Jack Whiteman, founder of Empire Southwest, the region’s Caterpillar dealership, established the Edna Rider Whiteman Foundation in 1961 with the belief that business has a fundamental responsibility to the community. Thirty-five years later, the organization became known as the Whiteman Foundation.

Since the foundation’s first major community investment, the Whiteman Foundation has invested more than $5 million primarily in Maricopa County. Beneficiaries have included community groups like the East Valley Child Crisis Center, the Arizona Museum for Youth and the Phoenix Art Museum

From the 1970s to the 1990s, the foundation invested primarily in the arts and higher education. But at the turn of the century, the foundation’s emphasis shifted to early childhood development — creating awareness of the issues surrounding early childhood development and contributing to child welfare.

The foundation’s main funding source, Empire Southwest, commits more than 2 percent of its pretax profits to charity — 1 percent to the Whiteman Foundation and 1 percent to a sister foundation. Empire Southwest currently has more than 1,600 employees, 15 full-service locations and six planned future sites.


The board of directors for the Whiteman Foundation consists of members of the Whiteman family and a long-time family friend.

Mollie C. Trivers

Mollie C. Trivers has served as the executive director of the Whiteman Foundation since 1995. Mollie has 30 years of experience in nonprofit and arts management, including more than 20 years in grants management in the public and private sectors. In addition to her work with the Whiteman family, Mollie is the director of major gifts at ASU’s Gammage, where her efforts have led to the eightfold growth of contributed annual income since 2001. Among her accomplishments, she served on the founding staff for classical music radio station KBAQ and Business Volunteers for the Arts.

Eric Whiteman

Eric Whiteman is passionate about his family’s legacy of community involvement and philanthropy. In addition to serving on the Whiteman Foundation’s board, he is a member of Empire Southwest’s board of directors. Eric works as a paramedic in Flagstaff, where he lives with his daughter, Elizabeth.

Jeff Whiteman

Jeff Whiteman, the chief executive officer of Empire Southwest, is the third-generation CEO of the Caterpillar dealership for Arizona, Southern California and Northern Mexico. Jeff started working at the dealership in 1988, and after various promotions to director of sales, vice president/general manager and president/chief operating officer, he was named CEO in 2003. Empire Southwest has consistently been named one of the highest-performing of the world’s Caterpillar dealerships. Jeff is an Arizona native and a graduate of Arizona State University. He lives with his wife, Holly, and their five children in east Mesa.

John O. Whiteman

In 1963, John O. Whiteman joined Empire Southwest in Arizona and eventually took the reigns from his father, Jack, and become the second-generation CEO. He retired from the company as chairman and CEO in January 2003. Whiteman is currently president of the Whiteman Foundation, and speaks extensively around the country on topics dealing with early childhood education. He is co-founder and co-chair of Educare Arizona, a world-class educational childcare center planned for the Phoenix metropolitan area, and serves on the boards of numerous corporate and nonprofit entities, including the Arizona Museum for Youth, the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, the Phoenix Symphony and the Arizona Community Foundation.

Christy Whiteman Wilson

Christy Whiteman Wilson has worked with the Whiteman Foundation since 1995. An Arizona native, she is a member of the third generation of Whitemans. Christy is a graduate of Arizona State University and served on the board of Empire Southwest for 12 years. She and her husband, Jim, have five children.