ALEXANDRIA, VA. — PEACE Corps director Elaine Chao was named Wednesday as the new head of United Way of America, and she pledged to make concerns raised by members of the troubled charitable group a top priority. "They are the ones, day to day, on the front lines," Ms. Chao said. "My first priority always will be to listen to their concerns and act accordingly."
As president and chief executive officer, Chao will earn $195,000 a year. Her predecessor, William Aramony, who was ousted in February amid charges of financial mismanagement and lavish spending, was paid $390,000 a year.
New York State authorities and the Internal Revenue Service are investigating allegations that nearly $3 million of United Way money was lent to some affiliated groups in which Aramony and others had financial interests.
Local United Way groups seemed pleased with Chao's appointment.
"I am confident that she will be sensitive ... to the diverse needs we are working to meet across the country," said Ralph Dickerson Jr., president of the United Way of New York City.
Chao, a former deputy transportation secretary, is one of the highest ranking Asian-American officials in the Bush administration. She was confirmed in December as director of the Peace Corps.
The United Way rewrote its bylaws last week to give local chapters more power, after local contributors began withholding their support.