Tragedy can be a powerful motivator. The tragic shooting on the morning of January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner,” and the loss of congressional aide Gabe Zimmerman, motivated the Southern Arizona community to come together and honor a young man gone too soon. Founded in the wake of this tragedy, BEYOND Tucson is going strong ten years later through community programs and events to promote physical and mental health.
BEYOND is now looking to change hats to do more and be more for its community and Daniela Diamente is a perfect fit to lead that pivot. A frequent hat-switcher herself, Daniela has started and or helped start multiple nonprofits, runs a community-focused business, and is an instructor at the University of Arizona.
Of course, an organization based on bringing the community together faced hardship under a requirement to stay socially distant so Daniela and BEYOND took it as an opportunity to evaluate how it started, where it is, and where it can go. Daniela was willing to ask the hard question: “It is the tenth anniversary of this tragedy. Do we want to keep going? Or do we call it?” The resounding answer by both the board and the community was “No. There is more to do here, and we want to do more.”
As the assessment conversations were happening, Daniela met with Laura Alexander, a Tucson based nonprofit consultant, and with support from Arizona Together for Impact, BEYOND began explorations of how collaboration could help them grow. With Laura’s help, and through the strong community of Southern Arizona, BEYOND was able to consider a wide range of future partners and structures for growth to support the community. Meet Me at Maynard’s and Meet Me Wednesdays are two incredibly successful programs. Both started as an LLC, then were acquired by Tucson Medical Center, but they became lost in the shuffle of running a hospital. It just so happened that as TMC thought about spinning them into a nonprofit, BEYOND was looking to transform. These programs, which bring an average of 500 attendees together weekly to walk around the community, enjoy their neighbor’s company and get outdoors, is now able to live on through collaboration with BEYOND.
The new BEYOND is expanding its programming under its four pillars: Explore, Move, Nourish, and Connect. Under those pillars, BEYOND now runs BEYOND Commemoration Week (not just a walk), the Meet Me programs, a hiking program, and BEYOND Bikes in schools, with more to come. With the help of Together for Impact, BEYOND has been able to not only explore these new programs but implement them. “Working with Laura, who has seen so many different models of nonprofits and mergers, was able to bring the idea of different angles to our conversations,” said Daniela. “The grants helped us, me, think out of the box to make all of these groups work to the best of their abilities without duplication of efforts.”
BEYOND succeeded not only because the timing was right, but because they followed their name. BEYOND came from the concept of “looking beyond the tragedy.” Under Daniela’s leadership, the organization is also looking beyond the pandemic, its limits as a single nonprofit, and beyond the status quo of what a nonprofit should be. When asked for advice she would give other non-profit leaders, Daniela’s response was instant: “Let your guard down. As a founder, we all think our work is special and different. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it can be even better with help.”