Tony Felice has become known as a creative giant for his namesake agency's branding work with businesses from Phoenix to San Diego. His creativity and ability to connect with causes that are authentically meaningful to him is second to none. His battle with Lyme disease has elevated the much needed conversation about this often misunderstood syndrome. And his activism as an equality advocate has helped many organization's visibility and reach. Tony is a kindness campaigner who aligns himself personally and professionally with the most inspiring people and causes. Plus, the Felice Agency is responsible for creating the Giving in Style logo and brand elements, so needless to say we have a special affinity for this special man's inspirational being. Learn more about Tony Felice.....

How do you describe what you do:

We are a marketing & advertising agency based in Phoenix and San Diego and we are known for creative results that grow our client’s businesses and help them achieve their dreams.

At the Felice Agency we are a team made of up artists and scientists who bring together those two disciplines to create magic. It’s all about Art, Science & Religion. What do we know about the greatest civilizations? What did they leave behind? Just those three things. The religion part is the combination of core values and mythology around your company that compels people to buy your stuff and take you seriously. It's the emotional part of what you do and what we get to celebrate for you. We call it ROE or “return on emotion.” There is great power in the words we choose and the images we share and the story we tell. We get to do that for a living. That's incredible.

I'm an art school dropout who many years later graduated from the college of engineering with honors ... and now I make art for a living. Go figure. But that's life. Find your passion and do it for a living. My passion is observing and then articulating what I've observed on behalf of my clients in beautiful ways that grow their business. I have the brain of a scientist and the heart of an artist. I've been in business for myself long enough that I know what it truly takes to have staying power. I've seen my clients industries go through so many things (recession, changes in consumer buying habits, pressures from the internet, etc.) that inform the choices we make for them. I've seen almost every gimmick there is and I know how to help them navigate one of the most complex systems: marketing."

My multiple decades career has taken me from the halls of the U.S. Congress to Hollywood California. I have worked on public policy, strategy and media relations for large multi-national corporations and small businesses alike. I've launched more than 90 brands in my career. What is the mission for your businesses’ giving:

I am passionate about the things that have shaped my existence as a human being. So we give primarily to organizations that advance equality and are focused on finding an accurate test and cure for Lyme disease and the eradication of HIV. We are also passionate about kids and support several organizations focused on childhood wellness.

How do you give back to society through your business:

Mostly through volunteerism, providing pro bono marketing, design and public relations services and by financial contributions. Appointed by Mayor Greg Stanton, I serve on the Fast-Track Cities Initiative Ad-Hoc Committee charged with eradicating HIV by 2030, I also volunteer as Communications Advisor to Phoenix First Lady Nicole Stanton, I'm on the Advisory Council of the American Institute of Architects Phoenix Chapter, I'm on the Leadership Team of Focus On Lyme.

I was previously an Officer of Local First Arizona's C(6) Board and I served on the Pride Grant Advisory Panel for Arizona Community Foundation. I have also served on the Board of Directors, Phoenix Art Museum Contemporary Art Forum, Chair and Vice Chair for the Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and I served on the Small Business Leadership Council of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

The Felice Agency is a major sponsor for Aunt Rita’s Foundation, we provide financial support for progressive political candidates like Mayor Greg Stanton and for programs helping adults get a foothold in life like St. Joseph’s the Worker, Childhelp Disabled American Veterans and the LGBT organization One Community.

Charity or Charities of choice:

Dion Initiative for Childhood Wellness, Focus on Lyme, Aunt Rita’s Foundation.

Why have you supported these causes:

We believe it is important to help those who are most at risk—children, LGBT people and disabled veterans in addition to those fighting Lyme disease and HIV.

Favorite business based on their giving efforts and why:

Split between Focus on Lyme and Aunt Rita’s Foundation. Tammy Crawford, the CEO of Focus on Lyme, with no prior medical experience has become a global expert on Lyme disease. In two and a half years she had developed, in partnership with TGen, the first highly accurate test for Lyme disease and she sits on a Department of Defense panel as the only non-scientist to evaluate grant funding requests for tick-borne disease research. She created the first biorepository for tick borne disease scientific inquiry and she has raised nearly a million dollars through sheer will and by being a quiet, gentle tour de force. She is undaunted by any challenge and she is a fiercely protective mother. She created Focus on Lyme after her daughter went undiagnosed for more than five years and still struggles to fight chronic Lyme disease. I myself was undiagnosed for more than two years and it left me with Lyme-induced Multiple Sclerosis. Over the last six years I have been in and out of remission and everyday is a challenge to maintain my health and not spiral downwards. When out of remission I endure chemotherapy IV treatments causing me to be very sick while in remission I still face daily pain like a toothache in every joint of my body. Without the hope provided by Focus on Lyme I’m not sure I’d be here today.

The second organization is Aunt Rita’s Foundation. Shortly after being appointed by the Mayor to sit on his ad hoc committee I realized how incredibly important this organization is. Not only do they provide financial support for 16 agencies that would likely go dark without that financial help, Aunt Rita’s plays an essential role in connecting the state health agencies to other HIV and AIDS organizations who may otherwise operate as silos. Aunt Rita’s brings together every agency working hard to maximize resources and impact. Over the years they have played a critical role in reducing rates of infection, educating the public and fighting on behalf of those who have no voice. Like Focus on Lyme they are largely a volunteer organization with only three staff members and a small budget. But they produce two of the biggest fundraisers in the state: AIDS Walk and the Red Brunch. Each year they give away nearly half a million dollars to help in the fight to eradicate HIV. Glen Spencer, Kit Kloekel and Jonathan Brier have advanced the organization to a highly influential and savvy organization.

Who influenced your spirit of giving and how:

Howard and Patty Fleischmann from Community Tire Pros. The first time I met Howard he was speaking at a Christmas event at the Biltmore as a Board Member for the Greater Phoenix Gay Chamber. He and his wife not only donated a van full of food for a local charity but he gave them the keys to that van. There were no dry eyes that evening. Howard and his wife Patty are known for their compassion and generosity. They turned a vacant lot adjacent to one of their repair facilities into a community garden that donates more than 600 tons of food each year to the surrounding neighborhood—a lower income community without a grocery store closer than six miles away. I’ve never seen them waiver in their generosity even during the worst years of the economy or when personal tragedies have struck their family—they still give to many organizations buying tables, fundraising, donating goods and services. And they bring that spirit into their business and treat their employees with the same kindness and generosity they give to the community. Second would be my dear friend Nicole Stanton. She has advanced awareness and action to combat averse childhood experiences in Arizona. Undaunted by challenges, she finds a way to build bridges and bring communities together to put children first. She promotes evidence based programs to cut through the noise and it results in long term changes in school climates and positive health outcomes for kids. She does this while running one of the largest law firms in the state. If someone asks for her help she always finds a way to be of service. She is my mentor, my colleague and one of my most cherished friends. Finally, my partner Tim. His generosity of spirit and his ability to empathize with others is astounding.

How do you believe fashion can aid philanthropy:

For years I’ve seen fashion brands take a stand and make a difference. Beginning with the United Colors of Benetton that made diversity cool to icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana and Judith Light fighting for AIDS to Ally Hilfiger fighting on behalf of those suffering from Lyme disease they play a critical role in awareness. Why? Because fashion makes things cool. And when things are cool they are understandable and relatable. Fashion can give a stamp of approval that goes a step beyond even celebrity endorsement. Because fashion is subjective and of the moment, there is an inherent level of “knowing” that is similar to contemporary art in it’s ability to articulate the zeitgeist of the moment in subtle visual ways that people inherently understand. It becomes the sum total of how people are feeling and what is important to them and what they aspire to be. When the flashing bulbs of fashion are turned towards a cause or a movement, people take notice and they in turn inherently believe such a thing to be important. The President, Hollywood, none compare to how fashion can redirect our gaze and understand that what we are looking at is important. The clothes we wear make more of a personal statement about ourselves then the homes we live in or the cars we drive or the restaurant where we are seen. Fashion reflects our personal tastes and beliefs back to us, using ways that provoke us into a new understanding about the world around us and the things we believe to be true. It has the power to shift consciousness with a whisper, in irony or satire or grace or illusion the ideas they put forward endure.

What is your biggest philanthropic accomplishment:

Being awarded a Local Hero by One Community for my work as an activist for LGBT equality, being recognized by Aunt Rita’s Foundation for my work with them and being named as one of 20 names to know in marketing and advertising by the Phoenix Business Journal because I know that recognition comes not from popularity but because I am known for keeping my promises. And that is what philanthropy is all about.

Favorite philanthropic quote:

It’s long but I live my life by this idea.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Maryanne Williamson

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