Richard L. Tollefson, Jr.
Founder and President
The values and identity of The Phoenix Philanthropy Group are a reflection of its founder and president. “I believe in the greater good and our role in it,” Richard says. “It’s what drives me, and us, to empower our clients to optimize their impact and generate lasting change in the world.”
Richard’s passion for development and the nonprofit sector was inspired by his parents. “They were ‘can do, must do’ people – hard-working volunteers, effective and transformative community leaders, and engaged philanthropists.”
As an adult, Richard has aspired to achieve similar leadership and impact. As the vice president for institutional advancement at his alma mater, Thunderbird School of Global Management, he managed two comprehensive fundraising campaigns, raising $120 million in 26 countries, including a $60 million commitment – at the time the largest-ever naming gift to a business school – and transformed Thunderbird’s alumni association into a global professional association. Over his 30-year career, Richard has successfully guided many other acclaimed arts, culture, and educational institutions, including Master Chorale of Orange County, The Joffrey Ballet, the University of Arizona, and Arizona State University, where he was part of a $600 million campaign leadership team.
Richard was the 2015 recipient of Social Venture Partners’ highest honor, the Paul Shoemaker Leadership Award; and is a past recipient of the Outstanding Fundraiser of the Year award from the Arizona chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Richard has also been a highly active volunteer, serving on the Boards of Directors of Social Venture Partners International, Social Venture Partners Arizona, Giving Institute, and Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District VII; on the Advisory Council for Arizona Community Foundation’s Kellenberger + Tollefson Center for LGBTQ Philanthropy and Tollefson + Kellenberger Forum for Social Justice; and active in the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Richard sums up his career thus: “I do well by doing good, living my personal and professional dreams at the same time.”