Madelynn Hirneise

Chief Executive Officer

An Important Announcement from Gary Cohn Families Forward Board Chair

Dear friends, supporters, clients and community partners,

For nearly 27 years, Margie Wakeham has led Families Forward with dedication and vision, growing the organization into one of the most impactful agencies serving vulnerable families in the county. When Margie announced her retirement earlier this year, executive search firm Morris & Berger assisted the Board of Directors in a comprehensive, nationwide search for a successor CEO over the course of the past several months.

The board is thrilled to announce that Madelynn Hirneise, formerly Senior Director, has been selected by unanimous decision and will assume the role of CEO at Families Forward on October 1, 2019.

A proven leader, Madelynn began her career at Families Forward in 2012 as a Housing Resource Specialist. For the past 7 years Madelynn has been instrumental in designing, developing and implementing Families Forwards’ strategic housing acquisition and partnership programs. Throughout her time at Families Forward, Madelynn has overseen the Housing Program, Prevention and Diversion, Career Services and Community Resources. Under her direction, Families Forward saw an increase of nearly 75% in their housing continuum while maintaining a reputation in the community as leaders in quality care. She is dedicated to the mission of the organization and brings a passion for helping others to the role. We are excited for Madelynn to continue the growth and impact of the organization as Families Forward moves into the future. Our agency is on the leading edge of effective solutions for families, including dramatically increasing the inventory of affordable housing available to vulnerable parents and children in the county. Families Forward is dedicated to ending family homelessness and there is no better person to lead the organization as we navigate the changing landscape of homelessness in Orange County. We look forward to keeping you informed as we transition with our new CEO in October. If you have any questions in the interim, please do not hesitate to contact Elizabeth Childs, Director of Human Resources at

We will be honoring Margie’s exceptional career at our annual Gala on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at the Paséa Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach. Tickets for this incredible event can be purchased at We are also honoring her through a Legacy Fund, which will continue her incredible vision. Please contact Jillian Miller, Director of Development, for more information at

Thank you for being a special part of our journey and helping all the children of Orange County find a safe place to sleep.


Gary Cohn, Families Forward Board Chair

Partnering with nonprofits for executive search since 1984.

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