The Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation has never lacked direction. Since its inception in 2015, the foundation has assumed responsibility for supporting the many philanthropic interests of the late Arnold and Winnie Palmer.
“The reach my mom and dad had makes it hard to focus narrowly,” says Amy Saunders. “They did want to touch so many things, so many lives. Over the course of the last few years, we’ve learned through experience there needed to be a truly collective vision from someone that was similar to what my father had so that we can carry on that legacy.”
That’s a tall task, one that Jon Podany has accepted as president of Arnie’s Army. In mid-October, Podany began serving as CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises after eight years at the LPGA Tour, most recently as its chief commercial officer.
“Jon’s background and competencies fit our needs on so many levels,” Saunders says, “particularly when it comes to advancing our charitable causes.”
“There’s still so much passion out there for Mr. Palmer and what he accomplished,” says Podany, 53, who also worked at the PGA Tour for 15 years. “My job is going to be to capitalize on that and channel it in a way to do great things on behalf of the people that Arnold and Winnie Palmer wanted to help.”
The three pillars of the mission are children’s health, youth/character development, and nature-based wellness.
In recognition of Arnold Palmer’s devotion to charitable causes, Golf Digest has partnered with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Monterey Peninsula Foundation to celebrate Golfers Who Give Back.
“The many things that we’re able to engage in, it’s not necessarily about golf, but it’s because of golf, and we’re proud of that,” Saunders says. “So many relationships have been cultivated through the game, including recipients of The Arnie Award. It’s very special to think the award is a reflection of character and the contributions they’ve made to helping other people as my parents did.”
Steve John, CEO of Monterey Peninsula Foundation, endorses a similar vision that is broad and ambitious. Last year MPF dispersed 278 grants totaling nearly $13 million to nonprofit organizations primarily in California’s Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties. Its mission, supported by proceeds from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, bolsters initiatives in education, health and human services, arts and culture, youth, and community environment.
“We have a place-based grant-making strategy that spans a broad range of community needs,” John says. “We are very much in alignment with Arnie’s Army. All the different areas Arnold had been involved in, the due diligence is there that touches upon what he stood for.”