Meet Kristen Synakowski: Financial Stability Initiatives Manager

Meet Kristen!

Kristen began her career with United Way MV in October 2018, with 15 years of prior experience in the finance and accounting field before entering the non-profit world. She received her B.S. in Finance from SUNY Canton.

When asked why she likes to work for United Way, Kristen says, “I remember sitting at a restaurant with a friend years ago saying "I want to find a job where I can make an impact and a difference.” United Way MV does that and I love to be a part of it. Living in the Mohawk Valley is amazing because the community is like no other. People step up to help and make change in ways that are so inspiring. I am lucky to be part of an organization that makes community connections to bring change and improve the quality of life for so many and truly makes a difference.”

United Way is a leading problem solver, innovator, and connector in the Mohawk Valley. As a natural problem solver, Kristen took on the task of building United Way’s Free Tax Prep program from the ground up, knowing what the end goal was and figuring out the various steps to get agencies, sites, and volunteers certified to make the program happen. “I love puzzles and figuring out how to make things work especially when they don’t seem like they will,” says Kristen.

Currently, Kristen is working very hard at planning and executing the Take and Make Meal Box distributions for Utica residents in need of food assistance, in addition to coordinating the Free Tax Prep program. The next Take and Make Meal Box distribution is at the end of February, with more details to come. Free Tax Prep is now accepting appointments online and by phone, with a virtual option and limited drop-off availability.

Some fun facts about Kristen are:

  • Her favorite United Way event is Day of Action.
  • Kristen’s favorite pizza is from Charlie’s – plain cheese but with lots and lots of hot sauce!
  • Her mom grew up in the Madison area and it’s Kristen’s favorite place to visit in the area. “Driving through the hills and seeing the patchwork quilt farm fields makes me the happiest,” Kristen says.
  • If she was stranded on a deserted island, she would bring all of the books she could bring, especially murder mysteries.
  • Her favorite quote to live by is “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
  • Kristen’s first concert was Bryan Adams when she was really little, and her favorite concert of all time will always be when she took her daughter to see Taylor Swift for the first time. She says, “It was great to see her reactions and we had so much fun!”
  • Her spirit animal is an elephant: calm, loyal, and patient.


Would She Rather?

We asked Kristen some “Would you rather” questions, and here’s how she answered:


She would rather have all green traffic lights than ever having to stand in line again.

She would rather have unlimited airline tickets than free food at restaurants for life.

She would rather see 10 minutes into her own future, than into the future of anyone else.

She’d rather read the book than watch the movie.   

If she had to choose between a donkey and giraffe for a mode of transportation, she would pick a giraffe.

She’d rather freeze time than time travel.