Outstanding Philanthopists: Kyla & Roger Thompson
Kyla and Roger Thompson moved to ABQ NM 13 years ago after living in Santa Fe for seven years. Before moving to New Mexico, they lived in Denver CO. Both had their own businesses in Denver. Kyla owned a public relations, marketing and research company, and Roger owned a recording studio and became a professional voice over for TV stations, mainly on the east coast. They raised two sons. Kyla became very active in the Denver community, serving on the Executive Committee of the Greater Denver Chamber of Commerce, where she particularly worked on committees to bring the Colorado Rockies to Denver, and the Denver International Airport. She was on the board of the Downtown Denver Partnership when the 16th Street Mall was created and was awarded Outstanding Volunteer, and her company was awarded the Social Responsibility Award in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by the Downtown Partnership. She also served as an officer of the Boys and Girls Club, the board of the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Technical Assistance Center for Non-Profits, and more than 25 non-profit boards in Denver over 40 years. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Public Relations from her professional association. In NM, she served on the non-profit boards of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Buckaroo Ball. In ABQ, she served on the UNM Foundation Board (she is an UNM alum), the ABQ Museum board and FOG board, Foundation for Open Government.
Kyla is a New Mexico native from Maljamar, NM in Lea County. She was raised on a 50,000 acre ranch named the Taylor Cattle Company. Roger was born and raised in Denver. His father was a physician and his mother was an executive secretary for Honeywell, and while living in Chicago she worked for Dr. Robert Oppenheimer before his work was moved to New Mexico. Kyla and Roger have been married for 38 years, and now live in Los Ranchos, NM. They are both retired. They began raising money for veterans in 2012 because Roger is a Viet Nam war veteran, and they saw a need to focus funding on veterans in New Mexico.
In the six years they have raised money and began programs for New Mexico veterans, they estimate raising more than $500,000. They are committed to continue their work, especially with veterans at CNM. They credit Dorothy and Larry Rainosek as their inspiration as philanthropists.
Outstanding Fundraising Professional: Giuseppe "Joe" Rizza
Giuseppe “Joe” Rizza has been a fundraising professional for more than 35 years, holding senior-level positions in the healthcare, higher education and human services fields. He has been a Certified Fund Raising Executive since 1987.
Joe is President of Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation and responsible for all fundraising and volunteer services for Presbyterian Healthcare Services. He is credited with bringing a professional, “best practices” fundraising approach to Presbyterian, including an emphasis on major and planned gifts, grateful patient fundraising, increased Board engagement, and heightened donor stewardship.
Previously, Joe served as Vice President-Campaigns for Beaumont Health in Southeast Michigan. He worked in Chief Development Officer positions for Michigan-based Walsh College, an independent business school, and Judson Center, a human service agency for disadvantaged children and adults. He began his career as Director of Annual Funds for University of Detroit Mercy, Michigan’s oldest and largest Catholic university. In these roles, he executed annual, capital and endowment campaigns, raising hundreds of millions of dollars.
Throughout his career, Joe has been dedicated to his profession. He is a past president and director of the AFP Greater Detroit Chapter and was a member of committees and task forces for CFRE International. He has also written articles about fundraising, which have been published in AFP’s magazine, Advancing Philanthropy.
Joe has equally been active with AFP New Mexico, serving on the Board, advocating for CFRE educational resources for members, volunteering as a formal mentor to junior fundraisers, and presenting at AFP programs. Joe earned a Bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
He is married to MaryAnne, his wife of 39 years, and has two adult children, Alexandra and Michael.
Outstanding Corporation: Griffin & Associates
Griffin & Associates, a woman-owned, New Mexico-based corporation, was established in January 1990 to provide organizations with results-producing marketing, advertising and public relations services. We are a diverse group of marketing professionals whose expertise encompasses all marketing communications disciplines including graphic design, advertising, public relations, special events, market research and training. It is this combination of marketing skills that has us produce the kinds of results for which we are known.
As a leading communications agency, Griffin & Associates is committed to providing the highest level of personalized service to our clients. We focus on crafting unique communications that advance the awareness of our clients’ services, programs, products and businesses. Griffin & Associates is dedicated to proactive leadership, devising solutions to challenges and to consistently assessing the needs and objectives of our clients. We never subscribe to cookie cutter solutions.
Our vision statement summarizes our philosophy:
We are an extraordinary communications, public relations and advertising team that produces unparalleled results. Our dynamic, interactive, synergistic style allows us to stay connected to each other and to our clients. We infuse energy and vitality into our clients’ projects to produce measurable results that make a difference. We view our clients as partners and develop strategies that benefit the community and influence the world. We inspire boundless possibilities. We turn dreams into reality. We are consistently creative, constantly learning, and we always have fun.
Outstanding Youth - High School: Mia del Rosario & Issa Wilks, Women's Empowerment League, Bosque School
The Women’s Empowerment League (WEL) at Bosque School is a student-led service learning group that works to improve issues women face within the community.
WEL co-leaders Mia del Rosario and Issa Wilks learned that many women experiencing homelessness and poverty have difficulty obtaining feminine hygiene products -- they can’t be bought with SNAP or food stamp benefits. Tampons and pads are some of the most requested items at food pantries and homeless shelters. To help address this issue, WEL held a school-wide product drive for tampons, pads, and disposable wipes for low-income and refugee young women at the School on Wheels and Highland High School.
Knowing that the subject of menstruation could be an uncomfortable one, they arranged for Mr. Jim Daly, Head of Upper School, to carry boxes of pads and tampons into morning meeting to demonstrate that men shouldn’t be embarrassed shopping for these products or bringing them to school. That got a good laugh, but surprisingly the entire audience (approximately 300 9th-12th graders and teachers) demonstrated remarkable respect and maturity during the presentation. Issa and Mia repeated the presentation for the middle school students (approximately 240 6th-8th graders and teachers) with another beloved male teacher showing the boys it was cool to participate.
As a result of the on-campus awareness-raising campaign, Mia, Issa, and WEL succeeded in educating the Bosque School community about how menstrual hygiene is fundamental to the dignity and well-being of women and girls, and illuminated the particular challenges faced by at-risk females.
The donation response was overwhelming as well! In its first year, the Hygiene Drive collected more than $1,000 worth of items including 255 boxes of pantiliners, 36 boxes of disposable wipes, 45 boxes of tampons, a bag of loose tampons, 29 boxes of pads, and a bag of loose pads.
Mia del Rosario was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is currently a senior at the Bosque School. In addition to her work with the school's service learning program, she is also involved in other extracurriculars, including the school magazine and yearbook. In college, she would like to study international communications and relations or linguistics.
Issa Wilks grew up in Corrales, New Mexico, along with her two older sisters. She is currently a senior at Bosque School where she plays volleyball, and co-led The Women's Empowerment League. Issa is planning on attending college for political science or international relations.
Outstanding Foundation: Museum of New Mexico Foundation
The Museum of New Mexico Foundation supports the Museum of New Mexico system through fund development for exhibitions and education programs, financial management, retail, licensing and advocacy.
The Foundation serves these New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs institutions: Museum of Indian Art & Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology, Museum of International Folk Art, NM History Museum & Palace of the Governors, NM Museum of Art, NM Historic Sites and Office of Archaeological Studies.
The Museum of New Mexico Foundation was founded in 1962 by Thomas B. Catron III as a vehicle for providing private support for the four state museums in Santa Fe. The establishment of the private, nonprofit Foundation launched a robust private-public partnership between the Foundation and the State of New Mexico that continues today. While the State of New Mexico funds building operations and staff salaries, “The Foundation provides a way for private funds to be directed to three vital areas of cultural support: education, collections and exhibitions,” says Catron.
The Foundation’s mission has expanded beyond the four state museums in Santa Fe to include support for six histroic sites and two historic properties statewide and the Office of Archaeological Studies. Today, thousands of generous members and donors contribute to all of our cultural institutions through membership, designated gifts and more. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $90 million in total giving from 25,000 donors and more than 15,000 members. Our role and impact in supporting one of the country’s largest state-run museum systems remains vital to the advancement of the art, history and culture of New Mexico and the world.
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser - Northern New Mexico: Sonya Priestly
Sonya Priestly is an enthusiastic supporter and fundraiser for causes she champions. Often, this support is grounded in her belief that education is a cure for many of society’s problems. She currently serves on the boards of Saranam, Little Flower Day Care, and United Way of Central New Mexico – where she has been selected to Chair the 2019 United Way of Central New Mexico campaign.
Sonya also served as the chairperson for the 500 for $500 Campaign for Saranam, a housing and education program for homeless families in Albuquerque. She and her team raised $250,000 in just five months to help serve the families of Saranam – again promoting education as a foundation for progress.
Sonya received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Business and earned her CPA licensure in 1988. She and her husband Art Gardenswartz own and manage several commercial properties.
When Sonya is not working for her favorite causes, she enjoys spending time – and reading, of course – with her grandchildren. She is an avid gardener, seamstress, and outdoors adventurer. Sonya says “I consider my education one of the greatest and most important blessings I’ve received in my life.”
Oustanding Volunteer Fundraiser - Southern New Mexico: Ammu Devasthali
Ammu Devasthali is a longtime resident of Las Cruces. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Russian Language from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India and a Master’s and PhD in Soviet Literature from Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia. She is an alumna of NMSU having earned two Master’s degrees in Fine Arts from New Mexico State University. While raising her two children in Las Cruces she gained a keen appreciation for the warmth and generosity of the people in her community. She also realized that there was a great need for private individuals to volunteer their time, effort and resources to help others in need. A desire to give back to the community that had welcomed, nurtured and supported her family led to a life of community service.
Ammu has been very involved with raising funds for the Arts at NMSU specifically, for the construction of the ASNMSU Center for the Arts on campus and the new Art Department currently under construction at NMSU.
Ammu has been associated with the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico for over 14 years. During this time she has served as Secretary of the board as well as President. She has chaired various committees during her tenure but her heart’s work lies with a Scholarship fund called Springboard whose purpose is to help improve the lives of women in southern New Mexico through scholarships that provide opportunities for advanced education.
Ammu is an artist who likes to paint and design jewelry when time permits.