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Q&A: Julie Murray, President and CEO of Moonridge Group, on Philanthropy and Social Impact in Nevada

A founder, philanthropist, and business leader, Julie Murray spoke on creating strategic and collaborative social impact in Nevada.

Courtesy of Julie Murray

A highly sought-after philanthropy expert, board member and business leader, Julie Murray has led numerous successful public/private partnerships and social impact projects for corporate funders, family foundations and community leaders. Principal and CEO of the Moonridge Group, and President of the Moonridge Foundation, she is widely credited with transforming social impact in Nevada to be more strategic and collaborative.

Murray co-founded the Three Square Food Bank in Las Vegas with business leader and philanthropist Eric Hilton. She worked with philanthropist athlete Andre Agassi to launch the national model charter school, Agassi Prep, and is the co-founder of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation Nevada. She also served as the President and Board Chair for the NV International Women's Forum in 2019 and 2020.

Murray serves on the Board of Advisors for SilverSummit Healthcare and City National Bank-Nevada, and on the Community Development Council for Barrick/NV Gold Mine. She is the Board Chair for the Moonridge Foundation; and on the Board of Directors for Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and Noah’s Animal House.

Julie Murray (Photo Credit: Talbot Snow)

1) How did you get your start in philanthropy?

As a high school student at Bishop Gorman High School, we were required to complete “service hours”, which is still a tradition today. In my sophomore year, I volunteered at the Children’s Behavioral Center on W. Charleston. Interestingly, as an adult today, I’m still engaging in work with children’s mental wellness.

2) What made you start the Moonridge Group?

Before launching Moonridge Group, I served as the founding CEO of Three Square, and saw firsthand the impact made when philanthropy is strategic, collaborative and innovative. Building on those lessons, I started a philanthropy advising firm (Moonridge Group) AND launched a charitable foundation (Moonridge Foundation) to share those lessons with funders, to help make their giving as impactful as possible.

3) For young people who are interested in giving back to the community, what advice do you have for them?

No age is too young. For example, at our Sept. 9 Philanthropy Leaders Summit, we have 12-year-old Cooper Sandoval speaking about his philanthropy. He began his charitable work at the age of nine and has been making an impact even at his early age. Additionally, Moonridge Group launched a “Next Gen Philanthropy Group” of people in their 20’s and 30’s who are interested in philanthropy. It is chaired by Jess Molasky, Christina Ellis and Dina Ciulla. We work with them to teach the young leaders about giving, and how to find their area of interest for their philanthropy.

4) What's been my best giving experience?

There are many outstanding non-profits in Nevada that I have positive memories from personal and business giving. However, if I had to pick one, it would be the annual trip organized with local doctors and my team to Carlos Santana’s hometown of Autlan, Mexico to work with the medical clinic there, Santuario de Luz. Seeing firsthand how much the children needed medical help, providing it, and changing lives, was a heart-warming and rewarding experience!

5) What is your vision for the firm in the next 3 to 5 years?  

Our community and state have done an excellent job supporting healthcare/mental health and education. I believe that in the near future, our community and state need to focus on water, drought and climate change in order to ensure our city, state and planet will be a healthy one for the next generations to come.

6) The 11th annual Philanthropy Leaders Summit is coming up on September 9th. Can you please tell us more about this summit?

Although we have many outstanding initiatives and projects within Moonridge Group and the Moonridge Foundation, this is one of my favorites! It’s the one time annually where hundreds of funders from Northern and Southern Nevada come together, as one great state, to hear about ways to ensure we’re doing all that we can to address community needs. Our Summit is modeled after the one that Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet and others launched shortly before ours began 11 years ago. We believe that as philanthropists, we’re stronger together, and can do a better job addressing community needs when we have timely information/data, innovative ideas and strategy with our giving. This summit accomplishes all and the speaker line-up this year is as exciting as ever!

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