SVPAZ || An Exploration of our Roots

Jun 13, 2017

Did you know SVPAZ was the very first affiliate to form from the SVP Seattle vision?

Trying to affiliate was met with some resistance, believe it or not, but Jerry Hirsch had a vision and inspiration and knew the SVP model would work in the Valley. He persisted.


Last week, Partners gathered in the home of Lois and Steve Savage to intimately learn about our roots from Jerry Hirsch and Lois, who served as our first Executive Director. The final evening in our inaugural Poolside Chat series for the spring, Jerry and Lois recalled how SVPAZ came to be … even without solid support from Seattle in the early days.

Here’s what they shared:

After spending several years in real estate, Jerry wanted more in life and turned his attention to philanthropy – specifically tackling the homelessness. He quickly learned there were 65 agencies in the Valley providing duplicative services and competing for funds. Jerry knew the Seattle SVP focused on efficiency and driving collaboration.

So Jerry invited 30 of his real estate buddies to breakfast and had them pony up the dues. All but one committed.

He then convinced Lois to run the organization. Jerry went back to SVP and learned some of the leadership was coming to Phoenix to golf. He arranged an evening at the Wrigley Mansion and with 80 philanthropists gathered, Paul Brainerd, founder of SVP, shared “SVP is an experiment and there’s a lot I don’t know.” This honesty and transparency inspired those gathered and the first affiliate was born.

IMG_8453Jerry and Lois both shared what they hope will come for SVPAZ in the next twenty years –

Jerry wants the younger generation of philanthropists to start now and work with emerging nonprofits. Need Partners to support that mindset because there’s always a place and need for risk takers.

Lois is looking at the network and  “would like them to be a stronger ally of all affiliates, especially if they can secure larger inroads to financially support each affiliate.


Today, our network is global and growing, but there’s always room for improvement. Jerry was fueled by a mission to “fertilize people to realize the world is just not about making money. We [SVP Partners] need to take risks and be pioneers; that’s the exciting thing about SVP. One out five investments succeeds you’re a home run.”


Lois made us chocolate chip cookies – yum!

“Winning is about the process. You learn more from failing. It’s a journey. That’s life.”

For more pictures from the evening and other Poolside Chats, visit our Facebook album.

Stay tuned for our Fall Poolside Chat series. If you’re interested in being a featured Partner and/or hosting this connective evening, please contact Terri Wogan Calderón.