2015-2017 Board of Trustees

Patricia Lewis Finnell – Chair

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ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation

Patricia F. Lewis, ACFRE, serves as Sr. Professional-in-Residence at the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. Prior to moving to Arizona, she served in the faculty position of Nonprofit Professional-in-Residence at George Mason University in Virginia and managed the graduate Nonprofit Management Studies program. Ms. Lewis is a past President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) -- formerly known as the National Society of Fund Raising Executives (NSFRE) -- in Alexandria, Virginia. Concurrently, she served as Secretariat to the World Fundraising Council. Ms. Lewis previously served in Seattle, Washington as CEO of the Seattle-King County Council of Camp Fire Boys and Girls and as Director of Development for the Children’s Home Society of Washington State. She has served as a trainer for the Leader-to-Leader Institute (formerly the Drucker Foundation) and as chief operating officer of the National Center for Nonprofit Enterprise. Ms. Lewis has acquired more than thirty-five years professional experience in not-for-profit management, governance and fund raising.

Ms. Lewis’ extensive professional and volunteer service has focused in the areas of professional development, youth causes, mental health and civic work. She has served on numerous not-for-profit boards both as a member and an officer, including Treasurer of the AARP Foundation, and as Chair of the Board for the Alexandria, VA Symphony Orchestra, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, and the Sun Health Foundation. Currently, she serves on the AARP Arizona Executive Council, member of the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteering and the Sun Health Foundation, and as Chair of the MORE Foundation. She has previously served as faculty with the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy’s Fund Raising School and as adjunct faculty with the University of Washington.

Ms. Lewis has lectured throughout the United States and in Australia, England, the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, Israel and the Philippines on not-for-profit governance, fund raising, strategic planning, association management and the strengthening of the NGO sector. She has been published in numerous journals and newspapers on subjects related to philanthropy and the not-for-profit sector. Ms. Lewis has received numerous awards including a 2007 Henry A. Rosso Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Ethical Fund Raising from Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy. Ms. Lewis is a graduate of the University of Washington’s Business School with a degree in Marketing, and has studied at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. She is an Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive (ACFRE).

Joe La Rue – Vice Chair

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Sun Health

As Executive Vice President of Sun Health, Joe La Rue provides strategic oversight to senior living communities as well as real estate and property interests owned by Sun Health. Before joining Sun Health, La Rue practiced law for 16 years in the Sun Cities area, with an emphasis in real estate finance and development. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in business in 1985, he earned his juris doctorate from Arizona State University College of Law in 1988. La Rue is a member of the Maricopa County Transportation Advisory Board, representing Supervisory District 4. He also is a member of the Arizona Town Hall Board of Directors and the WESTMARC Board of Directors. Previously, he served a four-year term on the Peoria City Council from 1997-2001.

Ed Knight


Edwin Knight, Esq., is an investment advisor, estate attorney and nonprofit consultant. His recent projects have involved roles with the Arizona Community Foundation as a Philanthropic Advisor and Managing Director of Affiliates, as well as the Director of the Arizona Endowment Building Institute program. During his career, he has worked with many donors and their advisors to facilitate lifetime and planned charitable giving. He frequently provides training courses on planned giving programs and is a speaker and presenter for nonprofits and their board of directors.

Ed has operated his own law practice in Arizona with a focus on estate planning, as well as an investment advisory firm. Ed also brings accounting experience, having previously worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers, EDS and Honeywell, where he served in auditing and contracting roles.

Knight has a law degree from Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and holds both a bachelor's and master's degree in accounting from Brigham Young University. He is a member of the State Bar of Arizona and licensed as an investment advisor. He has spoken to a variety of groups, such as the Planned Giving Round Table of Arizona, the Financial Planning Association Symposium, Mesa Community College, Flagstaff Community Foundation, Prescott Estate Planning Council, Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the Yuma Community Foundation. He is requested for topics such as: Planned Giving Basics; Endowment Fundamentals; Making the Case for Endowment Support; Training for New Planned Giving Staff; Working with Professional Advisors; Charitable Gift Annuities; Charitable Remainder Trusts; Motivation for Legacy Donors; Planned Giving Workshops; Principles of Asset Protection; and Donor Advised Funds.

Rodney Wacker – Secretary-Treasurer

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Celestial Care

As the owner of Celestial Care for the past five years, Rodney is responsible for the overall operations of the company.  Working with a highly dedicated and professional team, Celestial Care is proud to be recognized as both a “Provider of Choice” and “Employer of Choice” in the home care industry.  Prior to Celestial Care, Rodney was a consultant with Management Action Programs for 18 years.  After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree from the University of Arizona in 1973, Rodney worked in public accounting as a CPA for Coopers & Lybrand and then as a vice president for Arizona Industrial Machinery.  He is a current member and past president of Executives Association of Greater Phoenix and has served on various not-for-profit boards in his career.

Russell Johnson

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Phoenix Herpetological Society

Founder and Current President of the Phoenix Herpetological Society, a non-profit reptile education and conservation group. Russ is a past member of the Arizona Herpetological Association acting in the capacity of relocating snakes from private properties.  Prior to retiring in 1996, Russ was the owner of Johnson Distributorship, Inc dba Johnson Freightlines an interstate trucking company based in Arizona. The company was a common carrier transporting dry goods with terminals in four states, employing 365 people.

He has 43 years experience in maintaining reptiles including venomous and 33 years experience in the handling and management of large pythons, anacondas, boas and various crocodilians. His excellent management and public speaking skills allow him to conduct off site educational and conservation classes for PHS at schools level K-12, Humane Societies, Law Enforcement Agencies, Fire Department and Corporate entities. 

Currently Russ assists PHS curator with on site tours as needed, maintains the crocodilian population and enclosures,  manages and administers the requirements of all venomous snakes and large birds. He is responsible for Media Relations liaison and public information officer for PHS as well as maintaining law enforcement relationships in regards to licensing, evidence (chain of custody), capture and record keeping of all restricted reptiles at PHS all while coordinating, scheduling and implementation of all rescue operations.