Moondance Chairs Promise Marvelous – and Lively – Night
Hold onto your (cowboy) hats! This year’s Moondance is leaving Arizona black tie (bolo tie) in the dust and riding into Western fun, including entertainment by Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson.
Former Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Valerie Manning and JPMorgan Chase Senior Vice President Joette Schmidt, co-chairs of the event to benefit The Heard Museum, say this year’s party will be a whole new Moondance.
Stepping into Western garb won’t be too much of a stretch for Manning, who cast aside her buttoned-down chamber attire in favor of golf and travel clothes when she retired in 2005. One of her first acts after retirement was to travel with her husband, Roger, and grandchildren for five weeks in a motorhome to Yellowstone National Park. A memorable trip, she says, but she’s finished with motorhoming now and splits her time between the couple’s homes in Munds Park, Ariz., and Phoenix. And she works in a few rounds of golf.
Although she’s not going full-force as she did in her chamber days, she’s stepping back into some of the activities she enjoyed in the Valley and into some for which she previously had no time. She has been on The Heard board of trustees since she retired. And as often as possible she stays in touch with the Executive Women’s Roundtable, a group she started in the ’60s. They meet monthly in an informal setting to talk about topics of mutual interest, often of a political nature. She also keeps up via email.
Schmidt moved to the Valley from the Bay Area 15 years ago. After working 25 years for America West, she retired from the airline when the merger with US Airways was finalized and took a yearlong sabbatical. She started a second career in a whole new industry – banking – and loves it. “It’s one-on-one,” she says.
Schmidt likes being part of the community. When she moved here, The Heard appealed to her because it is a historic Arizona institution. “I wanted to learn more (about Arizona) through The Heard,” she says. She has also been involved with Homeward Bound, co-chairing Derby Affair, and the Humane Society, chairing the Hair Ball, which later became Compassion With Fashion. In the photo above, she and her husband, Kent Derdivanis, are golden at one of the many black-tie events they have attended.
“The best thing I can do for the nonprofit agencies is to offer my business skills,” Schmidt says. “That’s where I’m most comfortable and where I bring the most value.”
Schmidt and Derdivanis have traveled the world, but their feet are firmly planted in north Scottsdale, especially in their side yard. Both are passionate gardeners, and they enjoy serving their fresh, organic veggies to friends.
Because of their business backgrounds, Manning and Schmidt make a great team, Schmidt says. “We’re decisive. We make a decision and move on. We don’t have to debate the color of the linens.”
Both women quickly point out that this year’s Moondance honorees, Carol Ann and Harvey Mackay, are stellar. Carol Ann is a Heard Museum trustee, and Harvey is an author, Arizona Republic columnist and businessman.
The pair have provided solid leadership. “Carol Ann is very engaged in the event,” Manning says. She and Harvey suggested the casual Western theme and secured Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson as entertainment.
The Southwestern dinner menu will be presented by Arizona Taste Fine Catering in collaboration with Barrio Café chef Silvana Salcido Esparza.
So pull out your Western garb: Boots, hats, cowgirl skirts, bolos, whatever you have. The evening will be relaxed and lively. And it will benefit The Heard, one of Arizona’s greatest treasures.
Moondance is October 22. More information