Elena Thornton is the Founder and CEO of the Arizona Consortium for the Arts. This community group has carved out a distinctive role among the region's thriving arts and cultural institutions as a unique organization. Through this network children and adults are provided with a wide range of programs through hands-on, up-close encounters with their own creativity and previously untapped talents. Elena is renowned for being an educator, artist, poet, photographer and a most prominent arts advocate and mentor. Learn more about Elena Thornton…
How do you describe what you do: I help give voice and visibility to local creatives. As a photographer, I capture peoples beautiful smiles. I also co-founded the Just The Way You Are Movement together with Melivic Garcia to celebrate women and to remind them that they are beautiful inside and out, they are strong, they are smart, they are valuable, they are beautiful just the way they are. Through our workshops we will introduce phenomenal women/movements/resources that will help women make necessary changes should they decide change is needed.
What is the mission for your businesses’ giving: My husband Jim and I are photographers and through our photography, Photos by Elena and Jim we capture special moments at many charity and social events.
Charity or Charities of choice: In 2007, I founded the Arizona Consortium for the Arts. We are a 501c3, an all-volunteer charitable organization. The consortium’s mission is to nurture an inspirational environment for people to self-express. We host monthly open mics, two signature festivals celebrating the arts per year and we publish three arts and literary magazines. It is free to join us, free to attend our events and activities and free to submit to our magazines. I also volunteer at several community organizations, such as the Sisterhood Extravaganza, Child and Family Resources and many others.
Why have you supported these causes:
Sisterhood Extravaganza - a Women's Empowerment Organization. Pat Gillum is the founder of the organization. Pat is passionate about helping women understand the power they possess to unlock their potential to be better sisters, friends, wives, partners, mothers and women in general by understanding the value they bring into their relationship with self and others. The organization helps women become empowered to create the life they want to live through Educational Workshops, Mentoring Programs, and Entrepreneur & Leadership Summits.
Child and Family Resources – through their services and programs parents have the tools, skills, and support to raise resilient, thriving children. I enjoy helping their MCAP program and the Cooking with the Godmothers project. The teen parents learn budgeting, how to shop, prepare and serve a festive meal and share the meal with the Godmothers who are amazing women from the community sharing and passing on their wisdom. The Cooking with the Godmothers was founded by Chef Carmella Dodge and Kathy Bua of Kathy’s Rum Cakes.
Favorite business based on their giving efforts and why: The Dog - Eared Pages Used Bookstore. They are outstanding community supporters. All our consortium’s events and programs started there and together we collaborate and host our monthly open mics and other special community events. Thom and Melanie are always generous and hospitable to many community groups. Melanie is also our consortium’s board member and is always promoting our events and is on a lookout to introduce people to our community organization. Melanie is an incredible author and for several years she initiated and led an amazing writing project for teens. They wrote, produced and published their own literary journal.
Who influenced your spirit of giving and how: My parents and people who helped us when we came to the US in 1976 - we are still friends to this day. Giving is not always monetary. It is a recommendation, a connection, pointing in the right direction, a kind word, a helping hand, introductions, etc. I could write a book.
How do you believe fashion can aid philanthropy: Fashionable and stylish clothes make you look and feel amazing!!!! GIVING BACK is ALWAYS in STYLEJ.
What is your biggest philanthropic accomplishment: There is so much more to do!!! I am proud to be the founder of our Arizona Consortium for the Arts community organization. Through my journey of establishing our organization I meet incredible people who become my cherished friends!!!
Favorite philanthropic quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Eli Broad
Learn more at: www.artizona.org