SRP Employees Honored for Helping Disabled Veterans, Children in Need and More
2021 Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Awards Spotlight Outstanding Community Contributions
Jon Buseman, Eager resident, Arizona Elk Society Volunteer, SRP Boiler Inspector at Coronado Generating Station
Ron Harrison, Phoenix resident, Arizona Autism Charter School Volunteer, SRP Senior Video Director
Jean Pahlke, Tempe resident, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation Volunteer, SRP Senior Organizational Change Management Consultant
Karilee Ramaley, North Central Phoenix resident, Child Crisis Arizona, SRP Senior Principal Attorney
Nelson Ross, Prescott resident, Childsplay Theatre Company Volunteer, SRP Organizational Change Management Team Lead (retired)
Lori Taitano, Ahwatukee resident, Be A Leader Foundation Volunteer, SRP Executive Analyst
From helping children who have been adopted to guiding disabled veterans on outdoor excursions, six Salt River Project employees earned the 2021 SRP Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Awards for exemplary dedication to their communities.
“Volunteerism is a core value woven into the fabric of SRP since its founding more than 100 years ago and that legacy lives on to this day,” said SRP President David Rousseau. “The individuals we recognized today during a virtual ceremony are among many inspiring SRP team members who consistently offer their time and talents to support our community, non-profits and improve the quality of life for all Arizonans. What these SRP volunteers accomplished amid a global pandemic is even more inspiring.”
In honor of the six outstanding volunteers, SRP presented checks for $2,500 to their respective non-profit partners. Last year, SRP employees and retirees volunteered more than 27,000 hours to 175 Valley and state nonprofit organizations and donated approximately $58,500 through our Dollars for Doers program. The 2021 SRP Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Award honorees and the nonprofits they assist are:
Jon Buseman, Eager resident
Arizona Elk Society Volunteer
SRP Boiler Inspector at Coronado Generating Station
Jon Buseman helps provide outdoor experiences to Arizona veterans who were disabled during their military service. As the White Mountain coordinator for the Arizona Elk Society’s Heroes Rising Outdoors® program, he truly has a spirit of giving and serving. On one occasion, the wife of a disabled veteran — who Jon took on an elk hunt — told Jon he had forever changed her husband’s life for the better. Her sincere and deep gratitude cemented Jon’s commitment to Heroes Rising Outdoors. Jon serves on a steering committee to plan program activities, secures food donations and lodging for veterans and is in the process of getting the Arizona Elk Society registered with SRP’s Boosters program.
Ron Harrison, Phoenix resident
Arizona Autism Charter School Volunteer
SRP Senior Video Director
Ron and his wife, Diana, have a son with severe nonverbal autism. After experiencing the challenges and frustration in trying to find a school for Sammy, they decided to create their own solution and formed a one-of-a-kind school for autistic children and their families.
In 2013, they opened Arizona Autism Charter School, a tuition-free public charter school focused on serving the comprehensive needs of students with autism. They have opened more campuses and the school has grown from 90 students in its first year to 375 in the current school year. Families come from all over the nation to attend. In addition to being a founding board member, Ron currently serves as board secretary. Ron recently secured 10 million dollars in bond financing to purchase and renovate a new 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility that opened in the fall of 2020. He also helped refurbish one of their existing buildings and created an Early Learning Center for younger children with autism and other special needs. The school was recognized in Governor Doug Ducey’s 2021 Policy Book as a shining example of a high-quality school choice in our state.
Jean Pahlke, Tempe resident
Fresh Start Women’s Foundation Volunteer
SRP Senior Organizational Change Management Consultant
When Jean Pahlke learned about Fresh Start Women’s Foundation in 2018, she immediately felt inspired by its mission. The organization helps women improve their lives by providing them with skills and educational tools to find employment. Fresh Start also offers support services, such as family law services and mentoring to help clients make positive changes for themselves and their families. Jean has facilitated computer literacy classes and career coaching for Fresh Start’s clients and developed emotional intelligence classes. During the pandemic, she shifted the program to a virtual platform so women could continue to be served.
Karilee Ramaley, North Central Phoenix resident
Child Crisis Arizona (CCA) Volunteer
SRP Senior Principal Attorney
Karilee Ramaley volunteers for Child Crisis Arizona, which provides children and youth in Arizona with a safe environment, free from abuse and neglect by creating strong and successful families. In 2003, Karilee and her husband adopted their daughter, who was then 8 years old. One year later, they adopted their son at age 5. Both children experienced significant and sustained trauma prior to being placed for adoption and required extensive counseling and educational services for several years. Karilee found that many adoptive families face challenges without receiving services from the state, however CCA fills that critical role in providing caring and comprehensive services for adoptive families.
Karilee took a leadership role in the CCA’s fledgling board to help develop a strategic growth plan, become fiscally healthy and significantly expand the number of children, youth and families it serves. CCA received the Arizona Office of Attorney General Advocacy Award in 2020 due to a nomination submitted by Karilee. She also volunteers with Arizona Food Bank Network and Desert Mission Food Bank.
Nelson Ross, Prescott resident
Childsplay Theatre Company Volunteer
SRP Organizational Change Management Team Lead (retired)
Nelson Ross has served on the board of Childsplay Theatre Company for 21 years. Childsplay is an internationally respected professional theater company whose chosen audience is children.
Nelson is passionate about Childsplay’s mission to bring challenging, thought-provoking, high-quality theater to young audiences. Over the years, he has helped Childsplay become financially stable, mentored the public relations staff, fundraised and helped expand programming to reach an average annual audience of 250,000 students, teachers and families across the state. Nelson recently retired from SRP, but his service continues.
Lori Taitano, Ahwatukee resident
Be A Leader Foundation (BALF) Volunteer
SRP Executive Analyst
The Be a Leader Foundation’s mission is to increase the number of students who are prepared to succeed in higher education by empowering them with tools, leadership skills and consistent support. Having worked with other youth organizations, Lori knew this kind of program transforms young lives. She has helped BALF find professionals to mentor students to expand their understanding of what is possible in life. Lori learned about the organization while attending Valley Leadership. For her team project, she started the 500 Club for BALF, in which they recruit donors to give $500 to pay the cost of each student in the program. When the pandemic hit, Lorianne spearheaded a drive-thru event for students to complete college applications and apply for financial aid. She says her volunteer experience with BALF has forced her to change as a person and see the world in a different way and truly understand words like overcome, drive and rising above circumstances.
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