The 2015 JDRF Hope Gala honors Julie Murray, who strengthens our community by helping address some of Southern Nevada’s most intractable challenges.
She has found success launching and assisting innovative nonprofit groups and advising philanthropists. Like JDRF, she embraces best practices and professional administration as cornerstones of her work.
After playing key roles in the creations of Andre Agassi’s charter school, Agassi Prep, the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of So. Nevada and Three Square, Murray today heads Moonridge Group, which helps individuals, foundations, and corporations reach their philanthropic goals.
“It is a great honor to be to be recognized by JDRF,” she said, “The group’s resolute commitment to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, broad community support, and efficient operations make it a model nonprofit organization.”
Murray, who moved to Las Vegas when she was six, has been on the front lines of Southern Nevada’s philanthropy and nonprofit community for more than 25 years. She has provided leadership to causes as diverse as at-risk youth, water and the environment, fire victims, the hungry, families living in fear of gun violence, the arts, and homeless women, children and their pets.
“Las Vegas is a community with many needs, but it is also home to people committed to making things better, and few show that commitment better than Julie Murray,” said Pia Exber Morris, President of the Nevada chapter’s Board of Directors, “She gives of herself, energizes others, and is relentless in her search for solutions.”
Doing good works and doing them well has been a hallmark for Murray, who early in her career raised resources for the University of Nevada, Reno, and directed charitable efforts at Harrah’s Entertainment, now Caesars Entertainment.
In 1995 she and a friend “adopted” 55 at-risk youth who lived at a city of Las Vegas housing project as part of the “I Have a Dream” initiative Murray began in Las Vegas. She mentored the young people and promised to stay with them from kindergarten to college, even offering to pay part of their tuition.
The result: an 88 percent graduation rate and the cause remains strong today through a foundation carrying on the work Murray started after being inspired by the words of Martin Luther King Jr.
She led the $36 million founding capital campaign to build the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a tuition-free charter school for at-risk children that opened in 2001.
Murray is the founding CEO of Three Square, which was launched from her home in 2006. She stayed with Three Square for five years to ensure it was successfully operational, was an important part of the Southern Nevada social safety net, and a national model in the effort to combat hunger.
Today the mother of three continues to find new ways to support nonprofits through the work of Moonridge Group. The business assists individuals, foundations, and corporations set philanthropic goals, then finds the best charitable investments for them. She also teaches a grad class at UNLV, “Philanthropy”.
“My experience with Three Square let me see the impact funders make when they do it strategically,” Murray said. “I enjoy helping align funders with a charitable partner who provides a solid return on their investment. When that happens, it is rewarding for the donor, helpful for the non-profit, and live-changing for the clients!”
Murray’s work will be recognized at the JDRF 2015 Hope Gala, to be held at Mandalay Bay on Friday, May 1 starting at 6:00 p.m. It will feature a cocktail reception, dinner, silent and live auctions, and live entertainment. For more information visit lv.jdrf.org or call 702-732-4795.
Among the many Southern Nevada causes helped by Julie Murray are:
- Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Foundation, co-founded by Murray, who also served as its first president and was on the board from 2003 until 2012.
She was approached by then-Las Vegas Fire Chief David Washington who was interested in starting a foundation to assist fire victims and others recipients of the department’s emergency response services.
At the time firefighters would find people with empty refrigerators or unfilled prescriptions and dig into their own pockets and provide money for food or medicine.
Murray helped create the foundation and enlisted a broad range of community support. The service, which provides small denomination prepaid debit cards, serves as a bridge for the victims between the time of an emergency and when they can get help from their insurance company, Red Cross, or other source of assistance.
Today the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Foundation is working to expand its reach to other municipalities.
- Noah’s Animal House, part of the Shade Tree Shelter for homeless women and their children.
Far too many women refuse to leave troubled relationships because they fear abandoning their pets to uncertain futures. Noah’s Animal House addresses those concerns by providing quality, on-site care for the dogs, cats, and even birds of those being helped by the Shade Tree Shelter.
Since joining the board in 2013, Murray, who is well known as an animal lover, has used her operational skills, community connections, and imagination to help bring peace of mind to women restarting their lives.
Murray enlisted Miss Nevada Teen Geovanna Hilton to serve as an ambassador for Noah’s Animal House, including at “A Day at the Spa for Noah’s Pets,” an initiative spearheaded by Murray that raises spirits, awareness, and resources.
Volunteer groomers tended to the animals of Shade Tree clients and those belonging to members of the public who got their pets pampered in exchange for a modest donation to Noah’s Animal House. This year’s spa day is expected to be the biggest yet.
“Julie is dedicated to bringing people together and making change happen,” said Staci Columbo Alonso, who founded Noah’s Animal House in 2006 and serves as its president.
- Sierra Oeste gun violence initiative, which helped dramatically reduce crime in a troubled Las Vegas neighborhood.
- Casa de Luz, a community support organization in the impoverished Naked City area. Murray’s Moonridge Group raised $500,000 to renovate the dilapidated Casa de Luz building, allowing it to stay open.