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40 Under 40 - Class of 2015
Business Observer Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 5 years ago

Noelle Muniz, 29

Assistant Director, Because of Ezra

Noelle Muniz had a successful start to her career in entertainment public relations in Los Angeles and later in Tampa at Tucker Hall. But she always had an itch for doing nonprofit work.

In May, Muniz heard about an opportunity with Because of Ezra, a local nonprofit that funds research for children battling neuroblastomas and other childhood cancers. Because of Ezra was struggling to find an assistant director to work closely with its board, which is split between Los Angeles and Tampa. “No one else could fill this role,” she says, “It was a no-brainer. I had to take it.”

The organization is in its fifth year, the year that really determines how sustainable a nonprofit is. When raising money, a background in communications work like PR, branding and messaging can be valuable, according to Muniz. The biggest challenge is “figuring out how to grow while being extremely responsible with the funds we have.”

On Muniz’s first day on the job, she was blown away after meeting Moria, a child directly impacted by the organization’s funds. At a conference, Moria’s father said, “You are funding my child’s life, you are saving her life.” Muniz says the speech gave her goose bumps.

“I want thousands of Morias,” Muniz says. “My goal is to put myself out of a job and find a cure.” She admits that every time she is doing gritty work for the organization that isn’t so exciting, Moria’s picture pops into her mind and it keeps her going.

Muniz says the best part of her job is that she’s no longer just helping celebrities or rich people get richer. Now she thinks of the kids as her clients, pushing their interests forward.

This article was updated to reflect the correct name of the nonprofit. 

— Traci Beach


Name: Noelle Muniz

Age: 29

City of residence: Tampa

Twitter handle: @noellemuniz (but I don’t really tweet; I’m more of an Instagramer)

Employer: Because of Ezra, a local nonprofit bringing hope to kids battling neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers through funding innovative research.

Title: Assistant Director

Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA (Go Eagles!!!)

Years on the Gulf Coast: three

Marital status/children: Married, no kids yet.

Alma mater: Emerson College

Best place to network: Oxford Exchange or Buddy Brew Coffee

Coolest business experience: Meeting Moria, a six-year-old girl who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age four and is now cancer-free as a result of the innovative research and clinical trials we have/are funding. Our efforts are helping to keep kids like Moria alive. She keeps me motivated every single day.

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve made a mistake and have empathy when others do the same.

One website that makes your job easier: Square (I can take a donation anywhere!)

One community group you’re most involved with: Other than Because of Ezra, I’m also involved with the Tampa Pig Jig, an annual fundraiser event at Curtis Hixon (Oct 24) to cure FSGS, a rare kidney disease. 

Favorite off-hours activity: Going to the beach, eating at new restaurants or face-timing with my nephew.

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: My grandmother, Lorna who passed when I was a toddler. Brene Brown, who I deeply admire.

What you would be doing if you could pick another career: I actually picked a new career this past year (leaving public relations to work nonprofit) so I think I’d stay put.

Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done: My husband and I went on a trip to Asia to explore Hong Kong, Kyoto, Osaka, Hakone and Tokyo.

What’s at the top of your bucket list: Visit the Amalfi Coast in Italy

What new skill would you like to learn: Sign Language

Who would play you in a movie about your life: I’ve been told I look like a young Phoebe Cates.

If I had a magic wand I’d: I would cure all cancers and diseases currently and retroactively.

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