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Phoenix Forward magazine

Alumna Christa Sorenson parties with a purpose

Christa Sorenson

Christa Sorenson loves to party — especially when it’s for a good cause. The longtime enrollment advisor for University of Phoenix education programs and health care programs is passionate about helping others. With an emphasis on fun, her fundraisers are usually packaged as after-work happy hours, weekend comedy shows or girls’ shoe-shopping sprees.

Sorenson’s efforts even earned her a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama — she is among 111 University employees to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2012. She was singled out further as a “gold-level” award winner for logging more than 1,000 volunteer hours and participating in dozens of University-sponsored projects.

But praise and accolades are not what fuel Sorenson’s philanthropic energy. “Helping out, doing events, volunteering — it just makes sense to me,” she says. Her interest in fundraising was stoked while she was an undergraduate at Northern Arizona University. “It was after 9/11, and we were raising funds for a scholarship program,” she adds. “It seemed important that I get involved. After that, I was hooked.”

Whether planning or participating in a charity event, she says she always has “so much fun,” sometimes at her own expense. For instance, she recently uncovered a talent for painting kids’ faces.

Helping out, doing events, volunteering — it just makes sense to me.

“I’m not that great at it, but they don’t seem to mind, and I feed off their excitement,” Sorenson says, even though it might be hard to discern the difference between a butterfly and a monster she painted on a happy little face.

An enrollment advisor at University of Phoenix since 2004, Sorenson is also a graduate of the University’s MBA program and serves as director of events for the fledgling Phoenix Alumni Chapter.

But this single mother’s efforts go far beyond University-backed events. She personally raised several thousand dollars for a range of causes, including an injured co-worker, breast cancer awareness, and football camp for the son of another co-worker.

She’s always on the lookout for ways to support her other passion — rescued boxers. She says she has fostered more dogs than she can count, always focusing on preparing them for their “forever homes.” Along the way, she kept three for herself.

No matter the cause, Sorenson’s fundraising parties regularly feature a raffle, items for sale and a silent auction. Prizes are usually donated or handmade, and winners might go home with a bottle of wine, a hotel stay or even a pair of 4-inch heels from her private inventory of colorful, inexpensive shoes.

“Whatever it takes,” she says, “I’ll push as far as I can to earn what I can for each cause.” While talking, she pulls out a T-shirt she hand-painted with two strategically placed paw prints, and offers to sell it.

It’s hard to say no to Sorenson — her enthusiasm is infectious. And just like that, she’s raised another $10 for the boxers.