Wanda Moore

2021 Greater Tucson Leadership Tucson Founders Award

By Mary Minor Davis

When Wanda Moore’s husband, Jim, told her a designer was coming to look at their kitchen, she was sure he intended to present her with a new kitchen for their 49th wedding anniversary.

The morning before the appointment, she got up early and cleaned all the appliances, polished the sink, cleaned the glass stove top, straightened all the items in her cabinets, and refreshed all three bathrooms before showering and donning a casual outfit.

“My husband said to me, ‘You are very casual,’” Moore said. “I thought that was a very strange thing to say, but I was wearing an outfit I would not wear in public or to greet guests. He didn’t know how to tell me I’d be happier if I changed!” 

When the doorbell rang, the designer she was expecting turned out to be the Greater Tucson Leadership staff; Katie Maass, director of communications and public education at the University of Arizona’s Sarver Heart Center; and Wanda’s close friend, Jennifer Turner.

“When they told me I was the recipient of the GTL Founders Award, I was in awe,” Moore said. “The tears came. I realized I wasn’t getting a new kitchen, but this award made our anniversary exceptionally special.”

The Founders Award recognizes the lifetime achievements of an individual who has shown significant long-term community involvement and helped to shape the community in a positive manner with merit and dedication. It honors a person whose leadership has made a marked difference to individuals or groups and who has displayed wisdom and depth of service. 

“Wanda knows achievement requires a collaborative network of people and organizations moving toward common goals in a coordinated manner,” Maass wrote in her nomination. “She values mentoring people, building on their strengths. She has the wisdom to tap others for leadership roles and plan for future continuity. Her focus on setting young people up for academic success and community involvement illustrates her investment in our community’s future.”

Moore, an independent business consultant, philanthropist and full-time community volunteer, describes herself as a “volunteer CEO.” After retiring from Carondelet Health Network in 2003, she turned to advocacy and community work, focusing on women, minorities and marginalized populations, helping them gain access to healthcare education and resources. She is currently Sarver’s minority outreach chair and has served on numerous boards and committees for more than 27 years.

Moore’s drive to serve stems from her deep faith as well as the lessons she learned watching her mother work several jobs at a time and make sacrifices for her and her five siblings, while always giving of what she had to others in need. 

“She knew the challenges facing us growing up in the South and kept a keen eye on our activities,” Moore said. “She had very little but would always share what she had with anyone who needed assistance. When I turned 17, I told her I wanted to make a difference in the world. I feel that I have.”

“Wanda’s trust and leadership in her community and her partnership with the Sarver Heart Center has profoundly extended our reach, allowing our faculty to engage with underserved populations in Southern Arizona,” wrote Dr. Nancy K. Sweitzer, the center’s director. “Wanda expanded our reach by forming the Community Coalition for Heart Health Education and growing collaborations to now include 16 community partners, including Interfaith Ministerial Alliance, Links, Delta Theta Sorority, Tucson Urban League, Sister Jose, I Am You 360 and other groups.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Moore obtained grants to provide education to the community about vaccinations, pandemic safety and the importance of blood pressure monitoring, Sweitzer said. In the past 12 years, her efforts resulted in more than 600,000 volunteer hours in service to the heart center, reaching more than 7,500 people.

“Wanda reminds us that our philanthropic philosophy must be highly inclusive, targeted at providing strategic support to those facing economic barriers and mindful of the impact that health disparities can play in economic self-sufficiency and mobility,” wrote Allison M. Vaillancourt, VP for organizational effectiveness at Segal, based in New York, and a past chair of the Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona.

“The legacy I leave behind is ‘giving,’ a word that means contributing, donating, sharing, presenting and volunteering of oneself,” Moore said. “Every individual is blessed with something to give and help another. I hope that my work inspires, encourages and empowers others – especially the younger generation – to give of their gifts. My success is helping to foster the positive results of life-changing experiences of others while giving back in my community.”

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