Waco Chat

Having a Drink with Barbara Mosacchio

By Kevin Tankersley

Executive Director & CEO of United Way of Waco-McLennan County

“Waco is blessed with some of the most amazing women.”

When I was starting to look for another position, one of the things I knew, I wanted to be in a city that was large enough to have important work to do, but to really be able to touch and feel the impact of the work that you’re doing. And Waco presented that opportunity. The other thing is, there’s such a strong community will and community engagement in Waco.

People really want to make Waco the best place to live for all its residents. That was very appealing. And then after almost six years in Chicago, even though it’s my home, living in such a dense, big city, the quality of life is much more challenging.

So the quality of life in Waco is just amazing to us. We’re just loving every minute of it. And I’ll [take] the 105- and 106-degree days over the 20-below zero any day.

I actually have come to really love the heat. I didn’t think I was a warm weather person until I moved to Texas. I like the sun, I like the big sky.

Women United is an affinity group that was started at United Way Worldwide. There are 70,000 members across the globe, some of the most powerful women in local communities, really taking a stand on issues and focusing on being brand ambassadors, advocates and fundraisers for the organization. Waco is blessed with some of the most amazing women, and the opportunity to organize them and engage them in our work was really important.

Mosacchio chose to meet at the Baylor Club because Baylor is “one of our strongest supporters at United Way,” she said. “And when you sit here and you look out at the [Suspension] Bridge and the Alico building, that’s Waco.” On a 100-degree afternoon in July, Mosacchio ordered an unsweet iced tea and then added a bit of Sweet’N Low.

More and more you’re seeing across the United Way system high focus on interventions within children’s lives much earlier, starting at prenatal to birth to 5 years old. The Born Learning Initiative grew out of that. It’s a very user-friendly parent engagement and education curriculum that helps parents turn everyday moments into learning opportunities. And it seemed perfect for Waco because we have such beautiful open spaces and parks.

The trails are an interactive way for parents to take the curriculum and then walk the trail. There are nine unique learning opportunities at each place in the trail. It was a perfect collaboration with the Rapaport Foundation and the city of Waco.

The Born Learning initiative is a six-week curriculum. We have built 10 learning trails across the city of Waco so parents and caregivers and teachers can take the children out, walk the trail, and at each stage there’s either, you know, something to count or colored or recognize our letters to spell. The city of Waco sponsored the Born Learning trails.


Barbara Mosacchio has been the executive director and CEO of United Way of Waco-McLennan County for nearly three years. Previously, she oversaw the Chicago Youth Centers in her hometown and also spent time at the helm of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation and YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. Barbara and her husband, Dennis Bird, enjoy traveling, cooking, wine, books and art.

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