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.