Lisa Urias named Chief Program and Community Engagement Officer at the Arizona Community Foundation

Executive leader brings nationally recognized background in community engagement, multicultural communications, and government relations

Contributed Article

PHOENIX—The Arizona Community Foundation (ACF) is pleased to announce that Lisa Urias will become Chief Program and Community Engagement Officer beginning April 1. She succeeds Elisa de la Vara who plans to retire from the foundation on March 31. Urias has led two highly successful companies and has a long history of both corporate and community leadership. She comes to ACF from Urias Communications, a nationally recognized multicultural marketing, and communications agency, and CoNecs North America where she served as Managing Partner.

Under Urias’ leadership, the agencies provide advertising, marketing, and public relations services to clients including APS, Dignity Health, Native American Connections, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Woz U, UNIDOS US, Valley Metro, Phoenix Indian Center, and many others.

Urias founded Urias Communications in 2006 as a multicultural advertising and public relations agency designed to respond to the growing multicultural markets of the U.S. Southwest, particularly focused on the Latino and Native American markets. The firm, headquartered in Phoenix, experienced substantial growth under Urias’ leadership serving corporate, government, and large nonprofit clients. The agency received numerous awards including the Addy Awards, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Copper Quill Awards, and others. The agency is certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Disability Business Enterprise (DBE). Urias will remain president emerita of the agencies.

Urias’ background includes serving as the Director of International Markets for SRP in the Strategic Planning division. In this role, she implemented a comprehensive market entry strategy for SRP into the Mexican energy markets and was in-house liaison to federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Energy, USAID, the World Bank, and Mexican federal agencies including the CFE, Mexico’s federal electric commission, and the Mexican Secretary of Energy’s office.

In her role as a member of the executive management team, Urias will lead the Arizona Community Foundation’s engagements and relationships with diverse communities across Arizona and be responsible for an aggregate annual grantmaking budget of over $30 million. She will oversee ACF’s efforts in the following areas: programs and special program initiatives, including the New Arizona Prize and Philanthropy for All; program spending and related grantmaking; affiliate networks and rural philanthropy; community initiatives and impact; the Community Impact Loan Fund; affordable housing; and immigration and border-related philanthropy. 

“Having served on our Board of Directors for eight years and as Chair of the Board’s Public Policy Committee, we know Lisa well, she knows the community foundation well, and most importantly, she knows and respects the communities we serve,” said Steve Seleznow, ACF President & CEO. “As both a corporate and community leader, Lisa understands the needs and interests of our donors, as well as the issues our donors care most about.”

Lisa Urias

Urias’ expertise and experience in multicultural marketing, community engagement, corporate partnerships, and federal relations, matched with her passion for Arizona communities will extend ACF’s impact across the state.

Urias’ civic leadership includes service on the boards of National Bank of Arizona, Greater Phoenix Leadership, the ASU Morrison Institute, Arizona Supreme Court Judicial Council Public Member, Teach for America, and Charter 100. She was recently named “Most Influential Businesswomen” by InBusiness Magazine, “One to Watch” by the Arizona Republic, and one of the “Most Admired CEOs” by the Phoenix Business Journal. She received a bachelor’s degree from ASU and completed the Stanford Latino Entrepreneur Institute program.

Urias and her husband, David Colby, reside in Phoenix and have two children: Mikaela, an associate attorney for Perkins Coie, and Alana, a Global Studies major at Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University. Established in 1978, the Arizona Community Foundation is a statewide family of charitable funds supported by thousands of Arizonans. With five regional offices serving communities across Arizona, ACF is among the top 25 community foundations in the nation with more than $1 billion in trust and endowment assets and is certified under the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. Since its inception, ACF and its affiliates have awarded more than $1 billion in grants, scholarships, and loans to nonprofit organizations, schools, and government agencies. More information is available at