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Julia Marreel: Turning Passions into Impact

A woman with brown hair, wearing a black top, smiles at the camera


“Maybe you could say I cut my teeth and fundraising at the school carnivals,” says Julia Marreel.

Now embarking on her 10th year on the Chandler Cultural Foundation Board of Directors, Marreel is a force of nature, leading the special events committee to raise funds for the Chandler Center for the Arts.

She moved to Chandler with her family in the 1980s and remembers watching the art center being built. A graduate of University of Phoenix with a business management degree, Marreel went onto working in the hotel industry for several years until she married her husband, Tom Marreel; they have two boys.

 “When our boys started school, I helped out with carnivals, golf tournaments, carnivals, in the classrooms,joined the Jacobson Elementary School PTO– anything to help my boys’ school. I also continued when they were in high school and was part of the Golf Booster Club for seven years,” says Marreel. “We started the Antigua National High School Golf Invitational for boys and girls teams from across the country and Canada to compete; the event was run by our booster club. So, I guess you could say I’ve always been passionate about raising funds for things I care about.”

Once her sons Andrew and Michael were grown, Julia decided to put her skills to work to help other causes she cares about. Commitment to the community is now her full-time job, serving not only the Chandler Cultural Foundation, but also as a long-time philanthropist and Board member for the Dignity Health East Valley Foundation, which raises funds for the Mercy Gilbert and Chandler Regional Hospitals. Adding to her philanthropy work, Marreel recently joined the Board of Directors for Positive Paths Arizona, a nonprofit that mentors and assists East Valley women in need.

When her father, a well-respected physician, passed away in 2002, she decided to carry on his dedication to the Chandler Regional Hospital by volunteering at Dignity Health East Valley Foundation and by 2017 she had joined the Board.

This year marks her 20th year supporting the health organization and during that time Marreel has served on numerous committees for Dignity Health Foundation. She is a three-time Chairwoman for Dignity’s “Laughter is the Best Medicine Gala,” as well as promoter of the popular event, “Power of the Purse” Soiree with Dillard’s Department Store. She was recently honored as the very first recipient of Dignity Health’s Common Spirit Board Director of the Year, recognizing the health network’s most valuable and respected Board member. She was selected from 80 nominees from Foundations across the United States as the inaugural honoree.

Since joining the Chandler Cultural Foundation Board in 2013, she has spearheaded and chaired the Special Events Committee, producing the Center’s annual fundraising event, Center Stage.

“Each year we’ve built upon the past season’s event, working out kinks, fine-tuning logistics, overcoming obstacles,” says Marreel. “I’m proud to say we had a record-breaking event this year.”

Over the years that Marreel has been involved with the Special Events Committee, Center Stage has cumulatively raised more than $330,000 to support Chandler Center for the Arts programming, including Theatre Kids field trips, Kids Camp scholarships, the free summer concert series and free tickets to students, families and seniors.

“I would say this year’s event really fulfilled my dream for what the event should be,” says Marreel “To have the guests dining and socializing on stage, and then move seamlessly to enjoy a perfect concert in the Bogle Theatre– it’s what I’ve always hoped for.”

“I wanted guests to first experience the Arts Center from a musician’s perspective– of what it’s like to be on stage looking out at the seats of the theatre,” continues Marreel. “Then, to conclude by sitting in the audience and experiencing a great show, guests really see and feel what the Arts Center does. But in the end, the knowledge that we are raising funds to develop the next generation of artists, musicians, audience members– that’s what really makes me proud.”