JULIE MURRAY: Hunger Pangs
For a power player whos served as a philanthropy consultant at Harrahs Entertainment, raised $36 million as campaign director of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation and helped kids as the Vegas cosponsor of the I Have a Dream Foundation, Murrays workplace is decidedly unglamorous. Fifteen miles from the Strip, in a nondescript industrial park, she toils in a 50,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse filled with granola bars and pudding cups.
Hunger isnt the stereotypical guy on the corner holding a beer in one hand and a sign in the other, she says. One out of 10 people suffer from hunger in our county. It impacts everyone. But I say, no more. The determination comes from her grandmothers decor. Her curtain valance was embroidered with the words, Passion, Persistence and Patience, and to this day those three values propel me.
The hunger crisis hit hard for her when she worked with Agassi in 2001. A study showed 210,000 Clark County residents living in poverty and found children under 18 make up the largest percentage of the population4 in 10and dont have enough to eat.
In 2007, armed with the comprehensive study spearheaded by hotelier Eric Hilton, start-up money from his fathers Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, a warehouse donated by Clark County and support from many of Vegas heaviest hitters, Murray opened Three Squareas in, three square meals a dayto serve as a hub for agencies to distribute food to the needy.
The first year we moved 10.7 million pounds of food, she says. It broke records. Currently, 12 company trucks haul donated and rescued food to 230 venues, including senior centers, rescue missions, hospices and churches. On one afternoon, MGM execs and their spouses spent the day loading trucks. Now there is a second 70,000-square-foot warehouse, complete with a kitchen, as well as hundreds of volunteers and UNLV nutritionists. Planned is the Summer Food Service Program, to provide meals over summer vacation because so many kids get their sustenance at school. In a time of recession, were doubling our budget from $4 million to $8 million.
Credited with creating a national model, Murray spoke this past year on hunger before both the House of Representatives and Congress. We have this vibrant city, she says. To see people suffering in it is unacceptable.
For information, call 702-644-FOOD, or visit threesquare.org.
JIM & HEATHER MURREN: Cancer Care and Conservation
Three years ago, cancer patients in Nevada requiring top-level treatment had to travel out of state. No longer, thanks to MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren and his wife, Heather. They had been affected by the disease on both sides of their family, but when the couple moved to Vegas in 1998, medical care wasnt even a consideration.
In New York, it was second nature to have great medical care all around us, says Heather. But when we arrived, we saw that health care here was not at the level it needed to be to serve a growing community. There were good community oncologists but no local clinical trials. Nevada had the same cancer rates as the rest of the country but among the highest mortality rates once diagnosed.
So in 2000, the Murrens put their years as Wall Street analysts to use to assess the need for a state-of-the-art facility in their hometown, then began spear-heading the fundraising and galvanizing community support. In September 2005, the 142,000--square--foot, four-story, $52 million Nevada Cancer Institute opened in Summerlin, 10 miles west of the Strip. The institute is Heathers baby, as she functions as chairman of the board, focusing on long-range planning. Shes already witnessing the payoff. The citys health community had not grown in relation to its infrastructure. Now it is much more in line with the ratio of residents to treatment ability.
While Heathers goal has been to improve the quality of cancer care, Jim has chosen to focus on reducing the ecological footprint at his MGM Mirage resortswhich include the Bellagio, Luxor, MGM Grand, Mirage, Treasure Island, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Excalibur and Circus Circus. With all the dramatic fountains, lighting and lush foliage on the company properties, no one would notice the conservation effortsand thats exactly the point.
Every Las Vegas property has a Green Team to implement sustainability, says Jim. Excalibur replaced approximately 4,000 showerheads with low-flow fixtures. Mandalay Bay replaced 90,000 incandescent bulbs with fluorescent. Circus Circus diverts so much material to its recycling program that trash pickups have been massively reduced.
The overall impact of his efforts cant be ignored. In 2008, we implemented 29 projects to conserve electricity, natural gas and water. We saved about 29.8 million kilowatts, he says. Thats equivalent to turning off the electricity in 2,965 homes. Our emissions reduction is equivalent to growing 548,063 tree seedlings. He also oversees the development of CityCenter, set to open later this yeara $9 billion metropolis of residences, retail and entertainment on the Strip that recycles a minimum of 90 percent of all construction waste.
The Murrens are humble about their accomplishments but proud to give a shout-out to the wherewithal of their city as a whole. Here, declares Heather, we say, If you dont have it, build it.
For information, visit nevadacancerinstitute.org.