People Feature: Cary Olson Cartwright

by Shemariah Butts

At Unum Group, we believe our commitment to the working world extends far beyond our offices. We're dedicated to helping people thrive in all aspects of life, especially during challenging times, and this belief is woven into the fabric of our company culture and shines brightest in our approach to social responsibility.

In 2023, our employees participated in over 500 organized volunteer activities on the company's behalf. Additionally, we provided more than 1 million meals in our communities, assisted refugees relocating to Poland from Ukraine, and enriched the lives of those with disabilities in the U.K.*

Leading the charge with boundless compassion and purpose is Cary Olson Cartwright, our Assistant Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility. Cary's dedication to the communities where we live and work inspires her Unum Group colleagues and fuels our positive impact in communities nationwide.  She’s been recognized with three statewide leadership awards including The Giraffe award from the Maine Children’s Alliance, the Governor Ken Curtis Leadership Award from the Maine Development Foundation and the Weston L Bonney Education Leadership Award from Educate Maine.

We recently sat down with Cary to learn more about this crucial work and why it matters so much to Unum Group, what motivates her, and what exciting initiatives lie ahead for our charitable endeavors.



The year 2023 was remarkable for Unum Group. With your guidance, Unum Group gave commemorative grants totaling $700,000. How will Unum Group continue to support these groups in the future?* 

We have a long-standing tradition of giving back to our communities in various ways. These commemorative gifts were a special expression of our support to our nonprofit partners, and we will continue to provide volunteers and funding to support the many programs they provide to support others.



A Caring Spirit is an integral part of Unum Group culture. How does your team support financial giving and volunteerism throughout the year?

Our Corporate Social Responsibility team lives and breathes a caring spirit culture every day. We are a team of passionate leaders in our communities, and we partner with many nonprofits to support our neighbors in need and educational initiatives. Our colleagues are also very caring people, and our CSR team identifies meaningful opportunities for them to engage with our community partners. Whether providing board service, offering advice on strategy or project planning, or doing the traditional volunteer activities, thousands of employees demonstrate their caring spirit throughout the year.



The Unum Group CSR strategy has four focus areas: Equitable Pathways, Healthier Communities, Ready Response, and Inclusive Impact. Tell us more about the new and long-standing community partnerships that will enable progress in these key focus areas.

A strong education is foundational to success, and we’ve supported students and educators in our home office states for decades by providing backpacks to students in need, leadership programs for educators, and mentoring and reading programs for students. Our employees are always willing to help, and relationships are key, which is why we continue working side-by-side with educators to enhance the educational experience.  We love to host students at our home office sites and appreciate all the support we receive from our colleagues to provide meaningful experiences for the students.

Our focus on Healthier Communities is grounded in behavioral and mental health, and we support organizations providing essential services to children, youth, and families. Raising awareness through our support of the Yellow Tulip Project is one example of providing awareness of this important topic.

We responded immediately when the Lewiston tragedy occurred on Oct. 25, 2023.  Through our relationships with law enforcement partners, we packed 300 lunches and cups of coffee for the hundreds of law enforcement officers in Lewiston. Our support continued with more than $200,000 in charitable contributions and we provided lunch to 1,100 educators on their first day back to school. The gesture of providing pizza and snacks to the educators was warmly received, and they were grateful for our caring spirit. We also volunteered on ‘Love Lewiston’ day and will continue to partner with law enforcement and several nonprofits to continue supporting that community.

While we have always had a focus on inclusion and diversity in our grant-making, we have prioritized Inclusive Impact, where we actively support nonprofit organizations helping to build stronger communities and promote a more equitable society.



You have been a part of the Unum Group organization for nearly 20 years. What are the proudest moments and accomplishments from your career journey?

It’s a privilege to represent Unum Group in the community. For nearly 20 years, I have had the good fortune to meet many wonderful people in our communities and align our colleagues with various programs to support many. One truly meaningful moment involved a student leadership program we developed with Coach Bill Curry when he was teaching leadership at Baylor. We had a summer Leadership Experience with about 50 students from various backgrounds, and I met a young man who, at the time, would barely look me in the eye. I connected with him and have followed his journey through high school and college. He is now a Chattanooga police officer and volunteers with one of our partners, the YMCA Of Metropolitan Chattanooga’s Y-CAP program.

Another program I'm proud of is our Education Leaders Experience.  Thirteen years ago, I reached out to the Commissioner of Education for the State of Maine, asking him how Unum could be supportive. When he told me we could support current school leaders, I set out to create a leadership program. After connecting with one of our nonprofit partners, we created a program that has served more than 350 educators in Maine and a couple hundred in South Carolina. We often get feedback that it is the best professional development program these educators have attended. I am grateful to the CSR team and Unum Group for their support of me and this program, which is making such an impact across Maine and much of South Carolina.

*Unum Group internal data. 2023


Photo Gallery:

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Cary in front of the Pentagon with Wreaths Across America
Cary in front of the Pentagon with Wreaths Across America
Cary with Starting 9 at the Sea Dogs with two JMG educators
Cary with Starting 9 at the Sea Dogs with two JMG educators
Cary with Wes Bonney(left) and Pete Geiger(right)
Cary with Wes Bonney(left) and Pete Geiger(right)
RCary with Officer Stevin Burton
Cary with Officer Stevin Burton

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About Unum Group

Unum Group (NYSE: UNM), an international provider of workplace benefits and services, has been helping workers and their families for 175 years. Through its Unum and Colonial Life brands, the company offers disability, life, accident, critical illness, dental, vision and stop-loss insurance; leave and absence management support and behavioral health services. In 2022, Unum reported revenues of about $12 billion and paid $8 billion in benefits. The Fortune 500 company is one of the 2023 World’s Most Ethical Companies, recognized by Ethisphere®. 

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