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Have You Met Courtney Bannard?

“I feel the most important thing in my life is being a good parent, putting my children first in all that I do! Both my mother and mother in law were excellent parents, and I hope to emulate them”, Courtney Bannard states emphatically.  “And I want to be around a long time for my children and grandchildren, so that helps me be determined to eradicate cancer.”

This volunteer for the American Cancer Society has seen both her mother and mother-in-law battle the disease, and ultimately pass away. “In 2008 when I was flying back and forth between Phoenix and Chicago while my mother was ill, I went into the local American Cancer Society office for information and to find a way to help me cope. Within a few minutes I was speaking with a professional counselor, and I met with them several more times throughout the seven most difficult months of my life. This service alone was invaluable to me!” Before that, when Courtney lived in Flagstaff after graduating from Northern Arizona University, she had been associated for a while with the ACS since her cousin was head of that chapter.

Then in Phoenix, her next door neighbor was involved with the gala, and thought Courtney would be a good fit with the occasion. Once named a high school senior “class clown”, Courtney now uses her humor and enthusiasm to produce a stellar ACS gala. Under her direction, this year’s gala was a great success, and she’s already committed to next year’s event. “I’m glad that the rain held off that evening because we didn’t have a very strong plan B! We had over 500 people attend, a wonderful group of distinguished guests who understand the impact cancer has upon all our lives. We had great silent and live auctions, and our keynote speaker was Rhonda Forsyth, president of HonorHealth and a cancer survivor herself!”

Bannard was born in Tucson, but grew up in Flossmoor, IL. She has been in Arizona since college. She started her TV sales career in Flagstaff and continued her career in TV advertising as a salesperson and a sales manager in Phoenix. “I’ve created a nice life for myself here in Arizona. After growing up with the cold winters in Illinois, it almost feels like I’m always on vacation! My mom also loved this area, so I have lots of good memories of her being here. Arizona is easy to fit into, and it has a perfect rhythm and pace to life. It was a wonderful place to start a career and work my way up. And now I enjoy my life as a full time mom.”

Bannard also volunteers at Hopi Elementary School. “My son is in the third grade there. It’s an excellent public school, with 100% participation in its PTA! I volunteer there frequently in the classroom and for special events.”

Courtney states emphatically what she hopes to accomplish with the American Cancer Society: "My hope is that ACS' s patient services message can become louder and broader, reaching people that may never need their services and giving them the feeling of having a safety net underneath them at all times."

What are your local volunteer activities? 2015 American Cancer Society Gala Co-chair, 2016 American Cancer Society Picnic Under the Stars Gala Co-chair, Hopi Elementary volunteer

Who inspired you to give back to your community?  My mom, Jacqueline Campbell and my mother-in-law, Ann Bannard.

Which fundraising event is your favorite?  Of course, I love the ACS Gala, but I also enjoy the T-Gen fundraiser at Saks Fifth Avenue – “Key to the Cure”

Favorite restaurant? Hillstone, it is consistently excellent!

Favorite movie? The Sound of Music

Favorite play? Wicked

Favorite TV show? House of Cards, Modern Family, Master Chef

Whom do you most admire, and why?  I most admire my husband, Doug. He is a wonderful partner in life, a very present dad, and a thoughtful caring son, not only to his dad, but to mine.  At work, he does more in 10 minutes than most people do all day--he is highly efficient, fair, honest and productive.  We both learned from our parents that in your adult life, friends really become your family. We have a wonderful family!

If your life were a movie, who would you want to play your part?  Charlize Theron, even though she is about 2 feet taller than me!

Do you have any pets? We have a hand-me-down Brookstone shrimp from a Pilates friend. Her stepson was headed off to college and they gave “Alec” to my son. Our kitchen is his happy place. 

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? I hope we never move, I LOVE our home. But if we did, the new owner would know that we loved to entertain! What’s the best lesson you’ve learned through the years? Less is more! I have practiced that lesson since I was 8. Each year it becomes more and more true.

What was your first job?  At 16, I was a secretary at a country club right down the street from my house. 

What is your greatest indulgence?  Chicago hotdog and fries and first class flights overseas

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? My son, Charlie

What is your most treasured possession?  My most treasured possession is a gold and pearl bracelet that my mom gave to me a couple months before she died. It was her engagement present from my dad’s mom.

What is the quality you most like in people? Confidence

Favorite books/writers?  I enjoy narrative non-fiction. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson was the last book I loved. I am looking forward to reading Erik’s newest book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Selfishness

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Pilates, cooking classes, home improvements, entertaining

What would we be most surprised to know about you?   Arizona Secretary of State, Michele Reagan, and I have been friends for 35 years and we were voted “class clowns” our senior year at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.  

What is the best advice you have ever received?  The best advice I ever received was not actually told to me. When I told my dad that I didn’t know if I wanted to go to college, he took me into downtown Chicago to the typing pool at the Standard Oil building.  After a morning of watching 250 people type for a living, I decided that skipping college would not be such a good idea.

What are some challenges facing nonprofits? Increased non-profit competition makes it harder and harder to reach goals. Too many non-profits try and combat this by adding more goals and more layers of people. I believe that the non-profit organization, with a streamlined mission, will be more effective at reaching its core goals.