By Alison Bailin Batz
Did you know that nonprofit organizations are responsible for 325,000 jobs in Arizona, directly employing more than 167,000 paid staff as well as an additional estimated 158,000 (likely more) indirect jobs through their presence and operations?
It takes someone special to dedicate their career to this sector – someone inspired.
Here are some of the Valley’s top nonprofit executives’ tales of tapping into the industry, in their own words.
“As a first generation college graduate, I realize how hard my parents worked for their success. They instilled in me importance of education to my own success. I also grew up with a strong sense of responsibility to help those in need; whether a neighbor needed help moving something or volunteering at the local rescue mission, helping has always been a piece of who I am. I realized after college that I could merge these two values and have been helping unrepresented youth achieve college success since 2002.”
- Pam Fronk-Cole is the executive director of The Challenge Foundation, which helps smart, ambitious and hard-working students break the cycle of poverty through educational opportunities.
“I arrived in Phoenix in 1998, having worked at advertising agencies in Chicago, New York and Jakarta, Indonesia. While Southeast Asia was a wonderful adventure, it was difficult to witness the poverty and poor living conditions that burdened so many lives. That was my impetus to work for a nonprofit organization: Use my skills to make a real difference in people’s lives. As a former Girl Scout and Girl Scout leader, I knew the power of this leadership development organization for girls and couldn’t say no to joining the local council. It’s exciting to support future female leaders.”
- Susan de Queljoe is the senior associate of marketing communications for the Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, Arizona’s leading organization dedicated to building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
“I began my career with Southwest Behavioral & Health Services while in graduate school in an entry level direct care position. Twenty-one years later, the work I do as an executive in a nonprofit behavioral health agency has allowed me to capitalize on my belief in people who are maligned, forgotten, shunned or ignored. I have the privilege of working with people who are underinsured or lack the ability to pay for services. I can tap into my creativity when applying for grants and looking for a new way to outreach people.”
- Heather Genovese is vice president of Crisis & Opioid Services at Southwest Behavioral & Health Services, one of Arizona’s largest and most comprehensive nonprofit behavioral health services providers.
“While in college for a degree in education, I had the opportunity to complete an internship at a local homeless shelter. It was there I witnessed firsthand the power of hope and resilience. From then on, I have dedicated myself to working in the social services field. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in counseling, with a specialization in trauma, abuse and deprivation. Working in the nonprofit sector, and particularly with Sojourner Center, has allowed me to make a difference in our community and in the lives of so many people.”
- Julie Peterson is the senior director of programs at the Sojourner Center, a domestic violence service organization, responsible for overseeing all programs including residential housing, community services and children and youth programs.
“After graduating college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted my next step to be. By chance, I landed a nonprofit fundraising internship. My mentor really let me get my hands dirty working on projects that gave me a good taste of nonprofit work. From that experience, I knew that whatever I did with my life, I needed to work in a sector that helped people. Life can be very challenging, and working to help alleviate life’s difficulties for others is something I’m very passionate about. Finding meaning in my work is so important to me.”
- Hanna Guthrie is the marketing manager at Jewish Family & Children’s Service, an organization that strengthens the community by providing behavioral health, healthcare and social services to all ages, faiths and backgrounds.