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Carla Vargas Named Chief Operating Officer Of Orange County United Way

Carla Vargas Named Chief Operating Officer Of Orange County United Way

Promotion of longtime United Way exec enhances organization’s ability to build strategic collaborations targeting critical local issues

IRVINE – Orange County United Way today announced that Carla Vargas has been named Chief Operating Officer.

Formerly Sr. Vice President of Community Impact, Vargas has served on the United Way staff since 1999. This new role takes on added significance as the organization advances its role in the community to increase graduation rates, stabilize families financially and improve the health and housing of children and families across the county.

United Way is widely regarded as a leader among Orange County charities, driving change in the community by acting as a backbone organization for innovative collaborations with more than 30 partner organizations. Last year, with a staff of 45 employees and $18 million in revenue, the organization helped more than 386,000 individuals through its community-focused approach. Vargas is charged with reinvesting funds in targeted strategies that meet the most challenging needs affecting local children and families.

“Carla is greatly respected both within the organization and throughout the community for her leadership, strategic thinking and ability to convene public and private community stakeholders to address critical issues,” announced Max Gardner, President and CEO of Orange County United Way.

In describing Vargas’s unique skillset and value within the organization, he cited her ability to manage the increasingly complex nature of United Way-led programs and partnerships as the organization expands further into the community to reach its goals.

In 2012, Vargas led United Way’s Board of Directors and community stakeholders on a two-year strategic planning and community engagement process. The outcome was the creation of the 10-year communitywide action plan called FACE2024, focused on four specific goals in the areas of Education, Income, Health and Housing. Additionally, Vargas leads the volunteer driven Community Impact Cabinet, comprised of individuals from the community, health and human service experts as well as business leaders. She is responsible for meeting the FACE 2024 goals, overseeing all community programs, investments, initiatives and coordination.

An advocate for homeless issues, Vargas recently joined the board of The Orange County Commission to End Homelessness. In addition, she serves on the leadership team for the annual Orange County Community Indicators report, the Executive Committee for the OC STEM initiative, and the Orange County Department of Education’s OC Pathways Steering Committee. Vargas also oversees United Way’s recently established advocacy and public policy plan in support of the FACE 2024 goals. Vargas holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

This move provides the proper organizational structure for United Way as it continues its work as an integral part of the Orange County nonprofit community. Gardner continued: “Over the past three years, we’ve been building our capacity with a cadre of highly talented professionals from the public, private and non-profit sectors who can manage any number of situations and lead with a strategic eye, so they can ensure continuity and effectiveness.”

United Way’s Executive Team is comprised of a dynamic group of leaders assembled with a vision of making Orange County a place where more children and families can thrive. In addition to Gardner and Vargas, other executive team members include Sandra Bensworth, Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Swanson, Sr. Vice President of Philanthropy and Katherine Ransom, Vice President, Marketing & Communications.

To learn more about Orange County United Way, its FACE 2024 Community-wide action plan or specific initiatives, please visit the Orange County United Way website.


Katherine Ransom, Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Orange County United Way 949.263.6176, katheriner@unitedwayoc.org

Michael Suydam
21Strat 949.981.5008, mike@21strat.com


Since 1924, Orange County United Way has been working to improve lives and strengthen our community by mobilizing the caring power of Orange County, by focusing on the building blocks for a good quality of life: Education, Income, Health and Housing. By investing in Orange County’s children, families and individuals, we help them create pathways to self-sufficient futures through education and training. In short, we help people help themselves. Through our 10-year community-wide action plan, “FACE 2024” (an acronym for Fund, Advocate, Collaborate, Educate) United Way is mobilizing local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals to make a long-term measurable difference in the lives of local individuals and families. To learn more or to join our movement, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.

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