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Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Recognizes Nonprofit Leaders

Photo of Barbara Fenster Photo of Karl Gentles Photo of MaryLynn Mack Photo of Darlene-Newsome Photo of Jared Sakren


December 8, 2011

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Recognizes Nonprofit Leaders with the Gift of Time
Piper Trust Selects its 2011 Piper Fellows

PHOENIX, Ariz.—Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust has named its 11th class of five Piper Fellows—leaders that work daily on the frontlines to improve quality of life for people in Maricopa County’s diverse communities. Through the Piper Fellowship, these dedicated nonprofit leaders will participate in self-designed professional development sabbaticals to further strengthen their skills and bring new knowledge back to the organizations they lead and serve.

The 2011 Piper Fellows are: Barbara Fenster, executive director, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona; Karl Gentles, executive director, Back to School Clothing Drive; MaryLynn Mack, deputy director, Desert Botanical Garden; Darlene Newsom, chief executive officer, UMOM New Day Centers; and Jared Sakren, producing artistic director, Southwest Shakespeare Company.

“Piper Fellows are afforded time and resources to invest in themselves and their fellowship experiences have proven to be transformative. This investment in ‘human potential’ comes back to nonprofit organizations by way of new programming, new relationships and networks, and reenergized leaders— all of which ultimately strengthens and benefits the community at large,” said Judy Jolley Mohraz, Ph.D., president and CEO of Piper Trust.

The newly selected Piper Fellows, chosen via a competitive process, will complete individual sabbaticals in 2012 and will become part of the enduring Piper Fellows “alumni” group that meets regularly to discuss ideas, challenges, and sensitive leadership issues. Up to five new Piper Fellows are selected each year; 46 nonprofit leaders have participated in the program to date.

Fellows’ field work during the fellowship has ranged from study with some of the world’s most renowned thinkers and innovators (e.g., Dr. Peter Senge on leadership and learning organizations) to immersion programs that expand cultural knowledge and insights. Fellowships have led to outcomes such as: team-building that aided an organization with building capacity; and, leadership development that fostered risk-taking and creativity resulting in new programming.

A Piper Fellowship offers each selected organization potential awards up to $90,000; the first $30,000 is intended to provide selected professionals with expenses for study, travel, and opportunities to visit best practice sites around the country. The Trust also awards up to $10,000 for new or increased professional development for the staff of each awardee organization. In addition, Fellows are eligible to apply for a $50,000 Organization Enhancement Grant to implement some aspect of their fellowship projects.

A committee of three community leaders, including one Piper Fellow from the previous year’s class, made Piper Fellow recommendations from among 18 applications. Judges this year were: Sunnee O’Rork, executive director, Arizona Museum for Youth and 2010 Piper Fellow; Lois Savage, president, Lodestar Foundation; and John Whiteman, president, board of directors, Whiteman Foundation.

About Piper Trust:
A private independent foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust honors Virginia Galvin Piper’s philanthropic commitment to changing lives and strengthening community in Maricopa County (Arizona). By investing in nonprofits and encouraging strategic planning for the future, Piper Trust strives to make Maricopa County a stronger, more nurturing and vibrant community. Since it began awarding grants in 2000, Piper Trust has invested $285 million in local nonprofits and programs. The Trust had total grants paid of $21.6 million in fiscal year 2011. Piper Trust grantmaking areas are healthcare and medical research, children, older adults, arts and culture, education and religious organizations. For more information, visit



Karen Leland, 480-556-7125 / [email protected]
Director, Communications and External Relations
Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust