Chris Itami - April 2015

Unlike many of us transplants or snowbirds, Chris Itami has native Arizonan bragging rights. She attended Navajo Elementary, Saguaro High School, and Scottsdale Community College.  Although born and bred in the Scottsdale area, she and her family moved to Fountain Hills four years ago.  She points out that she is not a big city girl and was drawn to the smaller hometown feel of Fountain Hills. “For us it was the appropriate choice. I wanted to be in a place where I recognized people in the grocery store and where there was a real feeling of community,” she adds. 

Since her arrival, Chris has contributed to that feeling of community. “Women friends have always been important to me and joining Friends in the Hills brought me close to so many wonderful women,” she points out.  She is not hesitant to take on responsibility. She is a co-founder of the Friends Happy Hour group, “Drinking Divas,” helps chair Circle of New Friends, and will bring her artistic talents to chairing the decorating of the Friends Community Center Christmas Tree as well as luncheon table decorations. Her giving back has not been limited to one organization. She is a member of Rotary and the Chamber, as well as the National Association of Women Professionals.

In 1982 she met her husband, Russ. She smiles as she relates the occasion. “I was singing at church and there he was. I said that’s the one and I went for it,” the classic, love-at-first-sight story to be sure, with thirty-two years of marriage and still counting.

As much as she loves Arizona, she is always up for travel. One highlight of her experience was traveling to Italy with her mom and sister and spending some time in Sicily where she visited with “at least 150 cousins I’d never met before.”  Other jaunts have included Barbados, Virgin Gorda, Alaska, Mexico, and St. Thomas.

Currently, she and her hubby are busy packing for a 10-day, all-expense paid trip to New York and the Big Apple. They will begin with Niagara Falls then it’s on to the City and a week at the Intercontinental with stops at famous venues like Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, and the World Trade Center Memorial. “And, of course, I must see my favorite all-time Broadway show Phantom of the Opera.”  The opportunity for this fabulous experience was presented to Chris as an award from one of the companies she represents for her outstanding performance.  Last year she was a recipient of another such award that took her and Russ to the Ritz in St. Thomas. “We Enjoyed sailing, snorkeling, and the gorgeous beaches.” 

So, with New York crossed off her bucket list, what might her next adventure be?  Her list is close at hand on her phone and she calls it right up.  “Let me see, hike the Grand Canyon, see Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, do Yellowstone and Glacier, do a cooking tour of Italy and raft the Colorado River and…..” She’s a girl on the go and I am sure this list has not been finalized.

Her work experience has been varied, but a thread runs through.  Early experience included working as an office manager for State Farm Insurance and owning her own American Family agency. The births of her two children interrupted that aspect of her career. “I became a stay-at-home mom, doing mostly volunteer work for a number of years and then I started in the floral business.” Her business, Heaven Scent Floral Design and Special Events , led to an eBay store and “before I knew it, I was selling items all over the world.  I had a big world map on the wall and I would pin all the locales I shipped to.”

Coming almost full-circle, she now is a Medicare Educator and Insurance Advisor,   working one-on-one with clients and assessing their individual needs.  “I love what I do. Meeting and working with people is something I find I enjoy and I have a knack for.” And, if you have spent any time with Chris, you can visualize her warm, open smile.

Church has played a major role in her life. And she feels thankful for all her blessings. And blessings she has had . . .  overcoming cancer in 1997 being one of the most important.  She has participated in prayer groups, been a worship-team leader and, with her husband, has been involved with marriage ministry.

 As if she isn’t busy enough, Chris finds time to explore other interests, including  decorating, reading, dancing, music, cooking, movies and theater, and a spin at blackjack every so often.

Chris’ non-stop energy demonstrates her love of life and all it has to offer. We can be so glad that this lovely woman came “home to the Hills”.