2017 Community Builders of the Year: MacKenzie and Manuel Chavez



The Hyde Park couple was recognized at the ProKids Soiree for their passion and their generosity, their insight and their leadership, which have brought so many committed people to ProKids – leading the organization to serve even more children. The following remarks are adapted from the award presentation by ProKids President Emeritus Jeb Head.

MacKenzie’s involvement with ProKids began when she joined the development team in 2002, eventually becoming the ProKids Development Director. chavez_

One of the many highlights of MacKenzie’s leadership on staff was the birth of the ProKids Friends of Children Breakfast in 2004.

This single event, which continues today, has allowed ProKids to grow and reach a level of sustainability for years to come.

Because of the Breakfast, ProKids now has almost 270 Friends of Children Society Members.

As the Development Director, MacKenzie was a passionate advocate for the ProKids mission and turned that passion into direct action when she also became a CASA Volunteer in 2004.

As a CASA Volunteer, MacKenzie served 4 children in her four years.

Since leaving the ProKids staff, MacKenzie has hosted events in her home to introduce others to ProKids, worked on fundraisers and numerous committees and, beginning in 2007, joined the ProKids Board of Trustees.

MacKenzie’s passion for ProKids children has infected her entire family including her husband, Manuel, and her extended family.

Their family-owned company, Parking Corporation of America, has supported ProKids. Among other partnerships, it has enabled the Superhero Run for Kids to have a home in one of their downtown parking lots as well.

Manuel has also given of his voice to ProKids.

For example, his powerful speech at the 2017 Friends of Children Breakfast helped ProKids made a compelling case for all of us to invest in the promise and future of our children.

When you ask the two of them about ProKids, however, it’s not about what they have done, it’s about what is left to do.

Because, according to MacKenzie & Manuel, it’s not just about the welfare of these children in the child protection system.

It’s about our community as a whole.

That’s why Manuel says he deeply appreciates the growing collaborative relationships ProKids is building, as well as its thoughtful approach to how to handle the increasing number of children.

But he wants to make sure even more in our community know about these children.

He says community members like him and his family “need to go wide so that the volunteers and staff can go deep and help these children.”

According to Manuel: “We are parents. And we spend every day putting in time and effort and thought. And it’s hard…”

MacKenzie takes it from there and says, “I can’t imagine all these kids who don’t have someone who takes care of them. How can anyone know about these children and not want to support ProKids?”