Frontdoors Magazine - Spring Issue 2024

Page 1

Community, Philanthropy & Lifestyle

The Spring Issue 2024

‘We Love

This Community!’

10 things to know about Steve and Ardie Evans FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE


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SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Lisa Grannis Lindsay Green Robyn Lambert Morgan McClellan Michelle Schneider BEAUTY PARTNER The Sparkle Bar PHOTOGRAPHY Scott Foust Studios FRONTDOORS MEDIA ADVISORY BOARD Latasha Causey Russ Dickey Rusty Foley Sarah Krahenbuhl Larry Lytle Monique Porras Mason Brad Vynalek FRONTDOORS PHILANTHROPIC HONORS ADVISORS Deborah Bateman Linda Herold

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On the Cover

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Steve and Ardie Evans

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Photo by Scott Foust Makeup by Brittnay Lopez from The Sparkle Bar and Maureen Cosovich from Neiman Marcus

3104 E. Camelback Road, #967, Phoenix, AZ 85016 480.622.4522 |

Phoenix | Nashville 800 379 5777

Magazine Frontdoors Magazine is dedicated to the memory of Mike Saucier.



From the first roots HonorHealth planted in the Valley, generous donors have inspired and empowered us. HonorHealth Foundation was founded in 1984 and for four decades, you have demonstrated the vital role philanthropy plays in the health and well-being of our communities. Our ability to expand clinical programs, fill critical gaps in care and empower the transformation of healthcare depends on you. You have answered the call, to opportunities great and small. The care we provide today — and tomorrow – is built upon this foundation of your generosity and care. Thank you.

1954 1962

Scottsdale City Hospital (Osborn) opens

1990 John Ferree named President, Foundation

Research Institute established

joining with us to advance technology, meet vital community needs and push the boundaries of medical knowledge. As we celebrate 40 years of serving HonorHealth and our communities, we remain focused on our vision for Finding cures. Saving lives. Transforming healthcare. —JARED A. LANGKILDE, MBA, CFRE President & CEO, HonorHealth Foundation

2016 JCL/Scottsdale Memorial merge to create HonorHealth

2020 To consider your contribution to excellent healthcare in our community, please visit

8125 North Hayden Road | Scottsdale, AZ 85258 480-587-5000 | HonorHealth Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization

1977 Inaugural Honor Ball

1978 John C. Lincoln Foundation established


When you make a gift to HonorHealth Foundation, you are

John C. Lincoln Hospital established

Sonoran Crossing hospital opens

1984 Shea hospital opens; Foundation established with Ray Weinhold named President

2004 Deer Valley hospital opens

2007 Thompson Peak hospital opens

2018 Jared A. Langkilde named President & CEO, Foundation

2023 A record-breaking year that brings 40-year total philanthropy to $610 million!



The Epitome of Philanthropy


Kristina Wong, artist-in-residence



Upcoming philanthropic events

23 STYLE UNLOCKED Pretty Is in the Air


Hot Designer Collab = Cool Looks for the Coyotes


“‘We Love This Community!”


The Importance of Being Present

47 A 2ND ACT

From Student to Teacher


Matt Byrnes, SVP of proprietary brands and sourcing at PetSmart

13 ORGANIZATIONS FEATURED IN THIS ISSUE + Arouet + ASU Gammage + Attendance Works + Helios Education Foundation + Local First Arizona + Read On Arizona + Valley of the Sun United Way


69 FROM THE ROAD Music City Magic



Emma Garcia, chief community development & engagement officer at Valley of the Sun United Way


Beyond Blooms


We thank all donors who made our new Rob & Melani Walton Papago Park Campus possible. Visit us to experience, first hand, the many changes we’ve made to save more lives than ever before. AZHUMANE.ORG


The Epitome of

PHILANTHROPY In the hustle of our daily lives, where family, friends and

president of proprietary brands and sourcing at PetSmart,

careers take center stage, a remarkable force elevates us

and Steve Sanghi, executive chair of Microchip Technology.

beyond the ordinary — the spirit of giving. Whether through

Both serve on Valley of the Sun United Way boards and

volunteering time, financial investments, or providing

are engaged in some of the most important collaborative

leadership on nonprofit boards, choosing to be actively

work happening in the Valley.

involved in our community is the epitome of philanthropy. In this issue of Frontdoors, we shine a light on

Valley of the Sun United Way has been dedicated to meeting the most pressing needs of people throughout

exceptional individuals who have chosen to be a part

Maricopa County since 1925. As it approaches its

of something greater than themselves. Thanks to our

centennial year, it is clear that the connections forged

publishing partner, Valley of the Sun United Way, we have

between people in our community and the businesses and

the privilege of identifying community members who

organizations that support them create a tapestry of lasting

embody the essence of generosity.

impact, weaving through generations.

It is rare to find a couple with roots in the community that run as deep as Ardie and Steve Evans, our cover

We hope you enjoy reading about — and contributing to — this vibrant and interconnected Valley of the Sun.

subjects this month. They have supported causes and connected people for decades, and now they’re doubling down on the legacy they want to leave. Over the years, the Evanses — who, by the way, are not related to Frontdoors publisher Andrea Tyler Evans or contributing editor Tom Evans — have served on countless boards, supported numerous capital campaigns and spent decades in service for the greater good of our community. It is a bedrock belief in service shared by others profiled in this issue, including Matt Byrnes, senior vice



Until all students become graduates. At Valley of the Sun United Way, we will never stop supporting our community until every child, family, and individual is healthy, has a safe place to live, and can succeed in school, work, and life. See how you can help at




How does a performance artist, comedian and actor become an artist-in-residence at ASU? Well, truth be told, ASU Gammage and I have been dating for a while. Back in 2010, I performed “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at the Beyond Series. A few years later, I performed “The Wong Street Journal.” So when I was invited to go steady for three years as ASU Gammage’s artist-inresidence in 2022, I knew our connection was real and worth the commitment.

2 You’re known as the “Food Bank Influencer.” How did that come about?

Photo by Sandy Morris


Artist-in-residence at ASU Gammage 8 | FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE

I stumbled upon World Harvest Food Bank in my neighborhood in Los Angeles in the fall of 2019. They use a nontraditional model that lets people “shop” their donations without having to show proof of income. It’s a model that gives people a sense of choice and, more importantly, dignity. I’d always thought food banks were for “other people who were in need.” But so much of now using a food bank to get my food and directing others to it as a resource has made me confront the moments of my life when I was actually food insecure. Choosing cheaper, unhealthier filler foods or choosing to skip meals — this is actually what food insecurity looks like. I also couldn’t stop talking about this place to people because it was so fun, and it was a fascinating way to understand our broken distribution systems that waste 40 percent of the food produced. I found myself making videos for World Harvest the way beauty influencers do “haul videos” of fancy things they shop for. I figured I’d use my undeniable good looks at 45 years old to influence for the food bank! During the pandemic, World Harvest became a vital part of the ecosystem of mutual aid that my group, the Auntie Sewing Squad, was doling out. We sent a lot of stuff from our food bank to both border communities for asylum seekers as well as to the Navajo Nation. Some of the Navajo organizers were so impressed by the food bank that they asked how they could set one up. Part of my wanting to research and create a show about food banks comes from trying to answer the question of how to help get more food banks like World Harvest started.

3 Where did your interest in food come from? I never considered myself a big food aficionado until I was hit with an existential depression, which kicked off around

Kristina Wong with Glen Curado, CEO of World Harvest Food Bank

the November 2016 election. I found myself unable to watch anything too intense. I was just getting through the days by watching YouTube haul videos or “unboxing videos.” That was as much plot as I could take, videos where people opened boxes and showed what was inside. Somehow, this led me down a rabbit hole of watching people challenging themselves to live on $10 a week in groceries. Then I found myself watching budget cooking videos and wowed by how far people could stretch if they really got creative, although some of the videos were sad in how unhealthy the meals were. I wondered if it was possible for me to live on a small budget for groceries but also stay healthy and decided to see if I could live on $50 of groceries a month as a personal experiment. This was close to impossible, but when I found World Harvest, I found the only way I could pull it off and eat healthy. When the pandemic lockdown hit, grocery stores became my museums and art spaces. My only great stimulation in this time was food and how to cook it — but also thinking about how much emotion is tied to food and our ability to access it.

canned food drives where people gather their dented, expired cans from the back of their pantries and give them away. I think that’s why there’s such a lack of dignity around going to a food bank, because we associate it with someone’s unwanted, rotting food. But most of the foods that food banks give away are much better than the worst of what we think people donate. There are also gaps in food manufacturing that push food out for sale too late and a grocery store won’t sell it because the food is close to the “best buy” date — which most of the time is just a suggestion. So some pretty good stuff can come through the food bank. And as the working poor grows in size, there is more of a reliance on food banks.


Why is humor effective in dealing with big problems? We need humor to survive and to give us some sense of control over the uncontrollable. And these are some pretty scary times.


4 What’s the biggest misconception about food banks? One is that they are in the charitable sector. They aren’t part of the government. Yes, there’s definitely government entities that will point people toward food banks and sometimes work in tandem with them to give away their food, but food banks are there to supplement what government programs like SNAP cannot. And SNAP doesn’t cover people as much as it should. Should SNAP benefits disappear, food banks have nowhere near the capacity to fill the need that SNAP fills in. Also, I think we associate food banks with those

You weigh in on a lot of social issues with your work.

You’re an elected representative of Koreatown, Los Angeles, and turned the experience into a rally campaign show. How do you stay motivated — and motivate others — in 2024? I don’t know if it’s motivation as much as the house is on fire and you can either feel compelled to do something about the fire or just let yourself burn up with it.


Sewing is a signature of your work. How did you learn to sew? My mother and home economics classes. With refreshers as an adult on YouTube and a few classes here and there. continued...



8 You’ve been spending a lot of time in the Valley through your residency. What do you like to do here?

The coolest thing about being at ASU is getting to know this community the way you never could as a tourist. I was invited to be part of a cabaret that the ASU Gammage staff was performing for each other. The most hilarious act was the box office staff doing deadpan readings of complaints and comments they had received over the years. It was comedy gold. I’ve also been hanging out with the Pitchfork Pantry, the student-run pantry. Those student leaders are incredible.

9 Any favorite spots you recommend? I don’t know if this is my favorite spot, but there’s a place in Tempe called Angie’s Lobster that does a $10 lobster roll with fries and soda! I know it sounds like an invite for food poisoning to eat lobster in a landlocked state, but I survived and don’t understand how they can be profitable.

10 What are you looking forward to next? When I gave a graduate lecture last year called “Sex, Lies and Food Banks,” I was surprised when the CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank came. Because they are the first food bank in the country, I had thought that they were too “big time” to ever take an interest in me, so I never thought to reach out. But

Photo by Sandy Morris

they heard about the talk and have invited me to meet with them and see what they do. That’s exciting to me. Kristina Wong will perform, teach and connect communities throughout the 2024-2025 academic year. She will bring a new show to ASU Gammage in April 2025. To learn more, go to

4001 N. 24th St. Phoenix, AZ 85016 ph: 602.957.0186 fax: 602.956.0463

Children Don’t Know What They Can’t See. Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Working to advance children’s vision health through Eyes On Learning. Talk with your child’s doctor about vision screening and visit for a series of informative videos.

© 2024 Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

What do Arizonans agree on? More than you think.

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Be part of shaping the future based on the things that unify us as Arizonans


Gissler recently teamed up with fashion designer Michael Grey to create one-of-a-kind Birkenstock sandals (left), cut from an abstract painting Gissler created.

Why Not? Artist Jules Gissler shares whimsy and passion for life

As far back as Jules Gissler can remember, she has been


people living in their hats. She even DIY’d her own Barbie

an artist. From day one, she felt it was her calling to create. She recalls making up stories with friends about little Dreamhouse. Growing up in Montana, Gissler was often chosen by her elementary school teachers to design the class bulletin boards or make posters. “I was asked to paint a compass rose on our playground in grade school and I guarded that thing with my life,” Gissler said.


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That early creativity led her to turn her passion

provides a glimmer of hope for people facing similar

into a career. Today, Gissler commissions pet portraits,

situations. In part, it reads, “Stop! Breathe – I must focus

illustrations, abstract paintings, collages and more. Her

on me / What is my life? What does it mean to me? / I turn

whimsical and dynamic style of art features bold colors,

toward my passions, sleeping deep in my soul / Wake up! I

intricate backgrounds, curvy lines and a distinct quirkiness.

need you! We are changing my role!”

“A lot of people say, ‘You need to just focus on one

While she was writing “Getting Your Magic Back,” the

thing,’” she said. “I couldn’t. I finally threw in the towel and

pandemic hit, leading to her departure from her receptionist

said, ‘I’m doing what I know is from my heart,’ and I think it

job. The situation inspired Gissler to finally embrace her

makes me even more creative.”

career as a full-time artist.

Not just creative in art, Gissler also writes short

“My two favorite words are “why not?” You don’t want

stories about some of her paintings, which showcases her

fear to get in the way of your life. What’s the worst thing that

humorous side. Her portrait of a woman titled “GeOrgEanN

can happen?” Gissler said. “You don’t want to look back and

RuTh EliZabEth MiRiaM MaVe KeeLer’’ tells the story of a

regret anything.”

woman not too pleased about having to take a photo of

Eclectic as it is, she finds deep meaning in her work,

herself. She wears sunglasses under the guise of giving her

especially her pet portraits, which are often commissioned

an outdoorsy appearance, but in reality, she had too much

by people who have lost their furry friend.

Limoncello the night before. “Getting Your Magic Back” is a poetry book by Gissler,

In the summer of 2023, Gissler was on a plane from Phoenix to Santa Barbara to celebrate the life of

which tells the story of finding yourself after heartbreak.

Peter, someone she loved very much who passed away

Lending her writing and artistic talents to the book, it

from cancer.



Satisfy your appetite


“I got on the airplane and sat down and this young couple sat next to me. We started chatting, and they told S:10.25"

me she was pregnant,” Gissler recalled. “I said, ‘Oh, what are you thinking about naming your child?’ and they said, ‘Well, we’re thinking about naming him Peter.’” The couple, Natalie and Chad, explained that they were drawn to the name and were looking for a sign from the universe — and that sign came to them in Jules Gissler. They told Gissler about their late dog, Moose, an Italian greyhound that loved to snuggle and give kisses. One day, Natalie took Moose on a walk with a friend and her pup, when another dog approached the pair and started attacking her friend’s dog. In an act of bravery, Moose stepped in to defend his friend, ultimately sacrificing his life. The couple stayed in touch with Gissler and

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commissioned her to do a portrait of their beloved Moose as a Christmas gift. The portrait features Moose with antlers, a bow tie and plaid background — very fitting for his personality. When she dropped the painting at their house, she met 3-week-old baby Peter. “When I hear people say, ‘Your art or your story or whatever brings joy,’ it makes me smile. I mean, we need so much of that in this world,” Gissler said. “It just warms my heart, my little contribution.”

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CHEERS to the Chairs!

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

Game Changer Gala DATE: March 1, 2024 BENEFITTING: The American Cancer Society CO-CHAIRS: Lamont Yoder & Cathy Thornton Brown

Wish Ball DATE: March 9, 2024 BENEFITTING: Make-A-Wish Arizona CO-CHAIRS: Dena Zell & Kristi Hedlund

Legacy Luncheon DATE: March 15, 2024 BENEFITTING: The Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy CO-CHAIRS: Cathy Dickey & Anne-Marie Dobbs

Fresh Start Gala DATE: March 23, 2024 BENEFITTING: Fresh Start Women’s Foundation CO-CHAIRS: Cindy Watts & Mark El-Tawil


Join us for Gateway Celebrity Fight Night and celebrate the true champions – the brilliant physicians seeking new cancer treatments and therapies and the brave patients receiving the healing power of HOPE.

Hosted by


MR. RICHARD J STEPHENSON Founders and Chairs

Musical Director


Featuring Live Performances by


and more to come!


JOEY FATONE Celebrity Auctioneer


Red Carpet host

Lawrence Zarian

Now in its 30th year, Gateway Celebrity Fight Night has one objective – to raise funds for cancer research that has the power to deliver a knockout blow to cancer. SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 2024 FAIRMONT SCOTTSDALE PRINCESS FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT CELEBRITYFIGHTNIGHT.ORG



Fresh Brunch DATE: March 24, 2024 BENEFITTING: one•n•ten CO-CHAIRS: David & Manny Soto-Griego

Dance With Me Gala DATE: April 5, 2024 BENEFITTING: Ballet Arizona CHAIR: Kate Groves

Board of Visitors 109th Annual Charity Ball DATE: April 6, 2024 BENEFITTING: The Board of Visitors CHAIR: Betsy Moore

Dinner on the Desert DATE: April 20, 2024 BENEFITTING: Desert Botanical Garden CO-CHAIRS: Ursula Gangadean & Edgardo Rivera, MD, FACP

Gateway Celebrity Fight Night DATE: April 27, 2024 BENEFITTING: Gateway Cancer Research CO-CHAIRS: Richard J Stephenson & Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson


A Diamond in the Desert. Desert. Celebrating 60 years.








Located at Scottsdale & Camelback Roads | Questions? Text Concierge: 480.568.5568 | Luxury Expansion visit #StoryStyleSpirit


aaha! art • food • wine DATE: April 27, 2024 BENEFITTING: Hospice of the Valley CHAIR: Lee Anne Kline (right) with her sister and chair-elect Sandy Williamson

We Are United Breakfast DATE: April 30, 2024 BENEFITTING: Valley of the Sun United Way CO-CHAIRS: Latasha Causey and Jenny Holsman-Tretreault

Where the Earth and Stars Connect Treatments rooted in holistic healing practices, indigenous materials and natural ingredients.

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Exhibition Open Now! Tickets at

Iconic Guitars, Mandolins, and Banjos

Banjo superstar and bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs’s gold-plated 1928 Gibson banjo


Mandolin virtuoso David Grisman’s historic 1925 Gibson mandolin

Blues legend Mississippi John Hurt’s stunning 1964 Guild guitar

Loan courtesy of David Grisman

Loan courtesy of John Oates | 480.478.6000 | 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix

Presenting sponsor

Pretty Is in the Air


Stylish Spring Days Ahead BY ZENOBIA MERTEL

Zimmermann Natura Lasercut Halter Dress | $3,750 Zimmermann Celesta Ballerina Shoes | $575 Zimmermann Orb Earrings | $475 Zimmermann, Scottsdale Fashion Square


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Spring Fling Fresh looks for event season

Silvana Clutch | $298 Reformation, Scottsdale Quarter

Clairene Jacket | $595 Theory


Knotted Cutout Gown | $2,795 Nordstrom, Scottsdale Fashion Square

Tank Louis Cartier Watch | $13,000 Cartier, Scottsdale Fashion Square

PG Designs Gold Hoops | $68 ALIXANDRA BLUE, Phoenix

Starlight Brocade Dress | $498 Kate Spade, Scottsdale Fashion Square

Johanna Ortiz Maxi Dress | $1,550 Saks Fifth Avenue, Biltmore Fashion Park


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Easy to the Max

Ellis Tweed Dress | $495 Alice + Olivia, Scottsdale Quarter

Flow from day to night Custom Jacket | $375 Gorgeous Things, Old Town Scottsdale

Desmond Loafer | $138 Evereve, Biltmore Fashion Park


Bohème Eau de Parfum | $125 LoveShackFancy, Scottsdale Quarter

Laurel Tweed Dress | $598 Veronica Beard, Scottsdale Quarter


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Cruz Sunglasses | $34 Vida Moulin at The Frederick

CashSoft Cardigan | $69.95

Fashion Frills

Gap, Scottsdale Quarter,

Light and bright for the season

Sporty Kate Pump | $845 Christian Louboutin, Scottsdale Fashion Square

Bonbon Sunhat | $475 Helen Kaminski


Symbole Wool and Cashmere Scarf | $650 Prada, Scottsdale Fashion Square

Restoration Hardware Hotel Turkish Towel Bath Sheet | $89 Restoration Hardware, Scottsdale

Mach & Mach Top-Handle Satin Bag | $925 Neiman Marcus, Scottsdale Fashion Square


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First Things First is Arizona’s early childhood agency, with free programs and resources to support great childhoods.

healthier families and for the economic future of Arizona.

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Hot Designer Collab Cool Looks for the Coyotes Doni Nahmias hustled his dreams into reality BY ZENOBIA MERTEL


f you are familiar with Doni Nahmias designs, you are likely a follower of uber-cool, emerging luxury fashion, an Arizona Coyotes

hockey fan, or both. Or perhaps you stumbled upon the NAHMIAS brand after learning of the young designer’s inspiring story and his will to never give up. Regardless, the NAHMIAS brand and its genesis are the stuff dreams are made of. Hustling to turn his passion for fashion into his career since adolescence, Nahmias moved from his average American home in FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE

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Summerland, California, to Los Angeles in his late teens to

appeals to professional athletes, hockey fans

be “all in,” obtaining his future aspiration. Fast-forward years

and people interested in an elevated, luxe look.

of barely making ends meet and avoiding nay-sayers to the

As founder and creative director of NAHMIAS,

current day — now serving as the lead creative for Arizona

Nahmias’ path to success was one of struggle and risk.

Coyotes merchandise collections, as well as founder and

Nahmias spent years working multiple odd jobs to afford

creative director of his men’s luxury brand, NAHMIAS, a

materials and continue creating. The grind included

favorite among celebrities.

networking, looking for leads, making and distributing

The Nahmias x Coyotes mix is a natural fit, according

samples — searching for creative ways to get in front of

to Arizona Coyotes chief brand officer Alex Meruelo Jr.

stylists and others in the industry. COVID added an extra

The parallel between the emerging fashion designer and

layer of complication, challenging the designer to push

the Coyotes as an NHL team is well-aligned. Clean, modern

through and stay the course.

styles that blend well with any wardrobe are the focus

Nahmias’ grit and determination eventually paid off

for Nahmias and are true to the NAHMIAS aesthetic the

when he attended Paris Fashion Week in 2020. While

designer is known for. The Nahmias/Coyotes collection

working on getting his designs in the hands of stylists,

32 |


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5/24/24 - 6/9/24





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meeting designers and being in the middle of the industry

special jerseys for upcoming events. Recognizing the

action, Justin Bieber was photographed wearing one of

endless potential for partnership, Nahmias views hockey as

his hat designs — aptly named Miracle. Instantly, Nahmias

a canvas for creative expression, with new perspectives to

became “one to watch,” and, according to the designer,

redefine the very essence of style and the sport.

the rest is history. The current Doni Nahmias x Arizona Coyotes

The newest apparel line is available for sale only in-arena at Coyotes home games, with soon-to-be-

collection includes a range of designs. “We have

announced opportunities to buy online at

collaborated to offer fans limited-edition merchandise,

NAHMIAS ready-to-wear collections can be found in luxury

including sweatshirts, sweatpants, a lifestyle jersey, T-shirts

retailers, including Harrods, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth

and hats,” Nahmias said. “I even designed a new custom

Avenue, and at fashion-forward sites online.

skate that matches the apparel line, in partnership with Bauer Hockey.” The designer is also excited to reveal

To learn more, go to arizona-coyotes-x-doni-nahmias-collection.


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‘We Love

This Community!’

10 things to know about Steve and Ardie Evans BY KAREN WERNER




t eve and Ardie Evans believe so strongly in this community that they’ve put their time, energy and resources behind it for decades. From their early days at ASU to their remarkable philanthropy today, get to know this powerhouse couple that uses their influence in order to give back.

Photo by Scott Foust

THEY’VE BEEN MARRIED FOR 57 YEARS Ardie McCrone had barely started her freshman year at Arizona State University when she was set up on a blind date. Steve Evans, a junior, wore a coat and tie to the dinner at his fraternity house. “From fraternity row, we walked across the railroad tracks to the stadium for the first football game of the year,” Ardie said. “It was August, and I was wearing three-inch heels and stockings.” A year-and-a-half later, Ardie and Steve were married at the Newman Center at ASU — a love story and partnership that has spanned more than five decades and helped shape our community. Avid travelers, Ardie and Steve will be visiting Ethiopia for the first time this fall. They are shown here at Machu Picchu.

THEY’VE TRAVELED THE WORLD Steve Evans grew up in Downey, California, a city of 113,000 people halfway between downtown L.A. and Disneyland. The Carpenters hailed from Downey, and it is the birthplace of the Apollo space program. Evans left Downey in 1963 to attend ASU through the ROTC program. After earning a bachelor’s degree and an MBA, he headed to Biloxi, Mississippi, for 11 months of Air Force electronics and electrical engineering training. Then, he and Ardie were sent to Hawaii, where Steve served as an officer, building electronic systems in the Pacific for three-and-a-half years. The young couple loved exploring the islands and took trips to Asia when they could. “I think that’s where Ardie and I developed a love of travel,” Steve said.

THEY SETTLED IN ARIZONA When it came time to put down roots, they decided Arizona Newlyweds Ardie and Steve served as chaperones at an ASU fraternity Christmas formal in Flagstaff.


presented the most opportunity. Steve worked for five years

at W.R. Schulz and Associates, an apartment investment company, before co-founding Evans Withycombe Residential. The company merged with Equity Residential in the late 90s, and Steve stayed on the executive committee and board for another 10 years. Through all the growth and change — “We remember when Shea Boulevard was gravel,” Ardie said — the couple remained bullish on Arizona. They still are. “Coming back was the absolute right thing to do in so many ways,” she said. Steve’s career in the real estate industry has allowed him to see a landscape of opportunities and challenges.

THEY ROLLED UP THEIR SLEEVES Ardie and Steve have always been active in the community. In the early days of their marriage, Ardie joined the Junior League and supported Phoenix Art Museum. Steve started with Luke’s Men, which became Vitalyst. “For us, volunteerism leads to philanthropy. We don’t just give money to organizations. We volunteer and go to work,” Steve said. Ardie’s first fundraising effort provides an early glimpse. When Ardie was in her 20s, a friend asked her to help canvass for March of Dimes. So she set out, pulling her kids in a wagon behind her. “Everyone gave the same amount — $1. I came home and wrote my very first check for a donation. I mean, we’d make little donations, for kids’ stuff or money in the basket at church, but this was a real check for $10,” Ardie said. “You never guess where life is going to take you.” Indeed, that $10 led the Evanses to broad and deep commitments to the community, in education, health and human services, and arts and culture. Valley of the Sun United Way, Homeward Bound, the W. P. Carey School of Business, Trust for Public Land, Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust, Arizona Community Foundation, Desert Botanical Garden, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, Phoenix Art Museum, Teach for America, and the ASU Foundation have all benefited from their dedication. “Look at the boards we’ve been on. You can kind of tell where most of the money goes, because we’ve rolled up our volunteer sleeves or chaired a capital campaign,” Steve said. “I think that’s from Ardie being a candy striper when she was in high school and me being in the Key Club in Southern California. Our families were involved,” Steve said.

THEY RAISED LEADERS Family is central to the Evanses’ world and a reason they invest in the community. “This is where we raised our three children, and we’ve been lucky to have eight grandchildren raised here,” Ardie said. “So, we care a lot about the health of this community and the quality of life for everyone.” All three of Ardie and Steve’s children are active in community life. Pam Kolbe, their oldest daughter, is executive director of Desert View Learning Center and chair of the Board of Visitors. Lizzie Bayless, their youngest daughter, serves on the Board of Visitors board, too. Their middle child, Matt Evans, is active in housing, working in the same The Evans family celebrating Steve’s 50th birthday at a Bondurant car rally.

business as his dad. continued... FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE

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Photo by Scott Foust

“They each have different specifics, but they get it,” Steve said of their involvement. Growing up, the Evans kids frequently came to events their parents worked on. “They learned through that,” Ardie said. “What we were doing became important enough that we were spending our time on it.” The tradition extends to the current generation. (Their youngest grandchild is a senior in high school. The rest are in college, and one is in the U.S. Air Force.) “I can remember our oldest granddaughter was working on a lemonade stand for the Humane Society. She gave me a Ziploc baggie full of money. Before I handed it over, I had to wash it, because it was sticky from the lemonade,” Ardie laughed.

THEY WANT TO WIDEN THE TENT Arizona is a great place to live, but there’s a lot of need, too. Because resources are limited, Ardie and Steve believe we have to look to nonprofits, particularly in serving the most under-resourced communities. For decades, Steve has admired Valley of the Sun United Way’s work to monitor needs, identify social issues and bring the right people together. “They don’t just give money; they have a staff that works with the various nonprofits on these issues to give a longer-term runway,” he said.

Steve and Ardie’s children are teaching the value of philanthropy to the next generation. Shown here are Ardie with daughters Lizzie Bayless and Pam Kolbe with granddaughters Anna Kolbe and Sophie Kolbe at the 2022 Board of Visitors Mother-Daughter-Grandmother Tea.

During their stint as chairs of the Tocqueville Society in 2004, local membership surpassed 400 — the largest group of Society members in the country that year. More importantly, those members provided more than $7 million to support Valley of the Sun United Way’s efforts to address the most vital human care issues in our community. “We were really committed to it, and it grew exponentially,” Ardie said. “It was reaching a tipping point. We were just there to help it along.” Their service to the organization continues. Steve now serves on the Valley of the Sun United Way board.

Steve and Ardie have invested heavily in Valley of the Sun United Way’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society since they became members in 1996. At the time, the Society, made up of those who commit at least $10,000 a year, included about 30 members.

THEY INVEST IN WHAT THEY KNOW At least once a year, Ardie and Steve sit down and evaluate where they’ve been giving and what they’d like to get to in the future. It’s thoughtful, and it tends to favor organizations they know best. “Ardie and I have done a lot with ASU. I’m currently on the board of the foundation, and Ardie is in ASU Women and Philanthropy. That’s a biggie for us, because it’s so impactful,” Steve said. Impact and openness to collaboration are key traits of organizations they support. “And then Ardie and I look at our other interests. We support Trust for Public Land, Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust, the Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden for the same reason — conservation and outdoor spaces,” Steve said. “We want to promote healthy outdoor spaces for people to enjoy. That’s something we’re

Valley of the Sun United Way Tocqueville Society members include some of the Valley’s most dedicated philanthropists.

very fortunate to be surrounded with in Arizona.”

“I don’t have power on a board,” he said. “But I do

THEY LIKE TO HAVE FUN An overseas laugh turned into a gift for the Valley after Steve and Ardie took a trip to Shanghai in 2007. They traveled with Chevy Humphrey, the then-CEO of the Arizona Science Center. Steve was giving the graduation speech at an MBA program on behalf of the

have influence.” Accordingly, he and Ardie now use their time and influence to help steer and support the community. The Evanses see philanthropy as a natural progression. “You don’t give up the volunteerism because you become a philanthropist. It just gives you more impact and extension. You grow in your life,” Steve said. The key is getting started. “It doesn’t matter where you start, but make that transition early,” he said.

W. P. Carey School, and together they visited the newly opened Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. “One million square feet!” Ardie said. “It was museums within museums.” Among the fun, interactive displays was a bike rolling above them, balanced on a cable. “Chevy and I got Ardie up on it, and she was riding it back and forth on this wire,” Steve said. “We said, ‘We’ve got to have one of those in Arizona!’”

THEY HAVE ADVICE It seems fitting that the couple whose story started at an ASU football game now looks to that university’s president to maintain their zest for the future. “I learned from Michael Crow years ago that Arizona’s growth rate is an opportunity, because the faster the rate of change, the more impact each decision has. ASU is a perfect example,” Steve said. So, Ardie and Steve continue to use their considerable influence for maximum impact, and try to convince others to, as well. Their belief in this community is palpable, and so is their faith in what can be done. “Forget about giving back. Just think about giving,” Ardie said. “It just takes a lot of people doing a tiny bit to make a difference.”

Grandson Ryan Evans took a thrilling ride when the Arizona Science Center unveiled the Evans Family SkyCycle in 2009.

Today, the Evans Family SkyCycle — one of just eight in the world — allows Arizona Science Center passengers to experience properties of counterbalance and center of gravity, just like Ardie enjoyed in Shanghai.

THEY’VE SHIFTED POWER TO INFLUENCE When Steve turned 50, he received a book from his friend Patty Withycombe, the wife of his business partner, Keith. It was Gail Sheehy’s “Men’s Passages,” about men’s journey through middle age. It argued that to stay relevant in the second half of life, executives must make the transition from power to influence. The book made a tremendous impression on Steve.

Photo by Scott Foust


| 41


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The Importance of Being Present


Organizations join forces to battle chronic absenteeism in Arizona schools BY TOM EVANS


ometimes, simple things in life can cause a chain reaction. For instance, what happens if you’re a student

and you don’t show up to school? Simple — you probably miss an assignment, which you can make up later. But what happens if you’re a student and your particular circumstance results in you missing a lot of school? Say your family moves around because they don’t have the money to afford where they live. Someone is sick and needs a caregiver. Or any of a variety of other circumstances keeps you from going to class. Naturally, you would fall behind. And it would be harder to catch up. But if you are early in your academic career, not showing up for math or English makes it harder to complete later grades. Dropout rates are higher for kids who miss a lot of school. And when kids drop out, their path to a brighter future is compromised. There’s a term for this — it’s called chronic absenteeism when, by educational standards, a student misses more than 10 percent of a school year, or about 18 school days. It’s one of the most telling indicators of whether a student is going to be successful and go on to college. And it tends to happen more in underserved communities where economic factors can derail educational pursuits. FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE

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“Kids need to be in school to learn how to write well

“One of the emerging issues and priorities that jumped out from a data perspective is a growing and increasing percentage of students missing school, especially those who are chronically absent,” said Paul Luna, president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation, which works in Arizona and Florida with a focus on absence from school becomes absence from learning, and absence of learning then starts to minimize the opportunity for those students to stay on an academic trajectory to ultimately be successful in high school and moving into some type of education beyond There are a couple of important things to keep in mind when talking about chronic absenteeism in Arizona. First, the COVID-19 pandemic had a massive effect on chronic absenteeism when schools were moved to online settings. And second, Arizona has one of the highest chronic absenteeism rates in the country. According to Read On Arizona, an educational nonprofit focused on improving early literacy, one in three Arizona students fell under this category in 2022, and some estimates are as high as 46 percent. Dr. Paul Perrault, senior vice president of community impact and learning for Helios, said that chronic absenteeism has eaten away at some of the gains made in K-8 education, particularly in minority populations, as student attendance grew worse after schools reopened post-pandemic.

CHRONIC ABSENCE RATE Statewide, Grades K-8

42% 34% 29% 22%







Chronic absence rate is the percentage of students missing 10 percent or more of a school year (typically 18 days or more) for any reason. Data for 2020 is incomplete.


but in fact, recent data has shown the chronic absenteeism problem has gotten worse, particularly in Arizona. in chronic absenteeism is underway in the form of a partnership between Helios, Valley of the Sun United Way, Attendance Works, Read On Arizona and several other groups that have created a task force on the subject. They are working to identify and combat the sources of the issue and putting guard rails in place to keep attendance more consistent. Some areas they are working on include educating parents and students about the importance of attendance, working with school districts to identify at-risk students earlier and provide them with support services, and training teachers and educators to identify the problems created by chronic absenteeism. “If we come together as a community, we can go further and deeper and the message can be stronger,” said Dawn Gerundo, director of education and children for Valley of the Sun United Way. “We work with districts side by side to identify what’s working, what’s not working, what has been tried before, what are you going to try that’s different. Ultimately, the end game is that each of the school districts develop a year-round attendance plan.”


All Students Economically Disadvantaged


better as students get more used to going back to school,

chronic absenteeism, with the goal of raising awareness of

high school.”


there,” he said. “We thought those numbers would get

Fortunately, a concerted effort to counter the increase

student completion of secondary education. “That


and read well and do mathematics problems with a teacher

The work being done is in its early stages, and at the end of the day, success will be measured by attendance data. The real effect will be harder to measure, yet incredibly important — real success will be keeping kids on track to a brighter future. Lori Masseur, director of early learning for Read On Arizona, said school attendance directly impacts student achievement. “All of us have to come together and work in concert and in tandem to support students,” she said. “It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach to addressing attendance, and we really want to do it from an engagement perspective, really elevating to families the importance of why their children should be in school on a consistent and regular basis.” To learn more, visit Every school day counts for Arizona’s students, so nonprofit partners are actively working to keep students in school through tools and programs.

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Steve Sanghi addresses the audience at the AZFirst Valley Regional Competition.

From Student to Teacher Steve Sanghi earns an A+ for modeling what’s possible BY JULIE COLEMAN


ow? is something Steve Sanghi often asked that

stories. “When I traveled around the world, I took a little

fueled his interest in science, technology and

toolkit with me,” Sanghi said. “I used it to open hotel

engineering while growing up in small towns in northern

thermostats, coffeemakers and TVs to figure out what

India. “Growing up, I had an ugly habit of taking things apart

products are in them. If I didn’t see our Microchip logo, I

to figure out how they work,” Sanghi explained.

would talk to our salespeople about how they could break

Repeatedly answering this question led him to a career managing science and engineering corporations, including

into those accounts.” Both tireless effort and education are undoubtedly the

more than three decades as president and CEO of Microchip

keys to Sanghi’s success. After completing his bachelor’s

Technologies Incorporated. This inquisitive nature never

degree at the age of 20, Sanghi decided to continue

waned and binds the pages of his personal and professional

his education in the United States so he could pursue FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE

| 47

Sanghi is proud of his personal life, which includes a 42-year marriage, two kids, three grandchildren and 48 | FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE

one on the way.

entrepreneurial and growth opportunities that were not

and one on the way. “Few CEOs make it throughout their lifetime

available in India.

without getting divorced or experiencing other issues,”

With just a one-way plane ticket and $150, he arrived at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1976 to earn

he said. In 2021, Sanghi’s second act began when he stepped down as

his master’s degree. “All I could afford was an off-campus

president and CEO and assumed the role of Microchip executive

room that could only fit a twin bed. Not even a desk,” Sanghi

chair. He spends three days a week as adviser to the company’s

said. “I used the communal bathrooms and kitchen, and my food would often get stolen from the refrigerator.” To survive, he borrowed money from the credit union, got a job grading for a professor and did research work. After graduating with a 4.0 GPA, Sanghi’s professional life reflects accomplishments attributable to his skills and knowledge, coupled with competing fairly and working hard. Sales growth, Microchip’s stock price increasing 300 times over the course of his tenure, and the company becoming a juggernaut are a few of his career achievements. In 2022, Sanghi was recognized with the Global Semiconductor Alliance’s highest honor, the Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award, for his exceptional contributions to the semiconductor industry. Sanghi is equally proud of his personal life, which includes a 42-year marriage, two kids, three grandchildren


Sanghi was honored with the Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award by the Global Semiconductor Alliance.

CEO and management team. The remaining two are

most teenagers in high school about their role models,

dedicated to helping entrepreneurs by serving as board

their response is singers, actors and sports heroes. Society

chair for two private companies as well as giving back

gets what it celebrates.”

to the community.

Sanghi applied his signature drive and determination

Investing in the community is a mainstay for Sanghi.

in shifting society’s celebration to science and technology

More than three decades ago, he took the lead in working

when he brought the national nonprofit For Inspiration and

with Microchip’s management team and employees to

Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics

identify eight areas of need in the community. There was

Competition to Arizona 20 years ago. Describing this as

a keen awareness that the company did not solely have

his “personal passion,” Sanghi has volunteered to mentor

the resources to address those needs and a partner was

a majority-girls team that won the state competition,

essential. Microchip collaborated with Valley of the Sun

funds two annual scholarships, and underwrites the state

United Way over these many years. The holistic partnership

championship held at ASU.

includes financial support, as well as the time and expertise of Microchip employees. Three of these eight areas — education, entrepreneurship

Whether it’s teaching Microchip employees to take the time to figure out customer problems and how the company can solve them or nurturing a love of STEM

and workforce development — are the direct focus of

through AZFirst, Sanghi continually leverages his

Microchip’s community involvement. Sanghi will readily

entrepreneurial mindset to offer sustainable support to

share how engineering is a crisis for the United States

others. “Since I came here with nothing, I’ve always had

due to a lack of engineering graduates supporting the

the desire to provide opportunities for others who may not

semiconductor industry, resulting in a need to hire from

be able to reach their potential because they couldn’t get

other countries. “The recognition of science and technology

resources,” he said. “I look back and wish more help were

is very low among our youth. Unless you catch kids early

available when I needed it. But I survived, and I’m here

enough and build their interest in science and technology,

trying to give help to others.”

they’re going to be lost to pop culture,” he said. “If you ask

To learn more, visit


I’m an early riser, and my mornings are my selfish time. I use this time to take care of myself and make sure I’m ready for the day. I start with a cup of coffee while catching up on the news, followed by some sort of physical activity. When my 15-month-old son, Otto, wakes up, I give him a bottle and help him walk around the house before Mom takes over and I head into the office. 8 A.M. >> PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER

I’ve always liked retail because it’s like putting a puzzle together. You make sure all the pieces fit, both within your team and cross-functionally. There is not a lot anybody can do individually without the support and alignment of others to accomplish their goal. If you want to do something with a product, you have to make sure your suppliers, merchandising partners and stores are on board. We call it a team sport. Our team is responsible for developing products within 24 brands, finding a place in the store and sourcing suppliers. Proprietary brands offer a unique assortment and give pet parents a reason to come to PetSmart, versus one of our competitors. It’s a huge lever of loyalty to our business. We work with merchandising, marketing and our digital team to understand the product we need to bring to life so they can tell the stories that differentiate PetSmart in the marketplace. 9:15 A.M. >> PLANNING AND EVOLUTION

A Day With

MATT BYRNES Senior vice president of proprietary brands and sourcing at PetSmart

By mid-January, we know what will be in the store for the year and are already working on 2025. It takes this long to work with suppliers, pick and design products, make things ourselves, negotiate costs, design packaging and ship it to our more than 1,600 stores. Each team has a timeline, which is why cross-functional alignment and buy-in are so important. While we have an idea of what we want to do for the next year, we have to be flexible in setting priorities so we can react to something we may have missed in the initial assessment. 10:30 A.M. >> THINKING BIG PICTURE

My job also includes casting a vision of where business needs to go over a three- to five-year period. I work with my team to understand the progress they’re making against that vision. What are the resources they need? How am I helping develop talent so we are able to deliver against that vision? 1 P.M. >> IN FULL BLOOM


I started at PetSmart 16 years ago, and most of us who worked at the company came from somewhere other than Phoenix. Our mantra was “bloom where you are planted.” Our CEO


at the time taught us that because we’re fortunate enough to work in this community for the greatest retail industry there is (pet), we have a responsibility to give back to the community. PetSmart introduced me to Valley of the Sun United Way all those years ago, and I now serve on its executive committee, board of directors and co-chair the diversity, equity and inclusion committee. Through a United Way affiliation, I also served on the board of Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development. I would never have met and connected with so many different ways of thinking if I hadn’t been active in the community. I often tell people how much I’ve learned from working on boards with people from different walks of life than I normally see in corporate America. I’ve realized I need to listen first and talk second. This friendly reminder helps me everywhere.

Matt Byrnes and his team volunteering at Valley of the Sun United Way over the holidays, team building and living PetSmart’s values.


I was fortunate to grow up in a family where I always had what I needed but didn’t get everything I wanted. Charity was a part of my experience attending Catholic school in Cincinnati for 12 years. I volunteered and completed hours of community service from a young age, and this is when I started to realize how good I had it. I didn’t do anything to deserve this other than being born into a certain family. Because of my job, I’ve lived and traveled to parts of the world — Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and India — where I saw firsthand how people are happy with so little. I’ve acquired an appreciation for how lucky I am and how life has created a responsibility since I got more than I need. 5:30 P.M. >> A BOY’S BEST FRIEND

When I get home, I spend time with my family before recharging for the next day. I unwind and switch gears on my drive home before I see what Otto wants for dinner. Right now, it’s a steady diet of macaroni and cheese and steamed broccoli. I am also a pet parent to a 13-year-old Australian shepherd named Tegan. She doesn’t spend as 2:30 P.M. >> RESULTS ORIENTED

Valley of the Sun United Way is an opportunity for people who care about the community and want to make Phoenix a better place. I love the accountability United

much time at the office with me as she used to because she likes to stay home with Otto. Tegan has learned that Otto is the only person who feeds her more than my wife, Katie! To learn more, go to

Way has to donors and the community. It gives people confidence that if you give, they will be tremendous stewards of that investment by showing up with the same level of accountability for delivering results that I’m held to at PetSmart. I’ve taken an active role at PetSmart and become a more civic-minded leader because of my United Way board service. I am the executive sponsor for our internal “Be the Difference” campaign that raises money for Valley of the Sun United Way, PetSmart Charities and The PetSmart Associate Assistance Foundation. PetSmart and the United Way have a shared interest in making sure Phoenix continues to be a great place to live. It’s important to understand where we can make investments together.

Matt Byrnes with wife Katie and their son, Otto. FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE

| 51

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‘With Arouet, I know I matter’ Transforming the lives of justice-impacted women and families Origin

Arouet was founded in 2011 to prepare women for success after they leave prison by providing them with education, employment and life skills. Its CEO, Alison Rapping, came to the organization after helping her brother launch Gideon’s Promise, a national nonprofit that trains, supports and advocates for public defenders throughout the U.S. Through that process, Rapping gained insight and empathy for people caught in the criminal justice system, and she wanted to do something to invest in them. “I saw the opportunity to lead Arouet as a remarkable chance to create a program that empowers women with education, employment and mentoring,” she said. “I saw the opportunity to help them rebuild their lives, reconnect with their families, and contribute to their communities.”

Arouet CEO Alison Rapping



Alison Rapping CEO

Dana Campbell Saylor Board Chair



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Most Surprising Thing About the Organization

Arouet has had astounding success in reducing participant recidivism. “When we started, we aimed to lower the recidivism rate by at least half, but we have far exceeded our expectations,” Rapping said. Since its founding, Arouet’s participants have returned to prison at a fraction of Arizona’s average of 39 percent — consistently lower than 7 percent and under 3 percent for the last four years. “It is a testament to the power and impact of our programs and services, which empower and transform Mock simulations illustrate the struggles previously incarcerated women go through after they are released from prison.

the lives of formerly incarcerated women and their


when surrounded by people who care deeply about

Arouet empowers and transforms the lives of formerly incarcerated women and their families through its holistic

families. And it is really a testament to what is possible you and your growth, coupled with a solid road map for success,” Rapping said. Tami, an Arouet client, agreed. “It was more than

pre- and post-release programs, which cover financial coaching,

just a place to get help,” she said. “This was a group

career development, job placement, mentoring, healthcare

of people who had been through what I had and

navigation and community integration. Arouet also champions

understood the challenges I was facing. They embraced

fair-chance hiring practices, which create more inclusive and

me and helped me get a job that can support me and

diverse workplaces for people with criminal records.

my fur baby!”

Arouet encourages employers to take a chance on those trying to improve their lives and get back on their feet.


Program Highlight

“We provided additional support and resources to

The CASE Academy provides comprehensive training in the Grow with Google certificate program and

our participants, who showed remarkable resilience and determination in pursuing their goals,” Rapping said. Morever, Arouet enhanced its services to meet the

prepares women to be workforce-ready in STEM

specific needs of the many women released during the

fields. The academy has an intensive curriculum that includes workshops, training, guest speakers, hands-on projects, and professional mentoring and guidance. “We augment this training with comprehensive life skills and wraparound services that address our participants and their families’ multiple needs and challenges,” Rapping said. These services include mentorship, professional development training, financial and employment coaching, and access to healthcare resources, housing, transportation and other community resources. “Arouet has made such a difference in my life. They

pandemic, who faced incredible challenges adjusting to the new reality.


Arouet is looking forward to launching its Workforce Partnership program, a new initiative that supports businesses interested in fair-chance employment by providing them with resources, tools and guidance on recruiting, training and retaining justice-impacted talent. The program will also create a network of fair-chance

encouraged me when things were going rough and

employers, who can share best practices and learn from

celebrated all my wins,” said Christine, an Arouet client.

each other. “We are thrilled to be able to reach more women who

“With Arouet, I know I matter.”

Recent Challenges

are preparing for their transition to the community and

Arouet has faced challenges in the past few years due to

to succeed,” Rapping said. “We’re proud of the work we

the pandemic and labor shortage. Despite the difficulties,

do at Arouet.”

provide them with the support and preparation they need

it adapted to the changing circumstances.

To learn more, visit


Provide opportunity, create community, and fight for justice for foster and at-risk kids

QFCO #10018


FROM THE ROAD Gruhn Guitars

Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

Music City Magic Dive into Nashville’s unique blend of music and culture BY LORI APPLEBY HOKE & ANDREA TYLER EVANS


f you’re looking to explore Nashville, there’s more

The area’s fascinating attractions include a presidential

to see and do than just the famous country bar

home, the deep roots of Southern music and, of course,

scene on Broadway. Nashville is divided into various

good ‘ol Tennessee fare and libations. From honky-tonks to

neighborhoods, which means there is a lot to discover

haute cuisine, here are ways to explore the city’s dynamic

and explore.

fusion of flavor and sound.


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A Bit of History

The third most visited presidential home in the U.S., Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is just 10 miles east of downtown Nashville. The tour of the mansion, garden and Jackson’s tomb provides a fascinating look into the life of the seventh U.S. president and the times of slavery and war. A café and the Natchez Hills Winery tasting room are onsite to enjoy. For more flora and fauna, Radnor Lake State Park in South Nashville is a stunning nature preserve with unpaved

Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage

trails that wander around the lake and through the woods.

Ryman Auditorium

While serene views await at every turn, you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of the bald eagles that live there. Nashville is also a college town, so if the Music Row neighborhood is part of your visit, consider taking a stroll through Alumni Lawn at Vanderbilt University. Wander the grounds of this storied campus, established in 1873, while you take in the grandeur of its historic buildings and magnificent magnolia trees.

Music Is Everywhere

Of course, music is the heart and soul of Nashville. For a true honky-tonk experience, head to Robert’s Western World, where there is never a cover charge and musicians pass the tip jug during sets. You won’t see TVs mounted on the walls because people come to listen to world-class musicians perform daily. Indulge in Robert’s infamous “Recession Special” — for $6, you get a fried bologna sandwich, chips, a Moon Pie and an ice-cold PBR. And don’t miss the life-size model of Arizona legend Marty Robbins in the rafters. Spend an afternoon at the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, where you’ll learn about the history of recorded music through rich stories and fascinating memorabilia that includes instruments played by Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks and many others. The museum honors the

Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

No trip to Nashville would be complete without taking in a concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium, the “Mother Church” of country music. When you walk in the doors of this hallowed hall, you’ll be taken not only by the architecture and acoustics but also by the fact that you’re standing in one of the most iconic venues in the world. In 2025, the Grand Ole Opry will be celebrating 100 years. What started as a radio program in 1925 is now a cultural landmark as well as home to today’s biggest country music stars and hottest rising artists. The behind-the-scenes tours are excellent, and taking in a live show is a must. Buy your tickets early — you never know who might take the stage on Saturday night!

Beats, BBQ & Books

Guitar and stringed-instrument fans will be over the moon

biggest stars as well as the talented studio musicians who

with showroom options in Nashville. You can’t miss the

played on recordings through the years.

gorgeous three-story hand-painted mural on the exterior

The Grand Ole Opry


Robert’s Western World Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

of Gruhn Guitars, a premier vintage guitar store with an inventory of over 1,100 instruments. Carter Vintage Guitars

Margot Café & Bar

is a leader in collectible vintage guitars, and Rumble Seat Music offers some of the finest vintage instruments available. While you’re there, stop and say hi to the owner’s friendly dog, Cheyenne. Edley’s Bar-B-Que has six locations throughout Nashville.

Rumble Seat Music

Join the line to order when you arrive, then grab a table at

this rustic spot with a casual vibe and lively playlist. Offerings are vast and tasty — try the pulled smoked chicken sandwich topped with red and white BBQ sauce, a hit of coleslaw and pickles. And don’t forget the fries tossed in Edley’s signature BBQ rub. If you head to the location in Franklin, make sure you have time to wander through the nearby shops, including the Draper James flagship store owned by Reese Witherspoon. Draper James

For a day of culinary adventure, head out from downtown across the Cumberland River to East Nashville, where the food and nightlife scene thrives. Enjoy a glass of wine or a wine-based cocktail at Parlor Wine Bar, housed inside an 1898 Victorian mansion, and then walk across the street to Lockeland Table Community Kitchen and Bar, a rehabbed storefront, for dinner. Their empanadas of the day, roasted chicken with crystal hot sauce, and margherita pizza are worth a try, but the crown jewel is the Chocolate Chip Skillet with Lockeland Table

Speaking of noteworthy shops, many consider Parnassus Books, owned by novelist Ann Patchett, the literary hub of Nashville. Settle into one of the cozy reading chairs and stay for a spell at this inviting store, which stocks a wide range of genres, art and gifts. Before an evening concert, head to Margot Café & Bar in the heart of the city’s Five Points neighborhood. The French-inspired restaurant with a Southern twist focuses on locally sourced ingredients and a menu that changes daily. Its location dates back to the 1930s as a Fluty’s service station before being transformed in 2001.

vanilla bean gelato. After dinner, pop into The 5 Spot to hear one of many local, peerless bands that play nightly. And come morning, Sky Blue Cafe is a small, cozy diner with friendly staff serving hearty, down-home meals. So, saddle up for fun! From iconic music venues to lively restaurants to fascinating historic settings, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy an authentic Nashville getaway. FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE

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WednesdAy, April 24, 2024 Warehouse 215 in Downtown Phoenix 5:30 p.m. Cocktail Reception | 6:30 p.m. Dinner & Program Presented by M Culinary

Announcing the 2024 community icon honorees

Deborah Carstens

BHHS Legacy Foundation

Nominations Now Open For Corporate Philanthropist of the Year, Philanthropy Heroes, Leadership Legends & Volunteer Champions Visit for more information


Zingara’s chef, Jordan Adams, with founder, Hera Ambrosio.


A Taste of Europe in Scottsdale

Photos courtesy of Fanntastic Media

Zingara features a European-inspired menu and products


HERA AMBROSIO opened Zingara Market to share her background, travels and restaurant experience. She was born in Brazil and grew up in her family’s restaurants in Italy before moving to Arizona, where her family has been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years. “The restaurant business is my passion,” she said. “I love food, I love wine, and I love sharing my culture with people. I wanted to create a beautiful place for people to meet to enjoy great coffee, food and company.” After working in her family’s Italian restaurant for years, Ambrosio decided to open her own restaurant close to her family’s Casa Mia restaurant in Scottsdale. She opened Zingara Market in August 2023. Zingara, which translates to “Gypsy woman” in Italian, offers coffee, pastries, grab-and-go items, wine and allday dining. The market sells a variety of European goods, ranging from olive oils and pasta to cutlery and candles. “This neighborhood needed a restaurant like this, where people could meet any time of day, from having coffee and pastries in the morning to having wine and dinner,” Ambrosio said.

Opening the restaurant was a new experience for Ambrosio, and she was involved in every aspect of the design, from the space to the menu to the plating. Zingara’s menu was created by Ambrosio and chef Jordan Adams and features authentic dishes from Italy, France and Spain, as well as wine selections from Europe. Menu favorites include dates stuffed with Iberico pork chorizo and guanciale, meatballs made with American wagyu beef and Iberico pork, Spanish octopus with forbidden rice, and Gambas al Ajillo, a Spanish shrimp dish with garlic, lemon and chili flakes. The dessert menu offers brown butter chocolate pave and croissant pudding with a salted caramel bourbon sauce. Ambrosio has received positive feedback. “I have built relationships in the local community working at my family’s restaurant for many years,” she said. “People thank me for bringing this concept to the neighborhood.” To learn more, visit FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE

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n December 2023, Kembara opened at JW Marriott Desert

Ridge in North Phoenix. The menu at Kembara, which means “to wander,” is inspired by a variety of Asian flavors. It is the second restaurant at the resort from celebrity chef Angelo Sosa and restaurant developer Mark Stone, who opened Tia Carmen in 2022.

“The menu is an homage to my and Mark Stone’s travels across Asia with inspiration drawn from countries including Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan,” said Sosa, who has competed on “Top Chef,” “Iron Chef America” and “Beat Bobby Flay.” Photos courtesy of Kembara


The menu embraces the rich tapestry of Asian street food culture with highlights that include black pepper Maine lobster — a riff on a Singaporean dish with oyster sauce, garlic and ginger — and Tuna Thai Jewel, a savory twist on a Thai dessert, with tuna sashimi and turmeric tapioca-dusted jicama in a lemongrass-ginger broth. Kembara has one of the largest collections of Asian spirits in the United States, including Japanese whiskeys and sake, as well as spirits from India and Thailand. In addition to the food and beverages, the design is a critical element of the experience. The space was designed by Thomas Schoos, who also designed Tia Carmen and other restaurants, including Morimoto in Napa and TAO in New York and Las Vegas. “Thomas Schoos created a modern and vibrant space inspired by Asia’s night markets,” said Sosa. “The open kitchen layout offers glimpses of the team cooking at their woks and grills, infusing the space with energy.” For more behind this Frontdoor, go to

MIDWEST FOOD BANK ARIZONA Use your tax credit to feed our hungry neighbors through MFB’s 4 programs Food for nonprofits Disaster Relief Tender Mercies Hope Packs 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.


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

Photos courtesy of Local First Arizona


Expanded program offers resources to food businesses in underserved communities


ocal First Arizona is supporting entrepreneurs in the food business through its three Community Kitchens, with a fourth

scheduled to open soon. “We are helping businesses in underserved communities that may not have access to resources due to barriers like education and language,” said Jose Gamiz, food entrepreneurship coordinator at Local First Arizona. Local First Arizona’s Community Kitchen incubation program offers low-cost access to commercial kitchens to food entrepreneurs who need a fully equipped and licensed space and resources to launch or expand their business. Entrepreneurs in the incubation program can use Local First Arizona’s Community Kitchen space for up to two years while they build their business and receive guidance on running a food business, from finance and purchasing to marketing, staffing and operations. “We help entrepreneurs grow their business to the point where they can open their own space, whether it’s a food truck, brick and mortar location or an online business,” said Gamiz. “We are here to help these entrepreneurs set and achieve their goals. We can also connect them to banks and credit unions for loans and help them get permits they need.” Entrepreneurs with a food-related business can apply through Local First Arizona’s Good

Judith Sanchez and Carmen Perez of Chispita’s Catering

Local First Arizona holds quarterly meetings with entrepreneurs in the incubation program to review their progress. They can also connect them to professionals who can help in areas like accounting and website development. After entrepreneurs leave the incubation program, they can continue to receive support from Local First Arizona. Gamiz was part of the first Community Kitchen incubation program in Mesa as an entrepreneur. “I have come full circle, and now I have the opportunity to help other entrepreneurs, which is extremely rewarding,” he said. Local First Arizona has incubated more than 200 restaurants and food businesses since 2017 through its Community Kitchen and Good Food Boot Camp programs. Community Kitchens have been home to a variety of businesses, from homemade jams, candied nuts and desserts to food trucks and catering companies. Success stories coming out of Local First Arizona’s program include Empanada Empire, Bagel Daddies and Chilte, which has received local and national awards. One of the businesses currently utilizing Local First Arizona’s Maryvale Community Kitchen,

Food Finder website.

which opened in late 2023, is Chispita’s Catering,

Businesses selected for

which a mother and daughter run.

Local First’s Community

“It’s a great experience being in the Maryvale

Kitchen incubation program

Community Kitchen,” said Carmen Perez, the

must participate in the

chef at Chispita’s Catering. “The kitchen has

Good Food Boot Camp, a

good equipment and the space we need.

six-week course providing

We are learning a lot about running our business,

information and resources

including marketing, finance and much more.

from experts and industry

It’s reassuring to have help available to guide

professionals to help

and advise us as we grow.”

entrepreneurs successfully

For information, go to

scale their businesses. Muncheese Cake owner Fareedeh Afiune


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Turn Your Event Vision Into Reality Phoenix Technology Audio Visual provides top-tier AV equipment and crew to events both large and small. Our talented techs specialize in audio, projection, lighting, scenic and video production — both in studio and on location. Through hard work, dedication and love, our team has a personal share in the success of your event! Reach out today and discover how we can help design your event vision into a reality.



EMMA GARCIA Chief community development and engagement officer at Valley of the Sun United Way

RECOMMENDS “Energy Rising” by Dr. Julia DiGangi

H E R TA K E “This well-researched book left an indelible impact on me, resonating on multiple levels as I reflected on how my upbringing and childhood experiences shaped who I am as a person and leader. The book explains how our brain’s electrical impulses shape our experiences and responses to uncertainty, influencing our emotional well-being. Integrating the concepts with personal reflection makes this an accessible, actionable read to help us lead our best lives. Dr. DiGangi explains the impact of our ‘source code’ and how we can turn emotional pain into emotional power. The exploration of uncertainty stands out as a profound revelation. As someone who has faced poverty and homelessness, I am intimately familiar with how the nervous system remembers and is hypervigilant to patterns it should protect itself from. The author argues that common behaviors to avoid uncertainty, such as overthinking and overworking, can intensify emotional pain, with dire consequences. ‘Energy Rising’ empowers readers to harness that energy to build a new source code. By confronting avoidance patterns and identifying a different way to relate with people, we can quit our command-and-control leadership style and instead become co-creators in our intimate and professional relationships. A holistic exploration of emotional energy deeply rooted in neuroscience, ‘Energy Rising’ is a practical road map for cultivating emotional resilience and empowerment.” Learn more about Valley of the Sun United Way’s journey to Mighty Change in Maricopa County at FRONTDOORS MAGAZINE

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BEYOND BLOOMS ​Celebrating its centennial year, Boyce Thompson Arboretum has a range of programs and initiatives to celebrate its 100 years of history while looking forward to a new future. The “Spiny Splendor” art exhibit showcases the hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus fasciculatus var. boyce-thompsonii), which was named after Colonel William Boyce Thompson and founded within the vicinity of the arboretum. ​Each hedgehog sculpture on display is a unique work of art, decorated by a local artist. Shown here is “Desert Love” by Maria Madrid Reed. “Spiny Splendor” runs through October 2024.

To learn more, visit


Photo by Cameron Lee

Scott LeMarr

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