It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Alina Klein – intrepid leader, tireless advocate, and dear friend.
Over her years of service to our organization, Alina embodied the mission of United Way and what we call the Live United spirit. She dedicated countless hours to furthering our cause of advancing racial and financial equity for individuals and families in poverty and those living paycheck to paycheck, known as ALICE® — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. Her strength and leadership on both United Way of Northern New Jersey Women United and United Way Worldwide’s Global Leadership Council elevated the two philanthropic movements to new heights.
Alina was an innovative thinker who led the creation of our local Women United when she brought together a group of dedicated, caring, and energetic women in Somerset County. They gathered to discuss a simple concept – how could they create the greatest impact for Somerset County families struggling to achieve financial stability? From that meeting, Alina helped to cultivate a Women United philanthropic circle that grew into a powerhouse of 150 members across our region.
"When Alina Klein asked me to step up and join her in forming the Leadership Giving Circle, I knew it was a step towards making a tangible difference in the community," said Maria Semple, Alina's co-chair for Women United and a founding member of the Giving Circle. "She helped develop a committed group of caring women who wanted to have a greater impact on ALICE. This small group of women were able to pool together our resources in order to give other families a chance at self-sufficiency - all thanks to the efforts of Alina."
Alina’s passion and drive encouraged countless others to take a stand and work toward both short-term and long-term solutions for the ALICE population. Through Women United, she helped support continuing education, increasing access to quality child care, providing resources for unpaid caregivers, and offering free tax preparation. She worked to disseminate research-based data to raise awareness for the need to improve the lives of countless individuals in Somerset County and beyond.
Her exemplary volunteerism earned her the honor of being selected as Somerset County Business Partnership’s 68th Somerset County Outstanding Citizen in 2018.
“Alina is a shining example of the impact one person can have to drive positive change in their community,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “Not only was she key in mobilizing influential communities around a worthwhile cause, she was able to do so while keeping the individual person top of mind. She knew the security guard, the hotel worker, the single mothers that she was helping. They were more than just faces to her. Alina helped them be seen.”
In 2012, Alina helped establish the ALICE scholarship program at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC). She recognized that students faced a variety of financial challenges, including affording books, transportation, and tuition. Through her collaboration with RVCC, the scholarship directly contributed to helping students complete their education. The RVCC scholarship program became a model for similar programs at three other colleges in Northern New Jersey.
“Alina was not only a stellar volunteer – she was also a dear friend,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey’s Michele Dreiblatt, senior director of Women’s Philanthropy and Donor Engagement. “She was inspirational in her dedication and pursuit of building a more equitable future for her community.”
We honor the work that Alina has dedicated to ALICE and hope to continue her fruitful legacy.