RDF Familia Wishes Tom Espinoza Farewell

RDF Familia Wishes Tom Espinoza Farewell

By Melissa McDonald, RDF’s Chief Operating Officer

My dearest Jefe (Tom Espinoza), I was given the great honor to write Raza Development Fund Familia’s farewell message as you “Step Up” as co-founder and President and CEO of RDF for the past 23+ years.

Melissa (at left) with Tom Espinoza and Francisca Montoya, RDF’s Director of Community Development & Special Projects.

You must know that I have struggled with this message. How in the world do I convey what you mean to us and the great respect and gratitude we all have for being blessed to serve with you?

Jefe, you are an icon, a true servant-leader, and an Architect of Hope. You have shown the world what is possible to do good and do well by building an organization based on love and service of the poor, the dignity of the human person, and solid business practices. You have opened your heart and your home to our familia. We have grown professionally and spiritually because of your investments of time, opportunities, belief in our potential, and love. You’ve led by example; reminding us of life priorities to take care of our families and loved ones, give back, pay it forward and being spiritually grounded (in whatever form that takes), and being humble and the ability to laugh at oneself when our brains occasionally misfire.

On behalf of your RDF familia, as our expression of love and joy in having learned and served with you on our journey in service of our gente, families, and communities across this great nation, I would like to dedicate Las Mañanitas to you. This revered and beautiful song celebrates and marks the beginning of a new dawn that awaits all of us each day when we serve with love, humility, and purpose –  yet another lesson you have taught us. When you hear this song, think of us Jefe and we will think of you and our eternal love and gratitude.

Con Amor Eterno,

Melissa and Your RDF Familia



A few words from our RDF Ambassadors:

“Over 20 years ago Tom had an inspiration and a deep desire to help the poor. With his deep affection for low-income communities and his golden touch of being able to raise an incredible amount of capital, Tom has earned a special place in the history of the United States in community development!  But, he isn’t finished, we all look forward to seeing his next project. “ – Armando Ruiz, RDF Ambassador and the Founder of Espiritu Community Development Corporation

“One of Tommy’s most important legacies is the South Central Collaborative.  It would not exist without Tommy taking a huge leap of faith, trusting divine guidance and pushing himself to grow personally and spiritually in immeasurable ways. Thank you, Tommy, for believing in people even when they don’t believe in themselves and for supporting true community collaboration when very few people have the vision, courage and stamina to do so.” – Shannon Scutari, RDF’s Ambassador and the President & Facilitator of the South Central Collaborative.

“This is not goodbye, but hello to the next chapter of the journey. Mr. Tom Espinoza often shares the words of Mother Teresa – a love for God and service of the poor. We will be forever blessed for his love and faith of community, family and prayer to our Blessed Mother. “    – Petra Falcon, Executive Director of Promise Arizona