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Education, Legal Leaders Join Orange County United Way’s Board Of Directors

Education, Legal Leaders join Orange County United Way’s Board of Directors

Dr. Jeff Hittenberger and John Simonis bolster non-profit’s strong leadership team, commitment to FACE 2024 goals to enhance the lives of Orange County residents

IRVINE, CA – Orange County United Way today announced that Dr. Jeff Hittenberger and John Simonis have joined its Board of Directors.

Dr. Hittenberger brings more than 30 years of education experience to the United Way Board. He currently serves as Chief Academic Officer at the Orange County Department of Education. John Simonis is partner at Paul Hastings LLP and chairs the law firm’s Orange County office and Real Estate Practice Group.

“We’re pleased to welcome Dr. Hittenberger and Mr. Simonis to the United Way Board,” announced Max Gardner, Orange County United Way’s President and CEO. “Their talents and years of experience in their respective fields will greatly enhance our efforts to tackle the education, financial stability, health and housing challenges facing too many residents here in Orange County.”

Prior to joining the Orange County Department of Education, Hittenberger served in the Santa Ana Unified School District, the Monterey County Office of Education and at Vanguard University, where he most recently served as provost/vice president of academic affairs. Holding a Ph.D. in educational policy, planning, and administration from the University of Southern California, Hittenberger has taught elementary school, high school English and History, and was a university faculty member teaching education courses and ultimately serving as Dean of the School of Education.

“As an educator, I’ve seen first-hand the many barriers to learning that students face long before they walk through the schoolyard gates,” explained Hittenberger. “I firmly believe in the holistic approach undertaken by United Way to address the foundational components to not just succeeding in school but, more importantly, a quality life. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Hittenberger has done research and training globally, serving on United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded projects in Cameroon and Mali, and working on research projects in South Africa, Israel, and Haiti. He was also a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar for a year in Morocco and co-founder of the Global Business Academy at Valley High School in Santa Ana. He currently serves on the California Partnership Academies state advisory council and the California International Studies Project advisory board.

Mr. Simonis represents landowners, investors, developers, contractors, and users in connection with complex real estate transactions and development matters, and has substantial expertise in connection with real estate joint ventures, funds, purchases and sales, leasing, master planned communities, construction and grading, financings, and entity formation, with particular expertise with respect to data centers and technology-related facilities.

The Marquette University and University of Michigan Law School graduate is a frequent speaker and writer regarding real estate transactions, construction, development, and telecommunications and power issues impacting the real estate industry. It’s at this intersection of law, business, and real estate that Simonis thrives professionally, expertise he’s certain can benefit United Way.

“This organization has always effectively engaged and mobilized the business community – particularly the legal and real estate sectors – to target the most critical needs facing our county,” said Simonis. “I’m excited about the opportunity to put my skillset, expertise and entrepreneurial approach to work on behalf of Orange County United Way and those who depend on their great work.”

Both Hittenberger and Simonis were elected by the incumbent Board to serve three-year terms.


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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