An old newspaper article featuring Ability360 President & CEO Phil Pangrazio sitting in a rugby wheelchair

Edition 22 | Spring 2021

A reflection from LivAbility publisher Loren Worthington

By Loren Worthington

There are not many CILs around the country where someone from the marketing department could make their way upstairs to pitch the ‘great’ idea of publishing a magazine to their boss.

But 21 editions ago I had that conversation with our President & CEO, Phil Pangrazio. He listened to my pitch, gave our marketing department the support we needed, and here we are signing off on Edition 22.

That pitch was that we needed to be telling stories. Stories of people living their lives, and personifying the Independent Living philosophy. It’s of the utmost importance to myself and to all of us who create this magazine that we’ve done our very best to get this story–Phil’s story–out to our readers. There’s no question that the bricks and mortar that make up the Ability360 campus will serve as Phil’s legacy. It’s a physical testament to his ability to grow a small and obscure nonprofit into a community leader. Not just an organization that was at the forefront of the disability community, but one of the largest and most-respected nonprofit organizations in Arizona.

I’ve spent the past 10 years working for Phil at Ability360. And that comes after a pretty long and successful career working for myself. So working for somebody else doesn’t come easy for someone like me, and yet in this past decade, it has been a pleasure to work for and with Phil.

Four times a year when we have our All Staff meetings, that’s when everyone in the organization gets to see his personality. Each department gets the opportunity to show what I think he is most proud of: the effort that all of our staff put forth to do good work in our community.

That’s it; it’s the people.

And nothing drives that home more than each meeting when he gives a plaque to those who have spent five years or 10 years working for Ability360. Each quarter, it seems as if there is almost always someone who has worked two decades for the organization. After presenting that plaque, it’s followed up with a quick story about or a laugh with that person and that’s what I believe his true legacy to be. He finds the best people to be part of the organization and gives them the support and encouragement to flourish.

Part of my job has always been to identify opportunities to communicate our message to the public. You see, Phil’s office is no bigger and no grander than anyone else’s here at Ability360. But that’s the thing about Phil; he’s never been about being the “face” of Ability360. He’s always been more than willing to let others jump in front of a camera or provide a quote to a reporter. That’s Phil.

As we met to shoot the cover of this edition–which is the only time we have had the same person on the cover–he and I made a quick observation that this could very well be the last time we take his photo for something related to Ability360.

It meant something.

I took this job because I want to tell stories. I wanted to take photos of interesting people. I think this story, the cover story of this edition, is truly why I took the job.

Phil–that’s why I’m still here.

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