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Vargas Jasa is first woman and first Latina to lead the Phoenix-based organization,

one of the largest in the global United Way network

PHOENIX – Valley of the Sun United Way announced today that after a national search, it has named Carla Vargas Jasa as President & CEO — the first woman and the first Latina to hold the position since the organization began in 1927.

She succeeds Merl Waschler, who has led the organization since 2006 and is retiring June 30, 2019.  Vargas Jasa will assume leadership July 1.

Vargas Jasa joins Valley of the Sun United Way after 20 years with the Orange County United Way, where she held several leadership roles, including Senior Vice President of Community Impact and most recently Chief Operating Officer. The Orange County United Way serves a population of over 3 million people and is among the largest in the United Way system.

With Vargas Jasa’s leadership, that United Way launched FACE 2024, a 10-year strategic community impact plan driven by measurable community goals, which are tracked and reported in an annual Community Scorecard. She also guided the recent launch of United to End Homelessness, a communitywide response to Orange County’s growing homelessness population which has brought new and innovative public-private partnerships to that market.

Vargas Jasa developed the organization’s Advocacy/Public Policy Plan and led its growth in its major gifts and endowment efforts. She has served as a member of the Commission to End Homelessness of Orange County, the Project Leadership Team of the Orange County Community Indicators Report, and the OC STEM Executive Committee, and recently joined the OC Forum Board of Directors.

“It’s with great excitement that I join the Valley of the Sun United Way and the Maricopa County community,” said Vargas Jasa.  “I’ve long admired the Valley of the Sun United Way as a standout leader and innovator among its national United Way peers. I look forward to working with the Board, staff and this incredible community to create transformational change for those most vulnerable and in need.

“VSUW is at the forefront of thinking differently to address community needs. I’m thrilled to follow in Merl Waschler’s footsteps and help lead this United Way into its next phase of impact in one of the most vibrant and fastest-growing metro areas in the country.”

As President & CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way, which serves the more than 4.3 million people of Maricopa County, Vargas Jasa will provide strategic leadership to one of the leading members of the global United Way system and one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the Valley – raising more than $85 million annually and overseeing 118 employees. This year, Valley of the Sun United Way partnered with more than 90,000 donors, 400 companies, 5,000 volunteers and hundreds of non-profits and schools to break the cycle of poverty for families and individuals in Maricopa County.

“Throughout the national search process, we were impressed with Carla’s successful track record of developing community-driven strategies, building alliances across sectors and raising significant funds to transform lives in Orange County,” said, Mark Schiavoni, Valley of the Sun United Way Board of Directors Chair. “The board looks forward to working with Carla to shape the United Way to best serve our fast-growing and dynamic community and the wide array of people who live here.”

Vargas Jasa was born in State College, Pennsylvania, and has roots in Arizona, spending formative years in Tucson where her father was a professor at University of Arizona. More recently, she and her husband own a home in Phoenix where she’s spent significant time over the past four years.  Her family is from Paraguay, and she spent her early years in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she became fluent in Spanish and English.

Vargas Jasa has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. In both 2015 and 2016, Vargas Jasa was recognized as a nominee for the Orange County Business Journal “Women in Business” Award and in 2012 received the OC Metro’s “40 Under 40” award.


About Valley of the Sun United Way

Since 1925, Valley of the Sun United Way has unified diverse partners, donors, business supporters, nonprofits, government and faith-based communities to build a stronger Valley for us all. United Way and its 90,000 donors, 400 business supporters and 5,000 volunteers unites to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring kids succeed in school, ending hunger and homelessness, and increasing the financial stability of families in Maricopa County. Join the fight, visit

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Posted by Jocelyn McAlpin

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