Madelynn Hirneise Named CEO of Families Forward

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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Madelynn Hirneise has been selected by the Families Forward Board of Directors by unanimous decision to assume the role of CEO at the organization beginning Oct.1.  

“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,” said Gary Cohn, Families Forward board chair.

A proven leader, Hirneise began her career at Families Forward in 2012 as a housing resource specialist and most recently served as senior director of the organization. For the past seven years, she has been instrumental in designing, developing, and implementing Families Forwards’ strategic housing acquisition and partnership programs. Throughout her time at Families Forward, Hirneise 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.

Families Forward, a Greater Irvine Chamber member, 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.

Hirneise’s appointment follows the retirement of Margie Wakeham, who for nearly 27 years, led Families Forward with dedication and vision, growing the organization into one of the most impactful agencies serving vulnerable families in Orange County. When Wakeham 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.

Wakeham will be honored at the Families Forward annual gala on Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Paséa Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach. Tickets are available at

Category: Partner News