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New Beginnings ...

I stepped onto a stage for the first time when I was 3 years old. From that time on, I frequently treaded the boards, acting, directing, singing, dancing in the chorus, and doing lights and sound. I loved it all. And I always loved the phrase “all the world is a stage”. And, if you think about it, it really is. Everything you do in public may be held up to scrutiny. In my role as Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun, I have given the utmost attention to every detail, knowing that everything I say or do can be perceived as a reflection – good or bad --- on this organization that I love.

Taking that further, for the past 25 years working in the nonprofit world, I have been on stage – trying to remember my lines, ace my cues, and show appropriate emotions and reactions at all times. Frankly, it’s exhausting to always be “on”.

But it is also exhilarating! Knowing that every move you make can change lives makes all the stress, angst, and frustration, worthwhile. And I have no words to describe the joy my soul feels when I know I have made the right decision to help people have better lives.

That being said, after 6 years and a few months with RTVOS, my soul, and my creative heart, are crying out for new adventures. I feel it is time to turn this fantastic organization over to someone else, while I seek my next new adventure.

I am thrilled to introduce Tony Banegas as the next captain of the RTVOS ship.

Tony served as Honorary Consul of Honduras in Arizona from March 2006 until March 2016. He currently serves as a member of the Executive Board of the Diplomatic Corps of Arizona. Prior to this role, he was the Executive Director of the Colibrí Center for Human Rights in Tucson.

He was previously a Philanthropic Advisor at the Arizona Community Foundation for almost 9 years. In this role, he was the Relationship Manager to 90 funds including Donor Advised funds, Family Foundations, and nonprofit endowments; he also provided leadership on select special initiatives of the Foundation, including The Funder’s Collaborative with Hispanic in Philanthropy, Latinos Unidos, The Latina Giving Circle, The Black Philanthropy Initiative, The African American Giving Circle, African American Male Giving Circle, the Arizona Asian Pacific Giving Circle, The Arizona Family Economic Success Initiative (AZFES) and Project SAM (Shared Asset Measurement), a Collective Impact initiative.

Before he joined the Arizona Community Foundation, he spent 13 years as an Executive with two large nonprofits providing oversight of numerous child-welfare programs dealing with behavioral health, health, early childhood, prevention, etc. in Central and West Phoenix.

He has supported numerous projects in Honduras, including housing, and has served on numerous Boards including Hogar Materno (Honduras), Avondale Neighborhood Housing Services, Arizona Forward, US-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership, and Maricopa County Integrated Health Systems, to name a few.

He was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow in 2000 by Rotary International and was inducted into the Phoenix College Hall of Fame in 2001. Valle del Sol awarded him the Raul Yzaguirre Community Leadership Award in 2014. He is a graduate of Valley Leadership Class XXI. He is a student and devotee of Servant Leadership as defined by Robert Greenleaf. He earned a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Business Administration, both from Arizona State University.

Tony is also a Dad and an avid soccer player, so perhaps some of you might want to challenge him to a game sometime. Or better yet, ask him to join your team.

I am thrilled that Tony is taking over this organization because I know he will take the foundation that you all have helped build to greater heights. The sky is really the limit and I am so proud to have been a part of making the organization all it is today.

Even though I am ready to see where my journey leads, I am also a little sad, so I want to say thank you, once again, to all of you for your continued support. You made me a better leader and made RTVOS a better organization.

No fat lady will be singing, but I will close with one of my favorite quotes from childhood TV. In the words of the incomparable Carol Burnett’s classic show ending – I am so glad we had this time together.

I wish great adventures for you all.

Kelly Phillips Watson

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