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Sep 8, 2022

UNCW Alumni Association Board of Directors Welcomes CSB Accounting Alumna

Sponsored Content provided by Robert Burrus - Dean , Cameron School of Business - UNC-Wilmington

This article was contributed by Jessica Shafer '25.

It is a week of new beginnings on UNCW’s campus with the first day of classes Wednesday and the school year’s initial UNCW Alumni Association Board of Directors meeting Saturday.

Set to make her debut on the board is Wanda Coley '96, who currently serves as the Vice President of Strategy with UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare and Retirement line of business.

The Seahawk blood runs thick for Coley, who not only loves Homecoming, but also met her husband at UNCW and whose daughter graduated from the school in 2014.

“Getting a good meal at Wagner and meeting new people are some of my favorite memories,” Coley said. “I loved attending sporting events and supporting the school and my fellow Seahawks.”

Coley spent the majority of her academic time on campus within the Cameron School of Business as an accounting major, which propped open the door to her current healthcare career.

“I was pursuing a path to join an accounting firm post-graduation, but while I was in school, I started a part-time role with a local home health agency as an office clerk,” Coley explained. “After graduation, I was offered a full-time position as a payroll coordinator. Shortly after, I was promoted to staff accountant. I fell in love with the healthcare space. It broadened my perspective. While I'm not in an accounting position now, I will always have that as my foundation.”

With her influx of healthcare knowledge, Coley has given her post-graduation impact on UNCW to the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS). She has served on the CHHS Dean’s Advancement Council and spoken on CHHS panels.

One of her favorite contributions was speaking on a panel assembled by Dr. Justine Reel, current interim dean of CHHS, as part of the Gender and Leadership Academy.
 


“It was a lot of fun getting to talk about women in the workplace, fears that we have and how to navigate them,” Coley said. “At this point in my career, I'm passionate about helping other women achieve their career aspirations.”
“It was a great way to lend my voice to something UNCW hosted.”

Not only has she given her personal expertise, but Coley’s work has enabled her to expand partnerships, and grow closer, with UNCW.

“UnitedHealthcare recently announced a $100M investment in diversifying the workforce, which is a great opportunity to grow closer with UNCW and other schools around the country in helping minorities and women who are interested in the healthcare space,” Coley said. “In my current role, I’m exploring how to ensure we have a diverse workforce that resembles the population we serve.”

Prior to joining UnitedHealthcare, Coley served for nearly 19 years with Well Care, a company providing home health and personal care services throughout North Carolina. In October 2017, Coley took on the role of president and chief operating officer role at Well Care.

As part of her work with Well Care, Coley frequently communicated with Charles Hardy, former CHHS Founding Dean about the vision for the college. The two were in lockstep on providing home health care and ensuring adequate staffing was available. A partnership was created with Well Care and CHHS through the School of Nursing to have students as part of clinical rotations.

“Students would shadow a nurse and spend their time in a home to really get a flavor of providing health care in the home,” Coley explained. “That was an important partnership and a way for us to create a pipeline for students to gain experience in home care.”

Partnering, growing and expanding opportunities are concepts that have been deeply rooted in Coley. She now brings those principles to a new group by joining the UNCW Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Participation on boards has been very intentional and purposeful for Coley.
 

“I’m very selective about what boards I join,” she said. “It has to add value to my life in the same way I add value to it. I think the alumni board will help me be closer to what’s going on at the university. Being a part of the board, sharing my experiences and helping recruit and engage alumni in whatever ways I can are aspects I’m really excited about.”
Coley’s influence will open a new chapter Saturday as her positive impact shows no signs of slowing down.

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