Author: Daniela Siqueiros


Dominic Ortega

Outstanding Philanthropist

Dominic Ortega is legendary for two things: His exceptional photography skills and his smile-generating handstands.

Oh yes, and for one other accomplishment: Using these talents and much more to raise funds, mentor youth and bring awareness to dozens of service organizations in Tucson.

Ortega, 62, attends up to seven fundraising events a week. He hosts them, buys event tickets, connects people who could help each other, serves on boards, and takes plenty of pictures that he posts on Facebook. “It’s a mission of love,” the retired marketing specialist says.

“I think my photos show the love I feel for my friends and their causes,” the self-taught photographer says. “My photos and Facebook posts tell these stories and encourage others to give their time, talent and treasure.”

As for the handstand? That started at a fundraiser. He and his wife Myriam acted as hosts for a dinner by a University of Arizona Club. The annual event typically raised around $20,000 to $30,000.

“I wanted to shake it up a bit,” Ortega recalls. “In a tuxedo and from the stage I said I would do whatever it would take to raise more money for the event. I flipped over and started walking on my hands. We grossed $325,000 that night.”

Now, organizers of the 10 to 12 galas the couple attends each year encourage him to show off this maneuver. “It is especially fun representing the older crowd after some youngster has ‘busted a move’ inside a large dance circle,” he says.

There is a short list of interests and causes that attract Ortega, but a much longer one of those he supports. “My greatest passions are education, health care and the support of women and children,” he states. “I also try to give my time to groups that will have the greatest impact on the community.”

He works for and with the American Heart Association, YWCA, Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, El Rio Foundation, Casa Maria Soup Kitchen and dozens more organizations. The self-described Wildcat for life is involved with several University of Arizona colleges and clubs, as well as the Alumni Association, Hispanic Alumni Club and Student Alumni Ambassadors.

His presence and efforts don’t go unnoticed. “He inspires and motivates other community members to be more involved simply by the sheer number of events he personally supports every year,” says Wendy Erica Werden, manager of community investment with Tucson Electric Power.

Ortega has been named the 2019 Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year, but his reward for this work is more internal.

“The secret to happiness is in the genuine act of caring for others, service to others and giving to others,” he says. “It is looking in the mirror and saying, ‘Did I do my part? Did I make a difference?’”


Julie Ragland

Outstanding Fundraising Executive

It takes a little bit of magic to raise funds for a nonprofit. At least that’s how Julie Ragland sees it.

“I think of fundraising as a bit of a magical exchange,” says Ragland, who has been development director for The Rialto Theatre Foundation for three years. “I’m looking for people who are looking for me or, more accurately, my organization so that they can give gifts that are meaningful to them.”

As the foundation’s first-ever development director, Ragland, 42, has been able to weave her magic to great effect. Her efforts pumped up membership at the downtown entertainment venue from 300 to 1,700. She helmed the successful “I Rock the Rialto” capital campaign that raised $1 million to rehab the theater’s historic building. She also manages the foundation’s Giving Program that supports other organizations.

For this and other accomplishments, Ragland has been named the 2019 Outstanding Fundraising Executive.

Ragland’s career path wasn’t clear in 2001 after the Chicago-born and Wisconsin-raised University of Arizona student graduated with a degree in anthropology. She took an entry-level job at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, cleaning kennels and taking in homeless animals. That opened her eyes to working for nonprofits.

She stuck with community work through the Birth & Women’s Health Center, Fox Tucson Theatre and Center for Biological Diversity.

It was at this last post, where she worked with major donors, that Ragland had her “aha” moment. “I realized how my strengths — my ability to build strong, meaningful connections with people and organize data and systems on the back end — lend themselves really well to development work,” she says.

And she’s good at it, having helped to raise more than $8 million for these organizations.

It turns out the anthropology degree does serve her well in her career. It enabled her to understand people’s motivations and how they are shaped by where they come from. “I’m really a people-person, which is one reason I studied anthropology,” Ragland says.

“The thing that brings me the most joy has been meeting the people in this community who make it vibrant and unique.”

Ragland is all in for a development career. She’ll lead the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southern Arizona Chapter after serving as membership chair and, currently, president-elect. She was introduced to the organization by mentor Deb Dale, who earned the Outstanding Fundraising Executive Award in 2008.

Ragland has helped her small foundation staff sharpen their skills to become a proficient development team.

Curtis McCrary, for one, is grateful for Ragland’s skills. McCrary is the executive director of The Rialto Theatre Foundation, as well as executive director and general manager of the theater.

Her work has established the venue as a “pre-eminent arts nonprofit” in the community, he notes.

“She has been integral in imbuing the Rialto with the ‘spirit of philanthropy,’” he says, “something that we were largely lacking before her arrival.”


Michael Cyrino

Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser

Professionally, Michael Cyrino is known as the manager of corporate giving for Arizona Complete Health, which offers health care plans, programs and services.

He’s coordinated distribution of funds from the company’s community reinvestment program to pay for mental health first aid training, youth education on resisting drug use and peer pressure, the Pima County Sheriff’s Crisis Canine Response Team, and more.

After giving all day, Cyrino spends his free time giving even more. It’s why he has been recognized as Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year for 2019.

“Managing corporate philanthropy is my job,” says Cyrino, 32, “but giving to my community is my passion. Passion doesn’t stop at 5 p.m. and neither do the needs of our community.”

The Southern California native recalls volunteering at an early age with the guidance of his grandparents. One memory is of selling Tootsie Rolls outside of grocery stores with Knights of Columbus members from his family’s church.

“I have many fond and vivid memories of wearing my yellow vest that was way too big and ringing my little bell,” he says.

Cyrino moved from Albuquerque to Tucson in 2013 following a visit with a friend who introduced him to eegee’s and Sonoran hot dogs. “The rest is history,” Cyrino says with a laugh.

He spends his volunteer time working on boards for organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Social Venture Partners, Greater Tucson Leadership and the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. They allow him to fulfill his desire to support Ronald McDonald House, serve as a mentor and help with dog welfare efforts.

Other organizations he’s volunteered for include the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Centurions, El Rio Vecinos and the Education Enrichment Foundation.

He likes to help people connect to the community. “It’s really about relationships,” he says. “When one thrives, we all thrive.”

Cyrino is willing to put himself out there for the causes he cares about. He has rappelled down the side of a building wearing a green tutu, danced the tango blindfolded, competed in a spelling bee, and acted as a celebrity bartender.

“There isn’t much I wouldn’t consider if it would raise money for a good cause,” he says. “I have been very fortunate to build a personal brand that excites the community, and if I can leverage that to raise money for a cause, why not? For me, it’s just the right thing to do, and it’s fun.”

That combination of behind-the scenes work and public — some may say wacky — displays of support is what’s key to Cyrino’s leadership style, says Kate Maguire Jensen, president and chief executive offer of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona.

“He is equally adept at working a room,” Jensen says, “and having a meaningful, private conversation with a constituent or potential donor.”

The David and Lura Lovell Foundation

Outstanding Foundation Philanthropist

A family foundation reflects what’s important to its trustees. For the late Lura Lovell, that was to help spread advocacy and education as far and wide as possible.

“My mother always spoke of the ripple effect,” says Ann Lovell, the second of David and Lura’s four children. “Drop a stone into a lake and watch the ripples. Live a good life and help others and the ripples of that keep spreading out.”

The 25-year-old David and Lura Lovell Foundation has focused its funding on mental health, integrative health and wellness, youth access to the arts, and gender parity. It has been designated 2019 Outstanding Foundation Philanthropist.

One signature project is the Arizona End of Life Care Partnership. The foundation collaborated with Community Foundation for Southern Arizona to fund nine Tucson organizations and one statewide partner that spreads the word about advance directives, educates about end of life care options, and seeks to, “fundamentally change the way we talk about death.”

Lovell Foundation and Tucson’s Marshall Foundation co-funded an award-winning documentary, Passing On, produced by Arizona Public Media and narrated by National Public Radio’s Scott Simon, which preceded this initiative. The partnership now is considered the country’s largest funded community-based end-of-life-effort.

This project is personal. David Lovell, who died of cancer in 1993, spent his last months selling the family’s Toledo, Ohiobased chemical company in order to create the foundation. David relied on integrative medicine techniques to alleviate suffering through his illness.

After David died, Lura created the foundation in 1994 in Ohio, but spent more time at the vacation home that the couple bought in Tucson in 1989. Lura worked full time alongside Ann on the foundation until Lura died in 2013. “It was her baby,” Ann says. “She participated in every part that she could.”

Ann served as executive director for a decade until she transitioned to professional management. She still serves as president and chair of the board, but has stepped away from day-to-day activities, believing in a team approach to philanthropy. She works closely with Executive Director John Amoroso, Office & Grants Manager Ann Borden, consultant Christina Rossetti, and nine other Trustees and Board Advisors, including Tucson’s Bonnie Kampa, to amplify the foundation’s impact.

By focusing on initiatives instead of programs and operations, the foundation tackles social issues using the collective brainpower of partners to make big changes.

The Bravewell Collaborative, for instance, spurred acceptance of integrative medicine and has led to more than 80 programs in medical schools worldwide. Funding has expanded residency and fellowship programs at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine and faculty training at University of Arizona College of Nursing.

Dr. Mindy Fain, co-director of the UA Center on Aging, has seen how Lura’s ripple effect works. Lovell Foundation funding allowed the center to permanently include a living will component in the medical curriculum that Dr. Fain says, “will impact future medical school classes and their patients well beyond the life of the grant.”

Students at Salpointe Catholic High School

Outstanding Youths in Philanthropy

Some 1,200 teenagers get bragging rights this year as the 2019 Outstanding Youths in Philanthropy.

They make up the student body of Salpointe Catholic High School. Last school year they spent more than 42,000 hours on charitable works.

Service is a hallmark of Salpointe students, whose education includes living their faith through good works. Every student is required to complete 15 hours of service each year. Last school year that totaled more than 23,000 hours — 23 percent more than what was required of them.

The beneficiaries of that work included Ben’s Bells, Boy Scouts, Kino Border Initiative, Gospel Rescue Mission and St. Luke’s Home.

A program that started in 2016 goes a step further. IMPACT Service Days tie directly to course work. “The IMPACT Service Days are unique as they align course curriculum to justice on a much broader sense,” says Jennifer Harris, the school’s director of advancement. “We ask the question, ‘How does our high school curriculum link to justice?’”

Freshmen attack hunger and poverty; sophomores focus on stewardship of God’s creation; juniors learn compassion by helping the poor and vulnerable; and seniors design projects on social justice issues. In the two November days of service, more than 60 partner organizations and sites receive student assistance while teaching them about the lives of the people they serve.

That’s the experience of Zoey Delgado, a Salpointe senior who has participated in IMPACT Service Days her entire high school career. She recalls one incident in particular.

Last year she was among a group of Salpointe students who organized a field day for an elementary school in which many students were from low-income families. The high schoolers gave the kids a fun day and talked with them about healthy living.

One child spoke with Zoey about vaping and how it happens in that child’s home. Zoey says she felt good to be able to have that conversation. “To be a positive influence in these kids’ lives was really special,” she says.

Through the IMPACT program, Zoey has helped paint a mural at Elvira Elementary School and share Communion with homebound elders, many of whom were sick and bedridden.

In this final year of high school, Zoey also is involved with the National Honor Society; Assisteens, which is run by the Assistance League of Tucson and was a 2016 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy winner; and Kino Teens, a Kino Border Initiative network.

This level of community involvement is not unusual for Salpointe students, she says. Many of her friends belong to various service organizations.

“I’m very fortunate to be going to Salpointe in the first place,” Zoey says. “To have the opportunity to help with projects and interact with people who aren’t as fortunate as us is a touching experience for us. We learn a lot about gratitude and how we can affect others by helping out.”


Tucson Federal Credit Union

Outstanding Corporate or Corporate Foundation Philanthropist

Once a year, each employee at Tucson Federal Credit Union (TFCU) has the opportunity to not report for work.

Instead, they are encouraged to show up at a nonprofit’s project location, ready to do good deeds for the Tucson community. And it’s still a workday of sorts because TFCU pays its employees for eight hours each year to volunteer.

This is one of several ways that TFCU contributes to a better Tucson. These actions have led to it being named Outstanding Corporate/Corporate Foundation Philanthropist of 2019.

The credit union’s motto is “Tucson Matters!”, and its mission is to use TFCU’s resources to help residents meet their basic needs.

“When people find housing, live in safety and eat nutritious food, then we know that they have a better chance of improving their future,” says Susan Stansberry, TFCU’s president and chief executive officer.

The company’s philanthropy isn’t focused on a handful of nonprofits or particular causes. Instead, it prefers to respond to the needs of the community as various sectors define them. “This allows us quickly to adapt our community engagement to the social needs and issues occurring in Tucson,” Stansberry explains.

To that end, organizations can appeal for support through the TFCU Gives application. A company committee made up of employees makes decisions about group volunteer projects.

One big project is delivering free financial education to a variety of residents. They include felons on probation, Pima Community College students taking basic education classes, low-income clients of the Primavera Foundation and teens training for culinary careers in classes supported by the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Stansberry walks the walk, according to Becky O’Hara, director of development for the University of Arizona Cancer Center. When O’Hara held a similar post with the Arizona Oncology Foundation, she observed Stansberry working on boards and empowering employees to contribute to communities in need.

“Susan’s leadership is remarkable,” says O’Hara, “and she is always ready to volunteer with staff at nonprofit events.

“Susan has made a passionate commitment to ensure that TFCU serves as a business role model for social consciousness and corporate responsibility.”

That commitment has translated to substantial amounts of volunteer services and financial contributions.

In 2018 alone, 92 percent of TFCU’s 146 employees gave 4,231 volunteer hours in service to 136 organizations. The company donated $155,254 to nonprofit groups.

Beneficiaries have included Pima County JTED, Aviva Children’s Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona, Boys & Girls Club of Tucson, Tu Nidito, Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation and the Erik Hite Foundation.

Philanthropy is a natural outgrowth of the company. Says Stansberry: “As a credit union with a community charter, we believe this to be part of our DNA.”

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October Garden Calendar


This month is the perfect time for planting in the low desert. It’s cool enough now to set out those seasonal flowers and vegetables that love our fall and winter months.


Sow seeds of root crops such as beets, carrots, turnips, onions, salad greens and peas.


Rainfall helps out with irrigation this month. However, don’t rely on it with new plants.

Water citrus deeply to the tree canopy every two weeks or so.

Ease your plants into cooler weather by watering thoroughly and then gradually lengthening the time between waterings.


Prepare beds for bulbs such as ranunculus, iris, anemone, freesia, tritonia, rain lily, amaryllis, crocosmia and spider lily with rich organic soil and well-decomposed compost.

Mix phosphorus fertilizer (which promotes blooming) into the bottom of the planting hole.

Over-seed Bermuda lawns with rye grass between mid-October and mid-November.

Provide at least six to eight hours of full sun daily for vegetables to be most productive.

Repel garden pests by planting herbs such as oregano, rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme and lavender. Their aromatic oils deter most insects.


Remove the last of the warmseason flowering plants.

Divide your clumping perennials such as day lilies and Shasta daisies.


Put in cool-season color annuals such as petunias, stock, snapdragons, dianthus, lobelia, poppies and alyssum.

Set out transplants from the cabbage family.

Plant desert-adapted trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, ornamental grasses, and cacti and other succulents.


Flowers are a plant’s way of attracting pollinators. Gardeners appreciate their bright blooms as well, and cooks have discovered that a small number of these beauties are edible, providing a different sensory appreciation.

But not all flowers are edible, so do not experiment! And common sense dictates that you avoid eating even safe varieties if they were ever sprayed with insecticide.

The most popular edible varieties include the blooms of chives, leeks, garlic, nasturtium, tiny marigold, pansy, viola, Johnny Jump Up, calendula, anise hyssop, lemon and bee balm, scarlet runner bean, borage, chamomile, mint and squash blossom.

Brighten up a cheese plate with a few pansies, freeze Johnny Jump Ups to adorn ice cubes, sprinkle chive blossoms on a cream cheese bagel, decorate cakes with calendula petals or add nasturtium blooms on salad. Flowers taste best right after they have opened.

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Tucson Lifestyle Magazine Burger Masters

Burger Masters

There are lots of places to go for a good burger in this town, but these six spots are a cut above.


Divine Bovine

Super new on Tucson’s burger scene, Divine Bovine bursts out of the gate like a bucking bull with a mission. Though it’s only eight months into the game, don’t dare discount this hot new spot owned and operated by Ben Rine, former owner of BrushFire BBQ Co. With around 15 pre-conceived options or a deep well of build-it-yourself ingredients from which to choose, guests can order a highly anticipated delight and watch it come to fruition in the open kitchen.

The scratch kitchen offers beef patties that are house ground with brisket, chuck and short rib; buttermilk fried or seared chicken breast; Arizona-farm raised bison; or the Impossible 2.0 veggie burger. Any one of these tantalizing offerings may be placed between a fresh La Baguette Parisienne bun, under a mountain of house-made mac & cheese, triple-fried fries, or cradled in a bed of greens. Rine’s playful passion for building a bodacious burger experience is apparent in the wickedly fun and dutifully scratch-made delights. He explains, “I always wanted a burger joint. There is so much you can do with this medium. I can really play and goof-off with this.” After pulling together the Funny Farm Hand, resplendent with creamy peanut butter, jalapeño raspberry jam, candied bacon, sweet hot pickles and white cheddar, Rine recalls, “I had to rest against the table for a minute. I needed a picture of this — it’s pretty amazing!”

Rine recognizes and respects that food is a personal thing, so whether you dare to devour one of his creations or build your own delicious concoction, belly up to the counter and order away. Under no circumstances, however, should you forget to grab at least one amazing side. A weeks-long experiment led to the perfectly prepared Pure Gold Potato French fries, punched, brined, and triple-fried daily to order. If you’re determined to go somewhat rogue, the heavenly mac & cheese or near sinful hushpuppies with jalapeño raspberry jam perfectly complement any of Rine’s or your own creations. Wash down the indulgence with a local soda or one of more than 40 beer options served individually or by multiples packed in a bucket of ice.

1021 N. Wilmot Rd.; 203-8884

Charro Steak

Picture of The Charro Burger
The Charro Burger, available at Charro Steak.

The Flores family has served Tucsonans and visitors iconic Sonoran-style Mexican food since 1922 at El Charro Café. More recently, the city’s longest-running culinary legacy expanded to include pub, seafood, and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine spots. One of the latest additions to the Flores restaurant concepts is Charro Steak, with Executive Chef Gary Hickey at the helm. With an eye to purity of their main ingredient, Ray Flores explains, “We only buy grass-fed meat. No hormones, no antibiotics. The animals drink from natural springs. These are important details.”

The best bits and pieces trimmed from the naturally raised Arizona and Montana grass-fed beef are ground and formed into delectable half-pound patties known as Charro Burgers. Grilled to order over a hybrid mesquite fire/gas grill, and stacked with Willcox tomato, queso Manchengo, and Charro sauce, they are encased in Sunrise Bakery heritage Sonoran wheat buns. Oh, but wait, the Charro Burger fun isn’t over just yet. Add an over-easy cagefree egg, avocado, charred poblano, bleu cheese, pork belly or grass-fed chorizo (or any combination therein) for a blow-your mind, taste-bud-blasting experience. Pair the Charro Burger with hand-cut French fries, the Sonoran Au Gratin-style Papas de la Casa, or an order of classic Charro beans and prepare to stare down a serious case of food coma. Insider tip: Do not succumb to the coma before topping off the meal with a little dulce (sweet). Will it be the margarita lime flan, the tamal del Nutella or the PB&C (peanut butter & chocolate) tres leches cake? Maybe throw caution (and your top button) to the wind and go for the Dulceria Sample Board.

Naturally, working one’s way through all these amazing offerings will create a hearty thirst. Sip a glass or flight of red, white or rosé from the chef-curated wine menu. Choose from more than 25 whiskey, bourbon and scotch options, 20-plus beer labels, or an array of unique cocktails. Keep an eye out for one of the many local brands offered. Designated drivers and teetotalers may indulge in a non-alcoholic brew or the Charro Steak peach tea served with grilled peaches. With so many options, there’s one thing each and every diner will have — an unmistakably Old Pueblo dining tradition experience that won’t disappoint.

188 E. Broadway Blvd. (520) 485-1922

Truland Burgers & Greens

Photo of Truland Burgers & Greens’ Western Bleu Cheese Burger
Truland Burgers & Greens’ Western Bleu Cheese Burger.

Co-owners Jeff Katz and Paolo DeFilipis combined the concepts of Graze Premium Burgers and Choice Greens to serve Tucson’s north-siders with Truland Burgers & Greens, with a new location slated to open in Chandler in early 2020. Now in its fourth year, it’s humbly upscale with the heartbeat of a true “joint,” evidenced by the availability of canned beer, and beer and wine on tap. Certainly, we appreciate the delectable green offerings, of which Truland has many, but our gaze is on the plethora of things served in a bun. For vegetarians, there’s the locally sourced, smokey tepary bean and superfood veggie burger, which is pretty scrumptious by all measure. Chef strongly suggests burger fans enjoy two patties of Niman Ranch hormone/antibiotic-free beef or locally sourced Double Check Ranch grass-fed beef seared to medium well. The Truland Classic sports two slices of American cheese, lettuce, caramelized onions and Tru-sauce, and there are 15 available addons such as grilled crimini mushrooms. Maybe a double-patty chorizo burger with pepper jack cheese and Hatch green chiles tempts you, or perhaps you want to check out Katz’s fave, the Early Riser, with two slices of American cheese, a cage-free fried egg, all-natural nitrate/nitrate-free bacon and organic ketchup. The magnum opus of Truland’s burger offerings is the Western Bleu Cheese burger, adorned with bleu cheese, bacon, crispy onions, and barbecue sauce.

Without doubt, a perfect side for every Truland burger is an order of Kennebec potato French fries. They’re Belgian-style, twice-fried in non-GMO rice bran oil, and seasoned with kosher salt. Take it up a notch with the truffle fries treated with truffle oil, Parmesan, pecorino, parsley, and served with truffle mayo. If you manage to get a hand free from your burger of choice, wrap it around a Dragoon IPA or Barrio Blonde from the tap, or a can of Guinness or Bells Two Hearted Ale. A really nice assortment of wines is on tap or by the bottle if a little natural sulfite infusion is more to your liking. If, by some miracle, there is room for dessert, top off your Truland experience with a piece of their legendary carrot cake or an ambrosial all-natural ice cream milkshake. Warning, one or two bites or sips just won’t do — you’ll go big and go home super satisfied and planning another visit.

7332 N. Oracle Rd.; 395-2975

Beaut Burger

Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike are flocking to the Mercado San Agustín (MSA) Annex for a feel good/tastes good meat-free burger bite. Five years ago, a seed was planted when vegan cuisine chef Kerry Lane and serial entrepreneur Ari Shapiro were on a hike in Canada and jonesing for a quick and good veggie burger. Not long after, the concept of Beaut Burger was born and realized by the duo — a no-frills lower-price-point veggie burger joint with cheap beer. It’s an everyman/ woman spot where people can enjoy a primal burger and fries experience minus the animal product.

Having recently celebrated its oneyear anniversary, Beaut has been warmly embraced by Tucson, and the people of the westside in particular. Shapiro admits that he, a vegetarian, and Lane, a vegan, are very particular about their food. Therefore, the vast majority of menu items were conceived by Lane and made inhouse daily, by hand — including buns, pickled poblanos, tamarind chutney, radish sauce, barbecue sauce, slaw and burger patties. “I’m not a culinarian. Kerry is the mind and hands-on genius behind the menu. I’m just a scrappy entrepreneur who wanted to be able to get a veggie burger minus a linen napkin and steep price tag,” Shapiro explains.

Loath to pick a favorite of Beaut’s fabulous fare, Shapiro points to the B4 as the best-selling burger, proudly proclaiming it as his late-game contribution. Piled atop a proprietary hand-formed patty of grains, walnuts, beans, vegetables, and spices, the griddled mushrooms and caramelized onions harken back to a favorite of the entrepreneur’s youth. Beaut fanatics also are partial to the B9, a near-heavenly compilation of roasted eggplant, pepita pesto, and house-made mozzarella. And for the chile-pepper-loving and socially sensitive veggie burger connoisseur, the B Kind burger stacked with jalapeño and roasted zucchini, slathered with vegan sour cream also offers proceeds donated to Ben’s Bells. A side of the hand-cut russet fries are always an amazing bet, but beer-battered cauliflower bites or some zippy housemade coleslaw won’t be regretted, either. Between cow-friendly bites, wrap your hand around house-made limeade, a $2 Miller High Life, or a 12-ounce can of wine. Oh, and don’t forget to grab Fido a homemade dog-biscuit. High-style, out-of-sight flavor combinations, and delightfully industrial- chic atmosphere make Beaut Burger Tucson’s every-man, -woman, and -dog spot for a quick, tasty, healthy, burger bite.

267 South Avenida del Convento 344-5907;

Lindy’s on 4th

The OMG Burger, a 12-patty, threepound monolith of insane indulgence and bragging rights, may have put Lindy’s on the national foodie radar with appearances on Man v. Food, Meat & Potatoes, the Travel Channel, and Food Network’s Ginormous Foods. But since opening in 2005, Lindy’s has been considered a daytime or late-night hot spot to grab a bite for Tucsonans, especially UA students. Originally more of a sandwich spot, owner Lindon Reilly proves it pays to play with your food. With a menu eventually skewing toward the burger bandwagon, Lindy’s has become a favored new/old burger joint in Tucson.

Even after moving across the street, burger lovers still flock to Lindy’s on Fourth, some for the burger challenge, but most for the scandalously delicious seven-ounce (base) patty creations. Use a BUSS pass (Build Up Something Special) by choosing a beef or black bean patty, or fried or seared chicken breast. Select a “holding medium” — salad bowl, lettuce wrap or brioche, gluten-free, or honey bun (to name a few). Then get to building — fries, tots, grilled veggies, Lil’ Smokies, bacon … you name it. You can leave the stress of so many choices behind by picking one of Lindy’s own concoctions. The OG, a classic with lettuce, tomato, onion, and Lindy’s sauce stands strong, but if you really want to arouse your senses, opt for the Big Bang, with homemade jalapeño macaroni salad, Lil’ Smokies, potato chips, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and sour cream n’ onion spread. One of their signature burgers is for pyromaniacs only, with green chile, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, guacamole and ghost pepper sauce. Of course, no man or woman can live on burgers alone, so a Lindy’s side is a must. The Phat chips — house-fried and smothered with mac & cheese, sour cream, chives and bacon bits is a popular choice, but there’s also French fries or tater tots fighting for breath under guac, green chiles, jalapeños and pepper jack. Whet your whistle with dollar-off craft draft or a $5 signature cocktail during happy hour or $5 Mimosas and Bloody Marys all day on the weekends. If you can still walk comfortably after your meal, be sure to work off some of those calories with a stroll around Fourth Avenue. The walk will help you decide which of Lindy’s burgers to tackle on your next visit.

500 N. Fourth Ave.; 207-6970

Union Public House

A Foothills staple since October 31, 2011, Union Public House has been an anchor for good eats in St. Philip’s Plaza since its opening. Aside from the superstitiously macabre opening date, the only thing scary about the cornerstone eatery is the frightful decadence of its offerings. As many dishes as possible are infused with Chef Tony Coluci’s version of “flavor crystals” — bacon. From the beginning the Union Burger has been a constant menu item and far-and-away fan favorite.

Photo of Union Burger
Union Public House’s famed Union Burger.

General Manager David Serafin explains that the staple is “an exquisite creation exactly the way it is served. It’s not made to put a bunch of sauces on and cover up.” A half-pound Union Grind patty of 80/20-ground grass-fed beef is perfectly seared to taste and dressed with English Red Dragon cheddar, house-made bacon jam (i.e., Flavor crystals reduced with sugar, vinegar and apples), and red winepickled red onions. All this deliciousness is surrounded top and bottom by a brioche bun made in house by baker Travis Evans. Serafin explains that it’s a burger made for a purist — pure ingredients, scratch made, to order. If hoisting this massive feast is a little scary, opt for the sliders instead. Union Sliders are smaller-in-stature, spicy offerings of the Union Grind topped with bacon (of course), cheddar, and house-pickled jalapeños. For the burger lover unwilling to buck tradition, the All-American burger sporting the more traditional costuming of lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar, mustard, and mayo inside a house-baked sesame bun awaits.

Whichever amazing burger is chosen, make sure it doesn’t come to the party alone. Invite some of the house-punched Chipperbec French fries or hand-sliced potato chips along. Or pick the insanely amazing Poutine fries bathed in housemade gravy, white cheddar cheese curds, and chives, or a cup of Yesterday’s Soup (house-made soup given time for the flavors to marry and blossom). Stop into Union Public House anytime for an amazing burger or slider, but make a point of dropping in for the joint Halloween/anniversary party complete with live music, spirits (of all kinds), and a costume contest. 4340 N Campbell Ave., Ste. 103; 329-8575

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Tucson Lifestyle Magazine Silent Sky Banner

An Extraordinary Star

Astronomy, the achievements of women of science, and our place in the universe are all explored in an ATC production that features a gifted, Tucson-based performer.

Scott Barker

“There’s so much that’s relatable for me,” observes Veronika Duerr about the character she portrays in Arizona Theatre Company’s production of Silent Sky. “In the very opening moments of the play, Henrietta is onstage by herself looking up at the sky, and she admits to always searching for something extraordinary. That she’s never been able to be satisfied with just enough. And I have always felt like that; I have a desire to live an extraordinary life. To do something extra special.”

Image of Veronika Duerr
Veronika Duerr Photo by Vanie Poyey

Duerr’s life has, indeed, been a series of exceptional accomplishments, and she can add Silent Sky in bold characters to that list. Lauren Gunderson’s play, based on real-life Harvard College Observatory astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt, takes audiences both on the scientific search for where we are in the universe, as well as where each of us fits into the glittering expanse of humanity.

It is a perfect fit for Duerr, who — having just recently moved to Tucson with her husband Sean and their baby — is navigating a new world. And she has long been an explorer, both of the cities in which she’s lived, but also the craft of the theater.

Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, she discovered her calling when she was barely out of diapers. “My parents took me to the theater, and I remember the first play I saw being a touring musical production of Peter Pan when I was in kindergarten,” she reflects. “The next day in school all I would do is draw pictures of the different scenes and tell everybody what had happened, and about the sets and costumes. I was just enamored of it.”

It wasn’t long before she was watching mainstage productions at Atlanta’s prestigious Alliance Theatre, and dreaming of the day when she would be in the footlights. Showing her talents in school productions was a big step in her development. “I would say that I was a drama kid through and through,” she says of her formative years. “I didn’t miss out on any high school experiences, but I was so super-focused that I was doing community theater, as well as theater programs downtown, drama camps, productions at school, drama club and all that.”

She enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she prepared to lead a far-from-ordinary life of telling truths through the art of professional make-believe. After graduating, she took a big leap of faith. “I started a theatre company called The Weird Sisters Theatre Project,” she notes, “which is committed to putting women into the power positions of director, playwright and producer. That came about because when I was living in Atlanta in my 20s and trying to get directing and producing jobs, fairly often I would be passed over for an untested male. I was like, ‘Let’s just build something where we can create a body of work to represent ourselves, and then maybe we’ll start getting the work that we want.’”

Named for characters in Macbeth, the theater company has given a huge boost to the careers of the women who produced and directed its productions. “Everybody involved has really benefited from it, and it’s been awesome,” says Duerr.

Her journey to the Old Pueblo encompassed numerous trips back and forth across the country for job opportunities. “I went from Atlanta to New York, back to Atlanta, then LA, Atlanta, then Lowell, Massachusetts, and finally Arizona. I always went back to Atlanta to save up some money before the next adventure!” she says with a laugh.

The adventures show no signs of letting up. Though ATC audiences will watch her portray a scientist from 100 years ago, theatergoers in Scotland recently saw her in a very different role. “It’s really out there,” she says of her one-woman show. “It’s called GLOCKENSPIELSEXPARTYBAVARIA GOODBYE. It’s a fast, funny, sexy comedy about an agoraphobic phone sex dominatrix who goes on a whirlwind journey through Bavaria, as well as deep within herself, to rescue a friend in need from the claws of a mythical beast.”

Duerr wrote the piece with her New York-based friend Johnny Drago, and despite the nontraditional subject matter, she says she can identify with key components. “I have a social anxiety disorder that can manifest itself in agoraphobia, and I’ve worked on that my entire life,” she reveals. “My parents came over from Germany in the 1970s, and all my family still lives there in a small town. I knew that I wanted to touch on the ideas of agoraphobia, but also someone who is capable of being an extrovert, and to be whoever other people need her to be, but can’t always do it for herself.”

Though Silent Sky wasn’t written specifically for her, it easily could have been. Playwright Lauren Gunderson, a longtime friend of Duerr and her husband, explains, “Since I first wrote the play, I have always wanted Veronika to do this role.”

Photo of Playwright Lauren Gunderson
Playwright Lauren Gunderson Photo by Kirsten Lara Getchall

Gunderson is very comfortable writing about science, and the roles that women have had in discoveries, and this play gives her the opportunity to explore things from several sides. “One reason I wanted to write it is that oftentimes we see stories of women — even celebrated, strong characters — but they are alone,” she elaborates. “They are in a man’s world, or they are only in the world of their family. What’s interesting about this story is Henrietta is one of several incredibly brilliant female scientists who worked at the Harvard Observatory at the same time. So we have the characters of Willamina Fleming and Annie Cannon, both true, historical characters, as well as Henrietta. And then we added Henrietta’s sister Margaret, who held a more traditional female role, kind of wife/ mother/domestic. So we have this quartet of women who tell us the story, which makes it the story of not just one woman, but of four different, amazing ones.”

In the early part of the 20th century, Leavitt was a “computer” at the observatory, doing calculations to arrive at a method of determining the distance from earth to other galaxies. “The question of this play is ‘where are we?’” Gunderson comments. “That’s kind of a general question, but it can mean a lot of things the more you dig. For the scientists in the play, it means, ‘where are we in the universe … how big is it?’ We can’t know where we are until we know how big the thing is. That is part of the science that Henrietta was able to crack into for the first time in human history. And it’s a deeper question about where we are in terms of the relationship between men and women, and human, social and political progress.”

Lest anyone think that this will be an egghead play, chockfull of baffling scientific theories, Gunderson interjects, “I have written about science for the majority of my career, so I have an instinct of how to do it, what are too many details, what’s too much math.”

She also notes that there are unexpected elements to the play, including very strong visual and musical components. “There is a theatricality to Henrietta’s science. It’s based in almost a musicality because the astronomy that she was able to uncover is about patterns and amplitude. She is looking at those patterns in terms of light, but in the theater we can use it for light as well as sound. It’s a really cool exploration for any theater because of what it asks in terms of lighting, scenic and sound designers … it brings out the best of theater.”

And if that’s not enough to entice people, she adds that there also is an unconventional romance in the piece. “There’s a love story, but it’s not one that you might anticipate. Neither of the lovers expect, or even want, to be in love. It’s a bit of an accidental, ‘Wait a minute … what’s happening here?’ sort of thing. It’s fun and refreshing.”

And while the characters in the play explore their places in the vastness of existence, and the niches they fit into in the lives of others, the playwright and the lead actress will both be exploring life in a city that has been called an “astronomy capital.” Gunderson says that she has never been to Tucson, and is looking forward to the chance to see it during the run of her play. Duerr has lived in the city a short while, but is rapidly acclimating to it. She loves the opportunity to hike around the state, ski when the weather accommodates, and indulge in one of the key features at her home. “I love swimming in my pool. That’s a new thing, to have a swimming pool. It feels so luxurious!” she exclaims.

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September Gardening Calendar

Sunny days still bring the heat, but cooler nights hint of things to come. It’s time to dig out your gardening tools!


Plant citrus while the weather is still warm. Choose varieties that are better adapted to desert conditions.

Plant strawberry varieties that perform in low-desert conditions. Choose a location that has protection from afternoon sun.

Plant fall herbs such as chives, thyme, catmint, cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel and parsley.

Transplant herbs such as lemongrass, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme.


Dig compost into vegetable beds. Rearrange container plants to sunnier locations as the sun’s arc slips southward.

Chill tulip, crocus, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs in the refrigerator for eight weeks prior to planting.


Cut back tomatoes and peppers that made it through the summer to promote a new bloom before frost.

Trim roses and remove dead twigs to promote a second bloom in the fall.

Prune shrubs such as oleander, privet, xylosma, Texas ranger and Arizona rosewood that have become overgrown.





Cut back on water for deciduous fruit trees, grape vines and citrus to slow growth and get ready for cooler temperatures.

Water citrus deeply out to the plant’s canopy every two weeks.



Hose off dusty plants to control spider mites.

Divide iris this month. Dig up large clumps and cut rhizomes into small pieces.

Pull and compost the last of the summer annuals.

Refresh garden beds by incorporating four to six inches of organic matter. FERTILIZE

Fertilize with nitrogen in early September to provide nutrients to summer-stressed plants. Water the day before and after applications to prevent burn.

Feed roses with a slow-release fertilizer that will last through fall. Fertilize citrus with the third and final application of nitrogen for the year.

Add organic nitrogen sources to the soil, including alfalfa meal, blood meal, coffee grounds, cottonseed meal, fish emulsion and guano.


Chile peppers are available in many colors, shapes, sizes and degrees of heat. The key factor affecting how fruit set is night temperature, which ideally should be between 65 and 80 degree. Bell pepper varieties do not set fruit when temperatures are over 90 degrees, but may begin to do so once the weather is cooler. If bell-type peppers are desired, consider the smaller pod “Carmen Sweet Pepper.”

Chiles need six hours or more of sunlight. Provide full sun in the morning and 50 percent afternoon shade. In the fall, fewer blossoms will appear as the weather turns cooler.

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