Nonprofit executive and Arizona native to lead Arizona Community Foundation

Anna Maria Chávez, announced as president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation on Dec. 5, 2022.
Anna Maria Chávez, announced as president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation on Dec. 5, 2022.

Anna Maria Chávez, an Eloy native with extensive philanthropic experience who previously led the Girl Scouts of the USA and National Council on Aging, has been named the new president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation.

Chávez will succeed Steve Seleznow, who is leaving after leading the philanthropic group for 13 years, helping to build its base of trust and endowment assets to near $1.4 billion today from less than $500 million in 2010.

She will assume the top post of the Phoenix-based foundation in February.

Chávez is an attorney, advocate for undeserved groups and inspirational speaker/writer. She also has government ties, having served in various roles in President Bill Clinton’s administration and those of former Arizona governors Jane Hull and Janet Napolitano.

Most recently, she was the inaugural chief impact officer for Encantos, an education technology company.

In a prepared statement, Chávez said she is honored to serve as the next president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation, noting its strong position and praising the organization’s staff, donors and partners.

The foundation acts as a bridge between donors and other nonprofit organizations and distributed nearly $115 million in grants, loans and scholarships last year.

“I look forward to working with them and the many Arizonans who generously support the state’s greatest needs,” she said.

The Arizona Republic and the Arizona Community Foundation have a long history as partners on community initiatives, including the annual Season for Sharing campaign, a COVID-19 emergency relief fund and a push to support Black entrepreneurs.

The two groups, along with ASU's Morrison Institute of Public Policy, award the New Arizona Prize, which in 2023 will give $100,000 each to three groups developing solutions to complex issues in their community.

In 2020, the Foundation made a three-year commitment to support The Republic's mission to dig into affordable housing issues ― a "logical addition" to the Foundation's ongoing work in the area, Seleznow said at the time. The philanthropic journalism grant was preceded by a 2016 grant that supported more than three years of coverage of Arizona's child welfare issues.

Extensive nonprofit experience

Chávez led the Girls Scouts as CEO from 2011 to 2016, where she was cited by Fortune magazine for working to revitalize the nonprofit’s brand.

The next year, she joined the National Council on Aging, where she ultimately served as the group’s interim president and CEO. Chávez later became executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association, followed by her service with Encantos, when the group was named one of the 100 top startups by Business Insider.

“Anna Maria brings her expertise and experience paired with a passion for ACF’s work, making her a uniquely qualified leader to guide ACF in improving the quality of life for Arizonans,” said Leezie Kim, chair of the foundation’s CEO search committee.

Seleznow praised Chávez’s selection. “The senior leadership team in place will continue to meet the needs of the donors and community across the great state of Arizona,” he said.

Awards and recognition

Chávez has received numerous awards and been recognized by a variety of groups. She was named one of the World’s 50 over 50 Leaders by Forbes, was recognized with the Alumnae Achievement Award from Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, was named one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune and received the Medallion of Excellence Award in Education, Science, Medicine or Civil Rights from the U.S. Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

Chávez, who is Mexican American, grew up in Eloy, in Pinal County. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a juris doctorate and honorary doctor of law designation from the University of Arizona. She and her husband, Rob, will relocate to Arizona. Their son, Michael, attends the University of Arizona.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Anna Maria Chávez to lead Arizona Community Foundation