Born in 1954, Powell B. “Gil” Gillenwater, III is a lifelong resident of Arizona. Gil’s earliest memories include hunting and fishing with his father. Here he developed an affinity and deep respect for the outdoors. Distinguishing himself as an All-State football player in high school, Gil attended Brigham Young and Rice universities on scholarships and was graduated from Arizona State University. While in college Gil obtained a real estate license and in 1980, purchased a franchise office. He and a partner built the company into the organization’s largest producing office in the western United States.
In 1984, Gil and three partners founded SDI, Inc. This company specialized in structuring investment partnerships for the purchase of land and its subsequent entitlement and sale. In 1986, they formed Arizona Capital Securities, Inc., to sell registered interests in their partnerships. Gil was the principal securities broker. Since its inception, SDI, Inc. has assembled forty-two partnerships that have purchased, zoned and sold over 10,000 acres of land. Gil is currently the owner and designated broker of the Powell B. Gillenwater, III, LTD., real estate brokerage firm.
Gil is a black belt in Kenpo Karate and a certified Hot Yoga instructor. He is a life-long meditation practitioner and a student of Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, Chögyam Trungpa.
Gil is the founder and volunteer President of the Rancho Feliz Charitable Foundation, Inc. http://www.ranchofeliz.com/ Established in 1987, this charity is located in Agua Prieta, Sonora, on the Arizona/Mexico border. It includes a master-planned community of 42 homes, a child-care center and a learning center. In addition, a dormitory was constructed in 1999, which has housed over 20,000 American student volunteers. Among other service projects, these volunteers build 50 homes and distribute over 30 tons of food per year. Rancho Feliz also has an educational program that awards 300 scholarships per year to deserving students. With an Infant Brain Development Program in place, Rancho Feliz shepherds the educational destiny of inopportuned children from 40-days of age up and through university.
Since its inception the volunteer-based charity has raised in excess of $12 million in donations for its charitable programs. The bulk of these funds were generated through Extreme Sport/Extreme Karma events in which Gil and his volunteers planned and participated. These events include: a 500-mile relay run across Arizona, an 850-mile bicycle ride across Utah and Arizona, a 205-mile mountain bike ride thru the Mexican Sierra Madres, a 519-mile bicycle ride from Santa Fe, NM to Telluride, CO and a 333-mile mountain bike ride across the Navajo Nation.
Outdoorsmen at heart, Gil and his brother Troy have had countless wilderness adventures. In addition to their three Tibet expeditions, these include hiking 500-miles across the state of Washington, hiking 810-miles across Arizona, hiking 200-miles across Great Britain, rafting 400-miles across the state of Utah, riding bicycles 900-miles across Poland and Slovakia and most recently (2016), riding bicycles 1,200-miles across Namibia and South Africa.
Gil has traveled extensively throughout the world visiting over 60 countries. As a student of Eastern thought, he has concentrated his travels in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and India. Gil has been able to successfully integrate many of the ancient Eastern concepts garnered from his travels into his charitable work.
In 2005, Gil established the Guardian Warrior Foundation, Inc., http://www.guardianwarriorfoundation.com/ Gil is the volunteer President of this organization and he self-funds the charity. Gil is a recipient of the Hon Kachina Award, Arizona’s highest honor for volunteerism in addition to being one of five members throughout the United States chosen to receive the National Association of Realtors annual “Good Neighbor Award”, likewise honoring volunteerism.
In 2007, Gil traveled to India with the Free the Slaves organization. While visiting Bihar and Uttar Pradesh he developed the, “Free a Village” program. The program caught on and in 2009, former President Bill Clinton selected “Free a Village” as one of the key projects to highlight during his annual Clinton Global Initiative. Gil’s program and funding meant freedom for a village of twenty families who were bonded in slavery for generations in quarries and carpet looms. Since its inception, several other donors have joined the “Free a Village” program freeing their own villages.
As stated by Gil:
“There is no such thing as altruism. We serve oursevles by serving others.”