Craig R. Miller, Founder, President, and CEO
Having co-founded and led MZA Events for over 35 years, Craig has guided the vision, strategy, budget, message formation, and fundraising for the well over 100 mass participatory events in more than 15 cities throughout the United States have total generated over $400 million.
Craig began his career as one of California’s youngest managers of progressive legislative and congressional campaigns, earning the respect of veteran members of Congress for his ability the guide long-shot campaigns to victory. In 1984, he turned his attention to raising money for AIDS organizations in order to help to fill that gap left by government’s negligible response to the epidemic. This led to his creating the AIDS Walk fundraising model, beginning with AIDS Walk Los Angeles in 1985, and followed by AIDS Walk New York and AIDS Walk San Francisco.
To this day, all three events continue to attract an enormous level offer public participation and garner high fundraising results. Over the years, Craig has applied both the successful AIDS Walk fundraising model, as well as the hallmark tenacity and effectiveness of his MZA team, to many other causes and events with great success.
In recent years, Craig has become a student of Zen Buddhist meditation and is deeply grateful to his teachers everywhere.
Bert Champagne, Event Director
Having joined the company in 1992, Bert is longest continuously serving MZA employee. His skills in budget tracking, administration, and volunteer management help keep each MZA campaign running smoothly and successfully both behind the scenes and at the events themselves. He has risen from these ranks of staff to become one of MZA’s top fundraising, logistical, and event production experts. In 2018, Bert accepted his new role as the Event Director and now oversees MZA’s East Coast operations, including full production of AIDS Walk New York (the largest AIDS fundraiser in the world), and the fluid stations and mile marker installations of the NYC Marathon (the largest marathon in the world).
He is also known throughout Los Angeles as an dedicated and beloved volunteer for numerous organizations and events, including APLA’s S.T.A.G.E. event, “Divas Simply Singing,” the Los Angeles Marathon, Project Angel Food, the “Diamonds of the South Bay” chapter of the American Women’s Business Association, and the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade.
Valorie Smith, Director of Finance and Administration
Valorie’s roots run deep with MZA. She was hired to work the very first MZA-produced event, AIDS Walk Los Angeles, way back in 1985 and worked on variety off campaigns following the first event. She remained longtime volunteer photographer and supporter of MZA’s events over the next 25 years. In 2013, she returned to MZA full time to take on her current role overseeing the company’s finances and human resources. Valorie’s skill set lends well to her role at MZA, bringing her experience as an production manager in the film industry, professional photographer, and head of her family’s construction management firm. She is well versed in budgeting, management, payroll, employee benefits, accounting, and strategic planning, and she earned a BA in English Literature at UCLA.
Valorie continues to capture many of MZA’s events with her camera, and her photos are widely used in campaign marketing materials at no charge to our clients. When you see her at an event, smile!