Have You Met Al Wynant?
Having lived all over the world, Al Wynant is acutely aware of the importance of community to the well-being of people. “I’ve called six countries home- Belgium, Switzerland, England, Germany, Canada and the US! The year I toured with “Up with People” also made it clear to me the significance of giving back to the community and what a positive impact it can have on individuals.”
As co-founder and CEO of EventInterface, Al exemplifies young, modern businessmen who believe in donating some of their time and talents to nonprofits. “Every year EventInterface offers a complete pro bono package of services to a deserving nonprofit. Some of our past recipients have been Interfaith Community and the Girl Scouts.”
Al is also on the Board of Directors for Gabriel’s Angels, and starting in May will become the Chair. “People come to volunteer with Gabriel’s Angels because they love dogs, pets, and kids, and the combination of all of them! I became aware of the organization when I was told about it by one of my clients. They were dedicated to the group, and invited me to become involved. We reach more than 12,000 abused, neglected, or at-risk children each year with pet therapy.”
Gabriel’s Angels was founded in 1999 by Pam Gaber, and was in part named after the first therapy dog. The organization’s stated goals are “Through healing pet therapy we hope to instill in children an overall emotional sense of well-being, safety and happiness, and to help them learn social skills that will prevent them from continuing the cycle of violence as adults.”
Al Wynant is still a dog lover himself. “There’s nothing better than hiking in the desert with my dogs, Skye and Uma, a Lhasa Apso and a Queensland Heeler. And on weekends we love to get into the car and go to the mountains. Actually, I think it would be more accurate to say that they own ME!”
He is also enthused about the Southwest. “Since I’ve lived everywhere, it says something that I’ve chosen Arizona to be my home! We have an incredible natural setting, beautiful scenery and a unique atmosphere. I will admit sometimes having a love/hate relationship with the weather! But I appreciate the diversity of cultures we have here - Native American, Hispanic and others that call the area home. I also find the Sonoran Desert and Northern Arizona enormously appealing.”
Creative, with a sense of humor, Al reveals that “I’m a Taurus, but a really nice bull! I can be passionate and driven about the causes that are important to me. That’s why Gabriel’s Angels has been such a good fit.”
He continues, “I have family all over the world- Europe, South America, Asia, and all over the US. I get to play host quite a bit for friends and relatives who want to visit Arizona. But best of all it gives me the opportunity to show them the caring community that we’ve created here in the Valley of the Sun!”
What are your local volunteer activities? Being able to marry my passions with a volunteer opportunity has brought me to Gabriel’s Angels. The agency provides pet therapy to more than 12,000 children in Arizona who are abused, neglected or at risk. As an avid dog lover, I understand the positive impact a pet can have on a human being, especially a child. I serve on the Board of Directors, and starting in May will chair. I also chair the Board Development Committee. In the most recent past I have served on the Board of the Sahuaro Girl Scout Council in Tucson. My company annually awards on nonprofit organization a pro-bono event management grant in which I take a leadership role.
Who inspired you to give back to your community? I had an opportunity to travel with Up with People in my early 20’s. During my year with the program I was exposed to a wide variety of people, agencies and persona and community needs. It was an eye opening experience. Also during this time I learned the importance and significance of giving back to the community, and its positive impact.
Which fundraising event is your favorite? Any event that raises much needed resources for an organization is a winner in my book.
Favorite restaurant? Taggia at FireSky Resort in Scottsdale. Wonderful organic Italian food and a great patio.
Who do you most admire and why? I would have to say my parents. Starting out with little they were able to create a wonderful life for their family, remaining true to their values, and after 44 years of marriage still show an incredible love for each other.
If your life were a movie, who would you want to play your part? Steve Carell, hands down.
Do you have any pets? Two important members of my family are pets, our Lhasa Apso Skye, and Queensland Heeler Uma.
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? It was loved.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned through the years? You are never too old to learn.
What was your first job? Working and managing a kids’ club in a resort in St. Moritz, Switzerland during my high school and college summer vacations.
What is your greatest indulgence? High quality sheets.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Is yet to come.
What is your most treasured possession? My family.
What is the quality you most like in people? Humility.
Favorite books/Writers? The Spark- Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All by John U. Bacon
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Close-mindedness.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Hiding away with the family in a cabin in the mountains with a good book by a roaring fire with a nice glass of wine; however, that’s a rarity!
What would we be most surprised to know about you? My family is spread out over four continents- Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.
What is the best advice you have ever received? The first advice I recall receiving from my mom as a little kids: “Treat everyone the way you want to be treated”.
What are some challenges facing nonprofits? I believe there are two major challenges facing nonprofits. First, the current state of the economy offers fundraising challenges. Agency staff and board must work hard and creatively to continue meeting fundraising goals in order to sustain programming and staffing levels to meet the growing needs in our communities. I view the second challenge to be the recruitment of quality, engaged, and strategic-thinking individuals to serve on agency boards in our community.