skip to Main Content
Orange County United Way’s Ceo Max Gardner Announces Retirement

Orange County United Way’s Ceo Max Gardner Announces Retirement

Succession Process Under Way in Search of New CEO

IRVINE, CA – Orange County United Way President and CEO Max Gardner announced today that he will step down from the position once a successor is in place. Until that time, he is committed to remaining in his role.

Gardner was a long time board member and supporter of United Way for many years before he took on the role of CEO in 2011. He came out of retirement from a successful real estate and development career – including service as president of the Irvine Company’s Apartment Communities – to take on the official role of President and CEO of Orange County United Way.

“Max has been a truly remarkable leader the past six years,” said Sue Parks, Chair of United Way’s Board of Directors and CEO of iCount™ Wellness. “His keen vision and unbridled passion for this organization has greatly enhanced United Way’s role as a community leader addressing the long-term needs of Orange County residents and positioned the organization for long-term success.”

Gardner and his wife Artyn will continue supporting United Way as active volunteers upon his retirement as President and CEO.

Succession Process Under Way

The organization has secured the top-notch executive search firm McDermott & Bull to manage the search process for the new President and CEO. The Board of Directors has convened a succession committee comprised of United Way board members and executive staff to ensure a seamless transition and continued momentum.

“This is the time for us to be laser-focused on what is most important in our community and how we can best deliver on our promise to effect real and lasting change for children and families in Orange County,” Parks explained about the process. “A smooth transition plan will not only secure but also reinforce our role as one of Orange County’s leading and visionary non-profit organizations.”

Foundation Laid for a Strong Future

Parks, who is spearheading the search committee working in concert with McDermott & Bull, is confident that the process will identify a new leader who will build on the solid foundation laid by Gardner.

“No single organization can address the issues alone. But over the past few years, in addition to operating and funding programs, our role has grown as a leader, collaborator and educator,” she said. “Max has worked closely with key leaders in the organization over the past five years leading up to the eventual succession process. Today we are closely aligned on creating a compelling and sustainable path forward.”

Parks continued: “The board and leadership team are well equipped to continue the transformation of our organization to one that provides for the next generation of children and families who need our help and empowers the thousands of supporters committed to investing in real and lasting change.”

In 2014, Gardner oversaw the 10-year FACE 2024 community-wide action plan focused on finding long-term solutions to the Education, Income, Health and Housing needs of Orange County children and families. Since then, several programs, initiatives and partnerships have been launched to tackle specific challenges in these areas. Early statistics show the needle moving in the right direction.

“I would not consider stepping down if I were not certain that United Way is in great shape and our efforts to make a lasting impact are on a positive trajectory,” explained Gardner. “I have every confidence that this transition process will be thoughtful, professional and result in the selection of a leader with the skills and vision to ensure the organization’s success for a long time to come.”

For more information about the succession process, please contact Katherine Ransom, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, at 949.263.6176. 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.

×Close search