Chief Operating Officer

United Way of Greater Los Angeles - Los Angeles, CA

Sterling Search Inc. has been exclusively retained to recruit for the new Chief Operating Officer for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA), UNITED FOR L.A.

About UWLA

United Way of Greater Los Angeles is at a critical phase of transformation. In 2007, United Way launched its Creating Pathways out of Poverty Plan which shifted the organization into a mobilizing role around three key pillars of education, housing and economic mobility. The organization created public-private partnerships to reach scale on key policy and programmatic solutions and to mobilize partners from the business community, labor, non-profits, the public sector and individuals throughout the region, with a particular focus on ending homelessness through its Home for Good collective impact initiative.

Some major highlights:

  • Creating Pathways out of Poverty:
    • Worked with partners to house 40,000 of our neighbors
    • Advocated for Close the Gap resolution at LAUSD to ensure that low-income students have added resources to bridge the achievement gap
    • Helped 10,000 low-income families to access $11 million in tax credits annually
  • Advocated for the passage of Measure H and Proposition HHH to generate $5 billion for housing and services for people experiencing homelessness countywide
  • Launched EVERYONE IN, a grassroots campaign to build support for housing at the neighborhood level
  • Raised over $150 Million over the past five years for poverty-related initiatives
  • Formed new partnership with the Los Angeles Rams to elevate the issues of poverty and homelessness

As we look to our 100th anniversary in 2022, we are looking for a transformational leader to work with the CEO to create the United Way of the Future. Some key initiatives are:

  • Developing an integrated organization around the areas of Impact, Engagement and Revenue
  • Build on recent efforts around culture with a focus on organizational development and design, innovation, diversity, empowerment and performance and results
  • Oversee efforts around people development and leadership development, as well as identification and recruitment of talent for the future model
  • Work with the Executive team to translate the Strategic plan into implementation plans and metrics and create dashboards for monitoring
  • Work with the head of technology to explore key technologies and platforms for the future to reach individuals in new ways at scale and generate new sources of donations
  • Develop proactive forecasting and budget development, especially around full-cost accounting of restricted grants and donations
  • Automate key processes and update associated policies to create greater efficiencies in cost and time

We are seeking a Chief Operating Officer who can lead this transformation effort, creating a stronger and more innovative culture that addresses the pressing challenges of our region, primarily homelessness, economic mobility, and educational equity. A strong background in our mission work, combined with strategic prowess and organizational transformation experience, is highly desired. A commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is required.

Position Description

The Chief Operating Officer serves as the operations, strategic and people leader of United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA) and provides leadership and guidance to ensure key initiatives, culture transformation, program regulations, performance outcomes, and operations are managed appropriately, in accordance with applicable local, state, and federal laws. Working side-by-side with the CEO, this key role will help define the organization of the future, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the organization in 2021 and creating the nimble and effective infrastructure for the next century.

The COO leads the Executive Team, consisting of leaders in impact, development, marketing, human resources and finance. The role works closely with the entire enterprise and is responsible for developing, executing, and monitoring strategic plans and programs, both short and long-range to support business goals and the objectives of the organization. This includes, but is not limited to, developing and implementing plans for the operational infrastructure in the form of policies, systems, processes, and staff development to improve the overall operations and effectiveness of the organization. The COO oversees culture, employee engagement and development, performance optimization, and often acts as “Chief of Staff” for the CEO. This role also oversees the finance function and is responsible for ensuring UWGLA has solid fiduciary policies, procedures, and outcomes. This leader will oversee our transformation from a technology perspective, as well. Currently, the following functions report to the COO: Human Resources, Finance Business Services (includes IT), Marketing & Communications, and Operations.


  Strategic Development

  • Partner with the CEO to lead the organization into the future, through organizational design, culture work, innovation, process improvement, and strong financial oversight.
  • Act as “Chief of Staff”, leading the Executive Leadership Team, engendering alignment, collaboration, trust, and results.
  • Transform the organization into a higher performing entity that sets clear goals, obtains and measures results, generates strong employee loyalty and performance, and makes great impact in our communities.
  • Oversee key cultural initiatives and ensure collaboration with all department leaders across UWGLA; function as executive coach and resource for the CEO, VPs and directors.
  • Facilitate the development, communication, and evaluation of goals for UWGLA on an annual basis.
  • Oversee and drive all strategic planning and internal operations and problem solving. Increase efficiency and effectiveness across the organization.
  • Serve as a key liaison to the Board of Directors, with oversight of the Executive and Nominating Committees.

Organizational Culture Development

  • Lead key culture initiatives; develop employee engagement programs and monitor team satisfaction.
  • Guide the organization to become a greater proponent of equity, diversity and inclusion, both internally and externally.
  • Work with each departmental leader to develop annual performance goals and workplans that cascade to individual team members and connect with the overall strategic plan.
  • Oversee team development, including people leadership and organization wide learning.
  • Identify and recruit key staff in collaboration with Human Resources; oversee retention and succession planning.
  • Work with Human Resources to administer personnel policies and standards, benefits renewal contracts, salary administration, and best practices in a union and non-union work environment. Oversee the performance management system and strategy.
  • Motivate, team build, guide, train, and lead a high-performance management team and provide mentoring as a cornerstone to management development. Guide team in prioritizing/executing on multiple program objectives.
  • Oversee and direct, through direct reports and other managers, the supervision of all operational staff (Finance Business Services, HR, and Operations).

Finance & Operations Management

  • Lead the effort to diversify revenue streams and create the infrastructure to support this transformation.
  • Provide guidance to direct reports in developing operational plans and timelines for all projects and initiatives. Foster engagement, team building, and consensus across the organization through regular meetings, collaboration, and other professionally sound methods.
  • Work with VP, Finance and other finance personnel to assess fiscal requirements, develop budgets, and manage expenditures.
  • Lead the annual budget development process, in partnership with the VP, Finance, to ensure fiscal decisions support the organization’s transformation. Streamline the process for greater efficiency. Oversee scenario planning and financial analysis to drive decision making.
  • Provide recommendations to leadership regarding all major strategic and financial decisions and oversees the implementation of decisions. Analyze data and systems to inform decisions.
  • Outline operational and strategic progress to measure and oversee the preparation of periodic and annual summary reports for key stakeholders.
  • Identify opportunities to leverage and/or redesign processes, tools, and technology to improve UWGLA operations.
  • Lead the Operations team in developing systems and analytics to support decision making.
  • Ensure timely filing of all required regulatory reporting, as well as those required by United Way Worldwide.


  • Minimum 15 years progressive related experience with proven successful operations management and/or executive level of expertise. Must possess solid business acumen and experience at a senior leadership level.
  • Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration or equivalent combination of relevant education and experience required. Master’s degree preferred.
  • Strong strategic planning skills including execution expertise; at least 5 years of leading multi-layer teams.
  • Prior P & L management experience required; demonstrated strength in financial planning, budgeting, and analysis with previous experience overseeing non-profit programs.
  • Demonstrated track record of attracting and developing high performance teams. Strong people leadership expertise to drive results and a positive culture.
  • Strong ability to provide strategic level input to senior leadership and the ability to influence others at all levels of the organization, including at the CEO and Board level.
  • Should possess excellent interpersonal, written, and verbal communications skills; excellent relationship building skills and demonstrated confidence working with corporate and community leaders.
  • Must be able to exercise initiative, independent good judgment, flexibility, discretion, and solid decision making.
  • Analytical capabilities, including the ability to think critically and strategically, to propose and implement change successfully.
  • Must be able to successfully organize, plan, prioritize, and manage multiple priorities; able to work within a fast-paced environment.
  • Possess personal qualities of integrity, credibility, collaboration, resilience, and ability to pursue bold conversations where needed to gain alignment and results
  • Strong commitment to UWGLA Creating Pathways out of Poverty mission. Prior experience in a social services agency a bonus.


A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract an outstanding candidate.

Please send resumes to:

Sterling Search, Inc.

Phone: 714-433-7040

Direct all correspondence, emails and telephone calls to Sterling Search, Inc.

Any resumes sent or telephone calls made to UWGLA will be redirected to Sterling Search, Inc.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Posted On: Friday, July 19, 2019

Position Contact
Sarah Agee
(714) 433-7040
Costa Mesa, CA
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