FORT WALTON BEACH — Walter Hooks, board chair for United Way of Okaloosa and Walton Counties, stated that the organization's new president and CEO will succeed Ken Hinrichs, how is retiring.

Rick Owen, the new executive, is a 27-year Air Force veteran who recently served as Okaloosa County's administrative manager and RESTORE Act coordinator.

“I believe that our United Way under Rick’s leadership, will continue to set the pace for our neighboring United Way organizations,” Hooks said.

“Our critical talents and skill set for the next United Way executive included, more than anything, the desire to help local people in need by partnering with our funded service agencies and by collaborating with other service providers to make our community the best it can be.

"Rick Owen exceeded all of our expectations. He demonstrates visible leadership, integrity, a willingness to go the extra mile, grant writing and fund raising skills, and the wisdom to wisely budget precious donor dollars to get the job done,” Hooks said.

Owen retired as a chief master sergeant after serving in various positions, culminating with aircraft maintenance director for an Air Force unit in Germany for nearly three years. There he managed 480 personnel in five specialized areas of aircraft maintenance.

Prior to that Owen directed Weapons Systems Test and Development at Eglin starting in 2007. Following his military experience, he assisted the Okaloosa County administrator in hiring the airports/tourist development directors and recently has provided technical assistance to Community Solutions, the committee that has been the catalyst for creation of One Hopeful Place, a shelter and training center due to open by July 1st that will serve the area’s homeless population.

“I am humbled and blessed to have this opportunity and thank the selection committee, as well as the Board of Directors, for their trust and confidence in my ability to perform in this role,” Owen said.

“I look forward with tremendous enthusiasm to serving the many United Way partner agencies in both Walton and Okaloosa Counties as well as the chance to expand our volunteer and sponsorship outreach through both legacy networks and an increased social media presence.”

Owen has a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle University and a Master of Science in Human Resource Management from Troy University. He is a member of the Eglin and Hurlburt chiefs’ groups. He and his wife, Kimberly, are the parents of three children and reside in Mary Esther.