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December 12, 2013

Host: José Cárdenas

Friendly House New President and CEO

  |   Video
  • Friendly House announced Mark Mazòn as the new president and CEO of the social services organization. Mark Mazòn talks about his plans to continue Friendly House's mission of helping Arizona families.
  • Mark Mazòn - President and CEO, Friendly House
Category: Community   |   Keywords: community, culture, social services, Arizona, families,

View Transcript
José Cárdenas: Friendly House is one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in state of Arizona. It's a social services and education organization. The agency offers services such as work force development, adult education, home care for seniors and a charter elementary school. The organization just announced the appointment of a new president and chief executive officer, Mark Mazòn, and he joins us tonight.

Mark Mazòn: I'm really excited. It was really quite a process. A competitive process, it was a national serach. I was very fortunate to be selected for this great opportunity.
José Cárdenas: And they combed through a bunch of candidates over a fourth month period.
Mark Mazòn: I give credit to the board of directors. They really wanted to do a thorough process and make it challenging for the candidates. I was up to the task. I wanted the job badly. I competed for it, I prepared and I was very fortunate to be selected because I know there were some outstanding candidates.

José Cárdenas: You say you wanted it badly. It's not one you needed. You have a long, illustrious career with the city of Phoenix for the last 14, 15 years, years you have been managing the municipal court system.

José Cárdenas: Since 1999. I started with the city in 1988, and my career took off as an assistant in the city manager's office where I had the chance to work with almost 27 departments throughout those five years. I had a chance to work closely with the city manager, the deputy city managers. I really got a good handle on what was going on in the Phoenix community. After that I moved on as a deputy director of human services for about four years prettier going to the court where I have been since 1999.

José Cárdenas: We're talking about managing that $30 million budget.

Mark Mazòn: Yes, it's a $30 million budget. We have a base of people that come into the court, all different backgrounds. We don't discriminate. Really, our charge is to ensure they are treated fairly, that when they go before a judge that everything -- try to make them comfortable. It's part of our -- just part of our society. The court system. As an administrator there I want to make sure that we fund our courtrooms properly, that judges are funded properly, that we have enough clerks, and that we have a good juror center. It's quite an organization.

José Cárdenas: And in many ways what you're going to be doing is similar. You'll be dealing with people, providing services, big budget. I want to talk about that in a moment. First your motivation for wanting this job. You're no stranger to the nonprofit world. You've been a volunteer, served on a number of boards in this same area. Tell us about that and then what made you decide you wanted to do something more than be a volunteer.

Mark Mazòn: My motivation, I think it goes back to my interest -- back to when I was a young boy. Friendly House in particular has played a tremendous role in my family background for my grandparents who lived down the street, they received services. My mother, who worked many years fort state in job development, she was stationed out of Friendly House. Really because of the family ties, several of us were put to work as volunteers. My sisters, my brother, my cousins, my aunt and uncles worked there. Growing up, I had this thing about just looking down south first avenue where Friendly House was at. I always kept an eye on that organization as I grew professionally, I volunteered for different organizations.

José Cárdenas: And more recently you chaired the board of via Del Sol.

Mark Mazòn: Right down the street from Friendly House. I chaired that board for eight consecutive years and I got to see a lot of change. I would say that is the beginning of where it started coming together. I saw the impact we had on individuals and families. I knew very well Friendly House was doing the same thing.

José Cárdenas: Your interest in nonprofits also extends to the arts.

Mark Mazòn: Absolutely. When I got off the board of via Del Sol as chairman of the board I wanted to explore other opportunities, to really enrich my knowledge on the whole process, so I got involved with the Arizona theater company and I really got to see a different side of the nonprofit world. It wasn't necessarily a social service organization, but it still was trying to appeal to a diverse base of individuals. I really enjoyed it. That was a great learning experience and I met some tremendous mentors who grew the late Jack Pfister took me under his wing and taught me a lot.

José Cárdenas: Basically the legendary former manager of Salt River Project.

José Cárdenas: Absolutely. I learned so much from him.

José Cárdenas: Let's talk a little bit about the organization you're about to take the reins of in January. Its history and maybe some of the challenges you'll be facing. First, it is one of the oldest, what, 1920?

Mark Mazòn: Right, 1920.

José Cárdenas: One of the oldest social service organizations, nonprofits, in the valley. Tell us a little about that history and the kinds of things that the organization does.

Mark Mazòn: You mentioned some of the key things. We have Academia Del Pueblo, a charter school that has about 380 students from early childhood to 8th grad. We have work force development program where we really help people prepare themselves for getting jobs. We have immigration, which is very bid. That's a big topic right now. We want to make sure that that's really the history of it right there.

José Cárdenas: That's part of the roots of the organization.

Mark Mazòn: Right, citizenship. When I come across many people because in pursuit of this job, you know, I did serve on the board prior to that too, and on program committees, I always wanted to talk to people. That was part of my style, to reach out and get a feel for what they knew of Friendly House, some of their stories or whatever. I learned that many of the individuals I talked to Friendly House touched their world through their grandparents getting citizenship or going once upon a time their parents getting jobs.

José Cárdenas: When we're talking about citizenship and immigration services we're not talking simply about people from Mexico or Latin America. When it started it was pretty diverse group of immigrants that it served.

Mark Mazòn: Absolutely. It's a diverse group. When you take a tour, if you were to take a tour of Friendly House you still see that diversity going on as we speak. It's very appealing. It really, really motivates me and moves me to go out and do good things for these individuals seeking services.

José Cárdenas: Give us a sense of the size of the organization and how many people you will have working.

Mark Mazòn: There's approximately when you combine the charter school with the rest of the organization there's around 120 individuals working for Friendly House. We get our funding from different sources. The charter school through the formula funding, then we have different contracts whether it be the city of Phoenix and the work force development and immigration -- there's the GED program. We have an array of funding. Of course we go out and seek normal sponsorships.

José Cárdenas: I assume you've had to struggle as many organization versus with funding cuts.

Mark Mazòn: As you well know, you have been involved; funding fluctuates depending on the economic climate. What makes it really a great story is thinking back how Friendly House began back in 1920. It's amazing to think how they have survived during all types of economic conditions. And the organization is still standing and serving people.

José Cárdenas: And it's a great organization, very proud history. You had one predecessor before your most immediate one legendary for a long time. What's the organization going to look like under Mark Mazòn?

Mark Mazòn: I tell you, I have been working closely with the board. Under Mark Mazòn I want to grow the number of clients that we serve and the growth we want to expand, we want to -- when you think about it, Jose, we are in the sixth largest city in the United States, fourth largest County in the United States. Certainly there's enough blue sky for everyone and I plan to take advantage of that working closely with the board and with our employees to try to reach out to that network that exists for Friendly House so that we can provide, touching the lives of individuals and families throughout this County and the like. The other thing that I want to do is opening doors to people and welcoming back the history of that. Just this past Sunday I was at a Christmas event, and I got to spend time with former board members on Friendly House. Senora Trujillo, people who knew the history of Friendly House and I don’t want that opportunity to escape.

José Cárdenas: You have some ambitious plans to grow it. It's a big job, an important organization. We wish you the best of luck. Thanks for joining us on Horizonte.

Mark Mazòn: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me on.

Sounds of Cultura: “Friends of Mexican Art celebrate 50 Years of Collecting and Giving”

  |   Video
  • “Friends of Mexican Art celebrate 50 Years of Collecting and Giving” highlights more than 60 works of art on display at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Terminal 4. The exhibition is a collaborative effort between the Phoenix Airport Museum and The Friends of Mexican Art (FOMA), a local nonprofit that focuses on collecting pieces by Mexican artists. Phoenix Airport Museum curator Lennée Eller and FOMA member Teresa FitzRandolph talk about the exhibition.
  • Lennée Eller - Curator, Phoenix Airport Museum
  • Teresa FitzRandolph - FOMA member
Category: Sounds of Cultura   |   Keywords: art, airport, mexican art,

View Transcript
José Cárdenas: The next time you're at terminal four at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport you may notice a unique display of Mexican art. Friends of Mexican art celebrate 50 years of collecting and giving is a collaborative exhibition between the Phoenix airport museum and the friends of Mexican art known as FOMA, a local nonprofit organization comprised of people who collect, donate, and promote art by Mexican artists. Here with me tonight is Lennée Eller and Teresa FitzRandolph. Let's start with one of the cases that we have. As I understand there are two cases and a gallery for people to see. We have some pictures to put up on the screen now. This is one of the cases people can go and see. I want to talk about that big piece in the middle, which is also on the brochures. Tell us about that.
Lennée Eller: That wonderful piece is from -- a special town, and there's a very special artist, this is the artist who made this piece, Delfino Sanchez.
José Cárdenas: This is ceramic?

Lennée Eller: It's all ceramic. He's the one that invented this style. Now has made a name -- pottery is now that's what people go to buy there. He's the one who originally made this ceramics there in the area and developed that style. It became very popular with American collectors. So they would travel to very remote region and buy this ceramic. You know him well.

José Cárdenas: We have two cases of folk art there. We have some pictures of the other case. This is the other one, one side of it, and then we have a picture of the other side, a particular piece we want to talk about right in the middle. That's the tree of life.

Lennée Eller: Yes, it is. These two cases are real special. The first case --

José Cárdenas: We have a closeup of that particular piece. There it is.

Lennée Eller: It is FOMA. The FOMA is a private collection. This group of work is from the Heard Museum. For the ma members purchased this collection for the actual Heard Museum in 1979. The idea was to have as much ceramic from all different states and regions of Mexico, so they have this wonderful collection of over 400 pieces of art in this collection. We only had a small sampling of it but this piece is the tree of like, known for the tree of life. Over the years it's developed more and more. There are so many families that specialize in that region in particular. That particular piece is --

José Cárdenas: It's gorgeous.

Lennée Eller: It’s wonderful piece.

José Cárdenas: Teresa, you're a long time member of FOMA.

Teresa FitzRandolph: Yes.

José Cárdenas: Tell us about the organization and then we'll talk about how it came to be these pieces were donated for exhibition purposes.

Teresa FitzRandolph: Sure. It was started by Sol Levy. She was the first president in 1963. They got together with 30 people and they put up a show with about 40 paintings. It was such a success that 30 people got together and organized themselves as friends of Mexican art.

José Cárdenas: Ever since they have been doing things to buy pieces for the Phoenix art museum and we just heard --

Teresa FitzRandolph: Their aim is really to learn more about the Mexican culture, to bring it to the states, to promote understanding and knowledge about the culture of Mexico and they do that through exhibits, through acquisitions for not only the Phoenix museum, the Heard Museum and the ASU art museum.

José Cárdenas: As we discussed you are from Mexico yourself.

Teresa FitzRandolph: Sure.

José Cárdenas: I can understand your passion for Mexican art, but what motivates people born and raised in the United States? Why this passion for Mexican art?

Teresa FitzRandolph: They get to understand more their neighbor to the south. It brings more understanding of the culture of our neighbors. It brings more friendship. It brings more friendship and trade between Arizona and the country of Mexico.

José Cárdenas: So there's a very valuable social, interrelationship?

Teresa FitzRandolph: Not only social but also very beneficial because we learn about who our neighbors are. Our neighbors come to us for entertainment, shopping, trade. In fact another person who was very involved in the forming of FOMA was Dr. Francisco from the American institute for foreign trade.

José Cárdenas: So it has many, many ways in which it touches the people in the valley. I want to talk about some of the specific things that the organization does, but going back to the art, Lennée, there's a gallery at the airport.

Lennée Eller: Yes.

José Cárdenas: We have some fine art in there. We have artists such as --

Lennée Eller: The gallery is in terminal 4. Make sure everybody finds it. Terminal 4, level 3. This gallery is a real key pin for a lot of people when they visit the airport. They see really wonderful things. In this particular exhibition the three major artists --

José Cárdenas: They called them the big three.

Lennée Eller: As well as Diego Rivera. We don’t have Diego Rivera, but we have the other two showing in the exhibition. The second one is the three generations, an American also known as La Familia.

José Cárdenas: And this is the Orozco.

Lennée Eller: This exhibit shows the diversity and the strength of work from the historical perspective as well as contemporary.

José Cárdenas: When you talk about diversity you really mean diversity. This next piece, Luis Cuerva, he was a contemporary of the big three, but he was a rebel.

Lennée Eller: Very much so. He was called the bad boy of the Mexican artists. He just wanted to rebel against what he called the propaganda machine of the muralists. This is a portrait of a very famous art critic and lawyer and writer of that region, so he would do more -- he just caused a lot of trouble whenever possible, so he set the standards for rebelling against traditional muralist movement.

José Cárdenas: We have some other pieces, artists who, one of whom at least is no longer alive, but not really contemporaries of the big three but in between. Many people may recognize this.

Lennée Eller: What's interesting, they think it is tame. Oh, it's just a beautiful picture of a beautiful woman because he did a lot of contemporary women. What's important to know, these are the women from Oaxaca, known to be very good business women, very strong in spirit and opinion. So, he loved those women and he painted them and drew them and made sculptures of them all the time.

José Cárdenas: I think a lot of Arizonans would look at that and think of R.C. Gorman. R.C. Gorman studied with him.

Lennée Eller: R.C. Gorman copied him.

José Cárdenas: Both. Both. We have an artist of about the same era.

Lennée Eller: Pedro Frederberg --

José Cárdenas: A good Mexican name.

Lennée Eller: Yes. He also wanted to be one of those -- sort of an avant-garde artist. He's well known for the chair hand. It's a chair that you sit in that's a hand. He was more of a graphic artist as well. So you can see that in his work.

José Cárdenas: Then we have what you might call the more contemporary artists represented. We have several pictures here.

Lennée Eller: They are , 39, 40 years old. This one is Fernando -- sorry. ANDRIOSSI. He's more of a magic realism artist. He comes from that genre. He's doing work that's more personal and more contemporary.

José Cárdenas: The next one is kind of a throw-back to the political art around the time of the Mexican revolution, but it's a contemporary artist.

Lennée Eller: Very contemporary subject matter. This is Rodriguez. The subjects are all subject matters of today. He's also published several books of his own child, telling stories as well. So it's of that old type of tradition of the wood cuts the printers of the time, but in a very contemporary way.

José Cárdenas: There are some magnificent pieces that friends of Mexican art have acquired, donated or lent for exhibition. Tell us more about the organization. How does it rate? -- operate? How does it raise funds?

Teresa FitzRandolph: Yes. One of the aims was to donate sufficient works of art of great quality to the Phoenix art museums to establish the first gallery of Mexican art in this side of the Mississippi. They accomplish that very well. They do that by fund-raisings of the Mexican Mercado in the Hacienda tour done every year. In addition to that, every month they have lectures or seminars or visits by experts, Mexican art.

José Cárdenas: We put the website on the screen a moment ago. I assume people can go and get more information about the organization.

Teresa FitzRandolph: I encourage everyone to look us up. Contact us. Please attend some of our programs. They are very interesting, very well researched and they have very good quality of art for us to see or to donate or culture programs for us to learn.

José Cárdenas: It's a great organization. We only have about a minute left. Tell us about the airport exhibitions and how long is this particular exhibition going to be up.

Lennée Eller: This one would be up -- the gallery will be up edge February 23, and the caseless be up until March 16. It's a great time to come to the airport a little early, check out the culture when you're there. You can get more information on our website at skyharbor.com.

José Cárdenas: People can enjoy this magnificent art. Thank you so much for joining us on Horizonte. This is a real treat.