Jeff Ferris Volunteer of the Year
Owner and designer, Choukalas Design, LLC; Phoenix, Arizona
"I believe giving your time back to anything, whether a
cause or your college, is important for all of us. There are several ways of
giving, whether financially, with our hands, or through our jobs," said
Pete Choukalas, 2011 Jeff Ferris Volunteer of the Year award winner.
Choukalas is being honored as Volunteer of the Year for his work
with the College of Arts & Letters with the Take-a-Seat Campaign, a project
to assist with fundraising to replace the seats in Ardrey Auditorium. In
addition to providing personal funding to support the campaign, Choukalas
served as a pro-bono designer to create a very compelling visual brand.
"Growing up, we had just enough to get by, but I
remember when my dad would do the bills every month and no matter how tough
things were he would always try and give $5 to a few different causes. I took
those memories when I came up to Northern Arizona University, but with finances
tight up in college I needed to give back in other ways. So Northern Arizona
University is actually where I first really started giving back. Joining groups
like Sophos and Blue Key inspired me to give back and help others whether it
was cleaning a hiking trail, helping out with Special Olympics, or other
"Being a Northern Arizona University alumni I always
wanted to give back to my college. Giving financially is great but always
wanted to do something else besides that and the opportunity arose to help out
with Take-a-Seat and I couldn't pass it up."
Choukalas made several trips to Flagstaff to meet with
Northern Arizona University staff and worked tirelessly to design numerous
campaign advertisements, brochures, posters, flyers, and inserts. Those
involved said they could not have completed such successful campaign publicity
and materials without his excitement and passion for Northern Arizona
University as well as his shared vision of renovating Ardrey Auditorium.
"Pete is the best kind of designer; he minds the
details while outputting truly creative content, all while being extremely easy
and fun to work with. His dedication to Northern Arizona University, his donation
of time and talent on the Ardrey Memorial Auditorium Take-a-Seat Campaign, and
his enthusiasm create an atmosphere of support and synergy. I would have been
overjoyed to work with a hired designer of this caliber - and Pete did
everything pro-bono. Pete is a dedicated family man, a successful professional,
and a loyal and generous alumnus. He is the perfect example of an ideal
Lumberjack," said Elizabeth Hellstern, marketing/PR coordinator for
Northern Arizona University's College of Arts and Letters, who nominated
Choukalas for the award.
"My favorite thing about being an alumnus is giving
back and seeing the university grow, whether it's updating Ardrey, new
classrooms, or growth in students coming. I know with budget cuts things
haven't been easy, but to see Northern Arizona University continue to grow
through all this and still be recognized as a top university is amazing,"
Choukalas was Northern Arizona University Homecoming King in
1989, received the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award in 1990, along with
being honored as one of the Outstanding Young Men of America and receiving the
Gold Axe Award that same year. He was also a member of Blue Key, Sophos,
Northern Lights, and served as a residence hall assistant for three years while
attending the university.
"I still remember going up to Northern Arizona
University the first day to tour the University. I walked away knowing this
will be a great home away from home for me," says Choukalas. "The
people, the educators, everyone was amazing. I never had a day I didn't want to
be there. Every day was something new. I walked away with a great education
from amazing professors, a lot of friends, how to give back, and learned a
great deal about life in general. Not a day goes by without me being so
thankful for what I learned and received from Northern Arizona
The Northern Arizona University Alumni Association applauds
Pete Choukalas with the Jeff Ferris Volunteer of the Year Award.
“Pete stepped up in a big way to help make the outreach
campaign highly successful and take it to another level. His dedication and
commitment are the reasons we love our many volunteers,” said Neil Goodell,
director of Northern Arizona University Alumni Relations.
Pete and his oldest son Ryan in Ardrey Auditorium.