Current Baptist Health and former United Way executive brings over 25 years of nonprofit experience and community commitment to the role
Jacksonville, Fla. (Aug. 9, 2022) – Melanie D. Patz has been named president and chief executive officer of United Way of Northeast Florida. A respected community and nonprofit leader, Patz currently serves as vice president of community investment and impact at Baptist Health and previously served as vice president of community impact for United Way. Patz will assume the organization’s top post Sept. 26.
“After a thorough national search, we’ve identified an exceptional person to lead our United Way, build on the impact of its work and strengthen its relationships with our community, including its business, government and nonprofit partners,” said Lisa Palmer, chair of United Way of Northeast Florida and president and chief executive officer of Regency Centers. “Melanie is a proven leader and a natural collaborator who strives to bring people together. She has a unique understanding of our community’s challenges and a history of success in developing solutions to address them. We’re so excited to welcome her back to the team and eager for Melanie to bring her innovative vision for United Way to life, changing lives in Jacksonville and the entire region.
Patz joined Baptist Health in September 2014. During her tenure, she spearheaded the implementation of a school health center at Ribault High School, drove the creation of JaxCareConnect and led the effort to initiate Blue Zones Jacksonville. Recently, Patz worked with Baptist’s social responsibility board and a team of nine professionals to develop a strategic plan to address critical community health priorities, including infant mortality and mental health.
At United Way, Patz spent a decade directing funding and resources toward significant, sustained improvements in education, income and health initiatives. She also supervised many programs and partnerships, including Achievers For Life, United Way 211, Success By 6, RealSense and Full Service Schools of Jacksonville. She also served on the United Way Worldwide advisory councils for health and education and was a member of the United Way Worldwide Education Social Change Task Force.
Patz has 27 years of nonprofit management experience, a bachelor’s degree in business management from Samford University and an MBA with a concentration in economics from the University of North Florida. She currently serves on the boards of the System of Care initiative and the Early Learning Coalition of Duval and is a founding board member of 904WARD. She is a graduate of the 2005 Community Coaches program and Class of 2006 Leadership Jacksonville. Patz was also recognized as a 2013 Woman of Influence by the Jacksonville Business Journal, a 2019 Community Health Hero by Agape, a 2020 Woman of Distinction by Gateway Council of Girl Scouts, and a Humanitarian by OneJax in 2020.
“United Way plays a critical role in our community, and its impact throughout its nearly 100-year history is far-reaching,” said Patz. “It’s an honor to take the helm of an organization that has benefitted so many individuals and families in our region and meant so much to me personally. I am excited to lead this team and, together with our partners, we will continue to innovate and work toward our vision of a community of opportunity for everyone in Northeast Florida.”
Patz will replace former United Way President and CEO Michelle Braun, who retired in April. Chief Financial Officer Robin Abbott has served as interim CEO since Braun’s departure.
Patz’s hire concludes an extensive search process initiated by United Way’s board of directors following Braun’s resignation. A search committee chaired by Michael Herman, senior vice president, general counsel of Regency Centers, drove the recruitment and hiring process for the organization’s new president and CEO. Other members of the search committee include: Kirk Larsen (Black Knight), Lisa Palmer (Regency Centers), Ned Peverley (Vestcom), Sabeen Perwaiz (Florida Nonprofit Alliance), Darnell Smith (Florida Blue) and Jim Stepnoski (KPMG, ret.). Executive search firm Korn Ferry was retained to work with the committee on this effort.
“The search committee ran a comprehensive and competitive national search in partnership with Korn Ferry to find the best person to lead our United Way for today and tomorrow,” said Herman. “We couldn’t be more pleased and excited that we found our new leader right here in Jacksonville. We are confident that Melanie is the right person at the right time for both our organization and our community.”
To ensure a seamless leadership transition, United Way’s board of directors also established a transition subcommittee led by Debbie Buckland, former Jacksonville market president for Truist and a long-time supporter of United Way.
For more information on the work of United Way of Northeast Florida and its partners, visit unitedwaynefl.org. To request a media interview with United Way board leadership or Patz, contact Sarah Henderson, United Way’s director of marketing and communications, at 904-300-8366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.