Licensed to Thrill

This remodel project took some design cues from a famous fictional character.

By Romi Carrell Wittman / Photography by Jeffrey Volker


When Rob Purvis laid eyes on the Mediterranean-inspired home in Rancho Sin Vacas, he saw a diamond in the rough. At more than 4,000 square feet, the two-story, five-bedroom home would be an ideal place for entertaining, as well as just kicking back.

Rob Purvis

“I’d been looking for a home for three or four years at that point,” says Rob, who had been living a bit farther north in Oro Valley. “I wanted something closer to town.”

The home was move-in ready, but Rob felt some of the living spaces were disconnected. A horseshoe-shaped kitchen island effectively cut the space off from the rest of the great room. Also, the stunning view of the Santa Catalina Mountains was somewhat obstructed by a wall of clerestory windows and two sets of small French doors.

Rob called on the expert team of Brandy Holden, Eva Murzaite and Ana Fernandez, of Interiors In Design, to help him realize his vision.

“When it comes to things like this, I don’t have the gift of being able to envision it. I have to see it,” Rob explains. The designers used SketchUp rendering software to show Rob how the home would look after the changes — and there were a lot of changes.

First up was replacing the windows and French doors in the great room with a wall of sliding glass doors, allowing unimpeded views of the mountains. “The installers said it was the largest project they’d ever done,” Rob remarks.

The design team also reconfigured the kitchen. The horseshoe island was removed and replaced with a rectangular, metal-clad one. New cabinets, high-end appliances and lighting fixtures give the kitchen and great room a sophisticated style that’s also very livable.

“The kitchen is now one space instead of two smaller ones. It’s not overcrowded and it has a ‘wow’ factor that it didn’t have before,” says Murzaite.

The very modern, open kitchen flows into the living area, where impressive views are a highlight.

After seeing the upgraded kitchen and the functional flow of the great room, Rob decided on new flooring — a dark brown wood tile laid in a herringbone pattern. The designers stained the vaulted wooden ceiling a chocolate tone to complement the new flooring. They also sandblasted the concrete pillars in the great room to give them a clean, almost industrial look. Next, they clad the base of each pillar in metal, tying them in with the kitchen island and the overall flow of the room.

“The room is a big space,” Holden notes. “The raw steel and exposed concrete are bold, raw elements that tie everything together.”

Holden says one of her favorite parts of the project was the master bath remodel. “We wanted to be mindful of cost and upkeep while at the same time designing a beautiful, functional room,” she says. “It was fun to be creative and figure out ways to generate a specific look with alternative materials.”

For example, the bathroom flooring appears to be marble, but it’s actually porcelain with marble inlays. This clever approach gives the space a very high-end look at a fraction of the cost.

As the remodel was underway, the designers began furnishing the home. They knew Rob wanted a modern look and, after working with him and getting a better sense of his vision, they began calling the project the “007 House,” in honor of the fictional spy James Bond.

To select furniture, the team brought Rob to the famed Las Vegas Furniture Market, a high-end emporium exclusively for interior designers that features the very latest in furniture styles and trends. “We walked through and he would tell us what he liked,” Murzaite says. “It’s important to look, touch, and try a piece before you buy it.”

Although the furniture they saw was gorgeous, it was important that it also be livable. “I told them I needed a football-watching sofa,” Rob says with a laugh. “Some things we saw were pretty, but they weren’t comfortable.”

Ultimately, the group found perfect pieces for the home — not only the great room, but the dining room and each bedroom as well. The end result is an elegant home with a singular design vision that visually connects each room.

After the remodel was complete, a process that took about six months, Rob moved into the home, and he couldn’t be happier with the results.

“When I come home, I’m happy,” he enthuses. “I’ve been talking about having a house like this for many years. I really love this house.”

Samantha’s Story

Samantha is a former Wildcat.

A mom.

A project manager at Honeywell.

An advocate for those needing a voice.

And she’s a transgender person.

Chances are, you may have even met Samantha at some point, and not even guessed her journey.



“The reality is that there are trans individuals everywhere,” she observes. “They are probably in your life, whether you realize it or not. They may be working beside you, or they’re teachers in your kids’ schools, or they’re taking care of you at the grocery store. Trans people are everywhere, in every occupation in life. We make up somewhere around one percent of the population.”

You probably have heard of some famous trans individuals: American transgender surgery pioneer and entertainer Christine Jorgensen; tennis player Renée Richards; U.S. Olympian Caitlyn Jenner; model Caroline “Tula” Cossey; actress Laverne Coxx; and pop star Kim Petras, to name just a few. But despite the fact that many brave souls have stepped forward to present their stories to the world, coming out as trans can still be an emotionally wrenching experience. Especially when someone is young, and doesn’t yet have a way of expressing who they are.

“I’ve known in my heart that I’m a woman since I was seven years old,” Samantha says. “But even knowing it, I didn’t have a word to describe it. I didn’t have a way of explaining how I felt. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I tried to explain it to my mom. I failed horribly and she told me, ‘No, boys don’t think that way. You’ll get over it.’ And she didn’t mean any harm by that. Today she still feels guilt that she didn’t know. But neither did I. I didn’t have the words to explain it to her.”

Born in New York, raised in the Phoenix area, Samantha tried very hard to fit in as a boy and grow into a life as a man that would be fulfilling. She attended UArizona, earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science, and played trumpet all four years in the Pride of Arizona marching band. She also worked at Ritz Camera in the Tucson Mall before landing a job with Honeywell and moving back to the Valley of the Sun.

“I wanted to be married,” she reflects. “I wanted a wife. I wanted to have kids. And I did my best to push the other feelings down. I thought that I could ignore it. Part of the guilt I feel in my transition is losing my wife of 13 years in this process. I wish I could have had the words or the strength to tell her earlier on. But I thought I could beat it. That’s the environment I was in, where transitioning didn’t seem like a viable option.”

Samantha, living as a man, had a wife, four children, and a good job, but she was completely miserable. “The pain, what they call gender dysphoria — the incongruence of body and mind — got to the point where I couldn’t even function,” she reveals. “I was so depressed that I couldn’t get out of bed on the weekends. I could barely make it into work. I had no interests. I was just a lump, because I was so broken. It was so hard to have to live that life. And the stark reality is, I had a plan to end my life because it hurt too much to go on. I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon three times. The third time I did, I had every intention of not hiking back out of it. At the time, it seemed easier just to not go on than have to explain to my family, my kids, my job, everyone in my life that this is who I was.”

Coming out as transgender about three years ago and starting the transition was very difficult, despite meeting with acceptance from her immediate family. She says that her parents were accepting, but she recalls her mother saying, “‘You have to tell your sister. I have to have someone I can talk to about this.’ That’s fair. I agreed with her. So, the very next day, after work I drove to Tucson and met up with my sister. We went to this little sushi shop, had a nice dinner, and then I told her in the car. The first thing she said to me was that she always wanted a sister. There were still some growing pains with her, but she’s been extremely supportive and I’m thankful to have her in my life.”

Her parents and her sister even backed her up when another family member disinvited her from a wedding because she refused to dress as a man.

Of the life-changing conversation with her wife, Samantha says, “I wanted her. I was so in love with her. That was a real love, no matter what my identity was. Coming out to her was probably the most difficult thing in my entire life. It’s not easy to tell someone you’ve known for such a long time that you’ve been struggling for so long with this.”

Her marriage didn’t survive the transition, but she says her relationship with her children is better than ever. “I can finally be the parent that I needed to be for them. I’m free of what held me back for so long. What my life is today is immeasurably better than I ever could have imagined. When you’re racked with depression and you can’t even get out of bed, you can’t be a good parent. But now, the experiences I have with my kids, and being able to play with them all summer, help them with their homework, do LEGOs with them, help them build computers and learn programming — it’s everything I ever wanted out of life. It’s such a beautiful gift to be able to be here.”

Samantha has shared that gift with others by speaking to a church group, and the student organization GSA. “Basically it’s a club at middle schools and high schools across the world where LGBT students and their friends can come together and have a safe place to talk about topics,” she notes.

She also was the cover model for Curl: The Magazine for Curly-Haired Women, and related her story. And on a regular basis she hosts an online live trans TV show called Trans IRL. “We talk to trans individuals and trans allies about their experiences and their journeys and share hope and understanding,” she says.

For all the progress the world has made in transgender issues, Samantha shares that there is still is a long way to go. “It’s a volatile environment right now, where trans rights are still under so much attack.

“I’ve been denied health care because I’m trans. It’s a life-and-death situation that many of us face. It’s already scary enough to go to the ER in today’s world, but can you imagine being violently ill and going to the emergency department and the doctor won’t treat you because you happen to be transgender? That’s what this current government rollback is trying to accomplish; it would allow doctors the right to withhold treatment from a patient because they’re trans.”

Samantha believes that being visible will counteract prejudice by allowing everyone to see how much she is just like them. A dedicated runner and hiker (who says she loves to visit Mount Lemmon, and finish off with a stop at the Cookie Cabin), she may pass you on a trail. A gardener and computer programmer, you may run into her picking up plants at the nursery. Or you may see her at a transgender advocacy forum.

“It’s really hard to hate a person that you’ve sat down across a table from and had a conversation with,” she concludes. “It’s really hard to hate a person whose story you’ve read and you can see the humanity in them. I can’t tell you how many people who have heard my story, or the story of other trans individuals, and reached out to me and said, ‘I just never really understood until I knew somebody who was transgender.’ And every ally that’s out there is one more vote against having our rights taken from us. It’s really changing hearts and minds, one person at a time.”

They’re Killin’ It

They’re Killin’ It

Two brothers built a thriving restaurant empire with sandwiches and pizza that’s a cut above.

By Betsy Bruce / Photography by Shannon Christine

It should come as no surprise that the Tucson brothers behind a quartet of popular restaurants called Serial Grillers have matching tattoos of the Grim Reaper. The cloaked specter — scythe in hand — appears on the right forearm of 40-year-old Will Miller, and the beefy right quad of 38-year-old Travis Miller. What might come as a shock is that the tats have nothing to do with the scary name of their wildly popular restaurants; it’s a nod to their late father who had the same ink. Says Travis, “He lived his life the way he wanted and stayed true to himself.”

The original Serial Grillers incarnation was a food truck built from the ground up, primarily by Will, who loves rolling up his sleeves to build, exposing more colorful tattoos including a flower that eats his elbow. Will explains about the eateries, “This wasn’t my dream, it was Travis’, but I wanted to help launch it.” The mobile eatery cost the brothers $15,000 to assemble in 2012; now, a pre-built food truck can cost as much as $80,000. Travis, who is in charge of most every other aspect of the business, was inspired by a truck he saw on the Food Network’s Great American Food Truck Race. The mobile kitchen, based in California, was called “Grill ’Em All” — a play on Metallica’s inaugural album Kill ’Em All, and offered burgers named after ’80s and ’90s metal bands. “I thought that’s such a cool idea … what could we do to make our truck stand out?” Travis knew a creative name would bring customers. He also knew he could make really delicious Philly cheese steaks. “No one was doing them at the time, and we wanted to focus on quality ingredients.” The best-sellers — then and now — are the “Hannibal,” featuring grilled sirloin, grilled onions, hot cherry and sweet peppers, tomatoes and pickles tucked into fresh-baked bread from Viro’s, topped with white American cheese; and “Psycho,” grilled sirloin smothered in caramelized onions, jalapeños, avocado, cilantro mayo, tomatoes and pepper jack.

You don’t have to check into the Bates Motel to have your hunger slain by the Psycho Cheesesteak.

Launching the rolling business had its bumps in the road. “We fought the very first night,” Will admits. Parked at a “food truck roundup,” the queue of customers lengthened as Travis spoke with a newspaper reporter. Imagine screams of “help!” emanating from a truck brandishing the name “Serial Grillers.” Will read the riot act to his younger bro and Travis got back to manning the order counter. Both laugh about it now. The cheesesteaks were a hit and the truck rolled for six years, listed in Forbes magazine’s “25 Coolest Food Trucks in America” and featured on Cooking Channel/Food Network’s Eat Street.

The Serial Grillers logo has caricatures of the brothers’ faces — Travis in the Hannibal Lecter face mask, and Will as Leatherface of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame, sporting his signature glasses with heavy black rectangular frames, like those worn by Hollywood directors.

In the flesh, Travis wears a baseball cap, and hasn’t shaved in three days, while Will’s beard is short but not accidental; both of their faces are garnished with lush dark lashes and beautiful smiles. Although technically Will followed Travis into the food business, it was Travis who decided to follow his older brother into the Air Force around 2000. Will, though, was given a pass by the service because, “I could not walk on my heels.” Travis passed the test of flexibility, and after a five-year stint achieved the rank of Senior Airman Below the Zone. The S.A.B.Z. says he utilizes more acumen accrued from the Air Force than from his two years earning a bachelor’s degree from UA’s Eller School of Management. “No disrespect,” he observes. “It’s a great program.”

The Millers drive to and from work in the same 2017 Dodge Ram truck because they live together in the same 1,000-square-foot house. They are not inseparable, they are simply a good match; Travis’ yang (impatient, fearless, and talkative) to Will’s yin (measured, quiet, and steady). For Travis, a spare room in his married-with-three-kids brother’s house suffices. A bigger house is on the horizon and Travis then might find his own habitation after 10 years of communal living.

Living arrangements are not the only way Serial Grillers is a family affair. Note to the patron who recently devoured a mini Bone Collector pizza at the Marana store — your crust was hand-tossed by four-year-old Bruno Miller, with freshly scrubbed hands, of course.

An edgy theme for a food truck is one thing, but the killer ambience of four brick and- mortar stores needed to be tempered. “We did not want to go overboard with the theme,” says Travis. Polished concrete floors, open ceilings featuring matte silver air ducts, industrial metal chairs the color of a fire engine surround dark wood four tops and high tops that accommodate six. A communal high top is positioned in direct sightlines of four big-screen TVs.

Killer Food is spelled in tin-surrounded Broadway bulb letters each a foot high. The names of favorite horror flicks are painted in a variety of sizes and fonts on a single wall, created by Tucson artist Ashley White. Forty to 60 beer and wine choices appear on electronic panels that resemble airline arrival and departure boards.

Serial Grillers is a “quick service” operation. Customers grab a menu from a stand positioned near the entrance and orders are placed at a counter. A stanchioned number is handed over and patrons choose their seats. Non-alcoholic beverages are help yourself.

It might be a crime to miss out on the Jack Of All Trades sandwich, topped with guacamole, chipotle mayo, French fries, bacon, and pepper jack cheese.

The “meat” of the menu is the cheesesteaks and burgers —including “The Red John”: premium ground Angus slathered in marinara, topped with mozzarella sticks, bacon and provolone; and “Fallen,” premium Angus beef, grilled onion, sliced jalapeño peppers, cooled by cilantro mayo, avocado, tomato and pepper jack cheese. You can choose quarter-, half-, or three-quarter-pound patties.

Pizza comes by the slice or in four sizes from the 8-inch Mini to the 16-inch Large. Popular picks include the “Copycat,” black bean spread, smoky chorizo, mozzarella, provolone, jalapeños and avocado slices topped with a swirl of chipotle ranch; and “The Bone Collector,” a trio of gooey cheeses — mozzarella, provolone and cheddar — topped with boneless chicken wings, scallions and swirled with ranch and buffalo sauces. Calzones, hot paninis, cold sandwiches and salads offer something for everyone.

You’ll scream for the Ghostface pizza, available as a four-slice mini, with ricotta, spinach, mozzarella, provolone, black olives, red onions and mushrooms.

The brothers say that the names of their menu offerings are for fun, not actually to represent a totem of a film or character. They did, however, take some heat from a customer who was aghast that a vegetarian sandwich was named “Michael” after the Shape character in the Halloween movies. The email rant opined that a serial killer could never be a vegetarian.

When they are not building a new joint, the Brothers Miller can be found driving high-powered all-terrain vehicles built by Will, naturally. Speedster Travis actually made the podium in a Lucas Oilsponsored stadium racing event. He admits, “Will is a better driver, but he’s not as fearless.” And Serial Griller-in-the-making Bruno Miller already has three dirt bikes — one for inside the house. No wonder it’s time to move.

Serial Grillers Locations: 5975 E. Speedway Blvd.; 1970 W. River Rd., Suite 100; 5660 W. Cortaro Rd., Suite 100; 7585 S. Houghton Rd.

Note: Midtown Taproom “Craft, A Modern Drinkery” on Speedway and Toro Loco Tacos y Burros on East Broadway also are Miller Brother enterprises. And coming this fall, the brothers are collaborating with Red Desert BBQ on East Speedway Blvd.

Where the Chefs Eat

They can all take the heat, but we asked six of Tucson’s most renowned chefs to get out of the kitchen and name their favorite dishes at spots other than their own.

Betsy Bruce

The average human tongue is covered in 10 thousand taste buds … sensory receptors that detect sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami … then communicate to the brain the rapturous message: this is delicious. But Tucson Lifestyle isn’t interested in average taste buds. We asked the most well-known, award-winning, food-obsessed chefs in Southern Arizona where they go when they crave a favorite dish. Just one rule applied to their passionate picks — no choosing their own establishment.





Bisbee Breakfast Club’s Chicken Fried Steak with sunny-side-up eggs.


Prep & Pastry’s Monte Cristo Sandwich.


Best Breakfast

You’ll find the frenetic line chefs cracking eggs for El Charro Café’s Carlotta Flores at her favorite breakfast hang, Frank’s on Pima at Alvernon — a true neighborhood joint. Choose a plate-covering omelet, such as Ham and Cheese or Denver, accompanied by home fries — chunks of savory potato, sautéed skin-on — or crispy hash browns. And because well-enough is never left alone at Frank’s, diners must also choose from a fresh tortilla, buttermilk biscuit or half a dozen types of toasted breads. Classic diner stools overlooking the grill are in high demand … there is always another customer waiting to climb aboard.

Casino Del Sol’s Executive Chef Ryan Clark moseys around the corner from his Barrio Viejo home to 5 Points Market Restaurant for their signature Smoked Salmon Benedict with poached eggs. Chef Ryan describes his favorite savory side as “that delicate potato pancake … sooo good.” The restaurant scores another point from Kingfisher Chef Jim Murphy, who zeroes in on their Huevos Rancheros: over medium eggs atop a fresh corn tortilla, white cheddar, pintos and avocado slices crowned with cilantro-serrano pesto and pico de gallo. Travis Peters of The Parish jokes, “If I have something to prove, I’ll definitely go after the King Kong at The Baja Café on Ina.” The towering plate layers together crispy hash browns, sausage, ham, bacon and over-easy eggs, blanketed in smoked gouda cream sauce. Chef Travis further admits to being “a sucker” for Bisbee Breakfast Club’s chicken fried steak, with sunny-side up eggs and  hash browns.

Bisbee Breakfast Club’s Chicken Fried Steak with sunny-side-up eggs.

The Smoked Salmon Benedict from 5 Points Market Restaurant.



Best Brunch

Three-time Tucson Iron Chef Ryan’s pick for brunch is “everything at Loews Ventana Canyon on Sunday mornings. Chef Ken Harvey and his culinary crew crush brunch. Blues, Brews and BBQ is nationally acclaimed and is a must stop if you brunch professionally.” Tucson Weekly’s Best of Tucson Winner Chef Travis agrees, “Chef Harvey dreamed up something really special here — all your brunch favorites plus lots of delicious beers.” The Ritz-Carlton is Chef Jim’s brunch best-of, featuring fresh seafood, meat carving and omelet stations, decadent cheeses and buttery house-made pastries. Chef Carlotta’s brunch favorite is Prep & Pastry, where classics are elevated. Biscuits and Gravy becomes Herbed Cheddar Biscuits with Duck Fat Gravy, and the Monte Cristo is composed of honey-roasted ham, Swiss cheese and pineapple-jalapeño mascarpone on brioche French toast.


Best Lunch

Chef Ryan’s go-to lunch spot is Reilly’s Craft Pizza and Drink downtown. “A mini pizza, or Pizzatta as they call it, and a salad with all the Italian fixings is the way to go,” he says. “Who doesn’t like a lunch that simple and delicious?” A quartet of great lunch spots are offered up by Chef Carlotta: the Cup Café in the Hotel Congress, Rollies Mexican Patio on S. 12th, In-N-Out Burger, and Pub 1922 in Sahuarita, which she says is worth the short venture south for all-natural burgers, house-made pizza, and 22 beers on tap. It features a mod atmosphere, with beer kegs hanging from the open ceiling (empty, we hope) and scroll-back stools positioned along an endless blonde bar. Ask Chef Travis to roll up his sleeves and his lunch favorite becomes apparent. He has the elfin characters of the Lucky Wishbone logo tattooed on his elbows. The Tucson native says even the iconic restaurant’s gizzards are delightful, washed down with the fountain black cherry soda. You’ll also find him hunkered over a bowl of Tonkatsu Ramen (sliced pork belly) at the near northwest side Ikkyu Japanese Restaurant at least once a week, observing, “It’s absolute magic, with a perfect balance between flavor and texture.” Smokey Mo’s Turkey Melt sandwich with a side of collard greens is Chef Jim’s lunch pick, made up of house-smoked turkey, pepper jack, tomato, lettuce, avocado and chipotle mayo on marble rye. Though Feast’s Chef Doug Levy admits he doesn’t get to eat out often, he “loves those tacos” at Boca Tacos y Tequila on Fourth Avenue. The 24 varieties — meat, veggie and seafood — are served with warm, fried-to-order tortilla chips. And when a carb craving kicks in, Chef Doug heads for Za’atar on North Country Club for “their amazing bread.”

The Turkey Melt at Smokey Mo.

OBON Tucson’s Rainbow Poke Bowl and Sashimi Assortment.


Best Place for Seafood Dishes

“Even though we are in a desert” says Chef Travis, “we have some great spots for seafood, such as the always-delicious Kingfisher — a favorite for oysters — or Charro del Rey downtown. But my personal favorite is Mariscos Chihuahua on Swan. I’ve been ordering their Chihuahuita (oysters, shrimp and ceviche cocktail) for more than 20 years. Fresh and filled with both cooked and raw seafood, I squeeze tons of fresh lime and lots of hot sauces all over it. It is probably one of my favorite things to eat, period.” Chef Ryan gives a nod to Kingfisher as well. “I love their signature steamed mussels with just the right amount of Sriracha. James Beard Award-winner Chef Janos’ pick is the Rainbow Poke and Sashimi at OBON Tucson on East Congress downtown. The Poke bowl combines fresh tuna, salmon, yellowtail and shrimp atop cucumber, jalapeños, seaweed salad, avocado and sushi rice or mixed greens. Chef Doug makes it a triple play for Kingfisher, named in Tucson Weekly’s Best of Tucson every year since 2003.

40 … And Looking Forward

A new, expanded facility, and more partnerships, shows that this organization is four decades strong.

When it was launched 40 years ago as The Greater Tucson Area Foundation, the creators of this group — Buddy Amos, James Burns, Jim Click, Edward Moore and Granger Weil — could not have imagined how it would grow into such a vital center of connectivity for philanthropists, nonprofit organizations and the community at large.

Community Foundation for Southern Arizona President and CEO Clint Mabie in the Coworking Space at Community Foundation Campus.

Rebranded in 1997 as the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, the success of the Foundation can be attributed to sticking to its mission. “The community and donors have put a lot of trust in us, so we need to honor that trust everyday,” states Clint Mabie, president and CEO of the Community Foundation (CFSA). “Everybody wants to make an impact. People have different strategies for getting there. For us it’s a question of how we’re learning from and about the community, so we can partner better with business, government, the university and the social sector to help the clients we serve. In the end, that’s it.”

The Foundation not only assists philanthropists in connecting with non-profits, it manages private foundations, and helps charitable organizations connect with donors, and with each other. There are myriad ways in which the Foundation does this, and recently, with the move to a re-purposed and re-envisioned campus, there are new arrows in the quiver.

The story of how the new facility came to belong to CFSA is a tale of assessing needs, and making a move that benefits everyone.

“Five years ago, the board and staff did a strategic plan,” explains Mabie. “When we were doing that, we said, ‘In the space that we have, we cannot create a stronger community by connecting donors to causes they care about.’ It simply did not allow us to be able to deliver our mission. We needed to have a bigger space in order to convene and connect the community. It took us a year to find the right building, and then a year of research, partnering with Eller College of Management, about what the community needed. And then it took a couple of years to get it done — to redevelop this building and get it to where it is today.”

Leave it to the always-helpful Boy Scouts to play a vital role in assisting CFSA!

“We swapped buildings with them,” reveals Mabie. “In the survey we did of the community, people wanted a central location with access to free parking, and adequate meeting space. The Boy Scouts’ campus was perfect. While I was touring the campus, I asked Ken Tucker [then the CEO of the Boy Scouts of America Catalina Council] how much space they needed, and he said, ‘We only need 5,000 square feet.’ So we traded with them. They moved to our 5,000-squarefoot building, and we moved to their 25,000-squarefoot campus — it was and is a win-win situation.”

It wasn’t as simple of a process as simply loading up some moving vans and shifting belongings around. For starters, what used to house administrative offices, a mini-museum and retail space for the Scouts needed to be utilized by a lot more people for many purposes.

“We hired the architects who created Connect Coworking — FORS Architecture + Interiors — to design this building,” observes Mabie. “What we heard from non-profits when we did our survey through Eller is that we just didn’t have a facility that allowed us room to get to know each other. And absolutely, that’s the purpose of this space.”

Determining the needs of the community was step one, locating the building that would align with the CFSA’s mission was the second step, and designing the interior so that function and form could be united was the third barrier to hurdle. But further research was definitely necessary so that Mabie and his staff would be effective in the many roles the Foundation was taking on.

“We joined the Nonprofit Centers Network [NCN]. There are more than 200 such centers across the United States, and we joined NCN to learn how to be able to do that. We also owe a big thanks to Gerald Wissink who is the CEO of the BHHS Legacy Foundation in Phoenix. He was a huge help in creating a shared space, as he had done with his organization five years ago.”

More than just a building, the new Community Foundation Campus hosts a variety of activities, much of it revolving around capacity building. Mabie defines that term this way: “Capacity building is helping non-profits be more effective at delivering their mission. How are we developing their capacity to be able to do that? It may be on a human connection level, on an intellectual level — learning new strategies — or deciding how to raise more money and capital.”

Mabie adds, “We’ve had more than 100 capacity-building events on the Campus, including our Ask An Expert series — where we have consultants coming in and offering free capacity building workshops. And organizations such as the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits and the Pima County Public Library are doing ongoing capacity building training on campus for the community.”

Although some nonprofits will simply drop by the facility to take advantage of a training session, others have chosen to actually headquarter their organization at the Campus. “Small organizations can be a tenant at the campus,” Mabie says, “either having space in our co-labs, or being a tenant in the tenant suites.”

After having completed that five-year plan, CFSA isn’t slowing down at all.

“We are in the midst of our next three-year strategic plan,” reveals Mabie, “and it’s going to focus on equity. We are using our business model and our ability to partner with others to develop a more equitable system here in Southern Arizona. That’s everything from the micro-business economy and how to make it more efficient, to how we are implementing strategies that are inclusive of the communities we serve.

“We’ve been proud to serve this community for 40 years,” he concludes. “And we’ve just granted our 200 millionth dollar to the community. We only see increased impact over the next 40 years as we continue to grow and partner with others.”

CFSA Programs, Affiliates, and Supporting Organizations


African American Legacy Fund (AALF) has a simple goal: direct dollars and foster collaboration among organizations and individuals serving the most pressing needs of the African American and greater Tucson community. The initiative mirrors others around the country promoting greater investment in the African American community. Led by a board of community leaders, the vision for AALF is to become the forum for the community to collaborate and prioritize its needs and aspirations and to improve the quality of life of everyone living in metropolitan Tucson.

The Center for Healthy Nonprofits works to strengthen the Southern Arizona nonprofit community by offering free and reduced cost capacity-building workshops and training. Built upon CFSA’s in-depth knowledge of the nonprofit community, the Center helps nonprofit professionals and volunteers improve their ability to manage, govern, and grow their charitable organizations. The Center currently has four main programming areas: an “Ask an Expert” workshop series that offers free professional education on a variety of nonprofit topics; peer-to-peer programs that build skills and networks for staff and leadership volunteers; a CEO Survival Series for newer nonprofit CEOs that offers practical information and skillbuilding to help them thrive in their positions; and a series of workshops designed to provide health and wellness strategies that everyone can implement.

The Latino Community Fund (LCF) is grounded in cariño, which is the Spanish word for love, caring, and compassion. Family and community are at the heart of Latino values and inspire giving. LCF promotes love for community and viewing your community as an extension of your family. Its mission is to build on the Latino legacy of giving by inspiring action and advancing love and justice within families and communities, and it focuses on Latino-led, Latinoserving nonprofits that create real, positive, lasting change in our community through racial equity and social justice.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ+) Alliance Fund seeks to foster charitable giving in support of innovative programs and initiatives that benefit the LGBTQ+ community in Southern Arizona. Created in 1999 in partnership with the National Lesbian and Gay Community Funding Partnership, the Alliance Fund addresses the chronic pattern of underfunding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender programs and supports efforts to address these issues through philanthropy and endowment building. The Alliance Fund connects donors with projects that benefit the LGBTQ+ community through annual competitive grant rounds.

MAP (Making Action Possible) Dashboard was created to measurably improve Southern Arizona through data-driven, collective civic action and education. MAP fills a gap by providing a common collection of information upon which to evaluate our community and collaborate to address our shared issues. MAP Dashboard is sponsored by the local community and the product of a partnership between the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, the Pima Association of Governments, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Sun Corridor, Inc. and the University of Arizona. The UA’s Economic & Business Research Center maintains, updates, and administers the MAP Dashboard website.

Pima Alliance for Animal Welfare (PAAW) is a volunteer organization working toward ensuring that all Pima County companion animals have a loving home and humane care. An initiative of CFSA, the group currently has three focus areas: increasing awareness about available resources for people and their pets, a marketing campaign to encourage private location animal adoptions, and a collaborative community program that helps homebound seniors and disabled individuals care for their pets.


Founded by area residents to empower their community to invest in itself, the Santa Cruz Community Foundation promotes philanthropy and assists with the creation of a healthier, more productive community for the residents of Santa Cruz County.

Stone Canyon Community Foundation assists local charitable organizations that help young people in Oro Valley and Tucson get on track and stay there, placing special emphasis on early childhood education, high school graduation, and the development of life skills.


CFSA Properties, Inc. holds, owns and operates real properties to benefit the mission of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona.

The David S. and Norma R. Lewis Foundation supports global initiatives that give people the tools and resources to build hope, equality, opportunity, justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. They also support Southern Arizona creative-arts organizations and initiatives that help the less fortunate succeed.

Howard V. Moore Foundation makes distributions to the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona in support of philanthropic purposes.

Social Venture Partners Tucson combines the power of business with the passion of philanthropy to enhance philanthropic education and invest in innovative nonprofit organizations.

Sycamore Canyon Conservation Foundation was established for the purpose of monitoring, maintaining and repairing certain environmentally sensitive areas near Tucson, Arizona.

Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation supports the community through grants to qualified religious, charitable, scientific, and educational organizations.

William Edwin Hall Foundation supports the community through grants to programs for children.

Worth & Dot Howard Foundation offers educational scholarships to a wide range of meritorious individuals from designated Arizona schools, community colleges, and other higher learning institutions.

Current CFSA Campus Tenants

Act One

American Immigration Council

Bag It

Center for Community Dialogue & Training

The Centurions

Children’s Action Alliance

Community Gardens of Tucson

Echoing Hope Ranch

Educational Enrichment Foundation


Friends of PACC

Generations Communication Centers

Go For Vertical

Higher Ground

Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos

Our Family Services

Pima County Public Library

Social Venture Partners Tucson

CFSA Contact Info Community Foundation for Southern Arizona 5049 E. Broadway, Suite 201

Call (520) 770-0800 or visit


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Tucson Lifestyle

Tucson Lifestyle Magazine is Tucson's only glossy, monthly city magazine, targeting Southern Arizona’s affluent residents. With over 35 years of publishing experience, Tucson Lifestyle is committed to showcasing the people, places, local flavors, and attractions that make our city unique.

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