O'Brien makes big impact as United Way leader
As president and CEO of Peoples Natural Gas Co., Morgan O'Brien mined utility companies for money to support United Way of Allegheny County's region-wide hot line for social services.
O'Brien will start a two-year term as chairman of the United Way chapter's board in April and reached an agreement with Peoples, Equitable Gas, Columbia Gas, Duquesne Light and First Energy to contribute a combined $1 million a year for three years, starting this year.
The money will support 2-1-1, a call center for handling emergency social problems.
“Under Morgan's leadership, 2-1-1 has gone from a good idea to a great idea and has gone from just serving Allegheny County to now serving eight counties in the region,” said Bob Nelkin, president and chief professional officer of the United Way chapter.
The hot line serves Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler, Fayette, Indiana, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Agency officials are talking about expanding it to Beaver, Greene and Lawrence counties.
“When we started a year-and-a-half ago, we were at 22,000 calls a year. By June 30 of 2013, we expect to be at 80,000 calls a year,” Nelkin said.
Under the service, an operator fields a call about one problem, such as inability to pay a utility bill, and asks the caller about other potential problems so that social service agencies can help meet all the person's needs.
“It's a broader view of trying to help people,” said O'Brien, 52, a Baldwin native who lives with his wife, Kathy, in Downtown. They have four children.
Besides chairing the 2-1-1 management committee, O'Brien served on the United Way search committee that brought Nelkin to the agency. He chaired the chapter's fund drive about four years ago.
As board chairman, he will try to rally corporate and union leaders to support the United Way campaign.
One of his goals is to encourage Chevron, Exxon and Shell — companies with offices here because of Marcellus shale — to join the fund drive. He also would like to get United Way chapters to work together more.
“If there are gaps, maybe together with other United Ways we can create new programs or expand the programs we have,” he said.
O'Brien holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's degree in taxation, both from Robert Morris University. Before becoming CEO at Peoples three years ago, he led Duquesne Light for eight years and worked for PNC Bank and major accounting firms.
Although an energy executive, O'Brien said when it's practical he likes to ride the Port Authority T from Downtown to his North Shore office.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former youth volunteer facing federal child pornography charges
- 6 shot at Clairton speakeasy; police seek suspects
- Newsmaker: Connie Codispot
- Snow removal crews from Pennsylvania hit the road to help Buffalo
- Water main break leaves Millvale dry for several hours
- Youngsters embrace technology that combines art, software in 3D printing
- Former FBI director Mueller: Home hacks called on par with globals
- Cybersecurity experts warn Pittsburgh conference about dangers of hacking
- Allegheny County 911 call center opinions diverge
- WVU frat brothers charged with hazing pledges
- 2 teenagers shot dead in Sheraden; man critically injured