Elise Buik made history by becoming the first female president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA) in 2005. For nearly a decade, she has been a community leader and spokesperson to advocate for our most vulnerable neighbors: the homeless, veterans and students.
A native of Atlanta, Elise was inspired to join UWGLA in 1994 due to her strong belief in the organization’s mission and her personal desire and responsibility to dedicate her career to helping others. Elise believes firmly that it is unacceptable that currently one in five children live in poverty and tens of thousands of people are homeless in Los Angeles County. Beginning her tenure in the marketing department, Elise worked her way up through the ranks, dedicating countless hours to help solve the pressing and rapidly growing social and economic issues facing Los Angeles County. Prior to joining UWGLA, Elise spent seven years in the private sector as the marketing manager for a medical software company.
She has been instrumental in transforming UWGLA from its historical fundraising role into a community impact organization that identifies social issues, convenes experts, partners with other organizations and crafts innovative solutions and policy. Under her leadership, UWGLA launched a strategic 10-year action plan called Creating Pathways Out of Poverty to help tackle poverty in L.A. County through a comprehensive and collaborative approach tied to measurable results. This plan focuses on the three critical issues driving the social and economic trends in the County: ending homelessness by providing housing stability, improving educational achievement and helping struggling families, especially veterans, gain financial stability.
Elise currently serves on the boards of the Pacific Council, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the USC Price Board of Councilors, and is a member of the Civic Alliance. Additionally, she serves as a Commissioner for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, appointed by Mayors Garcetti and Villaragoisa. She also chairs the National Professional Council for United Way of America. Her honors and recognition include being honored with the “Nonprofit CEO of the Year” award from the Los Angeles Business Journal, being named as a “Top 10 Gamechanger” by Los Angeles Magazine, and receiving the “Non-profit Leadership and Responsibility” award by the Pat Brown Institute.
In addition to her civic and professional responsibilities, Elise is a wife and mother to two sons. Being a mother has further strengthened her resolve that all children in our community should have a pathway out of poverty.