Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Announces 2022 Class of Piper Fellows

December 12, 2022

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Announces 2022 Class of Piper Fellows

Front Row: Jared Kittelson, Kirk Johnson, Denise Resnik, Dr. Gerd Wuestemann, Jessyca Leach, Christopher Tiffany. Second Row: Alicia Nuñez, Becky Bell Ballard, Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, O.P., Pedro Cons. Back Row: Mary Jane Rynd, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust president & CEO, Marcia Mintz, David J. Hemphill.

Twelve Piper Fellows selected for their leadership and impact in Maricopa County—all receive Fellowships for study, reflection, and growth.

December 12, 2022

PHOENIX, Ariz.—Twelve of Maricopa County’s outstanding nonprofit leaders were selected for Piper Trust’s 2022 Class of Piper Fellows. The Fellows are:

  • Becky Bell Ballard, CEO, Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children (serves youth throughout Maricopa County, AZ).
  • Pedro Cons, CEO, Adelante Healthcare (numerous clinic locations; serves all of Maricopa County, AZ).
  • David J. Hemphill, executive director, Black Theatre Troupe (located in historic Eastlake Park neighborhood; serves AZ and the Southwest region).
  • Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, O.P., principal, St. John Paul II Catholic High School (Avondale, AZ).
  • Kirk Johnson, founder and CEO, SOUNDS Academy (serves students from Goodyear to Mesa, AZ).
  • Jared Kittelson, associate CEO, Foundation for Blind Children (based in Maricopa County and serves students across AZ and the nation; satellite campuses in Chandler and West Valley).
  • Jessyca Leach, executive director, Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS (serves all of Maricopa County, AZ).
  • Marcia Mintz, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley (locations span 30 sites in 12 Maricopa County cities and one in Yuma, AZ).
  • Alicia Nuñez, executive vice president and CFO, Chicanos Por La Causa (primarily serves West Valley, Maryvale, and South Phoenix, AZ).
  • Denise Resnik, founder/president and CEO, First Place AZ (serves greater Phoenix, AZ and communities across North America and globally).
  • Christopher Tiffany, executive director, Raising Special Kids (located in Phoenix and serves throughout AZ).
  • Dr. Gerd Wuestemann, president and CEO, Scottsdale Arts (located in Scottsdale and serves East Valley and greater Phoenix, AZ).

The newly selected class becomes part of the larger and enduring Piper Fellows network that is now a community of 102 Fellows. The 2022 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 professional development, study, and travel for the Fellow, including an intentional respite activity that allows the Fellow 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 Piper Fellows Program exemplifies one way the Trust continues Virginia Piper’s legacy,” said Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. “Virginia believed it was important to invest in people—that as people gain new knowledge and are supported with exceptional experiences, they can become better equipped to build capacity in their organizations and beyond,” said Rynd.

“I can think of no other professional experience that compares to my Piper Fellowship,” said Dr. Aaron Blocher-Rubin, president and CEO of Arizona Autism United and 2017 Piper Fellow. “Every nonprofit leader dreams of having a chance to step back, reflect, and reimagine what is possible—but we never seem to have the time. Participating in the Fellowship pushed me to do what was needed for my  organization, my teammates, and the families we serve. I am a better leader and a better person for it,” Blocher-Rubin said.

The 2022 Piper Fellows applications were reviewed and selected for recommendation by an external committee, this year comprised of: Anna Bettis, Arizona Healthy Cities Program Director at The Nature Conservancy in Arizona; Dr. Aaron Blocher-Rubin, president and CEO of Arizona Autism United; Rick McCartney, president and CEO of InMedia Company and publisher of In Business Magazine; and, Connie Robinson, COO of The Gideon Group.

Piper Trust’s Board of Trustees made a special exception this year and approved 12 Fellowships as recommended by the external selection committee.

Applications will open for the 2023 Class of Piper Fellows in spring 2023.

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 $691 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 | LinkedIn

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