Learn more about the passionate leaders of our organization
Valley of the Sun United Way President and CEO Carla Vargas Jasa grew up learning that to achieve bold goals you must be willing and dedicated to creating mighty change. Her father was the perfect teacher -- as a student in Paraguay, he protested against his country’s dictatorship, and consequently was jailed and tortured. After relocating to the United States, his dedication for human rights, equity and democracy endured and he passed this passion onto his daughter.
Carla joined Valley of the Sun United Way in July 2019 as the first female and Latina leader of the organization which serves the more than 4.6 million people of Maricopa County and is among the largest United Ways in the United States. In her first year, she led United Way’s local response to COVID-19, rallying donors and uniting the non-profit community. In just weeks, United Way raised more than $3M, acquired 2M PPE and $800K in gifts-in-kind and swiftly put all of it back into the community where the need was greatest. During that same timeframe, she launched United Way’s Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion initiative, co-led by staff and board members.
With an eye to the long-term needs that existed prior to and were exacerbated by the pandemic, Carla and team launched MC2026, a 5-year plan for Mighty Change in Maricopa County. Introduced in March 2021, the plan is based on community surveys, town halls and listening sessions and focuses on achieving bold community goals across four strategic priorities -- Health, Homelessness/Housing, Education and Workforce Development -- and addressing the systemic barriers to diversity, equity, access and inclusion that make these issues so pervasive.
Carla’s leadership is already highly recognized in the Valley. In May 2021, she was named one of the Phoenix Business Journal’s Most Admired Leaders and United Way was selected for the Greater Phoenix Chamber Community Champion IMPACT Award. In 2020, Carla was recognized as a “2020 Leader of the Year” by the Arizona Capitol Times and named among the “Most Influential Women in Arizona Business” by AZ Big Media. In December 2020, the organization received the largest gift in its nearly 100-year history, $25 million from renowned philanthropist, author and business person MacKenzie Scott.
Prior to coming to the Valley, Carla held several leadership roles for Orange County United Way, where she guided the development of 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 launch of United to End Homelessness, a communitywide response which brought new and innovative public-private partnerships to that market.
She’s no stranger to Arizona – Carla spent her early childhood in Tucson where her father taught at the University of Arizona. She and her parents also lived in Mexico and California.
Carla earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. In her free time, Carla enjoys spending time with her husband and her Boston terrier, hiking in the Arizona desert, cheering on Valley sports teams and exploring new wineries north and south of the border.
“Carla is the leader we need right now, not only for United Way, but for our entire community. It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to work with her.”
John Graham, Chairman & CEO, Sunbelt Holdings
Valley of the Sun United Way, Chair, Board of Directors
At Valley of the Sun United Way, we know one thing for sure: to achieve our community’s bold goals, we must first have a firm financial foundation, a long-term economic plan, the tools to report our progress and a strong team to lead the way.
Chief Financial and Operating Officer, Tanya Muñiz guides these organizational imperatives that are essential to our MC2026 five-year plan for Mighty Change in Maricopa County, and along the way has built a strong local and national reputation of transparency, financial responsibility and innovation.
Tanya oversees all fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities, human resources, legal, facilities, IT and data analytics for Valley of the Sun United Way, as well as the economic and infrastructure plan to support MC2026 and achieve its bold community goals. Additionally, she is responsible for the team that manages United Way’s partnership with First Things First, which includes more than $60 million in grant funding to increase and support availability of and access to quality early childhood education opportunities across Arizona.
Since joining United Way in 2001, she’s held various leadership roles within United Way and in the community. Tanya serves on the United Way World Wide Financial Issues Committee and served on the Diversity and Inclusion Council where she led efforts to leverage the diversity of Latinos/Hispanics to create more inclusive economies. Locally, she is the Board Treasurer for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She has previously served on the Board and Finance Committee for Arizona Grantmakers Forum and Phoenix Community Tool Bank. She is an active alumnus with Valley Leadership and Valle del Sol Hispanic Leadership Institute, and a volunteer mentor for New Pathways for Youth.
Tanya has received several community recognitions over the years including Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Athena Finalist, Valle del Sol Profiles of Success Exemplary Leadership Award, Phoenix Business Journal Outstanding CFO and Rising Star, Phoenix Business Journal 40 under 40, Financial Executive International CFO of the Year, and Arizona’s 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40. She earned her degree in Accounting from New Mexico State University.
“I have had the privilege of working with Tanya over twenty years, and watched her grow into one of the best financial executives I’ve worked with. Tanya brings the perfect combination of confidence, competence and financial rigor to the finance function. Over the past few years, I’ve seen firsthand how she actively supports United Way’s mission and vision for improving our community with a relentless focus on the organization’s financial health.”
Robyn Arnell Brenden, Senior Vice President Finance & Accounting, Leslie’s
Valley of the Sun United Way Board of Directors Treasurer & Finance Committee Chair
Driven by her dedication to serving the people of her hometown and a passion for mobilizing the caring spirit of the Valley’s corporate community, Laura directs the corporate relations, fundraising, marketing and volunteerism teams with energy and creativity.
One of Laura’s key responsibilities is to lead the MC2026 Cabinet of community and corporate volunteers who are critical in engaging local companies in new ways to help advance their social responsibility objectives and achieve the MC2026 goals for the community.
Laura joined United Way in 2008 as a corporate development officer, and through her career has grown her impact by leading the development of the organization’s affinity groups, guiding the development of volunteerism, leading marketing’s shift to digital strategies and donor communications, and, most recently, growing corporate campaigns by focusing on the corporate social responsibility goals of its partners.
She is a University of Arizona graduate and remains engaged with the Eller School of Management, as well as Valley Leadership.
Emma Garcia is a seasoned corporate social responsibility executive and social impact strategist with a proven track record of delivering meaningful and measurable results through strategic planning efforts and transformative initiatives in corporate and philanthropic giving, stakeholder engagement, fundraising, program design, collaborative impact, advocacy and communications.
With a passion for servant leadership and a commitment to driving positive change, as Chief Community Development and Engagement Officer, Emma leads the implementation of Valley of the Sun United Way’s five-year strategic plan and impact agenda for Mighty Change, or MC2026, and oversees major and individual donor engagement strategies.
Emma holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and she has honed her expertise through additional education, including a Nonprofit Executive Leadership Certificate from Arizona State University’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation and a Sustainability Certificate from Harvard Business School Online. Her leadership has been recognized through numerous awards, including the Phoenix Business Journal's Philanthropist of the Year and Diversity Champion Award.
Emma is a member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals and a volunteer board and advisory council member for several nonprofit organizations. She is the proud mom of three adult children, and in her spare time, she enjoys cooking traditional Mexican meals and exploring the many Arizona hiking trails with her husband.