Valley of the Sun United Way Announces Retirement of CEO & President Merl Waschler

10/03/2018, By Valley of the Sun United Way

Waschler to Continue in Current Role Until June 2019; Extensive National Search to Be Held for New CEO

PHOENIX, AZ, October 3, 2018 -- Valley of the Sun United Way (VSUW) announced today that CEO & President Merl Waschler will retire in June 2019, and a nationwide search will be conducted over the coming months to identify his successor.

Waschler, who recently celebrated 27 years with Valley of the Sun United Way and has been CEO since 2006, will continue to oversee the organization’s operations until his retirement. Valley of the Sun United Way is the third largest local United Way in the national network, and one of the largest non-profits in the Valley, investing nearly $100 million in the community, with a staff of 125 supported by more than 90,000 donors, 5,000 volunteers, 400 business partners and hundreds of non-profit partners each year.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we congratulate Merl on his upcoming retirement, as well as on his accomplishments during his career at United Way,” said Mark Schiavoni, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Valley of the Sun United Way and retired Executive Vice President of Arizona Public Service. “Under Merl’s leadership, Valley of the Sun United Way continues to be the preeminent organization to create communitywide strategies and bring businesses, individuals, non-profits, faith-based leaders and educators to the same table to fight for kids and families in our community.”

A seven-member subcommittee of the Board, led by executive committee member and incoming Board Chair Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, Chancellor of Maricopa County Community College’s District, will guide the national search. The Board selected Koya Leadership Partners, a national executive search firm that works exclusively with mission-driven clients, to conduct the search.

“The United Way CEO plays a vital role for our entire community, so we will be thorough and thoughtful in our search,” said Dr. Harper-Marinick. “Merl, the Board and the United Way leadership team have built a strong organization that leads our community’s work to break the cycle of poverty. It will take a special leader to continue to advance this important work.”

Waschler took over as CEO in 2006 after a national search. Prior to that, he served as COO/CFO for 15 years. During Waschler’s CEO tenure, Valley of the Sun United Way has raised and invested back into the community more than a billion dollars, while doubling its net assets to more than $55 million.

During the last decade, Waschler led the organization’s evolution to focus on community impact to break the cycle of poverty for kids and families with an emphasis on birth to career educational success, financial stability and ending hunger and homelessness. He also led the organization’s simultaneous shift to provide both philanthropic and year-round engagement opportunities to meet the changing needs of Maricopa County donors. This includes diversifying how and when donors can give, while also providing donors and others more opportunities to create impact through volunteerism and by launching affinity groups such as Women United, Generation United for young professionals, Retire United and the nationally recognized Student United Way at Arizona State University.

In recent years, the organization has created innovative ways to engage volunteers while also solving community issues. One example is Vello, virtual tutoring platform that enables volunteers to connect virtually with students to help build their reading skills. Vello launched in Phoenix two years ago and is now in 50 local classrooms and engages more than 200 volunteer tutors. Under Waschler’s direction, Vello has expanded to United Ways across the nation and is expected to be in 20 communities next year.

Waschler has served in a volunteer leadership capacity with several community organizations including the Arizona Ready Council, Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Leadership, Expect More Arizona, United Way Worldwide National Professional Council, Rodel Foundation Advisory Council, and the ASU College of Public Programs Advisory Council. Waschler also led several United Way national initiatives including the national task force to develop a strategic framework for United Way of America.

“My work with Valley of the Sun United Way has been the most rewarding part of my career,” Waschler said. “Thanks to our dedicated staff and thousands of donors and volunteers, we’ve made incredible strides to help Valley families break the cycle of poverty. I look forward to ensuring that the next leader of this exceptional organization is in place and prepared to lead an even greater impact on our community.”

To learn more about the opportunity or to nominate a potential candidate, please contact Alexandra Corvin and Alison Ranney of Koya Leadership Partners at

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 fight to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring children and youth succeed, ending hunger and homelessness, and increasing the financial stability of families. Join the fight, visit


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