Michael T. Hughes has been the CEO of A New Leaf for the last 40 years. Hughes is well recognized as a leader in the nonprofit sector and has received numerous awards for community service including: Mesa Man of the Year, Kiwanis Club Legion of Honor Award and Mesa Arts Academy Outstanding Board Member.
A New Leaf’s mission of Helping Families… Changing Lives is close to Hughes’ heart and he is a living example of the agency’s philosophy: sincerity, compassion and clarity of purpose.
In his role as CEO of A New Leaf, Hughes is responsible for implementing the strategic goals and objectives of the organization, enabling the Board of Directors to fulfill its governance function, and to give direction and leadership to further the agency vision and mission. Hughes oversees the overall business and program management of the $25 million, 350 employees, 20+ program nonprofit agency.
Under Hughes’ leadership, A New Leaf has also assumed operations of several non‐profits through mergers in order to preserve essential services to the community. Some include: La Mesita Family Homeless Shelter, Faith House Domestic Violence Shelter, West Valley Social Services, Mesa Community Action Network and East Valley Men’s Center, Mentor E Lab and most recently A & A Cottages. A New Leaf Foundation successfully has managed social enterprises for many years. Examples are Bingo, RV Storage, a Café, 3 Thrift Stores and Property Rentals that all support the programs at A New Leaf.
Hughes has a Master's Degree in Education from Nova University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Arizona State University. He has served on the Mesa Public Schools Board since 1994. Hughes also serves on the Board of Directors of Mesa United Way, Mesa Arts Academy, Family Life Center, Magellan Governance Board, Arizona School Boards Association and ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation.
Tell us about an experience that got you interested in the sector.
I have always wanted to help those who were less fortunate. When I became involved in education, I saw firsthand the difficult behaviors among troubled kids. Looking deeper, I realized these often stemmed from parental unemployment, poverty, and even abuse, and I wanted to make a difference.
What advice would you give to a leader trying to make a difference in their community?
Stay true to your commitment – don’t become sidetracked or distracted from your goals. It takes time and you may get knocked down, but keep being persistent.