Frontdoors Magazine November/December 2021 - The Holiday Issue

Page 1

Community, Philanthropy & Lifestyle



Carla Vargas Jasa reflects on what brought her to lead Valley of the Sun United Way


Holiday ISSUE

NOV/DEC 2021

A Frontdoors Media Publication | Home of The Red Book


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Frontdoors Magazine is dedicated to the memory of Mike Saucier.

TABLE OF CONTENTS { nov/dec 2021, volume 19, issue 7 }


10 EDITOR’S NOTE My Favorite Things

12 1 0 QUESTIONS John Graham, Sunbelt Holdings Inc., chairman and CEO

15 CHEERS TO THE CHAIRS A preview of the Valley’s premier philanthropic events

19 BOOKMARKED Robin S. Reed, president and CEO of the Black Chamber of Arizona

20 CREATING CULTURE “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley”

20 23 A 2

ACT So Kids Don’t Have to Feel Alone ND


Your Ultimate Guide to the Holidays

+ Arizona


+ Arizona

Host with the Most

State University Alumni Association Theatre Company + Black Chamber of Arizona + Greater Phoenix Economic Council + Hushabye Nursery + Musical Instrument Museum + one•n•ten + Reid Park Zoo + STN: Social Television Network + Tohono Chul Park + UMOM New Day Centers + Valley of the Sun United Way

49 FROM THE ROAD Tucson Turns Up the Holiday Heat

53 NONPROFIT PRO TIP Eric Sperling

54 COVER STORY A Mighty Ride

Save the Family invites you to

27 61 NEXT DOORS Building a More Inclusive Economy


February 19, 2022 Cocktails & Auction 6:00 pm Dinner & Program 7:00 pm

A Day with Christine Kajikawa Wilkinson, president and CEO of Arizona State University Alumni Association

69 CHARITY SPOTLIGHT Hushabye Nursery


82 LAST LOOK A Gift of Peace

Presented by

For tickets and information scan this QR code


EDITOR’S NOTE { on the job }



o mark the close of a memorable year, we partnered with an organization that has been serving the community for decades. In this special issue, we are excited to introduce readers to Valley of


“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” —


The innovative work Hushabye Nursery does for

the Sun United Way president and CEO Carla Vargas Jasa and congratulate the organization on 95 years of serving Maricopa County. The issue also highlights several organizations that Valley of the Sun United Way supports. In them,

the tiniest victims of the opioid crisis.


I could easily list dozens of things I found


heard of this Tucson treasure?

the spirit of the season, I will share 12 of my favorite: Lory Parson’s Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad


Eric Sperling’s sage suggestion to use the lessons


The new Skysill Rooftop Lounge that Shoshana

with Maple Balsamic Glaze recipe. Thanksgiving side-dish selection, done!


winter weather.

remember the many seasons of our colleagues’

3 4

The tranquil scene captured on the last page of the magazine. Outdoor events at this time of year


Seeing Valley of the Sun United Way president and CEO Carla Vargas Jasa dressed as Wonder Woman as a child. Proof that the stories we hear

— how lucky are we?

and tell ourselves matter.

The reopening of Café Allegro at the Musical

On that note, we hope you enjoy the stories, gifts

Instrument Museum, one of my favorite places


of these challenging years to spur something big.

Leon wrote about. Another place to enjoy our

Christine Kajikawa Wilkinson’s wise words to lives. A simple statement with profound meaning.

The Wee Winter Wonderland at the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. How have I never

inspirational as I worked on this Holiday Issue. But in


“Trillion Dollar Coach” — a perfect pick for a few folks on my list.

we think you’ll see the caring power of collaboration that sets our community apart.

a new addition to my holiday calendar.

and events shared here, and that they help you enjoy

to recommend to friends.

a meaningful holiday season.

John Graham’s motto — “It is better to be


nice than to be right.” More advice that cuts to the heart.

NOV/DEC 2021

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Karen Werner | EDITOR IN CHIEF


n e m o W p i h s r e d in lea can WILL create

a s a J s a g r a V a l r a C y United Wa e Sun h t f o y e l l CEO, Va leader a n i t a L d n man a First wo Change y t h g i M f ion o Champ

10 QUESTIONS { fascinating people }

JOHN GRAHAM Sunbelt Holdings Inc. chairman and CEO

NOV/DEC 2021

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I am a lucky guy who loves where he lives and what he has done professionally and in the community and especially appreciates his family and friends.


You went to Brophy Prep. Are you a native Arizonan? I was born in Minnesota but arrived in Arizona in August of 1958 at the age of 1. I think that makes me a native.


You’ve had a hugely successful career as Sunbelt Holdings chairman and CEO. How did you get involved in real estate? My dad worked for Coldwell Banker from 1958 to 1976. I really enjoyed being around the people he worked with, and it set the hook for my interest in the business. CB was my first job out of college.


Your affiliations and community involvement are legendary. Why do you choose to be involved with so many organizations and projects? I consider it an honor to serve my community. I was introduced to the culture of community service and giving back as a Brophy student. Sadly, there is no shortage of critical needs to focus on.


Did you grow up in a particularly philanthropic family? My family certainly engrained a culture of kindness and generosity in my life.


Tell us what you’re up to these days. We are very busy and have been so through the entire pandemic. Our primary space is in the single-family and multi-family market in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas. My community service work has been especially intense as we all triaged through the pandemic. And most importantly, I have been able to spend lots of quality time with my family. I became a grandfather a little over a year ago to sweet little Ellie May.

Growing thoughtful, confident leaders and lifelong-learners since 1963.

John and his wife Kathleen love spending time with their three children, Annie, Will and Justin (above). They also enjoy romps on Coronado beaches with their granddaughter Ellie and her dog (left).


What do you do on a typical day? Every day is different, and that’s how I like it. I am typically up at 6 a.m. and then try to balance every day with family, friends, work and community service.


Where are your favorite places to go? My favorite place to get away with my family for downtime is Coronado.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Work hard and play hard, but always focus on a balance of life issues.


Is there anything you’d like readers to know about you? I am a lucky guy who loves where he lives and what he has done professionally and in the community and especially appreciates his family and friends.

For who they are and who they will become. An All Saints’ education empowers students to reach their full potential— developing thoughtful and confident leaders and inspiring lifelong learners for an ever-evolving world.

10 What is your motto? My dad regularly said, “It is better to be nice than to be right.” It was his way of saying treat people as you would want them to treat you.

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CHEERS to the Chairs!

A preview of the Valley’s premier philanthropic events and who’s leading these important efforts

Dinner with Eisenhower

Sandra Day O’Connor Institute CHAIRS: Dionne & Francis Najafi and Terry & Steve Roman EVENT DATE: November 19, 2021 DETAILS: history-dinners-civil-conversation

Phoenix Heart Ball

American Heart Association CHAIR: Jennifer Moser EVENT DATE: November 20, 2021 DETAILS:

White Christmas

The Board of Visitors Ryan House CHAIRS: Jaime Spinato & Nicole Spinato-Kienlen EVENT DATE: December 4, 2021 DETAILS:


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NOV/DEC 2021

HonorHealth Foundation

Honor Ball

CHAIRS: Christine Watson & Sally Tryhus EVENT DATE: December 4, 2021 DETAILS:

Arizona Costume Institute Holiday Luncheon ACI/Phoenix Art Museum

CHAIRS: Donna Johnson & Lisa Shapiro EVENT DATE: December 6, 2021 DETAILS:

Applause! Gala: A Night in Memphis

The Phoenix Theatre Company

HONORARY CHAIRS: Martha & Wally Henkel EVENT DATE: December 10, 2021 DETAILS:

The Board of Visitors 68th Annual Fashion Show Luncheon The Board of Visitors

CHAIRS: Sally Guenther & Cindy Good EVENT DATE: December 11, 2021 DETAILS:

Desert Foundation Auxiliary Ball

Desert Foundation Auxiliary

CHAIRS: Jill Hegardt & Jenny Ellis EVENT DATE: December 22, 2021 DETAILS:

NOV/DEC 2021

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The Phoenix Symphony


Join us for the triumphant return of The Phoenix Symphony as we celebrate our 75th anniversary season and the return of live performances. We’re celebrating this incredible milestone with a season that focuses on our world-class musicians and features a wide variety of performances. Tickets available at or call our box office at 602.495.1999.

The Phoenix Symphony’s

Complete 2021/22 Season Includes:

Midori Violinist

Coco In Concert Live to Film: November 5-7

The Jazz Effect: Gershwin and Stravinsky: November 12-14

Midori Returns!: November 19-21

Music of the Knights®: November 26-28

Holiday Pops: December 3-5

Handel’s Messiah: December 16-17 (Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, Scottsdale) December 18 (Mesa Arts Center)

New Year’s Eve Concert: December 31

BOOKMARKED { what are you reading? }

ROBIN S. REED President and CEO of the Black Chamber of Arizona


“Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Handbook” by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle


“This is one of those books that once you finish it, you want to immediately read it again. On the first pass, sit’s easy to find yourself being impressed with the names and status of the leaders and executives who credit Bill Campbell with coaching them to greatness. “However, on second reading or at some point in the first reading, you realize how prophetic this book is and how Bill Campbell was either way ahead of his time or how timeless and important good leadership skills are in growing companies. This book chronicles Campbell’s journey as a coach of some of the greatest business leaders of our time and how he imparted in them the importance, if not the imperative, of valuing people over profits to create great companies.”


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NOV/DEC 2021

KEY TO THE GOOD LIFE { creating culture }

‘MISS BENNET CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY’ Cozy up with this gift from Arizona Theatre Company


Lisa Pagel I Associate Publisher

rizona has a new holiday performing arts delight to enjoy, imagined from a beloved 1815 classic. Arizona Theatre Company presents a witty sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” set two years after the novel ends.

The story begins as the Bennet family gathers at

Pemberley to celebrate Christmas. The engaging ensemble includes newlyweds Lizzy and Mr. Darcy as well as Lizzy’s sisters, Jane, who is seven months pregnant, and Lydia, who pretends that her marriage is not a total disaster. The scholarly middle daughter, Mary, is tired of her pigeonholed, obedient role in the family. Enter an unexpected gentleman guest, and Mary’s life gets interesting. Comedy and romance ensue!

NOV/DEC 2021

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Photos by Tim Fuller

Scenic designer Apollo Mark Weaver recreated an early 19th century yuletide with his sets. Here, the crew prepares the final paint evaluations for the production.

A talented cast and crew bring this seasonal comic play to life.

Arizona Theatre Company was purposeful in its intent

representative of the Regency period: the furniture and

to stage this production. “In addition to wanting to create a

upholstery, books, sets, costume styling, hairstyles, etc. The

new family-friendly holiday tradition for audiences across

holiday tree featured in the home was also given period-

Arizona, we wanted to make sure we were celebrating the

specific scrutiny. Christmas trees during this time were

best of the state along with the best of our country,” said

traditional for nobility, but just starting to gain popularity in

Sean Daniels, artistic director of Arizona Theatre Company.

upper-crust circles. The Pemberley tree is adorned with

“As the state theater, it’s a testament to the global role and

articles typically found in the home, often hand-made.

our commitment to world-class productions that Arizona

The realistic winter backdrop, festive family camaraderie

audiences will see national and local actors, designers and

and elegant Regency attire will transport theatergoers back

a director from Phoenix and Tucson working with the most

to an “Old English Holiday” — welcome inspiration for our

produced playwright in our country. We are so excited to

own traditions with loved ones and friends.

bring this dynamic, joyful show to life for the holiday season.” Period costumes and sets support the endearing

“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. Directed by Sean Daniels.

performance. The talented ATC team paid careful attention

Tickets start at $25. Dec. 9 through Jan. 2, 2022, at

to detail to ensure everything the actors interact with is

Herberger Theater Center.


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NOV/DEC 2021

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A 2ND ACT { helping is healing }

So Kids


one•n•ten improves self-esteem and self-acceptance among LGBTQ+ youth

Judy Pearson I Contributing Writer

“A lot of people have to wait until they retire to do something they’re passionate about,” Nate Rhoton’s stepfather observed. But Rhoton is so passionate about his work as executive director of one•n•ten, he says it doesn’t feel like he’s working at all. Yet, he’s accomplishing so much. There are many kids in Arizona for whom going to school, having a part-time job or playing sports is safe and comfortable. But what if it weren’t? What if every day you wondered if you’d be accepted, if you’d be included, if you’d be harmed? That’s the reality for Arizona’s LGBTQ+ youth population. “I had spent 15 years in corporate management and finance,” Rhoton said. “I had done work on various boards, and nationally on human rights campaigns. But I was at a turning point. I wasn’t quite at midlife, but still felt like I was having a midlife crisis!” He laughs. He was making money, but he didn’t feel like he was making a difference. And he wasn’t leaving work each day feeling fulfilled. Nate Rhoton leads a dedicated team focused on serving LGBTQ+ youth across the state. FRONTDOORS MEDIA

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NOV/DEC 2021

“ When our youth center was destroyed in an arson fire in 2017, the community came together to rebuild it." A friend recommended he step into the nonprofit space. He enjoyed fundraising — a dream come true for nonprofits.

identity-specific programs provide the kind of support necessary for LGBTQ+ youth to live meaningful lives.

He saw it as a means by which to make change. At a 2015

In addition, parents, teachers, counselors and other

dinner with Linda Elliot, one•n•ten’s then-executive director,

trusted adults need guidance to best support their LGBTQ+

he learned they were looking for a director of development.

youth. To that end, one•n•ten offers a monthly Parents’

She suggested he submit his credentials. He did, and the

Group. And the icing on the cake is one•n•ten’s Camp

organization welcomed him with open arms. The next

OUTdoors. The unique five-day, four-night summer program

step was director of finance and operations, and finally, he

brings LGBTQ+ youth “out of the closet and into the woods,”

assumed his current role as executive director when Elliot

developing leadership skills, working in collaborative ways

retired in January 2018.

and building a solid sense of self and community.

Adolescence brings with it lots of challenges, regardless

It was during Camp OUTdoors that Rhoton had an

of sexual orientation. The more than one youth in 10 who

experience that made him realize the importance of their

are LGBTQ+ face them as well, along with many other inner

work. “It was my first year as a counselor,” he said. “I was

conflicts. “These can create immense pressure,” Rhoton said.

in the 11- to 12-year-old cabin. Blue (a young boy with blue

“And it causes some kids to self-harm or develop suicidal

hair) was originally from Arkansas. When he came out to

ideations. We support them and give them the building

his parents, they kicked him out of the house and sent him

blocks to be the best they can be.”

to live with grandparents, who in turn had connected with

one•n•ten enhances the lives of youths 11–24 years of

us. Blue arrived at camp completely withdrawn. He built a

age by providing empowering social and service programs

wall out of the stuffed animals he had brought and crawled

that promote self-expression, self-acceptance, leadership

behind it.

development and healthy life choices. Housing and workforce navigation, health and wellness programs and

Camp OUTdoors is a safe space for LGBTQ+ teens and young adults to learn leadership skills and grow their confidence while enjoying the outdoors.

NOV/DEC 2021

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“A day later, he came running up to me. I worried there was a problem, but he was ecstatic. ‘I’ve never been with

Adolescence can be tough, especially for LGBTQ+ youth. one•n•ten is there to provide support.

kids like me!’ he told me breathlessly. And in that moment, I witnessed our major goal playing out in real life: to ensure that kids never feel alone.” All of one•n•ten’s programs are free of charge, and the organization is 100 percent self-funded by a generous community. About one-third comes from local foundations, including the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. Another third comes from fundraisers. And the final third comes from private donations. “When our youth center was destroyed in an arson fire


in 2017, the community came together to rebuild it. It was completely funded, and we opened with no debt,” Rhoton said proudly. And while the majority of one•n•ten’s participants come from Maricopa County, the organization has 15 satellites statewide, with the aim of growing to 22 in the coming year. One of the Camp OUTdoors campers summed up this vital work in the camp’s closing survey: “The four days I spend at this camp make the other 361 possible!” That says it all. To learn more, visit

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The spirit of giving...




French macarons holidays box, $29-$99 Woops! Arizona, same-day delivery throughout the Valley Photos courtesy companies

KEY TO THE GOOD LIFE { luxe living }

Perrine Adams I Lifestyle Editor

From the newest releases to timeless classics, these gift ideas are guaranteed to impress everyone on your list. Relax and enjoy the holiday season knowing everyone on your list is taken care of.


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NOV/DEC 2021

KEY TO THE GOOD LIFE { luxe living }

Caraway ceramic-coated cookware set, $495 Crate and Barrel, Scottsdale Fashion Square



Make any chic woman that matters smile with these no-fail gifts.

18k yellow gold hoop earrings, $1,695 Saint By Sarah Jane

Rive Gauche shopping bag, $1,190 Saint Laurent, Scottsdale Fashion Square

Ambientec Xtal lamp, $245 Main Dish, Scottsdale

NOV/DEC 2021

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Ultimate hydration set—Illuminating Gold Mask, Balancing and Firming Serum, and Hydrating Facial Moisturizer, $375 D’Isolana Skincare

At Remedy Salon and Spa, our goal is to take great care of all who enter and the community in which we live. Located in Scottsdale’s highly desirable McCormick Ranch neighborhood, Remedy Salon and Spa is adjacent to some of the most popular coffee shops and restaurants in town.

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Baroque wool and silk throw, $1,975 Versace, Scottsdale Fashion Square

KEY TO THE GOOD LIFE { luxe living }



Spoil the discerning gentlemen on your list with the ultimate classics.

Ralph Lauren Fowler chess set, $1,995 Saks Fifth Avenue, Biltmore Fashion Square

“Peace, Love, and Pasta: Simple and Elegant Recipes from a Chef’s Home Kitchen” by Scott Conant, chef and owner of Mora Italian and The Americano, $35 Barnes & Noble The Chair by Neighbor, $900 Neighbor, Phoenix

NOV/DEC 2021

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Rare 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder 50th Annual Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction, Jan. 22-30, Westworld of Scottsdale

State Forty Eight T-shirt, $34, and matching onesie, $26.50 Frank Lloyd Wright Store at Taliesin West

Coffee subscription, starting at $14 per month Press Coffee, nine locations throughout the Valley

KEY TO THE GOOD LIFE { luxe living }


PonyCycle ride-on horse, $289-$329


These little treasures are guaranteed to create unforgettable memories.

“The Story of Camelback Mountain” by Estelle Cohen and Pam Hait, and illustrated by Sebastien Millon, $16.95

Interactive wooden play kitchen and food, $149.99 Nordstrom, Scottsdale Fashion Square

NOV/DEC 2021

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Shine Your Light Affirmation for Kids box, 25 positive affirmation cards and bonus stickers, $25 Trend Tech Brands mini boombox, $69.99 Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Shine Your Light,

Yuko Higuchi tote bag, $890 Gucci, Scottsdale Fashion Square

Birchwood shark clock designed by Paul Ocepek, $65 Phoenix Art Museum

KEY TO THE GOOD LIFE { luxe living }



Stock up on fun pieces for your furry friends — and the humans who love them.

Mackenzie-Childs puppy placemat, $28 Cornelia Park, Biltmore Fashion Park

Dog bowl, $20 Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Moncler dog jacket, $455 Saks Fifth Avenue, Biltmore Fashion Square

NOV/DEC 2021

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Mackenzie-Childs cat dish, $48 Cornelia Park, Biltmore Fashion Park

La Panthère de Cartier 18k rose gold bracelet with tsavorite garnets, onyx and black lacquer, $38,800 Cartier, Scottsdale Fashion Square

Haute House handcrafted dog bed, $1,409 Neiman Marcus, Scottsdale Fashion Square

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KEY TO THE GOOD LIFE { style unlocked }



Perrine Adams I Lifestyle Editor

Lory Parson shares the art of entertaining

ife, mom, amateur cook, lover of entertaining — and owner of too many napkins — Lory Parson

enjoys hosting friends and family in her Phoenix home. She’s dedicated to bringing back the art of entertaining and sharing it with others. The catalyst for her entertaining blog, “To Have + To Host,” was something she started in her own home almost 10 years ago called Grandma Dinner Night. She and her husband receive their respective mothers over for dinner one night a week. “Each week, I create a different tablescape, try new recipes and pair them with fantastic wine that we all can enjoy together. It is really our time to reconnect — three generations over the dinner table. It’s my favorite night of the week,” said Parson. “To Have + To Host” is a place where Parson indulges in elegance, experiments with tastes, textures, colors of the season and styles, and shares the best of the best for anyone who wants inspiration on entertaining. She started the blog in 2017 and now partners with local, national and international brands to create content for homeware lines, food and beverage brands, and table and home décor. Her favorite tablescape of all time? The hostess with the mostess can’t decide. But any time she can dine alfresco in her backyard makes her happy. “I’m never disappointed when I can set a table surrounded by our natural Arizona beauty,” Parson said. For more inspiration, visit


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NOV/DEC 2021

KEY TO THE GOOD LIFE { style unlocked }



eutral tones lend to the versatility of this table setting, which makes it almost a yearround décor.

“Whenever I’m planning table décor, no

matter the season, holiday or event, I like to stick to a color theme — this becomes my foundation for everything and I’m able to work around the schematic to choose everything from linens, plates, florals and favors. For this beautiful table setting, I chose blush, coral and violet as the palette for this party,” Parson said.


A table setting like this would also be great for a bridal shower, an elegant brunch, an Easter lunch, a Mother’s Day dinner, or even an anniversary or birthday celebration.

NOV/DEC 2021

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By using a monochromatic champagne hue for the tablecloth, napkins, chargers and flatware, the chairs and florals take center stage. The folding bamboo chairs give a casual warmth.

Tall metal ornament trees make great seasonal centerpieces. Red roses are easily found this time of year. Simply arrange in groups of five or six in small vases and scatter down the middle of the table. A magnolia garland has green leaves on one side and a golden color on the flip side — which blends in perfectly with the gold accents. Magnolia leaves can be purchased fresh and then dried to be used for several years.

A CLASSIC CHRISTMAS TIP Match your outfit to your table. Parson recommends a red sequined dress that’s comfortable enough to maneuver in throughout the night.


his traditional Christmas tablescape has it all: red, green, gold, plaid, lights, trees, sparkles and twinkles. There’s something reassuring and comforting about seeing

familiar colors and patterns. “I usually like to change things up and

give them a twist. Not with this one. I went straightforward classic, traditional, time-honored, historic, customary Christmas,” Parson said.


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NOV/DEC 2021


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KEY TO THE GOOD LIFE { style unlocked }

Faux shagreen square placemats are a great base for layering the plates. You can use these year-round; the square shape is a bit more unique than the usual rectangular or round placemats. Glitter-embellished pillar candles, mercury votives and a gold leaf garland grace the center of the table.




ere is your chance to dust off and break out the china. This sparkly tablespace will delight your guests as you welcome the new year.

“No detail was spared here and there was no limit

to how much gold I used, which definitely made it over-the-top. But if there’s one holiday where it’s O.K. to do this, it’s New Year’s Eve,” Parson said.


Working around a single-focus color like gold makes it easy to plan the rest of the table.


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NOV/DEC 2021

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUT SALALD with Maple Balsamic Glaze This recipe combines the best seasonal veggies like brussels sprouts and butternut squash with other ingredients. In addition to the veggies, this dish gets a sprinkle of crispy prosciutto crumbles, creamy goat cheese, tart cherries and crunchy nuts — a great combination of tastes and textures. The ingredients get layered on a platter at the end for an elegant presentation on any buffet or dining table. The salad is satisfying enough for a meal or makes for an elegant Thanksgiving side dish. INGREDIENTS • 1 bag fresh shaved brussels sprouts • 1 bag fresh butternut squash noodles

TIP Use pre-packaged chopped veggies to reduce prep time — which translates to more time with your guests.

• 4 slices prosciutto • 1/2 cup candied pecans or walnuts • 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries • 1 oz goat cheese, crumbled • 2 T maple syrup • 1/2 cup good aged balsamic vinegar • olive oil • salt and pepper


• Turn oven to 350 degrees. • Lay prosciutto slices on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until browned and crispy. • Turn oven up to 400 degrees. • Spread brussels sprouts and squash into one even layer on two separate baking sheets. •T oss each with one tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Use hands to make sure it’s evenly seasoned. •R oast for 8-12 minutes, watching that the brussels sprouts leaves don’t burn. You may need to rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom if you’re using one oven. •F or the maple balsamic glaze, pour the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes until thickened and reduced by about half. •P rep your salad: Layer the ingredients on a platter starting with the squash, then brussels sprouts. Crumble the prosciutto and sprinkle on top, followed by the candied nuts, dried cherries and goat cheese. Finally, finish with a drizzle of the maple balsamic glaze.

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KEY TO THE GOOD LIFE { from the road }

Courtesy of Oro Valley Holiday Festival


Courtesy of Visit Tucson


The Old Pueblo blends classic cheer with only-here Baja traditions Suzanne Wright I Contributing Writer


icture-perfect Southwestern weather

Richard Sanderson I Contributing Writer

ushers in an enchanted holiday season in Tucson. And the Sonoran borderlands traditions in Arizona’s

second-biggest city have a twist all their own. Try these merry and bright happenings with widespread appeal for the whole family.


The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures in Tucson is one of those off-the-beaten path attractions. It’s a

Courtesy of Mini Time Machine Museum

whimsical place year-round, but it really shines during the Wee Winter Wonderland. Exquisitely detailed, dollhouse-sized rooms depict global holiday traditions


NOV. 26–DEC. 15..

throughout time: the Southwestern Casita Bonita, the

Reid Park Zoo is ablaze during the annual Zoolights. While

Edwardian Alderly Manor, a Kwanzaa celebration, a

most critters have the evening off, the family-friendly event

German Christkindlmarket, a Japanese farmhouse and

features lighted animal sculptures, thousands of sparkling

many more. Both kids and adults will be equally charmed.

lights, jingle bells and Santa Claus. Cookies and hot cocoa

There are discounts for students, military members and

are for sale. Children under 2 are free and discounts for

seniors; children under 3 get in free.

seniors apply. FRONTDOORS MEDIA

| 49 |

NOV/DEC 2021



{ from the road }

NOV. 26–DEC. 24..

Longing for a bit of holiday nostalgia? The Gaslight Music Hall’s holiday production of Jingle Bell Rockin’ Revue is a toe-tapping good time. The intimate dinner theater in Oro Valley presents an all-star cast of singers and showband, along with dancing elves and singing reindeer sure to boost your holiday spirit. Come hungry and nosh on pizza, salads and malts. Santa himself has been known to pop in.


This family-friendly event is a vibrant two-day celebration of art and community. More than 150 artisans will be on hand, along with performances from students and local musicians. In addition, there will be food trucks, a special appearance by Santa and s’mores. The crowning event, the lighting of the towering holiday tree, takes place on Saturday evening. It’s held in conjunction with the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance and sponsored by local businesses. And wait till you see jaw-dropping views of the Catalinas’ Pusch Ridge from the Oro Valley Marketplace in the northern Tucson suburbs. Admission is free.


Tucson’s toniest shopping destination, La Encantada, creates climatic magic during the holidays. Perched high on Skyline Drive above the glittering lights of Tucson, the open-air center showers shoppers twice nightly with faux snow. Carolers often stroll the grounds and some shops offer treats. Craving the real thing? Take the gorgeous, one-hour drive up to Mount Lemmon. At 9,200 feet in elevation, a White Christmas is all but assured.


Tamales are beloved by Tucsonans. The masa cakes wrapped and steamed in a corn husk are a staple of Mesoamerican cuisine. Time-consuming to make, they bring families together in a cherished culinary ritual passed down through time. Casino Del Sol’s AVA Amphitheater is the site for this free gathering that features local entertainment and artisan booths, along with a selection of savory tamales.


The Winterhaven Festival of Lights is the granddaddy of all holiday events in Tucson. Generations of residents have proudly transformed the leafy Midtown neighborhood with twinkly lights and lawn exhibits as a gift to Tucson. You can experience the fun on foot or as a drive-through event. Or better yet, reserve a hayride wagon, board the trolley, or pedal on a group bike. The festival is free, but canned donations for the Community Food Bank are encouraged.


Looking for unique gifts for your loved ones? Bring your shopping list to The Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair. Now in its 51st year, this is one of the biggest arts and shopping events in Tucson. Fourth Avenue shuts down to cars for the weekend, as more than half a million people take to the streets. The lively atmosphere includes hundreds of artists, musicians and street performers, along with a wide variety of food vendors. Kids can enjoy face-painting and balloons. Free shuttle service is provided from the Pennington Street Garage or ride the Sun Link Streetcar to the action.


Tucked into the lovely Casa Adobes neighborhood in northern Tucson, Tohono Chul Park morphs into a winter wonderland every December during Holiday Nights as a million lights blaze and luminarias glow along the garden’s winding footpaths. A timeless tradition, it includes live music, holiday treats and unique shopping. Don’t miss the desert-inspired snowman. Courtesy of Zoo Lights at Reid Park Zoo FRONTDOORS MEDIA

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NOV/DEC 2021

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“ Take the Lessons” If growth only happens when we go outside our comfort zone, the communities we serve are in for quite a response in 2022. The last two years have forced all of us to be brave. We’re coming to the realization that what we want and desire for our organizations comes on the other side of fear. Where fear once ruled our decision-making and planning, there’s now an infusion of hope. Take the lessons you’ve learned from this season of forced growth, pay it forward and apply it to the people you serve. To learn more, visit


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NOV/DEC 2021

COVER STORY { by karen werner }




ou can tell she’s well-traveled,

Some of Vargas Jasa’s earliest memories

smart and serious. You will learn

include Tucson, where her father was a University

that she likes to cook and loves her

of Arizona professor. “I remember playing in the

Boston Terrier puppy, Ellie. And yet,

washes with my friends, building forts. I remember

if you found yourself in conversation

going to Mount Lemmon and seeing snow for the

with Carla Vargas Jasa, you’d still be taken aback

first time. I have really fond memories of Arizona,”

by her openness. Her candor is disarming.

Vargas Jasa said.

On the day we spoke, Vargas Jasa explained

It was a far cry from what her parents had

how her experience as a first-generation American

experienced in Paraguay, and what she saw

is a big part of what led her to become president

herself as a young child when the family lived in

and CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way.

Guadalajara at other times in her childhood. “You

“My dad was a leader of the student movement

would see a beautiful home — like a luxurious

against the dictatorship in Paraguay, which was

home — across the street from a family that

the longest-running dictatorship in the southern

built their house out of corrugated metal and

hemisphere of the 20th century,” she said. “Because of

cardboard,” she said. The disparities motivated

his leadership, he was arrested, jailed and tortured

her to want to help others around the world, and

several times and, at one point, escaped from a

her time in Mexico made her fluent in Spanish.

military hospital.”

Inspired by what she’d seen, motivated to do

Vargas Jasa’s parents were blacklisted and fled

good, and armed with aspirations of becoming

the country, heading to Penn State, where her father

an international human rights lawyer, Vargas

would earn his doctorate. Vargas Jasa was born

Jasa headed for UC Berkeley to major in political

while her parents were living in international student

science. She landed there in 1992, on the heels

housing there in State College, Penn.

of the Rodney King verdict, and saw important

This began a peripatetic childhood, being raised

issues all around. “There were riots and looting

the only child of an academic father and a mother

all over the campus and city. There’s also a

who taught her child English as her first language,

homeless issue in Berkeley,” she said. Walking

even though she barely spoke it herself. “My mom

down Telegraph Avenue and seeing people

knew that they would never be able to move back

experiencing homelessness every day made

to Paraguay, and they wanted to raise me in the

her realize that human rights work could begin

States,” Vargas Jasa said.

at home.

NOV/DEC 2021

| 54 |


Carla Vargas Jasa reflects on the difficult, critical and fun decisions that led her to lead Valley of the Sun United Way


| 55 |

NOV/DEC 2021

EARLY INSPIRATIONS: Vargas Jasa as a toddler with her parents, Olga and Gustavo (below), dressed as Wonder Woman (middle), and with her mom on her college graduation day (right). Olga graduated from college the same year Carla graduated from high school, a testament to her perseverance.

things, the job offered the couple a chance to actually share a roof. “We weren’t married at the time, and we’d never permanently lived together. We ultimately decided to formally submit my interest,” she said. A few months later, Vargas Jasa walked in the door as Valley of the Sun United Way’s new CEO. “I’m not going A job at a law firm convinced her that wasn’t her

to lie. I was apprehensive about whether I could do this

style, so she pivoted again and pinpointed the nonprofit

job, given how much bigger an organization it was than

sector as an area where she could directly impact

Orange County United Way. I always thought I would

human rights issues. She took her degree and left

come here to work for the next CEO,” she said. “But once

Berkeley, heading south for a job in community relations

I committed to it, I was all in.”

at Orange County United Way. She started in 1999, working as a liaison to several

She entered with a 100-day plan of how she wanted to approach joining the community and understanding what

regional nonprofits and those in the Latino community.

stakeholders wanted from Valley of the Sun United Way.

“United Way is such a unique organization in that it has

Vargas Jasa held almost 150 meetings with corporate

a bird’s eye view of issues in any given community

and nonprofit partners, donors, community leaders and

and can see how to pull the pieces of the puzzle

philanthropists, as well as United Way staff and board

together to create solutions that are needed,” she

members, to hear their perceptions of the organization

said. “I was excited to raise my hand whenever a new

and integrate what she heard into plans.

opportunity came up.”

“I asked people to be very candid and, because

Over time, Vargas Jasa grew into a number of

I was new to the community, they were,” Vargas Jasa

different roles, including leading corporate and major

said. “I heard that we could strive to be more reflective of

donor fund development. Around the time she was

the community and understand the needs of nonprofits

helping to launch Orange County United Way’s ambitious

working deep within it.”

10-year community impact plan, FACE 2024, her

Her objective was for 2020 to be an inflection point

now-husband Steve was recruited for a job in Scottsdale.

for Valley of the Sun United Way, commemorating its

Vargas Jasa wanted to get FACE 2024 well established

95th anniversary as well as the conclusion of its 10-year

and Steve promised that if he took the job, they would

strategic/impact plan launched in 2010. Vargas Jasa’s

see each other every weekend. “I like to say that he was

team developed a plan for community engagement and

our advance team for coming out here,” she said.

invited about 150 stakeholders to join the first session in

Thanks to his move, Vargas Jasa got to know both the community and Valley of the Sun United Way. “This

March — just as COVID hit the Valley. In a blink, Vargas Jasa went from being the new CEO

is one of the top United Ways in the country and one

in town to one of the Valley’s most visible executives

that I’d admired from afar for many, many years,” she

leading in the pandemic. She paused long-range planning

said. So when a call from a recruitment firm came,

and focused on the demands of 2020, leveraging those

Vargas Jasa, then five years into FACE 2024 and

meetings already planned to focus on responding to what

well ahead of goals, found herself interested in the

nonprofit partners told her they needed. Valley of the

opportunity to grow as a leader.

Sun United Way immediately launched the United for

“I was intrigued and intimidated, but my husband encouraged me to pursue it,” she said. Among other NOV/DEC 2021

| 56 |


the Valley COVID-19 Fund and started providing weekly grants to partners responding to community needs.

United Way is such a unique organization in that it has a bird’s eye view of issues in any given community and can see how to pull the pieces of the puzzle together to create solutions that are needed.

“We kept driving forward, to plan forward, to make

Scott — one of the world’s wealthiest people after

good on our 2020 priorities at the same time that we

co-founding Amazon with her then-husband Jeff Bezos —

were responding to COVID-19,” Vargas Jasa said. While

wanted to address equity issues and support organizations

responding to the pandemic, Valley of the Sun United

that had responded to the COVID-19 crisis in ways she

Way also re-evaluated all of its work through the lenses

admired. Accordingly, she wanted to give Valley of the Sun

of diversity, equity, access and inclusion and created

United Way $25 million to support their work.

MC2026, a five-year plan for Mighty Change in Maricopa County. By any measure, 2020 was a monumental year.

Vargas Jasa was working from home when she took the call. “My husband was at our dining room table on a Zoom

And then the emails came.

meeting and I was like the little kid in the Cox commercial,

“In November, I started to get these random emails

running back and forth, screaming when he thinks he got a

from someone claiming that they were contacting me on behalf of an anonymous donor,” Vargas Jasa said. She

million dollars,” she said. The MacKenzie Scott gift was astonishing not just in

took a bit of time to consider if the messages were part

its size. The millions flew into the bank unrestricted, no

of a scam, but when a call was set up, the person revealed

strings attached, catalyzing the launch of Valley of the Sun

that she represented the billionaire, MacKenzie Scott.

United Way’s Mighty Change 2026, a bold plan focused on FRONTDOORS MEDIA

| 57 |

NOV/DEC 2021

Carla Vargas Jasa joins past Valley of the Sun United Way CEOs Paul Luna, Merl Waschler and Brian Hassett at Waschler’s retirement party, celebrating the past and looking to the future.

I’ve learned to give myself grace and tell people that my voice shakes when I’m nervous.

can get up to prepare for her day. She and Steve love to cook, play bocce and entertain friends at home. They also enjoy exploring Arizona and have fallen in love with Sedona. Big foodies, they like trying new restaurants, too. “I will tell you that the restaurant scene in Phoenix completely outpaces the restaurant scene in Orange County,” she said. Last year’s string of emergencies and triumphs has been followed by a dizzying amount of work. The upcoming holiday season offers a chance to reconnect

four key areas: health, housing/homelessness, education

with family and maybe recharge just a bit. Growing up,

and workforce development.

Vargas Jasa enjoyed her family’s tradition of having a quiet

“The gift helped us to think about longer-term investments to really stabilize the community,” Vargas Jasa

Christmas Eve dinner at home. They would open some gifts at midnight and leave some for the next day.

said. “MacKenzie Scott gave everyone so much confidence in knowing that we were seen.” Of course, being seen can take some getting used to. Especially as Vargas Jasa was being increasingly called to do something that actually makes her pretty nervous. “I do a lot of planning of my time because I know that I need to be ready to speak publicly, have all my points and feel like I’m prepared,” she said. Her nerves are easier to manage than they once were. “I’ve learned to give myself grace and tell people that my voice shakes when I’m nervous. So if it does, just bear with me.” Big and busy as her job is, Vargas Jasa’s life is grounded by home. She goes to bed at 8:30 p.m. so she NOV/DEC 2021

| 58 |


Before the couple was married, Steve promised that if he took the job here, they would see each other every weekend. After five years, they only missed three weekends.

MC 2026 Plan

Vargas Jasa at the 95th anniversary program with past board chair Jenny Holsman Tetreault

Over the next five years, Valley of the Sun United Way will put all of its efforts behind driving positive change for our community to achieve these goals by 2026:

HEALTH: Decrease food insecurity by 50%.

Increase the number of individuals with access to affordable healthcare by 100,000.

HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS: Reduce homelessness by 50%.

EDUCATION: Increase third-grade reading

proficiency by 25%. Increase the number of youth age 16-24 who are engaged in education and employment opportunities by 38%.


Increase preparation of individuals for a living wage job by 33%. Increase achievement of higher-paying employment by 20%.

Steve, on the other hand, comes from a family of five children and several foster children. So today, the couple has a hybrid celebration. “Since my dad passed away, we try to spend Christmas Eve with my mom,” Vargas Jasa said. “We cook a nice dinner, open gifts and toast with Champagne at midnight, a tradition in Latin America. On Christmas Day, we run all around Southern California, visit my husband’s family and have a wonderful Christmas Day.” In the new year, she and her team plan to use MacKenzie Scott’s gift to help sustain Valley of the Sun

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United Way and extend its collaborations and programs. They are realigning their energy, resources and partnerships with an eye on underserved and marginalized communities to drive Mighty Change in the Valley. “We are going to be making transformative investments in each one of our four areas to help scale community programs,” Vargas Jasa said. “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that we meet those five-year goals for our community and for the people that need us.




Warm wishes for health, happiness, and peace. Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust works to enrich health, well-being, and opportunity for the people of Maricopa County.

A very special thank you to

Valley of the Sun United Way

· Serving our community for 95 years! · © 2021 Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

NEXT DOORS { ahead of the curve }

Building a More



Photos by Stefanie Carson, GPEC

GPEC and partners focus on expanding Arizona’s economic base Tom Evans I Contributing Editor

hen we think about economic

exposed a difficult truth — minority-owned businesses are

development, we tend to think in terms of

not experiencing the same economic rebound that white-

home runs. Landing a big new industry for

owned businesses are seeing, and wage and job growth are

the state. Luring a company from another

happening at lower rates in minority communities.

market. Opening a new manufacturing facility or tech lab. The kind of stuff that makes for good headlines. All that is great and important. After all, we didn’t get to

That’s why a coalition of public and private organizations Valleywide — led by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council with partnerships across the cultural spectrum — are working

7 million Arizonans by sitting on our hands. There’s been a

on ways to ensure a more inclusive economy. Their goal is

tremendous amount of work done to position Arizona as an

an economy where a rising tide lifts all boats and Latino and

attractive place to do business — as well as to live and play.

minority business owners have the tools they need to grow

But it’s the 7 million of us already here who are really going to shape the future. It’s a fact magnified by two recent

and thrive. “The regional economy here in the metro Phoenix area is

factors — the pandemic (of course) and the overall changing

on really good footing,” said Chris Camacho, president and

demographics of our state.

CEO of GPEC. “We’ve seen massive growth in high-wage job

First, think about the demographics for a moment. You

sectors — advanced manufacturing, semiconductors, software,

hear a lot of talk about this from a political perspective,

healthcare. We’re leading the nation in many of these

but the undeniable fact is that Arizona is becoming more

categories, which is a great thing.”

culturally diverse. The Hispanic population is now a majority

With that, as we’ve seen the COVID-induced economic

in Phoenix, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and other

effects impact not only small businesses, but Main Street

minority populations continue to grow.

workers — hospitality, retail and sectors that have had

As these groups grow, our state grows. As they prosper, our state prospers. But unfortunately, the pandemic has

historically more modest wages — it’s creating a divide. “On one side, you have massive high-wage job growth, and on the FRONTDOORS MEDIA

| 61 |

NOV/DEC 2021

NEXT DOORS { ahead of the curve }

GPEC is working to ensure that a skilled, diverse workforce has every opportunity to succeed in Phoenix’s thriving job market.

other, you had this massive contraction occur. A lot of those workers vacated their previous work and are now trying to figure out what to do next,” Camacho said. He sees this as a challenge and an opportunity. It is a chance to build an inclusive economic growth strategy that not only attracts big business but cultivates entrepreneurs across the socioeconomic spectrum. Which sounds great, but how do you get there? “We need to be more focused on opening up access to capital and building a support ecosystem to support startup companies, because many of the employees work for small businesses,” he said. “It’s a good thing for big business to have small businesses flourish.” GPEC’s efforts are being made in partnership with Valley of the Sun United Way, Chicanos Por La Causa, the Black Chamber of Arizona, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber

“ The pandemic has exposed a difficult truth — minority-owned businesses are not experiencing the same economic rebound that white-owned businesses are seeing, and wage and job growth are happening at lower rates in minority communities.”

of Commerce, Arizona Community Foundation, StartupAZ Foundation and many other organizations. GPEC’s next strategic plan, set to roll out next summer, will include a great deal more on inclusive economic growth. It starts with, as so many things do, education.

“What we saw was that we have a powerful voice in this region to help advance equity and access to capital, and I wanted to throw our weight with our communities and with

Recognizing the challenges that some minority populations

private sector companies behind what we believe this is all

have in starting new businesses is key, but it also includes

about,” Camacho said. “It’s about entrepreneurs, it’s about

realizing the untapped potential that these entrepreneurs

access to capital, and it’s about a better society at the end of

and their employees may have.

the day.”

Then the effort moves to reaching out to more

Camacho said that public education is key to creating a

marginalized small businesses. The pandemic provided

more equitable economy — today’s students are tomorrow’s

some unique new opportunities through PPP funding and

business leaders, and they’re more diverse than ever before.

other stimulus initiatives. “As a byproduct of that process, we need to go on

“The more students that flow through our high school systems that are ready for a two- or four-year university

offense and advocate for programs that put capital in the

or are ready to get to the workforce, the better economic

hands of these businesses,” Camacho said. His point is that

outcome we’re going to have,” he said.

it took a crisis to create some of these programs that would

So what does success look like? Camacho said it’s a

work perfectly well in normal times in providing opportunity

broad-based effort involving a wide variety of community

to small business.

partners working for the same result.

While most think of GPEC as a recruitment organization,

“We’re all rowing in the same direction trying to solve

the shift in focus to Arizona’s internal economy has been

similar challenges,” Camacho said. “And that momentum will

a new opportunity for the organization to leverage its

lead us to a very positive outcome.”

experience and influence. NOV/DEC 2021

| 62 |


To learn more, go to

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Learn more at

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OFFICE DOORS { valley changemakers }


Christine Kajikawa Wilkinson President + CEO of Arizona State University Alumni Association SVP + Secretary of Arizona State University Managing Director of Arizona State University Trustees Julie Coleman I Contributing Writer 5:15 A.M. >> MOVEMENT IS THE NORM

Six days a week, I exercise, whether it’s jogging or on a stationary bike. It helps my day get started and is the only thing that’s routine. Once I get to work, I quickly review my schedule and begin responding to a gazillion emails interspersed with up to 10 Zoom and in-person meetings. Zoom is an amazing thing that happened at the right time because it helped us continue connections with individuals throughout the pandemic. 9 A.M. >> CONNECTING THE PAST, PRESENT + FUTURE

I’ve had multiple responsibilities most of my career. I like to work on a variety of things as it makes the day more stimulating. One of my current roles concentrates on policy and general governance issues of the university on behalf of President Crow. In our alumni work, we have the lofty goal of reaching each of our 546,000 alums worldwide by providing programs and events that meet their needs and connecting those who want to become more involved through their time or treasure. My time is focused on program planning, implementation, coaching younger professionals in their work and trying to reach alums in many different ways. We organize the tailgates, Golden Reunions that recognize graduates of 50 years, Founder’s Day each spring that honors “the best of the best,” and the Legends Luncheon.

As managing director of the Trustees, I organize the meetings and ensure we have a strong connection. We recently had a meeting so the Trustees could see the Herald Examiner Building, which will be the new headquarters for ASU in Los Angeles. It’s an amazing building that was formerly the Herald Examiner newspaper, production and corporate office. We’ve spent three years with two other entities reconstructing the whole building, and we will have a week-long series of events early next year instead of a ribbon-cutting. 10:30 A.M. >> KNOWING YOUR WHY

I have standing one-on-one meetings with each of my team members. Above all, it is important to help them develop and understand there are many seasons in one’s life. Sometimes they are incredibly happy seasons, and sometimes they’re tough ones. Those of us in leadership positions need to be able to recognize those seasons and support the individual, knowing the priority is not only reaching goals but understanding where they are personally. As a senior administrator for many years, one of the essential things to remember is why I am still here. We are creating knowledge. Our mission has to do with access and excellence, while other universities focus only on excellence. I firmly believe we are developing and teaching future community and research leaders. So, whatever we can do to help them along the way is what we should be about. We are here as an educational institution, helping change lives. FRONTDOORS MEDIA

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NOV/DEC 2021



ARE RATES ON THE RISE ??? Though rates may be on the rise, the Arizona purchase market is still HOT HOT HOT! Check out some of Arizona’s most affordable cities to live in. 1. TUCSON

Home to the University of Arizona, much of Tucson’s economy revolves around the college itself, though several large companies have a presence there.


Located about 20 miles east of Phoenix, Mesa is known for its coffee shops and parks. A number of large companies are located there as well.


The city has numerous performing arts venues, museums and restaurants, which are a draw for young professionals in particular.


Located about 15 minutes from Phoenix, Tempe is home to many restaurants and parks. Several financial institutions with a presence in Tempe contribute to its economy.


Another vibrant city known for its restaurants, bars and parks, Scottsdale is home to young professionals and retirees alike. Its economy is centered on tourism.



Arizona Helping Hands has made the holidays joyful for children throughout the state since 1998. Its mission is to provide essential needs for children in foster care through programs promoting safety, permanency and health. During the holidays, they donate toys, clothes and smiles to children in foster care. For more information on hosting a Holiday Toy Drive, email Lisa Herz at:

KIESHA MCFADDEN 480.252.9365 16930 E. Palisades Blvd., Fountain Hills, AZ 85268

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NMLS #198458


My involvement in the community stems from my parents,

OFFICE DOORS { valley changemakers }

who were amazing. It is part of my nature and what I grew up with. I remember my mom serving as a neighborhood captain collecting change for the March of Dimes when I was little. She was involved with the United Way through her employer. We would talk about it during dinner because that’s just what you did. My dad and his former roommate in college served as volunteer leaders of the annual fundraising drive for the university. Right out of college, I was asked to serve on the ASU Alumni board and, strangely enough, I am now the paid person in charge. I was at least 15 years younger than others on the board, but I loved it and found it fascinating. My involvement throughout the years has included the local American Red Cross. I was appointed to the Red Cross National Board of Governors, where I assisted in fundraising for Hurricanes Katrina and Charley disaster relief efforts and the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation board. I currently volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona and serve on their National Council, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, Arizona Business Leadership Association, Valley of the Sun United Way and the Japanese American National Museum based in Los Angeles. As we volunteer, we learn much more than we contribute. We learn about the organization, what they offer and how they help the community. We become a part of advancing their mission and spreading the word. 4:30 P.M. >> HAVING A BALL DURING THE HOLIDAYS

In addition to celebrating all the holidays, sports are embedded in my life. My father was the last faculty at ASU who was also a coach. So, if you ask me what I do in my spare time, I am all about collegiate and secondary sports. I attend all the football and basketball games and have season tickets to baseball and softball. I provide oversight of the Sun Devil

Christine with her husband, Don Wilkinson, at the Great Wall of China.

Athletic Board and served as interim athletic director three times. If there are speed channels on the TV, they would be to all the sports channels! December is the time for bowl games, and ASU hopes to be in one. While I would like to take a break between Christmas and New Year’s, that does not happen if we’re preparing for a bowl game. Each year, I host an open house on behalf of the alumni association board for board members, partners and friends. I love entertaining and decorate our house to the hilt over Thanksgiving weekend. Each ornament on our tree is special and has a story, whether it was something my sister or I made growing up or a gift from my grandparents or parents. My family, which includes five great-nieces, are always at our home for the holidays. Our tradition is to celebrate life, the holidays and people. To learn more, go to

Whether she is speaking at the Legends Luncheon (above left) or celebrating with recent graduates (above right), Christine Kajikawa Wilkinson remains a dedicated ASU booster. FRONTDOORS MEDIA

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Giving to the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit

Direct your Arizona state taxes to a cause that matters to you. Individuals can give up to $400 to JFCS, and couples filing jointly can donate up to $800 - and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on their Arizona state tax return while supporting children, families, and older adults in need. | 602.567.8392

MIDWEST FOOD BANK ARIZONA As a faith-based organization, it is the mission of Midwest Food Bank to share the love of Christ by alleviating hunger and malnutrition locally and throughout the world and providing disaster relief; all without discrimination.

Use your tax credit to feed our hungry neighbors through MFB’s 4 programs Food for nonprofits Disaster Relief Tender Mercies Hope Packs Our vision is to provide industry leading food relief to those in need while feeding them spiritually.


725 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert, AZ 85233 •480.892.0134

CHARITY SPOTLIGHT { giving back }

The stigma of being pregnant and in treatment can be difficult, but a Hushabye mom said, “I felt hope because I used the services to remain sober.”

Hush-a-Bye, DON’T YOU CRY Helping people with substance-use disorders become better parents

ORIGIN: As a neonatal nurse practitioner with more than 27 years of experience, Tara Sundem has worked with mothers and

ORGANIZATION Hushabye Nursery

collaborated with community partners to improve outcomes for babies exposed prenatally to opioids. Sundem began operating Hushabye Nursery in 2017, providing pre- and post-natal


education at community-based opioid treatment centers.

Co-Founder & Executive Director Tara Sundem

supportive family and community, Sundem began collecting

Board President Brandon Clark

improved social and health outcomes for infants with neonatal

ANNUAL BUDGET $3.6 million

Believing that every baby deserves the right to a healthy, data and funding to create a new model and care setting with abstinence syndrome and their families. Today, Hushabye Nursery is a nurse-managed organization with nurse-leaders making up half of the senior leadership team. Together with a staff of 31 certified nurses, they bring their own experiences, ideas and insights to create nurse-led solutions, protocols and treatment approaches. FRONTDOORS MEDIA

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CHARITY SPOTLIGHT { giving back }

KNOWN FOR: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, every 15 minutes, a baby is born with neonatal abstinence syndrome resulting from the mother’s prenatal opioid exposure. Newborns exposed to opioids in the womb are at risk for NAS, an opiate-dependent state, which requires a complex and painful detoxification process in the days after birth. NAS babies are the tiniest victims of today’s opioid crisis, one exacerbated by barriers to healthcare access and equity for infants and families. In response, Hushabye Nursery has pioneered the first nurse-managed, community-based care model in the country to provide medical treatment for babies experiencing NAS along with intensive behavioral health services for families impacted by opioid use disorder. Hushabye Nursery increases accessibility, reduces inequities and provides value by lowering cost and improving patient outcomes. Caregivers encourage families to get involved in the treatment of their infant by sending an empowering, nonjudgmental message to parents.

CHALLENGES DURING COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated opioid use disorder. Incidences

With education, treatment and support, most parents active in Hushabye’s prenatal HOPPE program are able to bring their babies home with them. NOV/DEC 2021

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of overdose increased by approximately 30 percent nationwide, making Hushabye Nursery’s services even more essential. The pandemic also required rapidly adding telehealth services to provide continuity of care and safe access for providers and patients in high-risk COVID-19 categories.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHT: Hushabye encourages but does not require mothers to stay with their infant 24/7, be highly involved in their care, and work to become the best parents they can be. Demonstrating the power in prevention interventions, 85 percent of the first 139 babies admitted to Hushabye’s Infant Detox Nursery were safely discharged to a biological parent active in the Hushabye Nursery Opioid Pregnancy Preparation and Empowerment (HOPPE) prenatal program.

WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO: Hushabye Nursery programs focus on perseverance, teaching individuals to get back up and begin again. Sundem and her team are most looking forward to watching more moms create lives full of love and meaning for themselves and their children. To learn more, go to

GIVE HOPE WITH YOUR TAX CREDIT! It doesn’t cost you a dime when you redirect your state tax liability.* Catholic Charities is an approved Foster Care Tax Credit Organization for our work with foster families and children, at-risk youth, early education and more. Invest by April 15, and help build happy, healthy families in our community. 928-774-9125 | *This is not intended as legal advice; please consult your tax professional. Tax liability varies by filer.

7004 East Main Street | Scottsdale, AZ 85251 | 480.947.4214 | |

KITCHEN DOORS { let’s eat }

In her tenure on the Arizona culinary scene, Russo has been involved in several charitable endeavors, including the James Beard Foundation’s AZWomenInFood program, which brings together some of the state’s most celebrated female chefs and restaurateurs. “It is an amazing platform to work with other female chefs and owners to help navigate the changes in our industry and collaborate. To bring awareness and support one another is a gift,” she said. In November, Russo is participating in the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction, which features top chefs from across the Valley raising funds for the March of Dimes’ mission to support the health of all mothers and babies. “I am honored to be included with such a great group of chefs and raise money for what is most important to me, which is children and families,” she said. Supporting local suppliers has always been important to Russo. In her restaurant and catering business, Russo showcases local vendors and seasonal menus. “I believe we have to support each other,” she said. “This is a hard business, and we do it because we love it. I support the community “ I am honored the best I can by using produce from local to be included farms, as well as products from Noble Bread, with such a great Shoshana Leon | CONTRIBUTING WRITER Sonoran Pasta Co., Tracy Dempsey Originals, group of chefs Hayden Flour Mills, Southwest Mushrooms and raise money and many more.” for what is most Russo is proud to be part of the Valley’s important to me, burgeoning culinary community and has which is children witnessed its evolution over the past two Supporting the community and families.” decades. “The best thing that is happening for more than 20 years is that local small businesses are here and representing,” she said. “Great food is being made by Jennifer Russo has been in kitchens for as long as great chefs all over the Valley.” she can remember. “As a toddler, I watched my greatFor more information, visit grandmother cook, and when I was 16, I got a job at


Lewis Stevens Catering,” she said. “I continued to work in kitchens from the Scottsdale Princess to the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale.” Inspired by her Italian grandmother and Julia Child, Russo attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. She returned to Phoenix and started Jennifer’s Catering in 1997. She opened the Market by Jennifer’s in 2013. “I love to push myself,” Russo said. “It’s very important to me to put a fresh twist on the classics with seasonal ingredients and to create dishes that are out of the box.”

Photos courtesy of the Market by Jennifer’s


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KITCHEN DOORS { let’s eat }

CAFÉ ALLEGRO REOPENS AT THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM Enjoy seasonal dishes with global influences The award-winning Café Allegro at the Musical Instrument Museum in north Phoenix has reopened in partnership with hospitality management company Guest Services, Inc. Executive chef James Moran is introducing a menu of seasonal dishes with a range of rotating selections with global influences and local flavors. Café Allegro’s menu includes sandwiches, salads and fresh grilled plates, from green chile pork to a Caribbean chopped salad with crispy pork belly and jerk vinaigrette. Sandwiches include a classic pressed Cuban with

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Photos courtesy of MIM

shredded pork, ham, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard. Entrees include a vegetarian zucchini noodle pasta primavera and pan-seared blue crab cakes with a Cajun remoulade. The new partnership with GSI expands MIM’s catering and event services for conferences, social gatherings and weddings. MIM’s distinctive architecture, desert foliage and 40,000 square feet of versatile event spaces make the museum a unique and beautiful venue for a variety of occasions. In October, MIM began service at its Beats Coffee Bar, offering coffee, espresso and tea drinks, along with housemade pastries and other breakfast offerings, lunch options, wine, beer and seasonal treats. “We are absolutely thrilled to welcome museum guests and the Phoenix community back to Café Allegro for a memorable in-person dining experience,” said April Salomon, executive director of MIM. “Our refreshed culinary offerings are reason enough to visit MIM and will further enhance the MIM experience through our innovative exhibitions and programs. It has been a pleasure to see and taste the new dishes as the menu has come together. The food is a delicious complement to the global collections and perspectives presented throughout our galleries.” Café Allegro is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is not required to dine at Café Allegro. To learn more, visit

At Long Last, Enjoy time with coworkers, friends, and family, in person. You make memories, we’ll take care of everything else.

This season, let us cater. We create an elevated culinary journey, personalized for your occasion and style. Be prepared to win the hearts of your guests with our culinary delights. • Action Stations • Hors d’Oeuvres • Plated Experience

• Family-Style Service • Buffet Services • Fresh Donut Machine Let’s start planning today!

(602) 349-1208

Arizona Health

Partnership Fund

WHAT WE DO: Deliver free healthcare to the uninsured at 6 mobile medical clinics across the Valley. HOW YOU CAN HELP: Use your tax dollars to save a life! By making a gift of up to $800 to Mission of Mercy AZ Health Partnership Fund (QCO 20941), you can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit from the State of Arizona.

More info: or 602.861.2233

Please join us at our Mercy in the Morning Virtual Community Breakfast on Dec. 1 to learn more about Mission of Mercy. Register at

And make sure you visit The Joy Bus Diner!

MORE THAN A MEAL The Joy Bus is a nonprofit organization that has been delivering more than meals since 2011. Our sole purpose is to relieve the daily struggles of homebound cancer patients with a fresh and healthy meal delivered by a friendly face. Our service also includes critical home visits and wellness checks. We offer weekly personal support and nutrition for those dealing with perhaps the most difficult time in their lives, and by so doing, let them know that their community loves and cares for them.

The Joy Bus patient meals are prepared in and funded by proceeds generated by The Joy Bus Diner, located just off the 51 Piestewa Freeway and Shea Boulevard. With a reputation for creative gourmet breakfasts and lunches, the Diner has become a destination for locals and foodies from around the Valley.


3375 E Shea Blvd, Ste C1 Phoenix, AZ 85028 Open Thurs-Sun 7a-2p

KITCHEN DOORS { let’s eat }

Photos by Jeff Zaruba

NEW IN TOWN: TERRA AND SKYSILL AT WESTIN TEMPE New hotel brings local flavors As Tempe’s culinary options continue to expand, the new Westin Tempe hotel on Mill Avenue is bringing a sophisticated Southwestern restaurant and chic rooftop poolside lounge to the heart of Tempe. Located on the hotel’s ground floor, Terra Tempe Kitchen and Spirits highlights bold flavors and locally sourced ingredients. Popular dishes include Terra’s Hot Stone with thinly sliced Wagyu beef or Pacific ahi tuna, Sonoran Salad with compressed melons, jicama and tequila lime vinaigrette, cilantro-dusted Chilean sea bass with avocado crema and sweet corn pico, and filet mignon with lump crab mash and black truffle chimichurri.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Terra offers a warm, modern atmosphere with floor-to-ceiling windows and an expansive exhibition kitchen. The restaurant’s beverage program includes wine, Arizona beer and handcrafted cocktails featuring classic recipes with a local twist, like the Terra Mule with tequila, ginger beer and desert pear syrup, and the Greyhound to Tempe with gin, grapefruit juice and agave sage syrup. “Terra Tempe’s menu sets a new standard of elevated dining in Tempe with dishes that are deeply rooted in the culture of the Southwest yet enhanced with unexpected tastes in a way that captivates guests and keeps them intrigued,” said executive chef Alexander Robinson. “Terra means ‘of the land,’ but to us, it means ‘of Tempe.’ We’re very proud to join the vibrant community downtown and to play a role in the neighborhood’s ever-evolving culinary identity.” Located on the hotel’s 18th floor, the open-air Skysill Rooftop Lounge offers a pool, jacuzzi, daybeds and cabanas, and beautiful mountain views. Skysill features a rotating menu of craft cocktails with local flair, like the Arizona Spritz made with Aperol, aloe liqueur and prosecco, and the Cactus Collins, made with Meyer lemon vodka and blue agave nectar. To complement the cocktails, guests can enjoy shareable plates and light bites. For more information, visit and


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LIVE VIRTUAL HYBRID Find out what the Valley’s top charities and corporate meeting planners already know — Latest Craze Productions produces extraordinary in-person, livestream and hybrid events. Ask us how we will guide you through each process towards your event’s success. Flawless Execution. Highest Quality. Best Value in Audio Visual Production. | 480.626.5231

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Image courtesy of David Hoye

A GIFT OF PEACE Supporters of UMOM New Day Centers gathered on a perfect Arizona evening in the desert of north Scottsdale for the 12th Annual Buckles and Bangles Gala. Here, a quiet moment before the festivities began, raising funds to restore hope and rebuild lives for those experiencing homelessness.

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TOP DENTISTS Preferred Dental Provider

NORTH SCOTTSDALE ROOT-CANAL SPECIALIST - DR. TROND HEGLE 6 9 3 0 E . C H A U N C E Y L A N E , S U I T E 110 P H O E N I X , A Z 8 5 0 5 4 480.630.0000