Elisa de la Vara is Chief Community Officer for the Arizona Community Foundation. She oversees the Foundation’s engagements and relationships with Arizona’s diverse communities. She is responsible for the grants management division, all major community initiatives including the Community Impact Loan Fund, affordable housing fund, immigration and border philanthropy, and Philanthropy for All initiatives. Elisa is also responsible for ACF’s statewide Affiliate system, including regional staff members in Cochise, Flagstaff, Sedona, Yavapai County and Yuma.
When Elisa joined ACF as Senior Director of Philanthropic Services - Community Initiatives in 2015, she brought four decades of experience in community development and in the nonprofit, government and commercial sectors, most recently having managed the daily operations of Congressman Pastor’s District 7 Office for seven years until the Congressman’s retirement. Elisa’s experience in the private sector includes positions with Enterprise 2000, Inc. and Espinoza Development Corporation, both real estate and property development companies. She has held significant civic leadership roles throughout Arizona, including serving as Special Assistant to Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt from 1983 to 1986 and later, as Comptroller for Gov. Babbitt’s 1988 national presidential campaign. She rose through the ranks at the nonprofit Chicanos Por La Causa from 1975 to 1983, ultimately serving as Executive Vice President.