A Century of Service

By Giving List Staff   |   November 26, 2022

United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) marks its 100-year anniversary in 2023. As the organization celebrates this century of service to the Santa Barbara community, UWSBC is looking back at its history of community-building and forward to continued work on behalf of the thousands of students and families they serve each year. 

Innovation and quality programming has always been UWSBC’s way. UWSBC consistently creates and leverages effective community partnerships to deliver direct programs and services to thousands of residents in need throughout the county each year. Throughout the last 100 years, UWSBC has built a proven model of community organizing, fundraising, and program development to strategically target the community’s evolving needs.

In the wake of the twin disasters of the Thomas Fire and Montecito debris flow, UWSBC expanded its crisis response programs and initiatives to rapidly respond to a massive increase in need. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, UWSBC again marshaled its resources, leadership, and collaborative partnerships to develop programs supporting thousands of local families with emergency childcare services, remote and hybrid learning support, and rental and
utility assistance.  

“The beauty of the flexibility of our model is that we’re able to quickly address any major issues within our scope of work that suddenly arise,” says President and CEO Steve Ortiz, who joined UWSBC in 2005. “There’s recognition and trust in our brand, strength in our existing relationships, and faith in our ability to coordinate large efforts in a way that allows all the players in a robust collaboration to employ their best resources.” 

Recent years have seen UWSBC achieve record levels of annual revenue and program support – its crisis response efforts alone mushroomed from $4 million in 2020 to more than $53 million in late 2022. Over 8,000 local families have been the beneficiaries of this effort, building more resilient foundations for household and financial stability. 

“Thanks to our partners and supporters, we’ve experienced incredible growth, and we will continue to evaluate and improve our structure to maintain our role as a key leader in impacting needs to keep our community strong, safe, and healthy,” Ortiz says. “Whatever the need, people can expect that the United Way will be there.”


United Way of Santa Barbara County

Donate now!

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


Our mission is 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.

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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

What I appreciate most about United Way’s approach to programming and outreach is that there is an organizational insistence on engaging the whole community. What that means for me personally is that United Way makes it fun and easy to support Fun in the Sun as it encourages more direct donor involvement with the program. This gives me a hands-on and close-up view of the work being done to support both our public schools and students. United Way makes it easy for donors to access all the programs and it involves members of our community at all levels in contributing, volunteering, and active learning about how we can collectively make our wonderful city and county an even better place for all.
David Jackson
Zegar Family Foundation

The Next 100 Years

In addition to its celebration of the 100-year anniversary alongside the volunteers, staff, partners, and supporters who have made the milestone possible, United Way of Santa Barbara County is also undertaking its first endowment campaign since 1982. 

“Our success in launching new programming and establishing new projects and partnerships are a benefit of that campaign 40 years ago,” President & CEO Steve Ortiz says. “With an evolving community, we need to prioritize maintaining UWSBC’s responsive and innovative programmatic infrastructure to adapt to changing needs. Endowment gifts or special anniversary donations will help UWSBC to stay strong for the next 100 years and sustain our impact on behalf of individuals, children, and families countywide.”

UWSBC Board of Directors

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
Tim Armour
Retired Executive
Sue Birch
Retired Educator
Lance Connor
Reliable Engineering Services
David Flattery
Vice President of Business Development, DuPont Displays
Robert Hollman
Commercial Real Estate Developer & Owner
Alex Koper
President & CEO, MoXi, Global Mortgage Group
Shari Liu Fellows
Co-Founder/Principal, The Grayson Agency
Terri Maus-Nisich
Assistant CEO, County of Santa Barbara
Art Merovick
Retired Executive
Kevin Nelson
Director of Corporate Compliance, Cottage Health
Patrice Ryan
Retired Executive