West Orange Chamber of Commerce will award Tukdarian the Mary VanDeventer - Spirit of West Orange at the Big Orange Awards event Friday, Feb. 3.
WEST ORANGE When Eva Tukdarian heard she was selected as the winner of this year’s Mary VanDeventer - Spirit of West Orange award, she was surprised.
“I was just really honored,” she said. “I had no idea I would be getting an award for helping different people and projects.”
Every year, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce selects a woman who demonstrates excellence in her profession, inspires other women to succeed and contributes time and talent for the betterment of the community as the winner of the award.
“Eva Tukdarian has been a catalyst for the betterment of West Orange County through her role as CFO with The Dr. P. Phillips Charities and her leadership in the West Orange Committee of 101,” said the Chamber. “In her role at DP Charities, she not only ensures that the real estate and financial assets of Dr. Phillips are invested wisely, she also reviews the financial statements of all nonprofits requesting grants and helps educate nonprofits in the areas of strengthening financial internal controls, exempt organization tax laws and technology.”
The award was created in 2007 and named after the late Mary VanDeventer, a lifelong resident and supporter of West Orange County.
According to the chamber, VanDeventer had been a member of many service organizations and served in various leadership roles. Her service included being a charter member and past president of the West Orange Art and Historical Association, which eventually became the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation, a charter member and served on the Oakland Nature Preserve board of directors. She was also active in the Orange Memorial Nurses Alumni Association, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of Lake Apopka.
Tukdarian was born and raised in the Orlando area and graduated from Oak Ridge High School.
“This is my home and always has been my home and will probably always be my home, but what i really do like here are the people,” Tukdarian said. “It’s just very exciting to see the growth in this area. And West Orange Chamber (is) a great group of business people.”
For the last 11 years, Tukdarian has work as the chief financial officer, chief investment officer, treasurer and assistant secretary of Dr. Phillips Charities.
“I’m very pleased do work on this side of town,” she said. “I think a lot of people don’t understand what we do. We don’t ask for donations, but we have to earn all money we give back out.”
Dr. Phillips Charities distributes between $8 million and $10 million to nonprofit organization every year, and one of Tukdarian’s jobs is to ensure that funds are going to the proper organizations.
“Everyone puts in financials for their dreams and goals, and then we have to vet all that,” she said. “We only give out money to nonprofits that have sound financial practices, and sometimes people aren’t ready yet. You need have your house in order for you to grow.”
But for some of the nonprofits deemed not yet ready, Tukdarian sometimes steps in to give them a helping hand.
“They’re so focused on their mission that (financials) go to the back of the house,” she said. “It’s not the fun part or sexy part, but it’s stuff that has to be done in order to allow yourself to grow.”
But the best part of her job, she said, is watching the progress of the nonprofits.
“The best part is when you have someone who gets a grant and is able to accomplish their goal and move onto the next step,” Tukdarian said. “I think that’s really exciting.”
Tukdarian’s involvement in the community doesn’t just extend through her work with Dr. Phillips Charities. She volunteers on the finance committee of the Central Florida YMCA and has served on the investment committee of St. Luke's United Methodist Church and the audit committee of Soorp Haroutin Armenian Church. She also racked up many volunteer hours with the Dr. Phillips High School back when her children attended school there.
“I’m just trying to my best to help people out,” she said.
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].