Profiles in Leadership

Learn more about our donors and partners and the positive impact their efforts are having on Arizona communities, demonstrated through their relationships with the Arizona Community Foundation.

Essen Otu

Essen Otu

Essen Otu

Senior Director of Diversity & Community Affairs, Mountain Park Health Center

Essen develops strategies to ensure Mountain Park is an inclusive and community-embedded healthcare organization. Through his early involvement with ACF’s Black Philanthropy Initiative, Essen created and co-founded the Real Engagement through Active Philanthropy (REAP) giving circle. The goal was to develop a community of givers and provide Black men with a mechanism for community investment. His wife Allison was a founding member of the African-American Women’s Giving & Empowerment Circle at ACF. In 2018, Essen joined ACF's Board of Directors.

Gabriela Muñoz Perez

Gabriela Muñoz Perez

Gabriela Muñoz Perez

Gabriela is a practicing artist currently working on a series of portraits of women who nurture their communities. She is the exhibition designer and curator for the Karen Work Seleznow Gallery at ACF. Twice yearly, the Gallery opens to diverse Arizona artists who introduce their work to ACF fundholders and community members who visit the ACF office. Recent exhibits have included Queen Muhammad Ali & Hakeem Khaaliq's Invisible México : Afro-Mexicanos, Jacob Meders’ Compendium, Claire Warden’s Mimesis, and Alex Jimenez’s From Urban Lands to Natural Streets.

Heidi Jannenga

Heidi Jannenga

Co-founder & President, WebPT

Heidi leads the overall product and company vision at WebPT, while practicing conscious leadership to foster a purposeful company culture. Today, WebPT is one of the fastest- growing electronic medical record (EMR) software companies in the country, employing more than 300 people at its headquarters in the historic Warehouse District of downtown Phoenix. She is also a member of ACF’s Board of Directors, elected in January of 2016.

Linda Valdez

Linda Valdez

Linda Valdez

Reporter, Arizona Republic

Since 1993, Linda has been a reporter and member of the editorial board at the Arizona Republic. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 2003. Her book, Crossing the Line: A marriage across borders, tells the story of her marriage to a Mexican immigrant and the blending of their families and cultures. She is one of the reporters who has written in-depth investigative pieces about child welfare in Arizona, a project that was funded through a three-year grant from ACF.

Marjorie "Marj" McClanahan

Marj McClanahan

Marj McClanahan

Marjorie “Marj” McClanahan joined the Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff’s Board of Advisors in 1998. At the time, ACF of Flagstaff had just made its first grants and Marj found herself asking, “Who is ACF of Flagstaff and what do we do?” She sought to answer this question with the help of other board and community members. 

As a Certified Public Accountant at Nordstrom & Associates P.C., Marj works with her clients to ensure financial stability, accountability, and trustworthiness. She emphasizes ways that her clients can positively impact the Flagstaff community, which often leads them to engage with ACF. She believes, “ACF’s affiliate system allows smaller communities to deeply understand the needs of our neighbors while leveraging the support of the central office in Phoenix to bring us together in a powerful way.” 

Marj and her husband Sam moved to Flagstaff 50 years ago, and she immediately became involved in the local community. In addition to her time spent on the ACF of Flagstaff Board of Advisors, she is a past member of the ACF Board of Directors and serves on the board for the Museum of Northern Arizona. 

Even after 20 years, Marj continues to contribute to ACF of Flagstaff, serving as chair of the Arts & Culture and Music grant committees. She also created the McClanahan Family Endowment, which she believes is “a nice legacy for our children who will see the gift that keeps on giving…today, tomorrow, and forever.” The success of the affiliate has helped solidify ACF of Flagstaff’s purpose and identity within the community, answering the question Marj posed early on.

Myers Family Charitable Fund

Myers family

Myers Family Charitable Fund

Dr. William and Sondra Myers were passionate about philanthropy and established the William & Sondra Myers Fund at ACF in 1999. In 2002, Dr. Myers engaged his children and together they formed a scholarship fund. The Myers Family Charitable Fund was established with an initial gift of $10,000 and has grown to over $819,000 through the years. The Myers family set a goal of creating a legacy by growing the fund to $1 million. William and Sondra, along with their adult children, contribute annually to the fund that offers dedicated scholarships to graduating seniors of Central High School in Phoenix. 

Working and learning together, the Myers family developed the criteria used for selecting the four annual scholarship recipients. These criteria include: being a graduate of Central High, obtaining admission into an accredited Arizona public university or community college, being the first generation to attend college, maintaining a minimum 3.0 grade point average, and demonstrating a high level of motivation with proven leadership skills. 

This family scholarship has three unique attributes. First, it is renewable for up to four years if a recipient maintains the requirements of the scholarship and provides a year-end achievement letter. With encouragement from the Myers family, each recipient is supported to graduate from college and overcome obstacles. Second, members of the Myers family engage personally by hosting an annual brunch in their home. This brunch is an inspirational event that enables past, current, and incoming Myers Family Charitable Fund scholarship recipients to share their stories with each other and the family. Third, William and Sondra have passed on the importance of philanthropy to their children and grandchildren, who also take an active role in awarding scholarships and participating in the brunch. 

Since inception, the fund has provided 37 scholarships for a total of $368,000. 

“The reward our family realizes from hosting these scholarship recipients supports the vision our father had when he and our mother started this fund over 19 years ago,” said Ben Myers. “And three generations participating in the process has made our family closer.”

Burton Family Foundation


The Burton Family Foundation

The Burton Family Foundation was established in 2015 at the Arizona Community Foundation. Through the fund, Christy and Daryl Burton were able to support Phoenix-area students through a generous grant to Year Up Arizona, a rigorous 12-month program that combines hands-on technical and professional skills development, stipends, professional internships, and college credits. This grant enabled students to participate in the Year Up program without concern personal financial debt.

Education and closing the opportunity gap are priorities for the Burtons, who chose to support students with a high level of financial need.

Meeting the students that participated in the Year Up Arizona program was inspirational and a strong endorsement for the future. They talked about their internships with excitement and hope for their future based on the skills they had learned during their first six months as students in the Year Up Arizona program.

- Christy Burton

Tony & Milena Astorga Foundation

Tony and Milena Astorga

Tony and Milena Astorga

Tony and Milena Astorga have strong feelings of pride about Arizona. Stronger still is their desire to make life better for all Arizonans. Through the Tony & Milena Astorga Foundation established in 2006 at the Arizona Community Foundation, the couple funds organizations like United Way that provide and support education and social services for our children, particularly those from disadvantaged homes.

“We believe that our endeavors will help break the cycle of illiteracy-driven poverty, strengthen our communities and address the problem of the high dropout rate in Arizona,” Tony said, citing their active involvement with projects like the A Stepping Stone Foundation, which provides pre-school and family literacy programs to prepare children for kindergarten.

Another of the family’s favorite institutions is the Phoenix Art Museum, where a gallery bears their name and Milena is a Master Docent.

“The Museum helps educate our community, and quality art institutions are an indirect economic development driver for our state,” Tony said. “More importantly, the programs provide an opportunity for our children to learn and appreciate the history of art.”

The Arizona Community Foundation is yet another beneficiary of a relationship with the Astorgas, including Tony’s tenure on the organization’s Board of Directors. During the past 10 years, he has been vice chair of the board, chairman of the Finance, Administration and Budget Committee and treasurer. And Tony’s involvement in ACF’s Latinos Unidos initiative dates back to the launch of the initiative.

It’s all part of a way of life for the Astorga family, which includes daughters Tabatha and Farah, who are successor advisors to the Tony & Milena Astorga Foundation.

Phoenix IDA

The Phoenix IDA

The Phoenix Industrial Development Authority promotes economic development by issuing private activity bonds that attract investment as a means of financing projects providing a public benefit. Once bonds are funded, the Phoenix IDA receives administrative fees from borrowers and a portion of the fees are reinvested into a fund at ACF for direct grantmaking that furthers community and economic development.

Established in 1981 by the Phoenix City Council, the Phoenix IDA has a long history of establishing public/private partnerships to finance projects for the benefit of the city’s and the state’s residents. A relationship with the Arizona Community Foundation that dates back to 2012 has allowed the Phoenix IDA to expand its impact and award grants directly to nonprofit organizations. Since then, the Phoenix IDA has awarded $2.35 million to support education, health care and affordable housing projects, including $856,550 from its two funds at ACF.

“The partnership with the Arizona Community Foundation provides the Phoenix IDA with valuable guidance in investing its funds where they are most needed, while providing the biggest impact to the city of Phoenix,” said Juan Salgado, Phoenix IDA’s Executive Director. The Phoenix IDA accepts funding requests in three priority areas: educational initiatives and collaborations in schools; programs that facilitate jobs in health care and increase access to health care; and economic and community development programs for affordable housing, economic success for the working-poor and workforce development projects.

Among its most significant achievements, the Phoenix IDA led a funders’ collaborative of public and private interests to respond to an urgent need. Through Rapid Re-Housing, a program managed by Valley of the Sun United Way, more than 250 individuals were transitioned from homelessness to a stable housing situation in less than six months.

Tempe Community Foundation

Tempe Community Foundation

In partnership with the Tempe Community Council, the Tempe Community Foundation serves as a centralized giving vehicle for Tempe residents who want to support a wide range of local human services programs. Although the TCF was initially established in 1992, several years passed before an advisory board formed and commenced a tenfold growth in assets, to over $1.2 million today.

Since inception, the TCF has invested $203,765 in community programs serving people of all ages, implementing a collaborative and inclusive process. “With its unique emphasis on including residents in the decision-making process, Tempe Community Council assures consistent community input, oversight and accountability for the TCF,” said Advisory Board Member Kate Hanley.

A recent sampling of grants awarded includes $3,000 to Removing Barriers to Quality of Life, a day program at The Centers for Habilitation. The grant helped 76 Tempe residents with disabilities overcome a variety of barriers to social interactions, with many demonstrating dramatic improvements.

Tempe Community Action Agency received $15,000 to expand evening food pantry hours from one to two nights per week. With evening hours, working poor families gain access without having to take time off from jobs. Nearly 10,000 additional people received food during the fiscal year following the expansion in hours.

Tempe Neighbors Helping Neighbors received $15,000 and thanks to these funds, the agency has increased by 28 percent the number of people—mostly older adults living alone on fixed incomes—receiving help with home maintenance, transportation, friendly visits and calls, technology and pet care.

Next year, the TCF’s Advisory Board will mark 25 years since inception by celebrating its past achievements and embarking on a new set of goals. One of those goals includes refining the TCF’s grantmaking strategy for greatest impact, focusing specifically on incubating innovative new programs and expanding successful programs to serve more clients in need.

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