For the Arizonans – Fantastic Local Organizations

desert Arizona landscapeAs readers of Employment and the Law know, I try to focus the blog posts on issues that impact Arizonans the most. After posting several years worth of employment law articles and best practices (where has time gone??), I wanted to take a minute and highlight some fantastic local organizations. I realized I have a diverse group of Arizonans who follow my blog who are not only as passionate about employment law as I am, but ALSO equally involved in our community. Here are the three organizations I wanted to highlight. Drum roll please…

image002Colleen’s Dream Foundation is an organization that supports ovarian cancer research for early detection and improved treatment. I had the honor of meeting the woman behind The Dream when I was – of all things – taking the bar exam in 2007 (it turns out this post is law-related!). 2007 also turned out to be the same year that Colleen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A superstar mom of four daughters, as well as a daughter, sister, and friend to many, Colleen was the inspiration behind The Dream.

At Colleen’s Dream Foundation, we feel it is important to raise money for research that will lead to reliable early detection testing and improved treatment for ovarian cancer. Because so little is known about ovarian cancer in proportion to other women’s health issues, we have an incredible opportunity for research and education.

We are working with some of the top research hospitals and universities that are researching ovarian cancer.  Offering seed funding ($5,000-$10,000 grants) to young investigators, we will fund cutting-edge research by some of the brightest, young minds in the world.

Readers of my blog know that- if there is an infographic – it will find its way to this blog. One thing that is great about Colleen’s Dream is that the organization not only works to fund groundbreaking research, but also works to bring awareness to women who might not otherwise know the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

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If you want to get involved, plan on going to their signature event- an annual Golf Tournament and Evening of Dreams in February of each year. It is truly among the best events of the year, and it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside** because it’s for a great cause. And there’s also Kicking for the Dream, a project that engages young kicking specialists in an effort to raise awareness and fundraise for ovarian cancer research. There’s no doubt you’ll be hearing more and more about this project and likely even see many of the players at the Evening of Dreams.

Valley Youth Theatre. This is where talent meets cute meets hard work and fun. Valley Youth Theatre holds auditions all year long for kids 7 to 19 to perform in the organization’s musicals and plays. And these productions are TOP NOTCH. Their past season included classics like Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan, and the Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail.

Founded in 1989, Valley Youth Theatre (VYT) is a professional-quality theatre company dedicated to helping young people achieve their full potential through meaningful engagement, education, and excellence in the performing arts.

I simply can’t imagine a better place for kids to learn the performing arts, build friendships with other children, and get out of the summer/winter/fall/spring heat (yes, all four seasons have heat).

Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation. I have been on the Board of the MCCF for several years now. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization designated by the Maricopa Community Colleges to receive and manage gifts on behalf of the ten colleges, two skill centers and numerous education centers dedicated to educational excellence and meeting the needs of the businesses and citizens of Maricopa County.

Amber Cruz (left) is the first recipient of the Snell & Wilmer Leader Scholarship!

Amber Cruz (left) is the first recipient of the Snell & Wilmer Leader Scholarship!

Annually, the Colleges educate more than 250,000 students. Many are completing the first two years of a four-year degree while thousands of others are readying themselves for entry into the workforce through state-of-the-art career programs. Since the Foundation’s inception in 1977, more than $21 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded.

The Foundation’s scholarships are wide-ranging and impactful. To give a few examples, I have heard first-hand how they have permitted working single mothers to attend a few classes at a time and still pay the mortgage, they have allowed underrepresented students to be the first in their families to graduate college, and allowed students to attend focused classes to develop their trades.

This past year I spoke at the Heroes of Education dinner, which honors those who have a proven personal and professional commitment to supporting students and educational opportunities. The 2014 recipient was Vince Roig, Founding Chairman of the Helios Education Foundation. For those who are wanting to get involved, mark your calendars – the 10th Heroes of Education Dinner will be on April 16, 2015 at the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix Hotel.

**Speaking of “warm and fuzzy,” the cutest dog in the world was auctioned off to a good home at the Colleen’s Dream 2014 gala. To make it EVEN sweeter, Neil Rackers and his wife won the puppy, but when another person approached Neil at the bar and told him that his wife really wanted the dog, they BOTH agreed to make the full donation of the winning auction amount to Colleen’s Dream and Neil gave the gentleman the dog to take back to his wife. How sweet is that? Double the donations for a great cause!

About Ashley Kasarjian

Attorney at Snell and Wilmer in Phoenix, Arizona, and publisher of the blog, Employment and the Law.
This entry was posted in Arizona and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to For the Arizonans – Fantastic Local Organizations

  1. Cindy Oliver says:

    Thanks for the blog. Maricopa Corporate College is part of the Maricopa Community Colleges District. We are very proud to provide customized solutions to the companies in Maricopa County, the State of Arizona and worldwide as some of our clients are global.

    Cindy M. Oliver, SPHR Director of HR Maricopa Corporate College 480-377-2702 cindy.oliver@maricopacorporate.com

    On Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 7:09 AM, Employment and the Law: A legal blog from

  2. Kim Eckert says:

    There are so many great non-profit organizations in Arizona – thank you for highlighting a few. My favorites are Down Syndrome of Arizona and St. Vincent de Paul. I never heard of Colleen’s Dream, so it was interesting to learn about it – did Colleen survive cancer?

    • Thanks for the heads up about Downs Syndrome Network AZ!

      Colleen lives on through many family members and friends, but she unfortunately passed away on February 23, 2013. To steal a quote by Stuart Scott, she certainly beat cancer by how she lived, why she lived, and the manner in which she lived. (If you haven’t seen the speech Stuart gave – it’s worth a watch at: di.gg/1qgZeP6, and you can learn more about Colleen here: https://www.colleensdream.org/ovariancancerblog).

  3. Kim Eckert says:

    I meant Down Syndrome Network AZ – thanks for allowing me to clarify!

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