This afternoon at a media event held at the AwareHouse (old Guspro building on Grand Avenue East in Chatham), the United Way of Chatham-Kent announced that Elizabeth Downey-Sunnen will be serving as the volunteer Campaign Chair and will lead the organization’s annual fundraising effort in 2017.

Elizabeth has been a long-time supporter of the United Way. It started when she was a Youth Ambassador for CKSS roughly 20 years ago.  She is a very positive and highly creative individual who believes strongly in kindness and laughter.  She is currently a visual artist in our municipality (, although she has also been a teacher (high school English) and is currently hosting students at AwareHouse.  This is a new venture for her, and it is aimed at working on mindfulness and self-awareness through art.  This project is in its infancy and she will be releasing more details in the near future.

She is bilingual, which enabled her to live and work in France after she completed her undergraduate degree from Laurier. Her husband was born in the United States which enabled her to live and work in Colorado before returning seven years ago to Chatham-Kent.

She has two kids (Zadie, 10; Milo, 6) and a couple of dogs (Gemma, almost 1; Roxy, almost 3 months), a couple of turtles (Jelly, 8; and PB, 5).  Only one guinea pig (Ginger, 3) and only one husband, Brian.

The Sunnen family members have been long-time supporters of United Way and Elizabeth is excited for the opportunity to give back to the community that has provided so much for her. She understands the value and impact United Way’s funded programs and services provide – having reached a little over 40,000 Chatham-Kent residents in 2016.

Elizabeth looks forward to working with her 2017 Campaign Cabinet which will be made up of both new faces and some returning members from last year.

Co-operators Insurance is hosting a very special event this year for United Way’s official campaign kick-off. The event is being held at The Kent 1874 on Friday, September 8, 2017 starting at 6 pm. The community is welcomed to join us as we celebrate our community with an evening of entertainment featuring Tom Lockwood and Rock Steady. Tickets are available at the United Way offices in Chatham, Tilbury and Wallaceburg, Musical Strings and Things, Betty Brite Dry Cleaners, and Hip Entertainment. They are also available online: or at the Door.