Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Announces 2021 Class of Piper Fellows

December 16, 2021

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Announces 2021 Class of Piper Fellows

The latest cohort of Piper Fellows—selected for their record of impact in Maricopa County—receives transformational opportunity for study, reflection, and growth.

From top left clockwise: Sam Alpert, Mary Jane Rynd (Piper Trust president and CEO), Nate Lowrie, Regina Nixon, Karen Jayne, Emily Goble Early, Laura Magruder, Jeri Royce, Debbie DiCarlo, Carmen Heredia.

PHOENIX, Ariz.—Nine exceptional nonprofit leaders dedicated to enriching health, well-being, and opportunity in Maricopa County were selected for Piper Trust’s 2021 Class of Piper Fellows. The Fellows are:

  • Sam Alpert, chief development officer, Junior Achievement of Arizona (based in Tempe and serving students statewide).
  • Debbie DiCarlo, CEO, Cancer Support Community Arizona (offices in Phoenix and Flagstaff; providing virtual programming statewide).
  • Dr. Emily Goble Early, curator of anthropology, Arizona Museum of Natural History (located in Mesa).
  • Carmen Heredia, CEO, Valle del Sol, Inc. (locations are numerous spanning Maricopa County; services are also provided in Pinal County and Tucson through programs of the Hispanic Leadership Institute).
  • Karen Jayne, CEO, Stardust (located in Mesa and Glendale; serving Maricopa County).
  • Nate Lowrie, CEO, Valleywise Health Foundation (the health system consists of 15 locations spanning Maricopa County, including the renowned Arizona Burn Center serving the entire Southwestern United States).
  • Laura Magruder, CEO, Maggie’s Place (locations in Phoenix, Glendale, Tempe, and Mesa).
  • Regina Nixon, executive director, Phoenix Conservatory of Music (located in Phoenix and serving Maricopa County).
  • Jeri Royce, president and CEO, Esperança (located in Phoenix and serving Maricopa County, Yuma, with international services in Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Mozambique).

The newly selected class becomes part of the larger and enduring Piper Fellows network that is now 90 Fellows strong. The 2021 Piper Fellows will participate in self-designed professional development “sabbaticals” focused on strengthening leadership skills and exploring renowned programs that can help nonprofits become more effective and resilient.

A Fellowship supports the professional development, study, and travel for the Fellow, including an intentional respite activity that provides the Fellow the opportunity to reflect on learnings—hence the reference to sabbatical. Additionally, the Fellowship supports some professional development for staff and/or board of a Fellow’s organization. After completing the Fellowship, the Fellow is eligible to apply for an Organizational Enhancement Award to implement learning or programming that emerged during a Fellow’s sabbatical work. A Piper Fellowship provides up to $90,000 in potential grant awards for a Fellow’s organization.

“The Trust’s founder, Virginia Galvin Piper, always emphasized the importance of investing in people—that as people gain more knowledge and strength, they become better equipped to build capacity in their organizations, which in turn launches positive ripple effects that resonate throughout the community,” said Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. “The Piper Fellows program is a perfect example of how the Trust continues Virginia’s legacy,” said Rynd.

“My Fellowship experience had a direct impact on both the organization I serve as well as my growth as a leader,” said Mary Mitchell, Co-CEO of Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council and 2017 Piper Fellow. “Learnings from my Fellowship contributed to designing and implementing a broadened portfolio of services and programming for girls and their families. It definitely helped build organizational resiliency,” said Mitchell.

The 2021 Piper Fellows applications were reviewed and selected by an external committee, this year comprised of: Christy Burton, Burton Family Foundation; Dede Yazzie Devine, CEO, Native American Connections; Tammy McLeod, president and CEO, Flinn Foundation; and Mary Mitchell, Co-CEO, Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council.

Applications will open for the 2022 Class of Piper Fellows in spring 2022.

About Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust:
Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust supports organizations that enrich health, well-being, and opportunity for the people of Maricopa County, Arizona. Since it began awarding grants in 2000, Piper Trust has invested more than $662 million in local nonprofits and programs. Piper Trust grantmaking areas are healthcare and medical research, children, older adults, arts and culture, education, and religious organizations. For more information, visit | Twitter | Facebook

Media Contact:
Karen Leland, | 480-556-7125
Chief Communications Officer, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust