UWMC Announces Retirement of President and CEO Mary Adams

After 14 years as President and CEO of United Way Monterey County Mary Adams will retire on June 30.  Under her leadership UWMC has stretched beyond its role as a leading community funder to bringing key services to our community. Through her stewardship, one in three county residents have benefitted from a UWMC-funded service. She has been heralded for her innovative leadership, personal commitment and style.

“Mary and the board have been discussing her retirement since late 2014 and she felt this was the best time to make the change,” said UWMC Board Chair Tim Nylen, Vice President, CHOMP. “We’re grateful to have had Mary lead us through the significant shift we’ve made toward Community Impact over the past few years and   wish her well as she leaves to pursue personal goals she deferred for our benefit.”

Adams’ accomplishments leave a legacy that will benefit United Way and Monterey County for years to come. Her achievements are remarkable in and of themselves but when you consider she assumed leadership at a time when the agency was struggling to merge two very different organizations and two very different cultures -- those of United Way of the Salinas Valley and United Way of the Monterey Peninsula – they show her capacity for forging strong partnerships amongst diverse sectors. Today, everyone can agree United Way is one of the most effective and highly respected organizations in the county.

Ensuring a seamless transition, the Board of Directors are proud to announce the promotion of Katy Castagna to President and CEO effective July 1.  Castagna currently serves as Chief Operating Officer and oversees operations and fundraising.  

“Katy is the perfect choice for our community.  She has the capacity to provide seamless leadership and build on the success achieved under Mary’s tenure,“ said Nylen. “Katy has the experience, the educational background and, most importantly, she shares our vision for United Way and our community.”

Castagna has more than 30 years of experience working and volunteering in public and nonprofit organizations focused on health and human services.  She has been with United Way for 10 years and she and Adams were instrumental in bringing services such as 2-1-1, EarnIt! KeepIt! SaveIt!, the  Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) and Stuff the Bus to great heights in Monterey County.  A graduate of Brown University, she holds an MBA from The Anderson School of Management at UCLA. She lives in Monterey with her husband and their two children.  Among her other interests, she volunteers with the American Cetacean Society, a whale and dolphin conservation organization.

“The board’s selection of Katy as President and CEO is very gratifying. She and I have been working on a succession plan for several years.  Her experience and love of community engagement positions her remarkably well to take United Way and our focus on transition to the next level. The timing is perfect.  She will be able to take the issues identified through Impact Monterey County and work with community leaders to address them.” said Adams. “Katy will have a strong, capable team backing her up. United Way could not be left in better hands.”

Adams raised the profile of UWMC and leaves a much stronger organization than she found. Not only did she increase United Way’s ability to raise money, she actively and successfully pursued collaborations to bring key services to the community.  Under her leadership, public and private sources of funding were garnered to ensure long-term sustainability of programs such as 2-1-1, VITA and The Volunteer Center.  Community leaders recognize the value UWMC brings to the community and the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce named UWMC the Business of the Year in 2008.  

Adams is visionary.  She recognized early that United Way needed to evolve beyond its traditional role as a fund distributor and pursued alternate business models to enable UWMC to more effectively serve the community. Thanks to her leadership, she leaves an organization well-positioned to tackle issues that keep us from ensuring everyone has the opportunity for a good quality of life.

Adams’ career spans nearly 40 years in the not-for-profit sector. She has been instrumental in the California State Capital, serving as a lobbyist for both the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association spearheading anti-tobacco legislation. She has been recognized nationally and internationally for her endeavors.  

Locally, Adams was recognized in 2007 as Outstanding Woman of the Year by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors Commission on the Status of Women. In 2008, she received the Rusty Stratton Award for Volunteerism and in 2011, she was presented the Community Leadership Award from CSU Monterey Bay School of Business and named Outstanding Woman of the Year by the Girl Scouts Council of Monterey Bay.

Adams has served in leadership roles for many organizations including the following, among others:
•    CAIRS (California Alliance of Information and Referral Services)
•    United Ways of California
•    2-1-1 California
•    Salute to Small Business Awards Judge
•    Monterey County Children’s Council
•    10-Year Plan to End Homelessness
•    York School Board of Trustees
•    KUSP-FM Founding Board of Directors
•    KUSP-FM Community Advisory Board
•    Leadership Monterey Peninsula Advisory Board
•    Salinas Rotary (2004 Distinguished Rotarian)
•    Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
•    L.E.A.D - Advisory Committee
•    KSBW Jefferson Awards Judge
•    The Literacy Campaign for Monterey County Steering Committee
•    Ethics Panel at CSUMB
•    Bright Futures, Co-convener

She has been quoted in publications as diverse as Nature Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, the Los Angeles Times and The Economist. Adams served as President of the prestigious California Biomedical Research Association, Senior Vice President of the American Heart Association, Western States Affiliate and served in a variety of senior management positions with the American Diabetes Association in San Francisco and Sacramento. Adams has worked with boards of directors at the national, state and local levels.

She looks forward to the opportunity to pursue a long-held dream of serving her community in a new way.