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 & Administrative Officer, Tanya Muñiz guides these organizational imperatives that are essential to our MC2026 5-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 2018, Valle del Sol Profiles of Success Exemplary Leadership Award 2018, Phoenix Business Journal Outstanding CFO and Rising Star 2014, Phoenix Business Journal 40 under 40 2014, Financial Executive International CFO of the Year 2013, and Arizona’s 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 2011. 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.
“It’s a great day to be with Valley of the Sun United Way.”
This was Rob’s mantra as he and his team shaped and launched MC2026 a 5-year plan for Mighty Change in Maricopa County, then immediately put the plan into motion by opening up Valley of the Sun United Way’s grant funding process to more nonprofits and schools, adding 30 new community partners in the first year.
Rob joined the organization in fall 2020 and immediately applied his unique blend of community programming and philanthropic experiences to tightly align community needs with major donor and foundation interests and priorities. As Chief Community Development and Engagement Officer, Rob guides community strategies and partnerships that are foundational to the MC2026 plan. This includes relationships with non-profit, community and school partners, as well as foundations, major donors and members of donor circles such as Tocqueville Society, Foundation Circle, Women United and Legacy Society.
Prior to joining United Way, Rob was the CEO of the Siemer Institute based in Columbus, Ohio, and founded by United Way Million Dollar Roundtable donors, Al and Barbara Siemer, with the intent to replicate and scale their homelessness prevention program which launched in Sarasota, Florida, in 2003. Under Rob’s leadership, the Institute grew to partner with more than 50 of the largest United Ways in the nation, raising over $20 million annually and assisting more than 35,000 students and 15,000 families each year. Rob’s responsibilities included working closely with each United Way to build a sustainable local program, while nationally he directed all strategic aspects of the Institute and the day-to-day operations, fiscal management and program oversight.
Rob spent the first 23 years of his career in banking, including two years in Phoenix with Bank One and various positions in Dallas and Columbus.
In his native Ohio, Rob was active in the LGBTQI+ community and served as Board President for Stonewall Columbus. He was also a Board of Trustee member for The Legacy Fund and active in The Human Rights Campaign. Rob holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Ohio Northern University.
“Rob’s blend of experience from banking to running a national foundation and working with 50 leading United Ways nationwide, provides the unique and informed perspective we need to drive mighty change. By nature, he’s an enthusiastic collaborator and by experience, he’s focused on measurable outcomes. It’s the perfect combination as we work with others across the Valley to achieve our bold MC2026 community goals, and I am honored to have his energy, expertise and leadership on the Valley of the Sun United Way team.”
Carla Vargas Jasa, President & CEO, Valley of the Sun United Way