United in Crisis and Community

By Giving List Staff   |   January 2, 2021

For the nonprofits that matter, mission statements are much more than words on paper. They are the foundation of that organization’s future, and statements of commitment. 

In 2020, after four months of board-led strategic planning, the nearly 100-year-old United Way of Santa Barbara County updated its mission and vision to better reflect its role and responsibility in guiding the community during times of natural, economic, and public health crises, as well as times of stability. 

“To enrich the lives of children and families and build resilient communities by leading local programs and partnerships that improve school readiness and academic achievement, financial empowerment, and crisis response and recovery.”

As with declining local and national academic scores, the Thomas Fire or the debris flow, United Way coordinated a powerful community-wide mobilization in the wake of COVID-19. While only having a full-time staff of 17 and 45 temporary staff each year, the organization expands its capabilities by engaging with partners in philanthropy, the nonprofit community, and public agencies to: raise $10.1 million for COVID-response efforts; support 2,500 individuals and families with funding to meet basic needs; all while providing 40,600 students with unique academic programming in partnership with school districts. 

One of those students, an eight-year-old girl, was failing to attend her virtual classes because she was so busy helping her two younger siblings with their remote learning and homework. 

“We have been here as a solid organization that adapts quickly and then delivers results,” says President and CEO Steve Ortiz, himself a 15-year-veteran of United Way. 

For Ortiz, assessing and responding to varying community needs is what United Way was built for. The organization is built on measuring results so that every one of its programs – whether supporting students or mitigating the fallout of the deepest public health crisis our generation has known – is built out of data and continuously improved. And unlike most other nonprofits, its history gives it credibility as a convener, a quality it uses to forge the partnerships needed to respond to the most pressing issues the community faces. 

“We are too small to be able to accomplish everything we do alone,” Ortiz says. “If we are able to set goals that are aligned with one another, we bring together our strengths for a much stronger result” – the united way.  


United Way of Santa Barbara County

Phone: (805) 965-8591
President & CEO: Steve Ortiz


Right here, right now, with the Power of Partnership, the United Way of Santa Barbara County is improving lives for children, families, seniors, and you!

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

Decades of Support

“My family and I have supported United Way for decades, first in Minneapolis and now Santa Barbara. We first knew United Way as our trusted community fundraiser. When United Way of Santa Barbara County expanded its mission to provide direct life-changing research-based services to children and adults, my support only became stronger. Their work to increase access to early childhood education for children and families is particularly dear to my heart and I am proud to support United Way educational programs.”
– Maryan Schall
donor and board member

An Engine of Recovery

Steve Ortiz, United Way of Santa Barbara’s president and CEO, doesn’t see a short-term end to the needs of local residents suffering through the pandemic and its long-term economic impact.
While United Way was able to quickly disburse some $4 million in aid to 2,500 individuals and families and 130 nonprofits, there were thousands more applications than could be processed; thousands of people in need.
To sustain Santa Barbara’s recovery, United Way needs your help.

A Board United

Cliff Lundberg, Chair – Vice President Emeritus, Westmont College
Diane B. Doiron, CLU, Vice Chair – Owner, Doiron Financial Associates
Susan Hersberger, Vice Chair – Retired Public Relations Executive
Leo Hamill, Treasurer – Senior Vice President/Regional Manager, City National Bank
Steve Ortiz, Secretary – President & CEO, United Way of Santa Barbara County
Rick Scott, Immediate Past Board Chair – Nonprofit Executive
Lance Connor – Reliable Engineering Services
David Flattery – Vice President of Business Development, DuPont Displays
Robert Hollman – Commercial Real Estate Developer & Owner
Terrance Holt – General Partner, Red Barn Investments
Alex Koper – President & CEO, Global Mortgage Group
Terri Maus-Nisich – Assistant CEO, County of Santa Barbara
Art Merovick – Retired Executive
Rosemary Mutton – Community Volunteer
Kevin Nelson – Director of Corporate Compliance, Cottage Health
Patrice Ryan – Retired Executive
Maryan Schall – Community Volunteer & Philanthropist