New Programs, Initiatives Take the Foundation to the Next Level

The Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation, IIAR’s education and research foundation, is launching an effort to expand the outreach of the organization through a new legacy planned giving program. At the same time, leaders said the Foundation would build its visibility and impact this year by celebrating its 10-year anniversary with renewed attention to mission, scholarship, talent development and research.

At the helm of these efforts are Lois Stirewalt O’Connor, the Foundation’s new Executive Director, and Tom Leighty, the Foundation’s new Chairman.

The two said they would work to expand the group’s funding to ensure the safe, reliable and efficient use of ammonia and other natural refrigerants.

The Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation was originally founded, organized and funded by the membership of IIAR. A 501c3 nonprofit education and research organization, it has expanded and focused on its mission: To support research for the safe, reliable and efficient use of ammonia and other natural refrigerants, and to promote the development of industry talent through scholarships, academic alliances and outreach.

Executive Director Lois Stirewalt Connor said a number of new programs and initiatives are underway that will make the Foundation even stronger and more relevant to the industry in the coming years.


As a 501c3, The Foundation is supported primarily by the IIAR membership. There is now a greater effort placed on expanding its outreach and impact. Communicating the importance of educational alliances and research of the Foundation as it relates to the industry, are all part of this.

“In our Foundation, a solid core of annual financial support is necessary to fulfill our mission,” O’Connor said, adding that a new giving program, or annual fund, is often called the bread and butter of any non-profit organization. “It supports the base needs and allows for greater flexibility and outreach.”

“Many organizations miss great opportunities in funding their education and research initiatives because they do not embrace all avenues of financial support or engagement,” she said. Starting July 1, 2016 members and friends of IIAR and natural refrigeration, can easily make donations online to the Foundation. Donations can also be made through a link on the IIAR App.

The purpose of the new giving strategy is to encourage the IIAR membership, and those of other affiliated organizations, to become engaged in the future of natural refrigeration.

Another opportunity for membership to consider is the new Planned Giving program, and Legacy Society. Planned giving, sometimes referred to as gift planning, can be defined as a method of supporting a non-profit or charity and enables donors to make larger gifts than they could make from their current income.

Lois shares that she “looks forward to reaching out to each and every one of our IIAR membership to encourage involvement, outreach, and support.” Over the next few months, a variety of offerings will be communicated. Benefits and information about all of these new initiatives can be found on the organization’s new website,


The Scholarship Program has been a vital part of the Foundation’s outreach. The industry will continue to support students going forward, and presented two students, Andrew Re and Jacob Upton, with Foundation Scholarships this year.

Re, a mechanical engineering student at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, is a dean’s list and honor roll student. He also holds an Academic Merit Scholarship and has interned with Bassett Mechanical Contractors. He is slated to graduate in May, 2017.

Upton is a mechanical engineering student with an HVAC&R concentration at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He serves as vice president in the student ASHRAE chapter and a member of the National Society of Sales Engineers. He has interned with Air Treatment working in support of technical sales functions, is a dean’s list student and holds several scholarships associated with his organizational activities. He is expected to graduate in June 2017.


IIAR members and industry partners showed their support as part of the 2016 William E. Kahlert Memorial Golf Tournament benefitting The Foundation. The event was a success, raising over $39,000.The Foundation would like to thank the sponsors of the 2016 Golf Tournament: Baltimore Aircoil, Independent Refrigeration, Dual Temp, General Refrigeration Co., Gartner Refrigeration, Colmac Coil, Airfoil Impellers, Kahlert Foundation, SGS Refrigeration, DEEM, Jamison Door, Logic Technologies, Marcos Braz and Innovative Refrigeration.

Save the date, Feb. 25, 2017, for the next Foundation golf tournament, which will be held in conjunction with the IIAR conference in San Antonio, Texas.


Lois Stirewalt O’Connor has joined the Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation to lead the foundation’s new fundraising, outreach and educational efforts. O’Connor joined ARF in March and came to the foundation with a substantial background in advancement and development in the nonprofit sector. Previously, she served as senior director of advancement, programs and outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the organization authorized by the U.S. Congress to build a national memorial dedicated to all who served with the U.S. armed forces in the Vietnam War.

O’Connor has also served as the director of advancement for the Air Force Association and has held roles in university advancement and development at American University and at George Washington University.

“We are very excited by the addition of Lois O’Connor to our organization,” said Marcos Braz, former Foundation chairman and president of MRBRAZ & Associates, a refrigerated facilities and industrial refrigeration design company based in Azle, Texas. “Her deep experience in program development, outreach and advancement will serve to lead and grow the foundation in new ways — ways in which members of our association and our industry aspire.”