For Caroline Nahas, helping others is something that was "instilled in me from the beginning."

Recently named chairwoman of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Nahas feels she can take a leadership role in improving the L.A. community and inspiring other business leaders to do the same. She has a strong connection to Los Angeles: she was born and raised in North Hollywood and graduated from UCLA in 1971.

Nahas also has strong ties to the local business community as the Southern California region managing director of executive recruitment firm Korn/Ferry International. It was through a United Way campaign at Korn/Ferry that she was first exposed to the non-profit organization's work, joining United Way's board 11 years ago.

As chair, Nahas has the opportunity to oversee various projects that help less fortunate people projects she believes in turn will help the businesses of Los Angeles.

"If I look at it from a business executive standpoint," she said, "the stronger the community, the healthier we are businesses, too."

Among United Way issues of critical importance to her are increasing the availability and affordability of housing and health care, improving high school graduation rates and preparing youth for college and the work force, and adult job training and financial education.

All these issues have become even more important in the recession, making Nahas' position ever more challenging.

"On the one hand, I was thinking this is going to be a really tough time given the economy. On the other hand, I thought if there's even been a need for stepping up and (United Way's help) for our community, it's now," she said.

One additional goal she has set for herself is to improve United Way's outreach to young people in order to prepare them to be participants in the "next generation of givers."

Nahas lives with her husband, Richard, in Toluca Lake. In her spare time, she likes ocean kayaking and reading.

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