National Philanthropy Day

Meet the National Philanthropy Day Award Winners

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Southern Arizona Chapter, recognizes those in the community who “change the world with a giving heart.” The AFP National Philanthropy Day Awards luncheon is an annual event at which numerous volunteers are thanked for outstanding contributions to the community.

Outstanding Philanthropists: James and Louise Glasser

If the names James and Louise Glasser seem familiar, it’s because they’re part of the name of a new gallery at the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block.

After last year’s major renovation that closed most of the museum for several months, the James H. and Louise R. Glasser Gallery was dedicated recently as the new space for major museum exhibitions.

The naming recognizes the couple’s contribution, a major $500,000 gift that launched the museum’s fundraising effort. Ultimately, $1.15 million was raised for an endowment and the renovation that added gallery space, installed new equipment, moved the gift shop and freshened the galleries and grounds.

The Glassers will now be noted publicly by the museum and its art-loving visitors whenever the gallery is mentioned. In reality, for more than 27 years the couple has quietly and regularly supported many organizations in Tucson with financial contributions, board memberships and fundraising leadership.

Louise and James Glasser, this year’s Outstanding Philanthropists. Photo courtesy of Brooke Hummer Photography.

“They are the epitome of true philanthropists,” says Alba Rojas-Sukkar, the art museum’s chief development officer. “They give in every way and they do it with a full and selfless heart. They never want recognition; they are never ostentatious.”

For their work in social, economic, cultural and environmental causes, they have been named the 2018 Outstanding Philanthropists by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southern Arizona Chapter.

Stephanie Sklar, chief executive officer of the Sonoran Institute, likes to call them “a true power couple for philanthropy.” The list of beneficiaries of their support is long, including the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts, Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Community Foundation of Southern Arizona and the Contemporary Art Society.

The individual interests of Jim and Louise create a well-rounded portfolio of causes they support. “I choose organizations that coincide with my interests and the needs of the community and environment in which I live,” says Louise. “Much of Jim’s focus is on cultural organizations.”

The couple originally is from Chicago, where Jim variously served as president, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of GATX Corp., a railcar leasing company. He also sat on several other corporate boards of directors in the banking, life insurance and manufacturing industries. The Glassers were visible supporters of civic and charitable organizations in art, education, health and the environment in the Midwestern city.

But before all that, he and Louise married in Chicago, started a family of three children and lived in Tucson for 18 months while Jim ran GATX’s water treatment products subsidiary, Infilco. Even during that 1969-1970 span, Louise dove in to help the community, volunteering at Tucson Medical Center and for Planned Parenthood. That’s not surprising.

“I come from a philanthropic and volunteering family,” she explains. “As a teen, I volunteered at our local hospital, as did my mother, and at a Chicago Settlement House.” She has chaired her family’s charitable foundation for many years.

After Infilco was sold to another company, the couple moved away and spent most of the remainder of Jim’s career in Chicago. They made their way back to Tucson and have lived in their current home here since 1991.

Louise says her most satisfying moment of community service in Tucson stemmed from her board service and endowment campaign leadership for the Sonoran Institute. Her work contributed to the environmental protection group’s efforts that released water from the Morelos Dam into the Colorado River, allowing it to reach its delta for the first time in 20 years.

Jim says his most satisfying philanthropic moment was his contribution to transforming the Tucson Museum of Art. That capped a relationship that includes creating an endowment for an art curator and continuing service on the board of trustees.

“The arts have been significant to our family,” he said when the couple’s gift and the renovation fundraising campaign were announced last year. “We believe art is education and inspiration.

“As friends of the museum, Louise and I have seen thousands of children and adults engage with art and each other. It makes us happy to be able to express our commitment to the museum and help expand upon the role it plays in our community.”

Outstanding Fundraising Executive: Hilary Van Alsburg

By day, Hilary Van Alsburg is the director of development for the University of Arizona Libraries. By night — and weekends — she volunteers for organizations that work to better the environment, education, people of limited means and animals. She humbly accepts the Outstanding Fundraising Executive award for her entire UA Libraries team.

“No one gets to be named Outstanding Fundraising Executive without having an amazing support system,” says Van Alsburg, “and the credit really goes to them.”

Raising funds for an organization takes dedicated and talented folks in marketing, outreach, human resources, data entry, research, finance and frontline positions, she says. “And if you have ‘coordinator‘ or ‘assistant’ in your title, double thank you,” she adds.

Photo by Tom Spitz

Van Alsburg formerly worked in development with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and the Children’s Museum Tucson. Now she seeks major gifts that support the university’s library locations, four in all, plus special collections and the University Press.

She loves the variety of activity found in the departments she advocates for, from maintaining the seed library to providing virtual reality technology to medical students; from preserving Edward Abbey’s journals to exploring an asteroid with the OSIRIS REx mission. “It is no exaggeration to say I learn new things every day,” she says.

Her personal volunteerism is just as varied. It includes the Primavera Foundation, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild’s Youth Task Force, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, Educational Enrichment Foundation and the local Association of Fundraising Professionals.

She has helped organize major fundraising events, pursued grants and served on boards. She admits that one of her cooler accomplishments was winning the Education Enrichment Foundation’s fundraising celebrity spelling bee. “I’m a shoo-in for anything to do with education,” she says. “Supporting organizations that assist educators is where my passion lies.

“I think it’s important to be an active supporter and advocate for the organizations in our community that are making a tangible, immediate impact on the lives of people around us,” Van Alsburg says. She wants to set an example for her blended family of six children and husband, Michael. And she’s made an impression. “By now my family and friends are used to being part of the volunteer crew at any number of events around town,” she says.

Van Alsburg’s own parents saw what could become of their daughter. “They have memories of me championing causes and rallying around injustices from a very early age,” she says. She thinks that could be why they encouraged her to become a lawyer. It wouldn’t be her first career on the path to development.

Two years out of UA law school she opened Territories, an art gallery. A decade after running the store and while she volunteered at her kids’ school, she decided to get into teaching. “I was a part-time lawyer, running a gallery and taking online classes to get certified, with two young kids,” she says. “Crazy? Probably. Worth it? Absolutely.”

As a teacher she volunteered to help education-based groups, writing grants and soliciting funds for causes. “One day,” she says, “I realized I like this. I am good at this.” Getting into development seemed to draw on all her skills, particularly her ability to build relationships with a light touch and deep appreciation.

“Hilary’s very presence can light up a room,” says Ethan Smith Cox, director of development at the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation and the Association of Fundraising Professionals 2016 Outstanding Fundraising Executive. “She makes everyone feel welcome and appreciated, a key quality for any good fundraiser.”

“Good development work is always about connecting people with things you believe in and can advocate for from a place of integrity,” Van Alsburg says.

Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Page Chancellor Marks

My number one passion is my children and their interests,” says Page Chancellor Marks, who has been managing attorney for much of the 24 years she’s worked at Goldberg & Osborne law firm.

Her twin daughters with her husband, Dr. Sheldon Marks, are why she became involved with the Reid Park Zoological Society, helping to raise $7 million for the zoo’s Expedition Tanzania elephant exhibit and its Conservation Learning Center.

“When my daughters were young and we spent all of our time at the zoo, I joined the Zoological Society Board because of the joy the zoo brought me and my friends when we visited there with our young children,” says Marks.

Photo by Tom Spitz

That theme has carried on for some 15 years. Once the girls started attending Catalina Foothills public schools in District 16, Marks helped the district’s foundation organize the Love Our Schools Gala to raise between $30,000 and $60,000 yearly. She served on the Ben’s Bells board of directors after working on a project at the girls’ middle school.

After the twins joined a Girl Scout troop, Marks led a $2.7 million capital campaign for the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona’s A Place for Girls, a center for health and wellness activities.

For these and many other activities, Marks has been named the 2018 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year.

Although her daughters’ interests gave Marks, 51, many new avenues for volunteering, that passion to help emerged during her Canyon del Oro High School days. “I was very involved in lots of clubs and organizations,” she recalls.

At the University of Arizona, she joined a sorority and other charitable groups. After earning her law degree at UA, her efforts to establish her career included volunteering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Lawyers for Literacy. “Once I had children,” she says, “I really began to focus on charitable, non-legal-related organizations.”

Some of her other charitable works include serving on the governing board for St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church and acting as adviser and St. Luke’s Home liaison for National Charity League.

Marks sits on boards to help set direction for organizations, but she admits she loves to be hands-on in her volunteer work. For instance, she fondly talks about making crafts and playing bingo with the residents of St. Luke’s Home.

“I find the way that I can ‘walk the walk’ for charities is by asking for and obtaining money so that the organization can do its work,” she says.

She also enjoys educating those whom she calls “fortunate members in our community” about community needs that they can financially support. It’s this ability to convince people to help out that makes her an effective fundraiser.

Debbie Rich, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, tells the story of how an already busy Marks agreed to lead the fundraising effort for A Place for Girls. It was a tough and long campaign. “Page was our cheerleader and motivator,” says Rich, “reminding us that every gift adds up and if we stay the course, we would achieve our goals.”

That don’t-quit attitude is a hallmark of Marks’ passions. “I have to be passionate about the organization and the potential ‘ask,’” she says. “If I do not feel strongly about the mission or the cause, I will not get involved.”

Outstanding Foundation Philanthropist: Community Foundation of Southern Arizona

This fall the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona will open a Community Foundation Campus where a number of nonprofits will work at one location.

That will give CFSA officials a lot of room to figure out where to display the first ever Outstanding Foundation Philanthropist Award.

The new award recognizes nonprofit foundations with its own category. It used to be part of the award that was given to either a corporation or nonprofit foundation.

The award recognizes 38 years of CFSA efforts to meet community needs by helping donors find causes they can support. The foundation also manages charitable giving, teaches organizations how to grow and maintain endowments, provide financial and administrative support to newly formed organizations and create community partnerships to address big issues.

Photo by Tom Spitz

Its reach is wide and its services deep. Some of the causes CFSA supports include the environment, arts, culture, education, health, human services, economic development and animal welfare.

“The foundation has served thousands of donors who have given more than $175 million to the community and entrusted CFSA with the management of more than $145 million in assets,” says CFSA President and Chief Executive Officer J. Clinton Mabie. In 2017, the Community Foundation awarded more than $15 million in grants and over $400,000 in scholarships.

There are many examples of how the foundation’s work has created a robust philanthropic landscape. Here are a few.

It helped launch the African American Initiative that aims to create public, private and corporate collaboration to address economic and social needs in this community. Says Wyllstyne Hill, the initiative’s board chair: “Under the CFSA, AAI has a vision of what Southern Arizona can be when we bring together people, money and goodwill to make sure all our children, youth and families have the opportunities and resources to prosper.”

CFSA partners with the University of Arizona and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council to maintain the MAP (Make Action Possible for Southern Arizona) Dashboard. Its data provides a reliably accurate, up-to-date picture of economic and quality-of-life indicators.

“We often use data from the dashboard to describe the needs of our community to other funders,” says Beth Morrison, chief executive officer of Our Family Services that serves homeless families and youth.

The Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona depended on CFSA in its early years of development and growth. So did Social Venture Partners Tucson (SVP) and the Santa Cruz Community Foundation.

A partnership that CFSA formed with the David and Lura Lovell Foundation and 10 nonprofit groups provide end-of-life care for area residents.

By getting several interest groups together, the foundation helped create the Pima Alliance for Animal Welfare that works to make animal control centers more successful in adopting out rescues.

In 1980, Community leaders George H. Amos Jr., James Burns, Jim Click Jr., Edward R. Moore and F. Grainger Well founded what was then the Greater Tucson Area Foundation to help donors find causes to support. “CFSA’s founders believed that we needed to establish a permanent charitable endowment for the community to meet its evolving and changing needs,” says Mabie.

The foundation continues that mission and has become so successful that it had to relocate. The new campus at 5049 E. Broadway Blvd. allows CFSA and its initiatives to expand, plus provide shared and private space for as many as 30 nonprofit groups.

A conference room and other space will be open to the community for meetings, strategy sessions and drop-in work. “The CF Campus is a way to accommodate CFSA’s growth,” Mabie says, “while also creating a place for other nonprofits to convene, collaborate and work side by side.”

Casino Del Sol: Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist

In a formal compact with the state of Arizona, Casino del Sol, like all gaming businesses, is obliged to contribute a percentage of its gaming revenue to local cities, towns and counties. Those funds typically go to school districts, police forces and fire departments.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe, which runs the casino, has partnered with government entities that agree to distribute the undisclosed amount to educational and nonprofit organizations, says Kimberly Van Amburg, the casino’s chief executive officer.

Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist is Casino Del Sol, with Robert Valencia, Chairman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe (left) and the Casino’s CEO Kimberly Van Amburg photographed at the Boys & Girls Clubs Pascua Yaqui Clubhouse.

But that’s far from the end of the story. The casino contributes many more volunteer hours and dollars to the community. Because of that, it has been named Outstanding Corporation/Corporate Foundation for 2018. It’s the first such recognition after the AFP separated its former award that honored either a corporation or a nonprofit foundation.

The casino’s philanthropy spans both corporate and employee giving. The company discounts its conference and catering services to allow nonprofit groups to raise money while affordably putting on events. A few of these include the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson’s Steak and Burger Dinner, the Tucson International Mariachi Conference that benefits La Frontera Center, and the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Honoring Heroes Recognition Dinner.

The company provides cash sponsorships for many events. It runs an annual charity golf tournament — this is the fourth year — that has raised more than $100,000 that has been distributed among Homicide Survivors, Youth on Their Own, Boys & Girls Clubs, Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern Arizona, Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center and My Girl Power.

For Van Amburg, the casino’s workforce has equally stepped up to support important causes. “Some of the things we do that make me the most proud are the ones we donate our time to,” she says.

Employees have served on various boards and committees of nonprofit groups, including the American Red Cross of Southern Arizona, El Rio Health Center Foundation, Reid Park Zoological Society and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Each year, company departments compete for a casino-paid pizza party by collecting diapers to meet the needs of tribal members. Casino chefs are renowned for voluntarily putting on magnificent spreads at events such as the one at the Ronald McDonald House. Kate Jensen, its president and chief executive officer, has a story about that.

In 2013, 13-year-old Nick, who was living at the house with a terminal illness that required the use of a wheelchair, had only one wish for Christmas. He wanted to have a prime rib dinner at a restaurant — a wish his mother couldn’t afford to fulfill.

On the same night as the annual dinner, Nick was going to spend the evening at an aunt’s home. While getting Nick ready, his mother broke down in tears and told a house manager about the wish.

Casino banquet chef Jeff Castro heard about this while he, his casino crew and his family were getting ready to serve dinner, which coincidentally was prime rib with all the fixings.

He went to help the teen into the car. “He told Nick to wait for a moment,” says Jensen, “and was back in a few minutes with a wagon-load of food for the entire family. Everyone shared a few tears and a young boy rode off with his first smile in a long time.”

Castro had been organizing this tradition before he joined the Casino del Sol staff. Company leadership saw to it that he could continue giving this gift. “We have been happy to carry on that tradition with him at the lead,” says Van Amburg. “It’s a great way to give back to the community.”

Cougar Bellinger: Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy

In Cougar Bellinger’s family, the adage “like father, like son” is a really good thing for the community.

“Father” is Kevin “Kairand” Bellinger, head of RAA (Ready4 America Alliance Inc.) Productions in Tucson.

The organization grew out of the Born Brave Bus Tour, a traveling educational event that addresses mental health and acceptance of youth. It’s a partnership between entertainer Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and the National Council for Behavioral Health.

Cougar and Kevin attended one of the events in Los Angeles when Cougar was 9 years old. It made a strong impression on the youngster, who now is a 16-year-old junior at Mountain View High School. “I participated in a march around downtown L.A. supporting anti-bullying,” Cougar recalls, “and I thought it was cool at the time.”

Photo by Tom Spitz

Cougar’s parents often took their young son to volunteer activities. “Over time it just became a normal thing I did with my dad,” Cougar says. Both spend a lot of time with RAA Productions, which aims to strengthen community relationships and provide youth with platforms to produce and perform at events. As Cougar got older, he started participating in events on his own as he continued with his dad’s work.

Today, Cougar concentrates on providing entertainment as his contribution to community events. He spends hours setting up band equipment; performing on drums, guitar or keyboard, and then tearing down the set.

He estimates that he and his indie rock band Tone Marbles have played at more than 60 community events, including activities for CarMax Cares, the Amado Youth Alliance, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson and the various festivals put on by RAA Productions. A highlight was playing at the pre-game festival for the 2016 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl.

He’s also publicly spoken on behalf of the Amado Youth Alliance and led youth in organizing and participating in RAA Productions events to raise funds and promote community and service organizations.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southern Arizona Chapter, has honored Cougar’s work with its Youth in Philanthropy Award. He is the first individual to win the award.

Other recognitions he’s received in his young volunteer life include earning a $5,000 grant that he donated to the YMCA Youth in Government program and an acknowledgement for his performance at a Tucson event recognizing Turn Your Life Around Counseling and Recovery Center.

Volunteering is part of the fabric of Cougar’s life. “Even though the work of setting up early is hard and practice is tedious,” he says, “it feels good to be doing these events while having fun with my friends helping the community. I do what other kids do, too, but I have this as another hobby.”

It’s a hobby that may turn into a career someday. Among the options Cougar is weighing — including event or media organizer or musician — is becoming a philanthropist consultant.

At least one person sees the potential. Krystal Meisel manages teacher leadership development for Teach for America Hawai’i. She and Kevin worked together on a summer learning initiative in Los Angeles.

It was through that relationship that Meisel received an email from Cougar asking for donations for a new drum set. “I immediately donated and, to my complete surprise, I received a personal phone call from Cougar thanking me for my contribution,” she says. “Cougar is altruistic, relationship-focused and remarkable at genuinely recognizing others for their contributions.”

For now, Cougar hopes he can act as a role model for his peers. “I hope to inspire other people my age to try to support the community with what talents they have,” he says.

By Elena Acoba | Photography by Tom Spitz


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