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Terry Koonce

Terry Koonce

During his 41-year career as an executive with ExxonMobil, K. Terry Koonce has been involved with not one but four United Ways, both in the United States and internationally.

Terry first got involved with United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast in 1985 when then-president, Betty Bean, recruited him to the Allocations Committee. He started visiting agencies and saw first-hand how effectively funds were used by agencies and, in turn, how agencies were supported by local United Way staff.

During his career with Exxon, Terry and his family moved several times: first to Canada, where he chaired the Community Campaign for the Calgary United Way and served on the Board of Trustees.

Next came a transfer to New Jersey where again, Betty Bean was at the helm, and he sat on the board of the Tri-State United Way. In 1994, he moved to Russia and was involved in starting a local United Way there.

Terry returned to the Houston area for other assignments in the late 90s and served on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee for United Way of Greater Houston. In 2003, he co-chaired the United Way Community Campaign.

That same year, Terry retired as president of ExxonMobil Production Company. He and his wife, Carole, now split their time between Houston and Nashville, often visiting children and grandchildren. They still find time to attend United Way events, like the Alexis de Tocqueville Appreciation Dinner on February 24, 2020, as pictured above.

United Way of Greater Houston's early childhood education initiative, United Way Bright Beginnings, which was developed in partnership with ExxonMobil, has a special place in Terry's heart. In 2004, ExxonMobil provided early funding for this innovative early childhood education program designed to help children from lower-income families achieve social, emotional, physical, and cognitive milestones, thereby entering school ready to succeed. There are now 41 United Way Bright Beginnings centers serving more than 1,000 children each year. Over the past five years, 80% of Bright Beginnings alumni have surpassed HISD averages on statewide reading and math exams.

Terry chose to include United Way of Greater Houston in his estate plans to provide ongoing support for one of the top United Ways in the country. His eventual endowment will allow his annual Alexis de Tocqueville gift—and his legacy—to continue in perpetuity.


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