Class of 2019
Q: You – Tell us about your background.
A: I am the daughter of immigrants from Italy. Neither of my parents completed elementary school. They were both union members: Dad was a member the International Pressmen’s Union at the NYTimes where he worked for over 40 years; and Mom was a member of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union; she worked with numerous designers in NYC. They taught us that hard work, determination, and studying was the formula for success.
Since graduating from college, I have had several careers. Each one has been a learning experience; be it in social work, education, corporate marketing, public retaliations, entrepreneurship, non-profit management, or as a freelance international travel writer.
I believe peace is possible when we interact with other cultures. For this reason I developed a number of my international travel photography exhibits (and talks) which I present at college and universities.
Q: Wisdom – Lessons learned during your journey?
A: Always lend a helping hand – whether it is for charitable purposes or to provide business referrals and guidance. Be generous with your finances, as well as with your knowledge and talents. Share your ‘wealth.’ Go the extra mile for those who come your way or cross your path. Helping others is one of life’s joys. The process always magnifies itself in an upward spiral in untold ways. Express appreciation for kindnesses shown you. Don’t take anyone for granted.
Q: Calling – Why do you do what you do?
A: Working for social justice, women’s rights, and environmental issues has always been central to my being.
The creation of the Arizona Women’s Partnership, an all volunteer philanthropic non-profit to award grants to grassroots charities, is a manifestation of this. I believe that we are here to help others, as best we can. I had the know how to make this happen…and I did. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, “Life’s most persistent question is: What are you doing for others?”
Q: Advice – What would you tell your 10-year-old self?
A: Don’t be afraid to try. If you don’t succeed – try and try again. Most successful people have been unsuccessful along the way. Keep your eye on your goal and Go For It.
To quote cultural anthropologist, Dr. Margaret Mead:, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Q: What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
A: Select a good team, empower them to do their respective jobs, and don’t micro-manage. People rise to the occasion and exceed expectations when they are respected for their abilities. When you work for the good of others, incredible things happen.
Q: What do you love about your job?
A: I continue to see all the wonderful things that happen when people come together to do what they can for the good of others – be it donating money or volunteering their time and expertise. In establishing the Arizona Women’s Partnership, as an all volunteer nonprofit in 2002, I set out to fundraise for small grassroots nonprofits that help underserved women and children at risk here in AZ. My concern was that since these smaller charities do not have the visibility of the larger nonprofits, they would have trouble realizing their important missions dealing with issues of domestic violence, child abuse, literacy, homelessness, hunger, refugees, youth at risk, etc. To date, we have awarded over $500,000 to over 70 non-profits who affect the lives of over 130,000 culturally and racially diverse women and children on an annual basis. Many are multi-year grant recipients. To this end, I created two fundraisers which showcased female chefs in our local culinary industry.
Realizing that female artists need their due, I created the In Celebration of Women art exhibition to celebrate the Centennial of the 19th amendment. To that end, I selected a jury of ethnically and racial diverse professional women. Together we selected 30 women artists. The exhibit was the first of its kind – hosted at the Herberger (opened March 6, 2020 to a reception of over 500) and it was set for the AZ Capitol Museum (postponed because of COVID).
Q: What/who inspires or influenced you?
A: I am self-motivated. I feel driven to help others; it’s my life’s purpose.
I want to inspire others to do likewise. Getting recognition is not important. My immigrant parents taught me to always help those in need. That sharing was one of the greatest joys in life. The philosopher Gibran said, “It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” We are all part of the human family – Aho! Mitakue Oyasin – Native (Lakota) saying.
Q: What was a pivotal moment in your career?
A: Although I have had several careers (like many others), gaining support and cooperation from the Fortune 500 corporation, for which I worked and for which I was President of Women in Management, enabled me to create the 1985-Year for All Arizona Women project. This was a defining moment for me. It showed me that with the right attitude, self-confidence, and a win/win project for all involved, amazing things can (did) happen. The project attracted over 300 volunteers; attendance at the events amounted to over 10,000. The state-wide project gained gubernatorial support, as well as that from 65 mayors, tribal leaders and county officials. The ripple effect gave birth to the YWCA-AZ Tribute to Leadership and to many other recognitions for the achievements of women throughout this state.