Office Doors: A Day with Jonathan Robles


I’m an early riser and set aside time in the morning to pray and meditate to get myself focused for the day. Depending on the day and how early my meetings are, I also try to go to the gym for a cardio workout. I check emails before I head out the door to my day job as director of alumni, corporate and foundation relations at Estrella Mountain Community College.


In my role at the college, I have the opportunity to serve on nonprofit boards. I have served on the West Valley Arts Council board of directors for six years, with half that time as board chair. West Valley Arts Council and the college have been partners for more than 20 years on Gallery 37, a summer youth public art program. High school students receive college credit and a cash stipend for their work with a professional artist to design, develop and install a permanent piece of public art for a West Valley city.

West Valley Arts Council is near and dear to my heart and resonates with me because I have a passion for arts and culture. I grew up in an environment where the arts were supported and encouraged. My sister was an artist, and I grew up playing music. I was not very good, but I support it and want the quality of life to increase in the West Valley. I want West Valley residents to have access to arts and culture and utilize the West Valley Arts Council as a vehicle for exposing their families to arts and culture and for artists to have an outlet to support their work. It’s the perfect blend of representing the college on the board and my love of arts and culture.


The West Valley Arts Council is at an interesting spot in the lifecycle of a nonprofit. We are strategically increasing our board to 11 members in an effort to support the sustainability of the organization by making sure fundraising and revenue exist to secure it into the future. People’s livelihoods are connected to this operation, and you feel a heavy responsibility and weight of it all.

One of my responsibilities as board chair is to lead the board and serve as a good liaison between the board and our executive director, Michael Denson, ensuring we are on the same page and moving in the same direction when it comes to the organization’s vision and strategic plan.

I focus on the nuts and bolts of running a board meeting, which includes meeting with Michael one week before our monthly board meetings. We prepare by me providing guidance on where the board wants more emphasis in his summary, and he, in turn, gives me a heads up on any issues. We are in constant contact outside of the board-prep meeting. I am accessible to him for whatever issue arises, problem solve with him and involve others as needed.

Students of the Gallery 37 program stand next to their newly revealed public work, “Gabion Cactus,” which is located in Goodyear and completed in fall 2022.

1:30 P.M. >> GIVE + GET

I utilize many of my professional skills in my role as board chair. Interpersonal abilities — diplomacy and mediation — are exercised, and I also weave in the fundraising skill set I have as the development officer for the college. I help Michael think through fundraising activities, such as how to present sponsorship packages.

I feel a connectedness and satisfaction for my contribution to promoting and growing the accessibility of the arts in the West Valley. I also enjoy my friendships with people on the board and working with Michael. These interpersonal relationships keep me involved and engaged.


The West Valley Arts Council has been around for over 50 years, but people still don’t know about the organization. Our challenge is getting the word out that we exist and attracting people to visit the exhibits and outdoor space at the Arts HQ Gallery in Surprise. In some respects, there is competition in society to get the arts out there. We must therefore make sure we are offering a good product and show value.

I see an opportunity right now to work with other West Valley municipalities to promote art and help cities grow. Cities want to attract companies to the West Valley by showing that quality of life exists for employees and their families, including education and a vibrant arts community. The West Valley Arts Council can be a partner with the cities in growing economic development.


I encourage everyone to find their passion and see where they can serve on boards. When you start giving back, you see issues a particular organization is helping resolve. This increases empathy, understanding and awareness of those community issues.

I recently heard the phrase, “An act of service is an act of peace.” This resonated with me because when you’re giving of yourself through service, you’re creating that space of peace. I think this is something our community members need a bit more of, and board service can do that. 

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About Julie Coleman

Julie Coleman is a contributing writer for Frontdoors Media. She is Principal of Julie Coleman Consulting, providing strategic philanthropy consulting services for individuals, families, businesses, foundations and nonprofit organizations.

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