On the 10th day of giving, advocate for equal rights

December 22, 2012

As Arizona State University gears up to win the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Dec. 29, in San Francisco, the university is taking the opportunity to offer suggestions for 12 Days of Giving in order to make a big difference this season and celebrate the university’s outreach role in the community.

Day 11
Advocate for equal rights. Download Full Image

For Neil Giuliano, coming to Arizona State University started as a happy convenience and became the longest and most significant relationship of his life.

This self-described Italian-American Sun Devil started his journey at ASU in 1974 as a communications major. Over the course of the next three decades he wore the mantle of undergrad student, student employee, master’s student in higher education administration, grad student intern, staff member and faculty associate.

The following is an excerpt of a Q & A with Giuliano about his commitment to public service in advocating for LGBT rights. The piece originally appeared on ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences website.

How did your education prepare you for your career?

ASU provided the broad world understanding, awareness and experiences that helped me grow and also gave me specific tools to use as I headed out into the world. It was a strong platform for my teaching, speaking and creating strong working relationships with other people in activism, public service and elected office. I am grateful for such a tremendously rewarding experience and career at ASU. And yet life only got better once I stretched and sought new challenges and opportunities beyond ASU too.

You were the youngest mayor elected to office in Tempe, served four terms and became one of the few openly gay public servants in the U.S. Why were you drawn to public service and that position in particular?

Giving back was a part of my life growing up and remains embedded in my DNA. Serving as mayor allowed me to partner with others to make my community a better place, envision our destiny and future and make it a reality. There are many political roles of course, but being a mayor is unique: you sit at the end of the table, you set the tone and direction, you articulate a vision and empower others to help make it happen. My decade as mayor was a tremendous opportunity to serve and make a difference and we accomplished a lot together during that time.

You went on to become the President of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and then later to serve as the CEO for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. What were your goals as a leader for GLAAD?

At GLAAD, I worked to raise the visibility and volume of the national conversation about LGBT rights and continue advancing the culture toward full equality. Ensuring fair and accurate portrayals of gay people in the media and taking a strong stand against the anti-gay voices in society play a critical part in changing hearts and minds. And as we know, it's the cultural change that happens first and enables the political and legal changes.

What does your foundation do and what are your goals as CEO for this organization?

San Francisco AIDS Foundation is one of the oldest HIV/AIDS service organizations in the world. We provide testing, care, advocacy and a wide array of prevention programs and services for people living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS. We have 140 employees, an annual budget of $24M and work to reduce new HIV infections, ensure people are getting tested and ensure HIV positive people are receiving care. We've spent 30 years answering the call of the community where HIV/AIDS first reached an epidemic level in the U.S.

Which mentor(s) really impacted your life?

Betty Turner Asher, who was ASU vice president for student affairs when I was ASU student body president. She had a huge impact on the course of my life. She encouraged me to stay at ASU after I finished my master’s degree and then gave me the application for the Tempe Leadership program. Absent her influence, I probably would have sought a student affairs job at another university and my life would have taken an entirely different path. I learned a great deal from Betty.

So many people think that one person can't do anything, that one vote or voice can't make a difference. Your journey says otherwise. Is it safe to say that you believe in the power of one: the ability for one person to create meaningful change?

Absolutely one person can have tremendous influence and make a significant difference. I also believe that no one accomplishes anything truly significant without others being involved. One of my favorite movies is “The Power of One.” This powerful film ends with this quote: 
Changes can come from the power of many, but only when many come together to form that which is invincible ... the power of one.
That has always been my approach to leadership, activism and life.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

On the 11th day of giving, improve the health of animals

December 23, 2012

As Arizona State University gears up to win the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Dec. 29, in San Francisco, the university is taking the opportunity to offer suggestions for 12 Days of Giving in order to make a big difference this season and celebrate the university’s outreach role in the community.

Day 11
Help improve the health of animals in your area. Download Full Image

ASU staffer Natasha Karaczan has always liked to cook.

Recently her experiments in the kitchen have led her down a path to perfecting the ultimate culinary canine treat – the homemade all-natural dog biscuit – giving Karaczan’s black Pomeranian dog, Jake, more reason to wag his tail.

Also benefitting from these wholesome treats are ASU’s proud pet owners and their furry friends, who nearly bought out Karaczan’s entire supply of dog treats at the sixth annual Winter ArtFest, Nov. 29, on the Tempe campus.

Valley animal shelters have something to wag about too, as they have received 100 percent of the funds from Karaczan’s sales.  

Both delicious and nutritious, Karaczan’s dog biscuit recipes grew out of a concern for the increasing number of unhealthy animal byproducts she noticed in the food that made up most, if not all, of Jake’s diet.

“You eat junk food and feel terrible. Byproduct is all fat and sugar,” says Karaczan, an information specialist in ASU’s media relations office. “I wouldn’t feed myself that junk.”

She switched dog food brands, but Karaczan still had trouble finding some healthy alternatives for dog treats. So she decided to make her own.

“I did some research and bought some recipe books for dogs. At first, it was hit or miss,” she says. “Jack would eat the treats, but after two of them he was finished.”

Following the advice of Michele Bledsoe in "The Small Dog's Doggy Bone Cookbook" – a favorite of Karaczan’s – she started experimenting with the recipes in the book and making them her own. After testing them out on Jake, she discovered some keepers.

Among the flavors that have been “Pomeranian-tested and approved,” pumpkin, cheese and chicken dog biscuits are guaranteed to please terriers and retrievers alike, and also come highly recommended by Great Danes, according to a friend of Karaczan’s.

“Now, Jake eats all the treats I give him,” she says. “With the old treats, he would hide them around the house. With these, he sits down and eats them right away. He’s also lost half a pound.”

“The best part is that I know exactly what is in them, and they all contain less than 10 ingredients,” she adds.

Perfect for the holiday season, the pumpkin biscuit contains pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, flour, vegetable oil and rolled oats. “I’ve tried one – it’s good,” she says.

But there’s more to these treats than just taste. Karazcan said she wanted to be able to do something with the treats, so she decided to help an organization that could benefit animals. Currently, her all-natural dog biscuits – and proceeds from their sales – are helping the Maricopa County Animal Care & Control provide for the cats and dogs they shelter.

“They’re not making a profit and they house so many cats and dogs,” says Karaczan. “They are a no-kill shelter but once they are full, there is no guarantee they won't send the animal to a kill shelter.”

Although Jake, who is five years old, came from a breeder, Karaczan says she will adopt a shelter or rescue dog from now on.

“So many people pay breeders $500 to $600 for dogs, and shelters need it more,” says Karaczan, who, in the last month, has raised close to $150 for Maricopa County Animal Care & Control to use however they choose.

Giving to animal shelters is great, adds Karaczan, who plans to help even more animal organizations through her dog biscuit sales. “Lots of animal shelters have a wish list so you can give them the things they need.”

Karaczan says a healthy dog also needs to exercise, “so try to take your dog for a walk as much as possible,” she says.

She also advises never to give pets as gifts, unless you are certain that the person you’re giving the pet to really does want it. Often, she says, in these scenarios, the pets get turned in to a shelter, or worse, are neglected.

“Adopting and rescuing a dog is the way to go,” Karaczan says. “If you want a specific breed, there are different rescue groups for specific breeds. It’s the best of both worlds. It may not be a puppy, but it’s still a dog that needs love.”

Maricopa County Animal Care & Control needs blankets and food this holiday season. To see their wish list, visit maricopa.gov/Pets/.

For all dog biscuit inquiries, contact Natasha Karaczan at natasha.karaczan@asu.edu.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library