FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Thursday, January 9, 2020


Josh Kamensky, Ocean & Mountain • (323) 326-7438 • [email protected]

LOS ANGELES, CA—United Way of Greater Los Angeles is proud to welcome Oscar E. Cruz to the Executive Team as Chief Operations Officer (COO). In this new role, Cruz will oversee the organization’s strategic development and operations in continuing the fight against poverty through ending homelessness, increasing educational opportunities and creating economic mobility.

Cruz is an experienced nonprofit leader who recently served as President & CEO of Families In Schools (FIS), where he spent the last decade advocating for the educational opportunities of low-income students and families. FIS is a United Way partner and works with low-income, ethnic, and immigrant communities throughout Los Angeles County and brings strong experience in both engaging families in their children’s education and connecting families to school officials.

“Oscar understands United Way’s mission to break the cycle of poverty and believes in the power of our collective impact,” said Elise Buik, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “In addition to the invaluable perspective he brings us as a long-time Angeleno, Oscar’s background in program and advocacy work make him uniquely qualified to focus and align the transformative efforts we are undertaking to be a mission-first organization.”

Notably, Cruz led FIS through a 5-year strategic plan that emphasized organizational growth and diversified revenue streams. His experience and passion will help United Way to continue to grow and thrive.

"I grew up in Downtown Los Angeles in the 1980s, and I have seen first-hand how the economic development of the region has not benefited communities equally,” said Mr. Cruz. “I look forward to bringing my passion, commitment, and skills to helping United Way support low-income, immigrant, and communities of color break the cycle of poverty.”

Before FIS, Cruz served as a Program Director for Community Partners, directing projects in community technology and civic engagement. In addition he spent time as a senior program manager at the Center for Civic Education, working to implement civic engagement programs for students and youth throughout the United States and Latin America. He has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Latin America and served as an official international electoral observer in Mexico’s federal elections of 2000 and 2006.

Cruz earned his M.A. in Latin America Studies from Georgetown University and his B.A. in Political Science and Latin America Studies from UCLA. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son. He also currently serves on the board of Community Partners and The National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement.


United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization fighting to end poverty by preparing students for high school graduation, college, and the workforce; housing our homeless neighbors; and guiding hard-working families towards economic mobility. United Way identifies the root causes of poverty and works strategically to solve them by building alliances across all sectors, funding targeted programs and advocating for change.

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