Essen Otu

Senior Director of Diversity & Community Affairs

I spent my early childhood in Nigeria, but call Arizona home because I have been here for more than 30 years. Some may not know this, but when I was little I wanted to be an artist. To this day I still love art, but now I have the ability to appreciate it on a deeper level and collect it.

I have been with Mountain Park since 2008. What attracted me to the organization was its willingness to take risks. I believe it’s so important to build relationships. If you can go out and meet people and get to know them on a personal level, you can help them and they can help you. Over time, these relationships blossom and you become so much more aware of what is happening all around you. I would love to see this organization grow to serve more people, while continuing to maintain the feel that makes Mountain Park unique.

Over the years that I have been here I have had some memorable moments. One of my favorite days was when we went to David Crockett Elementary School and asked the students to vote on the Gateway playground equipment. It was great seeing kids take part in something that would be a part of their new community health center.

My family life and my faith are very important to me and go hand in hand. I am married to Allison and we have three kids, Sahara, Amel and Aya.

I am a huge proponent of philanthropy. I find it interesting because I never knew anything about it growing up. When I was introduced to it, I was fortunate enough to have resources to give to things I believe in. I consider it a great opportunity to do something positive with what I’ve been blessed with.

Arizona State University (2002)
National Urban Fellows at Baruch College, New York, MPA (2008)

Fun Fact: I have always been a huge fan of Sade.