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Association of Fundraising Professionals: Southern Arizona Chapter

2017 Honorees

National Philanthropy Day 2017 Honorees

Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year: Mary Jo Ghory

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. Mary Jo Ghory moved to Arizona in 1988 to work as a general and pediatric surgeon.  Soon she found a home in Tucson, practicing pediatric surgery at Tucson Medical Center and University Medical Center.  Inspired by her mother, who participated in many civic and cultural organizations in Cincinnati, Mary Jo actively sought ways to become more involved in the community.  She has a wide variety of interests and has contributed to many groups, focusing especially on the arts, children’s health, and youth education.

Mary Jo is a loyal and passionate supporter of the causes she values.  At City High School and CITY Center for Collaborative Learning, she has served on the Board of Directors since 2004 and as Chair of the Board since 2007, providing strategy, money, and input on outreach efforts.  She has been involved with Arizona Theatre Company for over 20 years: serving on the Board, fundraising, and acting as an ambassador.  Mary Jo has been a consistent donor to TMC for Children, UA Dance, UA Presents, KXCI, Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Kore Press, and the Arizona State Museum. 

In addition to her volunteer work and philanthropy, Mary Jo enjoys traveling to far-flung places and playing the piano as part of hosting salons in her home.

Outstanding Corporate or Foundation Philanthropist: Tucson Electric Power

Tucson Electric Power (TEP) Company is celebrating its 125th year of service to Southern Arizona. TEP provides safe, reliable electricity to 420,000 customers and is committed to improving the quality of life in the communities it serves. The strength of TEP comes from its 1,400 local employees and their families who volunteered nearly 25,000 hours in 2016. Nearly 44 percent of TEP employees volunteer in some capacity, including CEO David Hutchens, who regularly participates in Boys and Girls Club shopping sprees and climbs hundreds of stairs for the 9-11 Tower Challenge each year.

TEP also contributes about $1.5 million each year to more than 220 local nonprofit agencies. These community investments are funded from corporate resources, not customers’ rates. The company’s contributions, sponsorships and grants focus on three areas if impact: low-income community assistance, education and the environment. TEP is honored to contribute to our community’s wellbeing and thanks the many nonprofit partners who have made this recognition possible.

Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Rotary Club of Tucson

The Rotary Club of Tucson is a vibrant group of over 230 professional men and women who share their knowledge, skills and talents in service to others.  We are friends, neighbors and community leaders who are creating positive, lasting changes in our communities and around the world.  We share our passion for helping others and solving problems while forming friendships and making professional connections.  Members enjoy fun social events and networking at different locations around town.  And, we always look forward to getting together weekly to enjoy programs that are educational, entertaining, and engaging.

Rotary International had its beginning in Chicago in 1905. Rotary Club of Tucson, chartered in 1921, is the largest Rotary Club in Arizona. We continue serving the Southern Arizona community as the oldest service organization in Tucson.  Nearly every social issue in Tucson has been supported by the Club, including literacy, homelessness, youth development, substance abuse, poverty, food insecurity and education. Our Club has also been a leader on the international stage, encouraging Rotarians, through its parent organization, Rotary International, to participate in the Ride To End Polio event through El Tour de Tucson that takes place in November. Community service is one of the key tenets of Rotary membership, and as both volunteers and volunteer fundraisers, RCOT members lead by example. Over the past 10 years, $1,085,518 has been awarded from the proceeds of our Rotary Club’s annual Tucson Classics Car Show to local charities, improving the lives of children and families. Our Tucson Rotary Club granted a record $209,308 to Tucson charities from the 2016 Tucson Classics Car Show. In addition, our Club awards smaller grants to various charities throughout the year. Tucson Rotary never stops doing and never stops giving. And that’s how we want our Club to be. The commitment of the Rotary Club to making the world a better place is second to none, as thy strive every day to live the Rotary motto, Service Above Self.  

Outstanding Fundraising Executive: Michelle Conklin, CFRE

Michelle Conklin was a fundraiser long before she even knew that fundraising was a profession!  She began her professional fundraising career in 1990 as first Development Director, then Executive Director, of The Crooked Tree Center for the Arts in Michigan. It was there that the “rookie” fundraiser undertook the first capital campaign for the center, which helped transform an 1890’s church into a nationally known visual and performing arts center. In 1999 Michelle and her family moved to Tucson where she held the position as Director of Development for Arizona Theater Company, followed by Director of Development and Communications for The Arizona Aerospace Foundation.

In 2002, Michelle began her career with the Tucson Botanical Gardens (TBG) to serve as their Director of Development and Marketing and, in 2009 was appointed Executive Director. In her tenure at the Gardens, she professionalized the membership and development programs, created opportunities for sponsorships of important traveling and permanent exhibitions, and managed the campaign which helped create a new visitor center, new entrance, and expanded garden space. 

But her reach extends beyond TBG as Michelle regularly collaborates with other botanical gardens across the nation and has volunteered on various nonprofit boards both locally and nationally.  She most recently chaired and organized a membership and development symposia in Dallas, Texas for over 130 public garden professionals, and you will hear her on the radio several times a year supporting our local AZPM stations.  Michelle has been an invited speaker on various fundraising topics for local and national organizations and has raised over $50,000,000 in support of arts and culture. 

Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: City High School Internship Program

All Seniors at City High School participate in a community-based internship that lasts for much of the academic year. Students have an opportunity, while in high school, to explore their passions, their future career options, and the world of work while collaborating with site-based mentors. By serving as interns in the community, City High School students gain valuable skills, develop meaningful relationships with mentors in the community, and increase their awareness about the various issues and concerns that are central to the City of Tucson.

Over the past eleven years, City high School interns have provided hundreds of hours of in-kind support to a wide range of non-profit organizations throughout the community. The time and support that each intern provides has built capacity for organizations that are essential to the vitality of the Tucson community. Organizations that have hosted a City High School intern have been able to leverage that support to build their own profile as they seek outside funding from philanthropic agencies.

NPD Past Honorees

The Selection Process

Big Five judges are nominated by the National Philanthropy Day committee members. Judges are selected based on their professional experience and diversity among the Big Five awards. The 2017 National Philanthropy Day judges are:

Tim Schaffner
Lea Marquez Peterson
Debi Mabie
Alice Bates
Sandra Nathan
Courtney Slanaker
Teresa Tellez

Selection for the Big Five awards for National Philanthropy Day is completed by a panel of independent judges. All judges are provided a rubric to score potential awardees. Judges are sent all nominations forms, have a set period of time to review and scores the nominees based on the provide rubric. Selection is made at a meeting where judges vote, provide feedback and officially select the Big Five awards. No National Philanthropy Day committee members vote for the Big Five awards.