand for beach clean-ups, take part in school painting crews, step up to coordinate volunteer teams and, lastly, participate in formal charity galas.
Among the organizations she has made these contributions for: Midnight Mission, Second Harvest Food Bank, CoupLA Guys and Gals Give Back, Boys & Girls Clubs, Cal Ripken Foundation, LA Conservation Corps and the American Diabetes Association. There are also the faith-oriented groups Bet Tzedek and Qoheleth Ministry she has helped.
“Yes, (volunteering) is very important to me,” she says. “I just think that’s really one of our purposes, for those of us who have. To do for others and do for others that don’t have.”
Some of the service work is what she chooses to do on her own. And then there are other efforts that are part of her work as a coordinator of pro bono legal services for her corporation’s charity committees.
She has set up community legal clinics to provide free advice on various matters such as government benefit claims, personal wills and family trusts. One program she is particularly proud to have regularly served with is OC Stand Down, the annual support event for veterans that includes free legal services.
The legal clinics usually call for her leadership to inspire and persuade busy local lawyers to donate their time and talent.
“I try to be really enthusiastic and try to make it as enjoyable of an experience for the volunteers as possible,” she says, “so it will motivate them in general and so then they want to go back and do it again and again.”
The response on the volunteer legal work has been outstanding, by both her Optum and corporate colleagues as well as administrators for the nonprofit organizations they serve.
“I absolutely commend Stephanie for her extraordinary spirit about volunteering. She has been excellent in the way she inspires people and tells them how rewarding it has been for her to make contributions of time and energy,” said Rob Falkenberg, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of California.
Stephanie points out that she is able to share with other volunteers the personal inspiration she feels about working with people who are less fortunate, such as those who come to the homeless shelter. Volunteer work “is so purposeful,” she says. “It’s such a great feeling to help other people and to get a positive response back from people that you’ve been able to help.”
Stephanie has been relentless about trying her hardest to get more co-workers and friends to join her in the vast array of volunteer opportunities that are out there. Those who join her have, in turn, recruited manly others.
You might say Stephanie knows how to lay down the law about community service.