Greenburg: Scottsdale charity membership ought to include women

Editor’s note: Independent Newsmedia reached out to the Scottsdale Charros organization and this is the group’s official statement:

The Charro organization has been admitting and including women for 10 years. The Charro Foundation Board currently includes Kim Hartmann, Melinda Gulick and Lisa Borowsky.  All of the Charros’ charitable grants and educational scholarships are made from the Charro Foundation.  The Charro Foundation also funds and operates our annual Outstanding Student and Educator Awards Banquet. The newly created Charro Baseball Organization Inc. is also a coed organization created for the purpose of contracting with the City of Scottsdale and the San Francisco Giants to host Spring Training baseball in Scottsdale.

Commentary:

If you had asked me prior to 2018 what the Scottsdale Charros is, I would not have known. That probably is not a unique position to be in for many residents (let alone kids) outside of Scottsdale, especially ones who do not frequent Scottsdale’s spring training events each year.

During my campaign for Scottsdale Unified School District’s governing board that position changed as I became more intimately aware of the many people and organizations dedicated to helping our public schools and the thousands of students and teachers who work at and attend SUSD schools.

Jann-Michael Greenburg

The Scottsdale Charros — referred to as simply “Charros” — is an organization started in 1961 aimed at promoting Scottsdale as a tourist destination, focusing on sports and sporting event entertainment. Since 1964, the Charros have operated Scottsdale baseball stadium and organized the spring training events in Scottsdale pursuant to a contract with the City of Scottsdale.

The Charros have had to maintain itself as a nonprofit, charitable organization, which uses the earnings from its activities to benefit those in need. The Charros has used its earnings to benefit the community in various ways, including providing various scholarships and awards to students and teachers Charros’ members have selected from SUSD.

In addition to this, many of the Charros’ members have served Scottsdale’s community in other ways. A number of members have, for example, been elected to SUSD’s governing board. Others have championed our district by helping pass maintenance and operations overrides and bonds for capital projects.

— Jann-Michael Greenburg, Scottsdale school board member

I personally know a few of its members, whom I know to be deeply caring, hardworking individuals who have done a lot to help our community and to whom a debt of gratitude is owed.

But one issue has been bouncing around my mind: Charros’ membership. Since its inception, Charros’ membership has been and continues to be a “small group of business leaders and community-oriented men.”

Generally speaking, the membership make-up or rules and regulations of private organizations to which I neither belong nor with which I am involved would not occupy my time or thoughts, nor would it really be any of my business.

We all have the right not to associate — or to associate — with any group we see fit. However, as a member of SUSD’s governing board, with whom Charros work on a fairly regular basis, I believe the exclusion of women from this organization’s membership and their close interaction with our students and teachers is troubling and is therefore a topic that is appropriate for public scrutiny and discussion.

— Jann-Michael Greenburg, Scottsdale school board member

Scottsdale is home to many female business leaders and community-oriented women, and the idea that in 2019 an organization that performs work for the City of Scottsdale — and benefits from immensely from it — openly discriminates against women appears to be unjustifiable.

With well-documented issues of gender equity and pay inequality in the workplacee and beyond, the message we are sending to our students is that it is okay for SUSD to partner with an organization of self-described business leaders that make no room at their table for women – neither their input nor their recognition as business or community leaders is welcome.
I have been elected to oversee the education of the students in our great district.

Do I sit silently and tell the students that discrimination based on gender is socially acceptable in 2019? What about race or religion? As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. writes in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere […] Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” To add to that, “if people do it to women, they will do it to anyone.

I am very appreciative of the many fine contributions the Charros has made to our community and I am not writing this article to disparage its members. As I have already written, I know some of its members very well and they have shown no intent or desire to embody discriminatory practices. This is the legacy of rules established in 1961, well before any of the current members were nominated to Charros.

However, if the Charros are going to continue describing itself as a group of business and community leaders then they must include women in their membership.

— Jann-Michael Greenburg, Scottsdale school board member

As Warren Buffet said, “It takes [20] years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

No one wants to see an organization that has done so much great work for our community become better known for discrimination against women than for their cumulative good works.

I am calling on those who are in a position of power and authority within Charros to make lasting, positive change for our community and to begin admitting women to their organization.

It is the right thing to do for our children, our schools, and our city.

Editor’s note: Mr. Greenburg is a member of the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board

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