Village of Oak Creek attorney Elizabeth McFarland is devoted to her community. Her volunteer efforts include serving on the Northern Arizona Healthcare Board of Directors and the Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona Board of Advisors.
During the 19th Annual Spirit of Sedona awards luncheon on Sept. 5, at the Enchantment Resort, McFarland was recognized as the Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona Volunteer of the Year.
“Why I volunteer is because it is a win-win-win life strategy,” McFarland explained. “Not only does the organization and community benefit from the volunteer’s efforts, so does the volunteer. Volunteering provides opportunities for building social support networks that benefit both community members and volunteers.”
Volunteering also increases self-esteem and provides greater life satisfaction, she says. “Acts of altruism make the volunteer healthier, happier and less stressed. Studies have consistently shown that improved mood, better physical health and increased longevity are connected to giving – whether it’s monetary donations or volunteer hours. When it comes to your health, it truly is better to give than to receive.”
John Kincaid, co-chair of ACF of Sedona, presented the award to McFarland at the luncheon event. “Elizabeth is self-employed in her full-time legal practice, yet finds time to volunteer her talents, intelligence, honesty, integrity and dedication to improve the community,” he noted. “Most of Elizabeth’s volunteer work takes advantage of her legal skills and business experience. A diverse group of local non-profits, too numerous to list, have benefited from Elizabeth’s pro bono legal advice.”
McFarland has found her volunteer efforts greatly rewarding in the two major non-profits she has chosen to help. The first, Northern Arizona Healthcare (NAH), is the largest not-for-profit healthcare organization in Northern and Central Arizona, serving more than 167,000 patients each year at its locations, from Flagstaff Medical Center to the Verde Valley Medical Center campuses in Cottonwood and Sedona.
“Serving on the Northern Arizona Healthcare Board of Directors brought me great satisfaction because I could see the progress and accomplishments of the organization over time, culminating this year in Flagstaff Medical Center tying for second best hospital in Arizona in the US News and World Report ranking, behind only the Mayo Clinic,” she said.
McFarland added that, although Verde Valley Medical Center is too small to be ranked by US News, both VVMC and Flagstaff Medical Center received 5-star ratings from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service. This is outstanding, she says, because only the top 7% of all hospitals in the nation receive the 5-star rating.
The second large non-profit where she volunteers, The Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona, is an affiliate of the Arizona Community Foundation, a family of charitable funds created for the community and by the community in 1978.
Foundation grants are awarded year-round through a process overseen by a local board of advisors, composed of volunteers such as McFarland.
“I have a passion for helping young people obtain an education so that their individual lives may be as fulfilled as possible and the society and economy will improve,” she explained. “While serving on the ACF Board of Advisors, I chaired the Scholarship Committee, where I reviewed applications and awarded scholarships, established an ACF scholarship application training program at Red Rock and Mingus Union High Schools and inaugurated the Verde Valley Cash for College. These practical programs helped students find the funds they need to embark on the next step in their education journeys.”
McFarland also has been able to apply her training as a corporate attorney to the legal issues facing the non-profit entities. “The key here was that doing a good job takes time; I treat volunteer work just like gainful employment with the same attention to detail, applying the talents, intelligence, honesty and integrity.”
McFarland grew up in Santa Barbara, California, and credits her parents for her interest in volunteering. “Both my parents modeled volunteering and expected me to volunteer. My father earned the Silver Beaver in Boy Scouts in recognition of his years of service as an adult leader. My mother has been recognized as an Outstanding Young Woman in America by Who’s Who, and more recently both statewide in California and nationwide, for her leadership and work supporting charities.”
Through junior high and high school, she volunteered for more than 300 hours per year. She has served as Special Olympics coach at UCLA, a builder for Habitat for Humanity in Los Angeles, and trail maintenance worker in Maryland.
McFarland received her undergraduate degree in political science from UCLA and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. While in Washington, D.C., she worked a Senate staff member, then as a lobbyist for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
She worked for law firms in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. In 2002, she opened her private practice in Yavapai County with a mission to serve Sedona and the Verde Valley in areas such as estate planning, guardianships, real estate and business law.
While volunteering for the Cornville Community Association Trails Committee, she met her husband, Larry Lineberry.
“I am lucky to have a very competent paralegal in my office and a very patient husband at home,” she said. “With their support, I am able to keep the legal practice running while I am out of the office in meetings, preparing for meetings or traveling to meetings. The one thing I noticed that I did not have time for was taking care of myself; so I have had to scale back a bit to have balance between work, volunteering and exercise.”
McFarland enjoys skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking and camping.
She has volunteered for several years on the Trails Committee for the Cornville Community Association to create a trail system connecting the Village of Oak Creek, Cornville, Cottonwood and Sedona. She has also donated to Chain Reaction Arizona, a non-profit organization that provides bicycles to those in need of transportation in the Verde Valley.
McFarland moved to the Village of Oak Creek from Washington, D.C. in 2001, after the tragedy of Sept. 11, “to be back in the West and closer to my family in Santa Barbara,” she said. “I feel like Goldilocks living in the Village of Oak Creek – it is just right: not too hot, not too cold, not too big, and not too small.” QCBN
By Betsey Bruner, QCBN
Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona Co-chair John Kincaid presented the Volunteer of the Year award to Elizabeth McFarland on Sept. 5.
Courtesy photo by Larry Kane