PhilanthropyMatters focuses on the "who, how and what" of philanthropy. This programming accentuates the ASU Lodestar Center’s role as a regional, national and global knowledge leader in nonprofit and philanthropic themes. Learn about past events.

October 2018

PhilanthropyMatters: Women Driving Bold Philanthropy

From Passenger to Driver: Women Driving Bold Philanthropy

Our fifth PhilanthropyMatters program was an interactive presentation on how women are accelerating social impact through philanthropy.

October 23, 2018 | Cattle Track Arts Compound, Scottsdale, AZ


Women have always been philanthropic, giving of time, talent and treasure throughout American history. But their stories have not always been part of the narrative. That is changing rapidly.

Today, because so many women are stepping fully into their philanthropic leadership, women are driving philanthropy in unprecedented ways. The momentum around women’s philanthropy is building. To accelerate the momentum, a growing body of research affirms that gender matters in philanthropy across the life-cycle. The research, combined with women’s own actions, redefines who is a philanthropist.

Debra MeschPresentation: Debra Mesch on women's giving

Debra Mesch, an international expert from Indiana University, gave a presentation about the latest research on the unique power of women's giving.

Mesch is the former director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She holds the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Endowed Chair in Women’s Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.


Three women shared their personal stories of philanthropy during a panel conversation.

Click their names to learn more about each panelist.

Juanita Francis

Juanita F. Francis

Juanita F. Francis has extensive background and interest in healthcare and education. She is a licensed RN and holds an MBA in healthcare management. Francis was a women’s health nurse in Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts before she moved to Arizona in 1998. She has worked for the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Hispanic Center of Excellence and Phoenix Children’s Hospital before she retired to become a full-time volunteer.

Beyond her professional career, she has a long history of philanthropic and community involvement. President of the F2 Family Foundation, she currently serves on the boards of the University of Illinois Foundation, the Arizona State University Foundation and Enterprise Partners, Planned Parenthood Arizona and is Chair of the Board for Maricopa Health Foundation. She and her husband Philip, retired executive chairman of PetSmart, have four children and eight grandchildren and a dog called Scruggs.

Jackie Norton

Jackie Norton

Jackie Norton, as President and CEO of the Rodel Foundation, promotes the vision and develops the strategies for improving Arizona’s public education system. Rodel is currently transitioning from a program-based improvement model to one based on public policy advocacy. To promote the systemic change necessary to improve Arizona’s entire K-12 system, Rodel is collaborating with the Arizona Community Foundation and other organizations who share its vision.

Prior to joining the Rodel Foundation, Norton served as vice president of the Arizona University Foundation. She is a lawyer by profession and was a partner in the Phoenix law firm Gallagher & Kennedy. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and her law degree from ASU. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a number of education-related organizations.

Cindy Watts

Cindy Watts

Cindy Watts is co-founder, with her husband, Mike, of Sunstate Equipment, a highly successful equipment rental company that began in Arizona in 1977 and has expanded to ten other states. In October 2018, the Watts made a $30 million gift to ASU's public-service college, which was renamed the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. They have also made leadership gifts to the Maryvale YMCA and endowed the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety at ASU.

The Watts have been engaged with the university since 1988 and are lifetime members of the ASU President's Club. In October 2015, they made a transformative investment to name the Watts Center for Academic Excellence and Championship Life, an initiative within Sun Devil Athletics. In addition to these ASU commitments, Cindy also has served as co-chair of the Women & Philanthropy program at the ASU Foundation for A New American University and currently serves as vice-chair of the Trustees of ASU, an advisory body for the university and ASU President Michael M. Crow. In February 2018, the ASU Alumni Association honored Mike and Cindy Watts as Philanthropists of the Year at its annual Founders’ Day event.

Amy GibbonsModerator:  Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons has been involved with the nonprofit and sports community for over 40 years. After 18 years, she recently retired as the President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix. Prior to serving with the Clubs, she held leadership positions with the Southern California Tennis Association, LA84 Foundation, the Southern California Municipal Athletic Federation, Super Bowl XXX and the YWCA of Maricopa County. She currently serves on the Leadership Council of the ASU Lodestar Center.

Presented in collaboration with:

IUPUI Women's Philanthropy Institute and PhilanthropyMatters

Event partners:

Women Driving Bold Philanthropy partner logos

Previous Events

Rusty Stahl: Why Everyone Should Invest in America’s Nonprofit Workforce: March 2018

Rusty Stahl, the founder, president and CEO of Fund the People, delivered the keynote at the 19th Annual Forum on Nonprofit Effectiveness in Tucson, Arizona. His thesis: Our communities, environment and economy all benefit when nonprofit leaders have the support to not just survive, but to thrive, and investing in the nonprofit workforce is the best thing we can do to increase performance and impact across the social sector. It is also a matter of ensuring social justice within the very organizations that work for social justice out in the world, Stahl argued. The talk was presented in partnership with the ASU Lodestar Center's PhilanthropyMatters programming.

Impact Through Philanthropy: Feb. 2018

On Feb. 8, 2018, at the ASU Beus Center for Law and Society, more than 70 attendees learned about a new research study by ASU that explores the “Social Return on Investment” (SROI) of nonprofits in Arizona. This research breaks down the tangible results produced by nonprofits into the things we care about -- like healthier communities, more educated populations, and sustainable environments -- and shows how these outcomes contribute to vital and measurable community benefits like civic engagement and job development. Speakers and panel members included Dr. Anthony Evans, Senior Research Fellow, L. William Seidman Research Institute, WP Carey School of Business; Robert F. Ashcraft, Ph.D., Executive Director, ASU Lodestar Center; Kristi Tate, Senior Advisor, Civic & Community Engagement Initiatives, Center for the Future of Arizona; and Dr. Raquel Gutierrez, Director of Strategic Learning & Practice, Vitalyst Health Foundation.

Achieving High Impact Philanthropy: Nov. 2017

Nearly 75 community members and nonprofit sector leaders joined the ASU Lodestar Center for the second event in our PhilanthropyMatters Speaker Series, "Achieving High Impact Philanthropy," on Nov. 2, 2017 at the Arizona Community Foundation. The evening featured a keynote presentation by Katherina Rosqueta, the Founding Executive Director for the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania. Kat Rosqueta shared key insights culminating from 10 years of research at the prestigious center she founded. The evening also featured a panel conversation between Kat Rosqueta, Terri Wogan Calderon, the Executive Director and Partner of Social Venture Partners Arizona (SVPAZ) and Jacky Alling, the Chief Philanthropy Officer of the Arizona Community Foundation. The panel was moderated by Robert Ashcraft, Ph.D., the Executive Director of the ASU Lodestar Center.

U.S.-Mexico Philanthropy: Expectations and Opportunities for 2017: Jan. 2017

The first event was held January 12, 2017 in partnership with the U.S. Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership and the Arizona Community Foundation, Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, Chicanos por la Causa and the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. The event explored the challenges and opportunities for collaboration amongst donors and nonprofits in the border region. The event featured José Antonio Aguayo, Deputy Consul, Consulate General of Mexico in Phoenix; Dr. Robert Ashcraft, Executive Director, ASU Lodestar Center and Board Chair, U.S.-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership; Claudia Jasso-Stevens, Board Member, Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, Arizona; Hon. Amanda Aguirre, Former State Senator and President, Regional Center for Border Health, Arizona; Lucila Murguia de Arronte, Founder, Fundación Integra / Executive Director, Junta de Asistencia Privada, Chihuahua; Francisco Fernandez Jaramillo, Board Chair, Fundación del Empresariado Sonorense, Sonora; Enrique Díaz Rivera, Board Member, Fundación Tichi Muñoz, Sonora; and Lisa Urias, Board Member, Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona.

Programmatic Overview

PhilanthropyMatters was developed to continue advancing the Center’s Philanthropy portfolio. This programming accentuates the ASU Lodestar Center’s role as a regional, national and global knowledge leader in nonprofit and philanthropic themes, building on its growing reputation as the “go to” resource for those seeking understanding about philanthropy and its effective practice.

1 | Philanthropy Forums and Summits

The Center hosts convenings on topics of great interest to the philanthropic sector. These events range in size from intimate salon gatherings to large-scale events. Speaker are nationally- or internationally-renowned and will draw attendees from across the field of philanthropy. The Center also partners with various other stakeholders to create leading-edge programming and promote dialogue on contemporary topics that demand discussion by those in the field.

2 | Philanthropic Research

The ASU Lodestar Center fills a unique research niche as a philanthropic center located in the southwestern United States. The ASU Lodestar Center is developing signature research projects in conjunction with other university partners.

For more information about PhilanthropyMatters, please contact Jill Watts, Director of Capacity Building Initiatives, at 602-496-0189 or by email at

Robert Ashcraft, executive director of the ASU Lodestar Center, leads a discussion at a Philanthropy Matters event.

Dr. Robert Ashcraft, Executive Director of the ASU Lodestar Center and Board Chair of the U.S.-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership, introduces the panelists at the January 12, 2017 event "U.S.-Mexico Philanthropy: Expectations and Opportunities for 2017."

Philanthropy Matters diagram

PhilanthropyMatters focuses on the "who, how, and what" of philanthropy. Click on the thumbnail image above to view a PDF diagram of how these elements are handled in this program.


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