Longtime community advocate and leader Margaret Hunnicutt is the 38th recipient of the Don Carlos Humanitarian Award, Tempe’s most prestigious distinction, by Tempe Community Council.
Hunnicutt and three other award recipients were recognized during a ceremony Sept. 29.
The awards, sponsored by Salt River Project, honor individuals who have made Tempe a better place through impactful and lasting work that addresses human-services needs.
“Margaret Hunnicutt embodies the humanitarian spirit of the Don Carlos Awards,” said Rachel Lambert, TCC Board chair. “Margaret has given many years as a dedicated community leader for human services in Tempe. She is a tireless advocate for education to help ensure the success of both students and teachers, assists in providing ways for families to achieve economic stability and does what is needed to help meet the needs of Tempe’s most vulnerable. She is a shining model of people helping people and is an inspiration to all.”
The Don Carlos Humanitarian of the Year Award is named after Tempe’s founder, Charles Trumbull Hayden, who was known affectionately by Spanish-speaking pioneers as “Don Carlos.” The award embodies Hayden’s legacy and spirit.
Hunnicutt was honored for her commitment to advocate for and support Tempe’s schools, students and teachers, and residents of the community who are struggling or underserved. She has served on many boards and volunteered for several organizations addressing education and human service needs in Tempe, including Tempe Diablos Charities, Tempe Community Council, Tempe Chamber of Commerce, Tempe Community Action Agency, Newtown Community Development Corporation, Tempe Union High School District Foundation and Executive Women’s Golf Association..
Hunnicutt formerly was CEO of Landings Credit Union. Now retired, she has given many years as a dedicated community leader for human services in Tempe embodying “people helping people.”
Hunnicutt is a member of Tempe Leadership Class XXI, Valley Leadership Class XL and Kiwanis Club of Tempe. She has received many professional and community awards, including Mountain West CU Association Credit Union Professional of the Year and Tempe Chamber Business Woman of the Year.
Hunnicutt has had a deep impact on students in Tempe. She spearheaded the first collaborative effort to help families understand and complete the FAFSA with the assistance of the Phoenix Leadership Class. This is the first step in securing student aid so that lower- and middle-income students could pursue their college dreams without the burden of the cost of tuition to their families.
She hosted back-to-school backpack drives benefitting Tempe school children and helped ensure teachers were supported through her initiation of the I’m [IN]vested Reward and Recognition Program. She has provided meeting space for community organizations, including Kiwanis Club of Tempe as well as bond and override committees, which are important for the fiscal health of Tempe’s K-12 public schools.
Hunnicutt has helped prepare tax returns at no cost to low- and moderate-income families and served as site coordinator and hosted the Tempe Community Council Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program at Landings Credit Union for years. She hosted water drives to give to people experiencing homelessness and sponsored fundraisers and holiday parties for clients of The Centers for Habilitation. She encouraged her staff to get involved and gave them time off to engage in community service.
From helping to ensure youth receive an excellent education in Tempe schools and beyond, taking the lead to raise funds that support programs for individuals with disabilities, ensuring the unhoused receive water during our hottest months, or providing ways for families to achieve economic stability, Hunnicutt is both a contributor of resources and a leader for organizations that serve the Tempe community’s most vulnerable.
TCC Impact Award: ICNA Relief
Providing caring and compassionate service to survivors of adversities and disasters, ICNA Relief draws on the tenets of the Muslim faith to serve. ICNA Relief supports anyone in need without regard for their race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity or citizenship status. The nonprofit operates a food-distribution warehouse, medical clinic for the uninsured, shelter for women who are experiencing homelessness or are survivors of domestic violence, and aids refugees in locating jobs. The organization has distributed 580 backpacks with school supplies to children in Tempe in economically impoverished neighborhoods. ICNA Relief engaged 1,264 volunteers who spent 4,700 hours preparing and distributing culturally appropriate food boxes to seniors, households impacted by COVID-19 and any household in need. This resulted in more than 5,000 families or 25,000 individuals receiving more than 250,000 pounds of food worth $688,000.
Volunteer of the Year: Marni Anbar
Individual service to the community encourages others to get involved. Serving selflessly, with a warm smile, positive character, faith and through multiple organizations, Marni Anbar regards every opportunity as a chance to get others involved in volunteering. The Air Force veteran and Air National Guard member holds a masters degree in mathematics and is founder of DISCOVERosity Zone, LLC, which encourages STEM learning in children. She is a member of Kiwanis Club of Tempe, Rotary Club of Tempe Downtown, Philanthropic Educational Organization-Chapter DK and volunteer for Tempe YMCA, I-HELP, TCC Agency Review, Kyrene schools, FIGG Community Garden and former Boy Scout troop leader.
Young Humanitarian: Ella Zeiders
A collaborative leader who values inclusion, Ella Zeiders embraces leadership with empathy, awareness, kindness and reliability. She is an excellent student who volunteers in the community and in her school. Her volunteerism over the past decade includes coaching nonprofit athletic programs that give opportunities to children in foster care and those with disabilities to participate. She was a member of National Honor Society and Site Based Council at McClintock High and a student athlete. She is in the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University.