A firm confidence fuels Devon Engel’s commitment to The Partnership for a Drug Free America. “ Through the resources we provide, we give parents the tools they can use to talk with their children. Statistics show that in Arizona the average age of first use of drugs is just thirteen. But it has also been shown that teens are 50% less likely to use drugs if their parents talk to them about not using!”
An attorney, the Vice President and General Counsel of General Dynamics C4 Systems, Devon allied himself with The Partnership four years ago. “I had the desire to get involved with a nonprofit, but I knew I didn’t want to be on a ‘resume’ board, something just to look good on my record! I also knew I wanted the nonprofit to be something I could be passionate about, have a local impact, but also be an organization that would be of value to my sons.”
He continues, “It happened through an unusual confluence of events. A high school classmate’s father had worked for The Partnership for many years in New York, the national headquarters. So I had heard about the organization from him for a long time. It just so happens that at the same time I was meeting with other non-profits who were recruiting board members, The Partnership called General Dynamics for their help in establishing a chapter in Arizona. I met with Leslie Bloom, the CEO, and we hit it off.”
Devon was impressed with the opportunity of being in on the ground floor, similar to taking a national brand and applying it locally. “Things have happened in ways I could only imagine. We have an amazing group of people on our board who are all passionate about The Partnership. And we have been so successful in establishing ourselves in Arizona that we are no longer a chapter under the umbrella of the New York office, but this year became an independent 501(c)(3) organization carrying The Partnership’s mission locally in Arizona. We are raising all our own money in Arizona and focusing our programs in Arizona.”
Devon grew up in Connecticut and New York, then went to college in Atlanta at Emory University. He graduated with honors from George Washington University Law school and spent a few years as a lawyer in a big firm. “ I was then recruited by Motorola to move in-house in Scottsdale. In 2001, the business was purchased by General Dynamics. After being in the middle of the negotiations, I ultimately went with the business and established a law department for the new General Dynamics subsidiary now known as General Dynamics C4 Systems and headquartered here in Scottsdale.” Engel has been in Arizona for 12 years now. “What I like best is our lifestyle here, to be able to enjoy the outdoors year round with hiking, biking, running, and tennis. I find this to be a much healthier environment than the northeast and love being able to enjoy the outdoors and a more leisurely pace and lifestyle with my two boys who are 13 and almost 8.”
On the weekends, Devon plays in an alternative rock cover band that plays music heard mostly on 103.9 The Edge and Mix 96.9. “ For years I said I’d pick up the bass guitar again, and finally I stopped making excuses! Now our band, Retro-Active, performs once or twice a month at places like Flicka’s on Scottsdale Road and at several places in Tempe. Playing music is a ton of fun and a wonderful stress reliever!”
Engel is proud of the work being done by The Partnership for a Drug Free America. “Our main focus is on prevention, which helps reduce the amount of money that has to go to the treatment and enforcement of drug problems. Our greatest strength is in education and the research we’ve done. We partner with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and host the longest running study that tracks attitudes of teens towards drugs – focusing on 1) the risks teens perceive in using certain drugs and 2) the perceived social acceptability of drugs. What you find on our web site (www.partnerupaz.org), in our print materials, and in our community programs (like Parent Partners, Teen Partners, our Community Alliance Program, and programs with doctors and teachers are the tools people can use to help reduce illicit drug use in our community.”
Devon Engel summarizes his commitment, “I’m pleased that we have a lot of support from the law enforcement community, because they know the huge social cost of drug use. I have come to realize that our community will be much safer, and many social ills such as violence, crime, abuse, poverty and escalating healthcare costs can all improve if we reduce what is at the base of much of this- -drug use!”
What are your volunteer activities? My primary volunteer activity is serving as the chairman of the board of directors for The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Arizona Affiliate. I also support other organizations like United Way and The Boys and Girls Clubs.
Which social event is your favorite? The Partnership's annual golf tournament in November at Quintero Golf and Country Club – soon to be supplemented by our Partner Up, Arizona™ Dinner.
Favorite Restaurant? Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn without kids, and Goldies with kids.
Who is your hero and why? People who dedicate their lives to helping less fortunate people are the real heroes in our society.
Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? Ed Koch.
What gives a woman/man style? I find it is more in the way people carry themselves than what they wear.
Do you have any Pets? Not currently. I have had dogs most of my life though.
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner, about you? That I shook the walls too much (I play bass in a band as a fun stress reliever).
What words describe you best? It depends who you ask…
What words would you like others to use to describe you? Honest and reliable.
What was your first job? I was a delivery boy for the Greenwich Times and a dog walker – multi-tasking by the age of 11.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? If a lousy metabolism was a trait - that would top the list. Otherwise, it is a toss up between not being a better listener and sometimes being a bit compulsive.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Dishonesty and having a double standard.
What is your greatest indulgence? Food – of all types.
What is the greatest gift you have ever given and received? My two sons, Sam and Max, are the greatest gift I have ever received. I would like to think I have given some pretty good gifts, but one recent one that I thought was great was a Hell Betty tandem bicycle.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My two sons, Sam and Max
What is your current state of mind? Peacefully stressed
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? A toss up between pitching two perfect games when I was 12 (the peak of my athletic career) and leading a department of extraordinarily talented legal professionals.
What is your most treasured possession? I own a bunch of bass guitars that I really like.
What is the quality you most like in people? Kindness
Favorite books / Writers? I read a lot. I just finished Beautiful Boy by David Sheff and am starting Crime and Punishment. Green Eggs and Ham and Horton Hatches an Egg were among my favorites for bedtime reading with my boys.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – even if they don’t (as learned in kindergarten and supplemented by life)