Have You Met Michael Petersen-Incorvaia?
As the creative and talented Director of Catering at the Wyndham, Michael Peterson-Incorvaia is able to utilize his expertise in support of nonprofits. “My latest project is planning a scholarship dinner for the Phoenix Union High School district Last year we raised $100,000 in college scholarship money, and this year we hope to double that amount! Although I was formerly involved in politics, lately I’ve come to see that it’s most important to help the youth in our community. So many of them don’t get the support they need.”
But Michael is first of all a staunch member of the Maricopa County YWCA Board of Directors. “I became involved with the YW when I met Dana Campbell-Saylor. We were working on an event for the Phoenix Union High School District, and I was impressed with her dedication and involvement with worthy causes. Dana knew I had a passion to help women, so when there was an opening on the YW board she called and asked me to fill the vacancy.”
He emphasizes, “The best attributes of the YW are the strength of our board and the staff that maintains the YW’s programs. We are truly a working board, not just chair warmers. And my niche on the board is working on the dinners and programs that will help promote what women are doing in society or what they could be accomplishing with our encouragement.”
And he adds, “I have a passion for any aspect of the YW. Right now we are in the middle of a lecture series on empowerment for women. We’ve completed two sessions, one of which was a movie day with a panel discussion afterwards. The subject was on the misrepresentation of women in every aspect of our culture. It was exciting to see the great turnout we had for that event and the impact that it had! Then this coming January we will have a panel dinner that will tackle the topic of immigration, and how women will be instrumental in solving this problem. In April, 2012, we are expecting Mavis Leno to come and speak with us about her work in Africa where she is helping women set up their own businesses.”
Michael is a native New Yorker, but went to college in Nevada. “Then I spent ten years in San Francisco. At some point I visited friends in Arizona, loved it, and then just never left. I love everything about the area, including the weather, even when it’s 110 degrees out! As the Director of Catering at the Wyndham, I am in charge of all event planning, from small luncheons to large galas. We’re totally a one stop shop for an event. I’ve been in this business for 30 years now, and one day is never like the next!”
Michael Petersen-Incorvaia has worked on many memorable fundraising events, and is pleased that he can use his talents for the betterment of the community.
What are your local volunteer activities? I proudly serve on the YWCA Board of Directors; I also raise scholarship money and serve on the board of the Phoenix Union Foundation for Education
Who inspired you to give back to your community? My clients past and present. Seeing people working so hard to raise money for various causes inspired me to find my passion which is helping women and children become empowered.
Which fundraising event is your favorite? My favorite fundraising event goes way back to the 80’s, which was The American Diabetes Association’s Treasure Hunt Dinner Gala inside Neiman Marcus. Truly one of the most fun events I have ever been to. A close runner up is the SF Opera Guild Opening Night Gala. It is over-the-top glamour run by the smartest group of fundraising women I have ever known.
Favorite restaurant? My husband and I eat out a lot but we love Rita’s Kitchen at the Camelback Inn and take out from Super Dragon where Pam makes the best chow fun ever.
Who do you most admire, and why? So many, but the common thread in who I admire is they are all women. Women are strong, sensitive, and smart and I truly believe they should run the world.
If your life were a movie, who would you want to play your part? I would rather be a book.
Do you have any pets? Lula is the smartest dog in the state. Even my Vet says so. It is in her file!
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? That it was a happy home filled with color.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned through the years? Do not take anything so seriously, and try to live in the moment and enjoy it.
What was your first job? As a camp counselor at Bar H Ranch Day Camp
What is your greatest indulgence? Shoes, belts, and ties.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Being happy
What is your most treasured possession? My husband and my family.
What is the quality you most like in people? A sense of humor
Favorite books/Writers? Janet Evanovich and James Frey
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Negativity
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Eating out, traveling and shopping.
What would we be most surprised to know about you? I love being at home.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Be honest and truthful about who you are.
What are some challenges facing nonprofits? The economy and the current political climate. There is so much negativity and fear out there. We need to all remember everything will be ok and that we are one community and we all need to help each other however we can.