The ACA Board of Directors unites some of the state’s most powerful, proactive state officials with its globally recognized leaders of business – creating partnerships that both attract and cultivate commerce throughout the state. Led by Chairman Governor Katie Hobbs, the Board of Directors consists of some of the most successful minds in both the public and private sectors, including the state’s Senate President, Speaker of the House and three public university presidents. The ACA leverages this incredible collection of subject matter expertise with business and policy experience to facilitate every facet of corporate expansion, strengthening the state’s overall economy. The ACA Board consists of voting members and ex-officio members.
The Arizona Board of Regents named John Arnold its executive director in July of 2018. In this role, he is responsible for guiding the board's strategic plan with ambitious 2025 goals to increase educational attainment and advance the public higher education enterprise to serve students and impact Arizona's economy.
Mr. Arnold had served as interim managing director of the board beginning in May of 2018 to lead the board office during the search for a new leader. He joined the board office in March of 2015 as vice president of business management and financial affairs, developing financial policies and procedures for the university enterprise, addressing capital development and state budget requests, and coordinating system wide analysis of complex financial issues.
With more than 20 years serving the state of Arizona, Mr. Arnold brings significant public service experience and a deep commitment to higher education to the position. He has an exceptional background in financial affairs and a proven track record of leadership, serving as Gov. Jan Brewer's state budget director where he was instrumental in providing fiscal direction and solutions for the state during the Great Recession as well as implementing the budget and advising the governor on all related matters.
Throughout his career, he has worked with leaders in education from K-12 to college. As director of the Arizona School Facilities Board,he managed programs for new school construction, building renewal and energy savings.
Mr. Arnold is married with five children. He received his bachelor's degree in accounting and his master's degrees in accounting and public administration from Brigham Young University.
Mara Aspinall is a healthcare industry leader and pioneer committed to active civic involvement. She is a Partner with Illumina Ventures, a premier genomics and precision health venture firm supporting companies to improve human health. Previously, Ms. Aspinall co-founded BlueStone Venture Partners, investing in diagnostics, devices and digital health companies in Arizona and other southwestern states.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Aspinall emerged as a national expert on disease diagnostics and worked as an advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation and co-authored the Foundation's reports on COVID policy.
Ms. Aspinall is the former President and CEO of Ventana Medical Systems, a billion-dollar division of the Roche Group (now Roche Tissue Diagnostics) based in Tucson. She led her world-class team to new financial success, more than two dozen major instrument and assay launches as well as global leadership in companion diagnostics.
With a passion for education about the importance of diagnostics, Ms. Aspinall co-founded the Biomedical Diagnostics School at Arizona State University, the first and only program dedicated to diagnostics as an independent discipline. She is a Professor of Practice at ASU. Ms. Aspinall also heads Health Catalysts Group - publishing Sensitive and Specific: The Testing Newsletter and the HCG Diagnostics Year in Review. She served on the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary’s Advisory Council on Genetics, Health & Society (SACGHS) in the Bush and Obama administrations.
Ms. Aspinall was named Arizona Biosciences Leader of the Year by AZBio, one of the 100 Most Inspiring People in Life Sciences by PharmaVOICE Magazine and one of the Most Influential Corporate Board Directors by Women Inc. She started her career at the consulting firm Bain & Company. Ms. Aspinall holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University.
Mr. Astorga retired from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona after serving 23 years as the Senior Vice President & CFO. During his tenure as CFO at BCBSAZ, he also held the position as President of BCBS of Mexico (1994-1999) and as the Chief Business Development Officer (2009-11). Prior to joining BCBSAZ, he was a partner with Astorga & Maurseth, a local CPA firm (1976-1987) and a Senior Supervisor with KPMG, a national CPA firm (1970-1975).
Mr. Astorga is the owner/principal of AZTOR Health & Wealth Management Advisors and serves in a community leadership role as Chairman of the Board for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation. He is an Advisor to Consular Corps of AZ, Cancer Treatment Centers of America Global, Equality Health, GlobalMed, and TransMed7; and is also a Consultant to Blue Cross Blue Shield of AZ, CPLC, Martinet Medical, Q Point Health, and Valle del Sol. He has been an active member of the community where he currently serves on various boards including, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Banner Health Foundation, BBVA Bank AZ, Catholic Charities (Emeritus), Heard Museum, Ottawa University and previously served as co-chair of the Governor's Citizens Finance Review Commission, Maricopa Community Colleges' ACE Campaign Cabinet, and Governor's Film and Television Commission.
After practicing law for six years as a federal prosecutor, Michael Bidwill joined the Cardinals organization in 1996 as Vice President/General Counsel and today serves as team Owner and President. In that time, his influence over the club and his role in shaping its success has been undeniable.
In addition to his prominent role in guiding the Cardinals, Mr. Bidwill has established himself as an influential leader in the greater Phoenix business community where he has been a strong advocate for economic growth and development.
Within the NFL, Mr. Bidwill chairs the League’s Security and Fan Conduct Committee, a group of eight club executives that oversees and develops best security practices for NFL facilities. He also serves on the board of the National Football League Foundation, which in 2013 will award more than $23 million in grants to support youth and high school football programs, health and safety efforts, as well as community health initiatives, including NFL PLAY 60. Mr. Bidwill has also been a member of the league’s Business Ventures Committee since 2007 when Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed him to it.
Mr. Bidwill additionally serves on Arizona’s Super Bowl Host Committee. That group not only oversaw the successful staging of Bowl XLII at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2008 but attracted the 2015 game (Super Bowl XLIX) and its half billion dollar economic impact to the state.
From 2008-10, Mr. Bidwill served back-to-back terms as Chairman of Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC). He is also a board member of Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL), an organization composed of the region’s top business and civic leaders. In July of 2011, Mr. Bidwill and 16 business leaders in the state were appointed to the Arizona Commerce Authority Board of Directors. He is also a member of the board for the Pat Tillman Foundation, which carries on the legacy of the former Cardinals safety killed in Afghanistan in 2004.
Michael M. Crow is an academic leader and educator, designer of knowledge enterprises, and science and technology policy scholar. He has been the sixteenth president of Arizona State University since July 2002. He is guiding the transformation of ASU into one of the nation’s leading public metropolitan research universities, an institution combining academic excellence, inclusiveness, and societal impact—a model he terms the “New American University.”
During his tenure ASU has developed a new era academic design built around innovation, established more than 15 transdisciplinary schools and research initiatives and witnessed an unprecedented academic and learning technology infrastructure expansion, quadrupling of research expenditures, and attainment of record levels of diversity. He was previously executive vice provost and professor of science and technology policy at Columbia University.
A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Academy of Public Administration, he is the author of books, articles and designs for new knowledge enterprises, new science and technology policies, new highly adaptive higher education institutions and new transdisciplinary concepts for enhanced human welfare.
Jenn Daniels is an expert in navigating the complexities of municipal government. She has been an elected leader for over a decade, serving as a Councilmember, Vice-Mayor and the Mayor of Gilbert, Arizona. Under her leadership, Gilbert thrived, becoming one of America’s most vibrant towns-earning several national awards, including the Most Prosperous City in America, Most Livable City and Second Safest City. As Mayor, she was committed to the future of Gilbert and, as part of the Town’s “City of the Future” initiative, was focused on innovating local government in the areas of fiscal responsibility, infrastructure and technology and community prosperity. Under Ms. Daniels's leadership, the Town implemented advisory groups including Advancing Education in Gilbert, ONE Gilbert and the Executive Advisory Committee. During Ms. Daniels's time in leadership, the Town achieved AAA bond ratings from all three rating agencies, opened three new parks, and transformed the Heritage District into a regional destination with some of the best restaurants in Arizona-all while remaining the safest community in the state with the lowest cost of service in the metro Phoenix area. Ms. Daniels has also been a small business owner since 2005.
Ms. Daniels has served on several regional and national boards and committees, including the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council, Regional Transportation Policy Committee, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, League of Cities and Towns Executive Committee, and Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, and as a Rode! Fellow for the Aspen Institute. In 2020, Jenn was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey to a six-year term on the State Transportation Board.
Ms. Daniels's experience spans a broad spectrum that encompasses both her public and private expertise. She has a deep understanding of transportation planning and policy, municipal strategy and engagement, including procurement, economic development, strategic communications, political strategy and policy analysis. She brings a wealth of knowledge and an extensive network to get our clients their desired outcomes.
Ms. Daniels makes being a mom to four kids spanning high school to elementary her top priority and spends her free time hiking, reading, organizing all the things and baking delicious treats.
Phil Gallagher is the chief executive officer of Avnet and a member of its board of directors. As CEO, Mr. Gallagher is focused on growing and accelerating the company’s leadership position in the electronic components and technology industry by leveraging Avnet’s global distribution expertise and value-added services from design chain to supply chain.
A 40-plus-year Avnet veteran with a passion for serving customers, Mr. Gallagher was named CEO of Avnet in November 2020. Previously, he served as global president of Electronic Components, where he was responsible for leading the company’s massive broadline components distribution business worldwide.
Beginning his long and successful career with Avnet in 1982, Mr. Gallagher has held key executive leadership positions in sales, marketing and operations. He led two former operating groups for the company, serving as president of Avnet Electronic Marketing Americas from 2004 to 2009 and as global president of Avnet Technology Solutions from 2009 to 2014.
Mr. Gallagher is also a past president of the National Electronics Distributors Association (NEDA), now known as the Electronic Components Industry Association. In 2009, he received the Gail S. Carter Award, one of the organization’s highest honors. He currently serves on the Arizona Commerce Authority Board of Directors and the Advisory Board of Women in Electronics. Mr. Gallagher is also a member of Greater Phoenix Leadership and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
Mr. Gallagher holds a bachelor’s degree from Drexel University.
Monica Garnes is President of Fry’s Food Stores, a division of The Kroger Co. headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is responsible for all aspects of merchandising and operations for the 125 stores located throughout the state of Arizona.
Her professional experience has included opening new stores, serving as the community/media/government communications liaison for 245 stores in the former Great Lakes Division, serving as a certified division inclusion trainer and running all aspects of Merchandising for the Fry’s Food Stores in Arizona. She was twice named one of Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery and in 2019 they named her Retail Trailblazer. Ms. Garnes was named one of Fortune and Food and Wine magazines “Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink,” and was recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of their “Outstanding Women in Business,” as well as by the Arizona Business Magazine in the category of “Most Influential Women in Arizona Business.” In 2020, Ms. Garnes received the Athena award from the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
Ms. Garnes is a native of Columbus, Ohio, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from The University of Rhode Island in Kingston, Rhode Island. While at The University of Rhode Island, she was a four-year starter, two-year captain and was named to the Atlantic Ten All-Rookie Team for the women’s basketball team. Her commitment to service has been shown by her long-term participation in community service including memberships on several boards. Ms. Garnes currently serves on the Phoenix Suns Charities Board, The University of Rhode Island College of Business Advisory Board, the Rio Salado College President’s Advisory Council, Greater Phoenix Leadership, and the Friends of the Food Bank Advisory Council at St. Mary’s Food Bank. She is also the Executive Chair for Kroger’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council.
Mark Gaspers serves as Senior Manager, Government Operations at The Boeing Company in the southwest. Before this role, Mr. Gaspers was a Trade Control Specialist supporting Boeing’s Space Exploration division.
Before joining Boeing, Mr. Gaspers was a policy analyst for defense, homeland security, veterans, and NASA issues for the Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC) under the chairmanship of Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Mr. Gaspers also served as a senior legislative assistant for Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Senator Kyl’s health care legislative correspondent. He completed the Air Command and Staff College with the Air Force Fellows section while working for Representative Diaz-Balart.
Mr. Gaspers received his master’s degree in national security studies from Georgetown University in 2001. While at Georgetown, he served as an associate editor of National Security Studies Quarterly and worked as a research assistant for the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Mr. Gaspers currently chairs the board of directors for the Arizona Manufacturers Council. He resides in Tucson with his wife, Dr. Mary Gaspers, and their two children.
Richard J. Gray, M.D., is CEO of Mayo Clinic in Arizona, the No. 1 hospital in the state, ranked by U.S. News & World Report for the last nine consecutive years. Dr. Gray works with Paula Menkosky, chief administrative officer, to provide leadership and strategy, define and implement Mayo Clinic’s operational plan, and expand Mayo Clinic’s leadership in Arizona and the Southwest.
Before being appointed CEO in 2019, Dr. Gray worked as a surgical oncologist, specializing in treating patients with breast cancer, melanoma and sarcoma. He served as chair of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Arizona, chair of Mayo’s Breast Specialty Council, and vice-chair of the Department of Surgery in Arizona.
Dr. Gray has been recognized as an esteemed educator, a patient education champion, including his selection as Mayo Clinic Distinguished Educator of the Year in 2013. He is a professor of surgery at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science and, for ten years, served as program director of the General Surgery Residency Program.
His research focuses on developing less burdensome and better-coordinated treatments to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. He has published more than 150 research manuscripts.
Dr. Gray graduated cum laude from Lake Superior State University. He also played Division II college basketball and earned his medical degree from the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. Dr. Gray first came to Mayo Clinic in Arizona in 1995 as a surgical resident. After a fellowship in surgical oncology as a Mayo Foundation Scholar at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, he joined the staff at Mayo Clinic in 2001.
He and his wife, Kathryn, have three sons.
Sharon Harper is Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Plaza Companies. Her forward-thinking commitment has helped make Plaza, one of the premier real estate firms in Arizona and has earned her and Plaza respect throughout the industry and across the country. She is not only dedicated to her business endeavors but is also actively involved in many different aspects of the community.
Ms. Harper oversees all facets of company operations, including the ownership, development, leasing or management of nearly 13 million square feet of Arizona urban transformational projects, medical healthcare companies, senior living communities and bioscience/biotechnology centers. With Ms. Harper at the helm, Plaza Companies’ properties and projects have received significant recognition within the real estate, construction, senior living, technology and medical sectors, and the company has proved instrumental in setting a national standard of excellence in the ownership, development, management and leasing of award-winning facilities throughout these sectors.
Born and raised right here in the Grand Canyon State, Governor Katie Hobbs has dedicated her life to listening to her community and helping solve difficult challenges for the people of Arizona. A fearless advocate for Arizona, Governor Hobbs will bring transparency and accountability to the governor’s office and deliver real results for all of us.
She learned the value of service from her parents and from her faith. Starting as a kid who volunteered at church, she has spent her entire life serving – and has never stopped. She put herself through college at Northern Arizona University and graduate school at Arizona State University with a combination of work study and scholarships, and then immediately started as a social worker helping everyday Arizonans. Her first job out of college was working with youth experiencing homelessness in Phoenix, and then she helped run one of the largest domestic abuse shelters in the country.
In her time as a social worker and running a domestic violence shelter, Governor Hobbs saw firsthand the price Arizonans pay when their elected leaders fail to address the problems people are facing day in and day out. Frustrated with the lack of leadership, Governor Hobbs decided to run for office herself, and she used her experience as a social worker to take on Arizona’s toughest challenges.
In the legislature, she worked with both parties to expand health care to over 500,000 Arizonans. She worked across the aisle to find new ways to tackle the growing opioid epidemic here in Arizona. And she worked with a Republican governor to clear the state’s rape kit backlog and put sexual assault offenders in jail.
When Governor Hobbs became Secretary of State in 2018, she had more tough challenges to tackle. She promised to bring trust and accountability to the office – and she did. Governor Hobbs modernized the office, fixed broken systems, battled misinformation, and navigated the pandemic.
Governor Hobbs has never backed down from a tough fight, and she is a battle-tested leader with the strength and experience to get the job done. Now Governor Hobbs is ready to deliver real results for everyday Arizonans and finally bring the leadership required to solve the most urgent issues Arizona faces today.
Governor Hobbs knows firsthand that government only works well if it’s led well. For Governor Hobbs, that means transparency and accountability. It means focusing on our common needs, not the small differences that divide us. It means bringing people together to serve our state, not tearing us apart for political gain. And it means creating opportunity for all – regardless of zip code, gender, race, or ability.
At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), one mission is to inspire health and make it easy. This relentless focus on improving lives is at the heart of everything BCBSAZ does—from helping members improve their physical and mental health to elevating the entire community's health.
CEO and President, Pam Kehaly's role is to drive strategy, oversee organizational operations, and deepen relationships with members, partners, and community leaders.
During her tenure, she has driven double-digit member growth while creating a culture of caring, empathy, diversity, and inclusion—both inside and outside the organization. When the right thing is done for customers and each other, our organization will thrive.
She is particularly proud that BCBSAZ is recognized by Modern Healthcare's Best Places to Work in Healthcare. Everyone in the organization understands their role in making a difference in people's lives. That's why Ms. Kehaly advocates each day to:
- Practice curiosity: In an environment of rapid change, constant learning is vital.
- Engage: Be an active part of making a positive difference.
- Collaborate: We work better together, sharing ideas and listening to diverse voices.
When Ms. Kehaly is not at work, she serves on several boards focused on elevating health in the community. She finds peace and solitude hiking through the stunning Arizona deserts to recharge and refocus during her downtime. Ms. Kehaly's specialties include: transformational change | strategic vision | executive leadership
Dr. Stacy Klippenstein was chosen by the College Board of Governors to take over the reins as President of Mohave Community College on July 1, 2019. Prior to joining Mohave Community College, Dr. Klippenstein served as the President of Miles Community College in Miles City, Montana, from January 2014 to June 14, 2019. Previously, Dr. Klippenstein served as the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Montana State University Billings, which includes a two-year technical college. From this experience, Dr. Klippenstein became passionate about two-year education and helping students attain industry-recognized credentials, certificates, and two-year degrees. Dr. Klippenstein knows that a college education can transform the lives of so many and a community college contributes to the economic growth of any small, rural community.
Prior to his time at Montana State University Billings, Dr. Klippenstein served as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Housing and New Student Programs at Central Washington University. Dr. Klippenstein has also worked at Texas Tech University and Northern Arizona University in various capacities. Dr. Klippenstein received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Eastern Montana College (now Montana State University Billings) and a doctorate in higher education leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Klippenstein also serves as an Associate Consultant for the Strategic Enrollment Planning division of Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Klippenstein has instructed many first-year experience, student leadership, psychology, and graduate courses.
Dr. Klippenstein is married to Carrie Klippenstein and has two sons, Steven and Ty. Both are successful college graduates. In his spare time, Dr. Klippenstein enjoys a round of golf, spending time outdoors, traveling with Carrie, and spending time with friends and family. Go Bighorns!
Wesley D. Kremer is the President of Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies. He leads 31,000 employees and is responsible for a broad portfolio of air and missile defense systems, precision weapons, radars, command and control systems and advanced defense technologies.
Mr. Kremer, an electrical engineer and U.S. Air Force veteran, has decades of executive experience in aerospace and defense. He held multiple leadership positions at Raytheon Company before its merger with United Technologies Corporation in 2020, including president of the Raytheon Missile Systems and the Integrated Defense Systems businesses.
In the U.S. Air Force, he served as a weapon systems officer on F-111 and F-15E aircraft and flew more than 90 combat sorties in Iraq and Bosnia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Montana State University and an MBA in engineering technology management from the City University of Seattle.
Sherry Martin co-founded Tucson Tamale in 2008. Since then, the company has grown from a small takeout shop in Tucson to a successful Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Brand sold in over 6,000 grocery stores nationwide. Ms. Martin and her co-founder and husband operate two manufacturing plants in Tucson, Arizona, employing 50 people. The Tucson Tamale Company ranked No. 148 on Inc. Magazine’s Regionals 2023 list of the Southwest fastest-growing private companies in America.
Prior to Tucson Tamale, Ms. Martin worked at Intuit and led a cross-functional team to implement global privacy policies. She was instrumental in developing the Privacy Breach Protocol and managed several privacy breaches, strengthening the company's data security and privacy compliance.
Ms. Martin is a proud alum of the University of Arizona, where she graduated summa cum laude in Communication. She is an active member of the Latino Business Action Network and a graduate of its Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI) Scaling Program. She is an integral part of the CPG Female Founders Group and Leading Women of Consumer.
Clate Mask has been educating and inspiring entrepreneurs for over a decade, and is recognized by the small business community as a visionary leader. His passion for small business success stems from his personal experience taking Infusionsoft from a struggling startup to an eight-time Inc. 500/5000 winner. As CEO, Mr. Clate is leading Infusionsoft on its mission to simplify growth for millions of small businesses worldwide.
Under Mr. Clate’s leadership, Keap (formerly known as Infusionsoft) has landed four rounds of venture capital including a $55 million Series D led by Bain Capital Ventures with contributions from prior investors, Signal Peak Ventures and Goldman Sachs. He was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, a Top 100 Small Business Influencer by Small Business Trends, one of the 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2013 by Goldman Sachs, and Business Leader of the Year by the Arizona Technology Council.
Mr. Clate is a national speaker on entrepreneurship and small business success, and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business Without Going Crazy. Mr. Clate has a BA in Economics from Arizona State University, as well as an MBA and a JD from Brigham Young University.
Simer Mayo is CEO and founder of Valor Global, overseeing all aspects of the company’s strategy. Prior to founding Valor, Mr. Mayo worked with top consulting companies around the globe in different technical and management roles. Mr. Mayo's drive for excellence and commitment to customer delivery have been keystones for the success of Valor.
Mr. Mayo brings over 15 years of experience in global business and holds a Master’s from MIT and a Bachelors from Delhi University, India.
He is an avid sports fan, enjoys traveling to different countries and loves the outdoors. He is married to his beautiful wife of 10 years, Vicki and has two kids. He is very passionate in helping with youth initiatives and provides leadership to several non-profit organizations and charities. Simer is a member of YPO (Young President’s Organization).
Douglas J. Nicholls is the 27th Mayor of the City of Yuma, Arizona. He was elected to serve the Yuma community as Mayor in 2014 and was recently re-elected for a third term beginning January 2023. Mayor Nicholls previously served as a council member in 2009. He is committed to the residents of the greater Yuma area through the core belief that quality communities open doors for all residents to succeed through quality jobs, superior education and a robust quality of life.
Mayor Nicholls spearheads many efforts to enhance and grow the Yuma community, including serving as the Founder and Chairman of 4FrontED’s Governing Board. The 4FrontED effort is an economic development-focused board of regional mayors and leaders from the region that includes the four states on the U.S.-Mexico border: Arizona, California, Sonora, and Baja California. Together, they work to maximize the impact of the megaregion on the global economy, representing a population of nearly two million people.
Mayor Nicholls’ vision to enhance accessibility to higher education culminates in plans for the Innovation District in the greater Yuma area. He brought together multidisciplinary leaders throughout the community to foster innovation and higher education opportunities in the Yuma region. The effort relies upon vertical coordination with industry, education at all levels, and the greater community to provide those opportunities.
Mayor Nicholls serves as President of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, an organization of all ninety-one cities and towns in Arizona. In 2021, he was appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Local Government Advisory Council, is one of 39 selected members, and is the only member from Arizona. Mayor Nicholls serves on many boards, including the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area and Amberly’s Place. He is a previous Chairman of the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation.
In 2019, he was inducted into the Arizona State University (ASU) Academy of Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame for the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. Mayor Nicholls was raised in Yuma. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Degree from Arizona State University (ASU) with an emphasis in Civil Engineering before continuing post-baccalaureate studies in Transportation Engineering. In addition to his role as Mayor of Yuma, he is President and Owner of Core Engineering Group, an Ordained Deacon at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, an active Rotarian and Member of the Caballeros de Yuma, and a dedicated husband and father of four children.
Senator Warren Peterson was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2012. He is the House Majority Leader and has served as Commerce Chair and on the Appropriations, Finance, Ethics, Elections, and Government and Higher Education Committee.
Senator Peterson is a third generation Gilbert resident and feels it is the best place to raise his family. Senator Peterson has worked in the real estate industry for 18 years, primarily in new home construction and has owned a real estate brokerage for over a decade.
As an honor student and proud graduate of Gilbert High School he received various academic scholarships. He holds a Bachelors degree from ASU and law degree from ASU Law.
As a young man participating in the Boy Scouts of America he became an Eagle Scout. As an adult awards have included the Silver Beaver, Boy Scout and Commissioner Hall of Fame.
Senator Peterson has sponsored many bills that have been signed into law by the governor including one that eliminated pensions for politicians. He has also been honored to carry priority legislation for the Governor that has improved the business climate in Arizona.
William "Wick" Pilcher joined USI in 2013 and currently serves as Chief Executive Office Wick Pilcher Insurance, a Division of USI in Phoenix, Arizona. In this role, Mr. Pilcher is responsible for driving volume, engaging the sales force, managing sales and production, new business and renewal processes, coordinating with claims, loss control, and actuarial services. Along with other team members, Mr. Pilcher has responsibility for ensuring that USI delivers on the growth goals as well as ensuring the agency’s excellent client service commitments.
Prior to joining USI, Mr. Pilcher served as President/CEO for Wick Pilcher Insurance, Inc.
Mr. Pilcher has been in the insurance industry over thirty years. He began his career as a broker at C.E. Heath with Lloyd's of London. He joined Olliver/Pilcher Insurance in 1978 as an Account Executive, soon became a Branch Manager, and in 1983 was appointed President & Chief Operating Officer. In 1986, Olliver/Pilcher merged with Corroon & Black and Mr. Pilcher was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Arizona office.
In June 1992 Mr. Pilcher resigned his position as Chairman and CEO of the Arizona operation to open his own independent agency, Wick Pilcher Insurance, Inc. A long-standing tradition links the Pilcher name with insurance for the past half century. The company provided full service in three areas: Commercial Insurance, Personal Insurance, and Employee Benefits.
Mr. Pilcher earned his BA degree from Arizona State University.
Mr. Pilcher has been active in the Phoenix community and on many Boards such as Paradise Valley Country Club, Barrow Neurological Foundation, Compass Bank, Brophy College Preparatory, Young Presidents' Organization, Phoenix Symphony, Men’s Anti-Violence Network, St. Joseph’s Hospital and The Heard Museum . He is a member of Wine and Food Society of Phoenix and the Commanderie De Bordeaux.
Girish Rishi is the Chief Executive Officer of Cognite, a data platform company that harnesses the power of the cloud to deliver insights to the energy and the industrial sector. Mr. Rishi was previously the CEO at Blue Yonder, a leading supply chain software company. The business transformed into the cloud during his tenure, driving strong growth, profitability, innovation, and customer and employee satisfaction.
Before his CEO position at Blue Yonder, Mr. Rishi held executive leadership positions at Motorola, Tyco, and Symbol Technologies, leading global businesses that delivered IoT, software, and services. Mr. Rishi has a master’s degree in public policy from Johns Hopkins University, an MBA from Hartford University, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Mumbai.
José Luis Cruz Rivera began his tenure as the 17th President of Northern Arizona University (NAU) on June 14, 2021. Prior to joining NAU, Dr. Cruz Rivera served as President of Lehman College of The City University of New York and as Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost of the 25-campus system. During his tenure at CUNY, Lehman enhanced its national reputation as an engine of social mobility and the Central Office of Academic Affairs registered important accomplishments on behalf of the University’s more than 20,000 faculty members, 26,000 professional staff and 500,000 students and learners.
A leading national advocate for policies to expand opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all students—especially those who have historically been underserved—Dr. Cruz Rivera is a frequent keynote speaker and writer on higher education issues. He has testified several times before the U.S. Congress, and his work has been covered by many media outlets, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Univision.
Previously, Dr. Cruz Rivera served as provost of California State University, Fullerton. He is a former vice president of Higher Education Policy and Practice at The Education Trust in Washington, D.C. and a former Chief Student Affairs Officer for the University of Puerto Rico system. He began his career as a faculty member in engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, rising through the ranks and serving as chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and dean of Academic Affairs.
Dr. Cruz Rivera chairs the board of directors of The Education Trust and serves on the board of the Data Quality Campaign. He is also a member of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) advisory board, the Anchor Institutions Task Force, and the steering committee of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. In the past, he has served on the board of directors of the New York Botanical Garden, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the Regional Plan Association, and the Association of Chief Academic Officers. He has also served as a member of the Community Advisory Group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the advisory board of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Committee on Academic Innovation and Transformation, and as a commissioner on the Postsecondary Value Commission.
Dr. Cruz Rivera is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a patented inventor, and a National Science Foundation Career Award recipient. His work as a faculty member on optical interconnections for massively parallel processing systems was published in scientific journals and presented at international conferences. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering (magna cum laude) from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is an alumnus of the Harvard Institute of Educational Management.
Dr. Robert C. Robbins assumed his position as the 22nd president of the University of Arizona on June 1, 2017. Previously, he served as president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center (TMC) in Houston from 2012 to 2017. In this role, he significantly enhanced TMC’s commitment to collaboration, introducing five cross-institutional research initiatives centered on innovation, genomics, regenerative medicine, health policy and clinical research.
Prior to his time in Houston, Dr. Robbins served as professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, founding director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, president of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation, president of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, president of the American Heart Association Western States Affiliate, president of the Bay Area Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and chair of the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia Council, among other roles. In 2016 he served as president of the American Heart Association Southwest Affiliate.
An internationally recognized cardiac surgeon, Robbins has focused his clinical efforts on acquired cardiac diseases with a special expertise in the surgical treatment of congestive heart failure and cardiothoracic transplantation. His research work includes the investigation of stem cells for cardiac regeneration, cardiac transplant allograft vasculopathy, bioengineered blood vessels, and automated vascular anastomotic devices. Robbins is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and a former guest editor of the Circulation Surgical Supplement.
While at TMC, Robbins also served on the Houston branch of the Dallas Federal Reserve board, the board of directors of the Welch Foundation, and the American Heart Association Southwest Affiliate in 2016. He served on an independent blue ribbon committee to evaluate the Veterans Affairs health system, and the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston honored him as the 2016 International Citizen of the Year.
His educational background includes a B.S. in chemistry from Millsaps College, medical degree from the University of Mississippi, general surgical training at the University of Mississippi, cardiothoracic training at Stanford University, postdoctoral research at Columbia University and the National Institutes of Health, and congenital heart surgical fellowships at Emory University and Royal Children’s Hospital.
Danny Seiden brings more than 16 years of experience in global public affairs and government relations, as well as handling complex legal matters in private practice and public sector service. Prior to joining the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Mr. Seiden was legal counsel to the Valor Global leadership team. He focused on helping achieve growth objectives as well as providing continued public affairs guidance in AZ, WA and other States.
Mr. Seiden worked at Intel, was a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig where he chaired the Phoenix office government law and policy practice. Mr. Seiden served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey from 2014 to 2018 where he assisted in the passage of landmark legislation including the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act and K–12 education funding ballot referral.
Mr. Seiden was recently named among 2020 Leaders of the Year in Public Policy by Arizona Capitol Times for his contributions in the field of law and public policy. Mr. Seiden earned his Juris Doctor (cum laude) from Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) from Pepperdine University. Mr. Seiden serves as an adjunct professor at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, is a board member of numerous community organizations. Mr. Seiden is passionate about orphan care and volunteers with Orphan Outreach for orphaned and vulnerable children in Mathare, Nairobi and Bungoma, Kenya. He and his wife Ann, live in Phoenix with their three children.
John R. Selby (Jack) is a technology, finance and independent film entrepreneur. His current primary role is as Managing Director at Peter Thiel’s family office, Thiel Capital, in Los Angeles.
As a “PayPal Mafia” member, Jack co-founded, along with Peter, Clarium Capital Management, a macro hedge fund after selling PayPal to EBay in October 2002. At PayPal, Mr. Shelby joined as an original employee and later served as a Corporate Officer/Senior Vice President, overseeing the company’s international and corporate oper¬ations. As an active technology investor and advisor, Jack is involved with companies such as SpaceX, Bird, Affirm, Blend, FreedomPay, Q Bio, POPSUGAR and many others.
As an independent producer, Jack’s film credits include Silk Road, Freeheld, Bernie, Act of Valor as well documentaries Fastball, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope and many others.
Mr. Shelby received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Hamilton College and currently serves on its Board of Trustees and as a member of the Investment Committee for the college’s endowment. Mr. Shelby's other philanthropic activities include the Navy SEALs Foundation, co-founder and member of the Board of Directors for the Wyoming Global Technology Partnership, cohost/founder of the Arizona Technology Innovation Summit and founder/chairman of invisionAZ, a non-profit dedicated to advancing the local Arizona technology ecosystem. Mr. Shelby is a resident of Paradise Valley, Arizona.
Representative Ben Toma was born in Romania, and came to America in pursuit of the American Dream in 1987. He has been living in the West Valley since 1996. He married his wife Ani in 1998, and together they have five daughters in the Deer Valley School District.
Representative Toma is the co-founder and Broker/Owner of Century 21 Toma Partners, one of the fastest growing CENTURY 21 franchises, and one that has been consistently named as one of Arizona’s top-25 real estate brokerages.
Prior to co-founding his own company, Representative Toma managed billion-dollar budgets and prepared financial forecasts for top executives at American Express. He is also involved in his local church where he serves as the Music Director, and serves on the Board of Directors of Benita International, a non-profit organization established to help orphans and the needy in Romania.
Cathleen C. Walker is regional president for Phoenix/Northern Arizona and head of Corporate Banking for Arizona and New Mexico for PNC Bank.
Prior to being named to her current position, Ms. Walker served as executive vice president and managing director of PNC’s Debt Capital Markets loan syndications origination and structuring team in Chicago. This team supported large corporate, middle market, leveraged, and investment grade clients in various industries, as well as specific industry coverage including healthcare, financial institutions group and leasing transportation and finance. Additionally, Walker was head of Equipment Finance Loan Syndications, responsible for all aspects of PNC’s equipment finance loan syndication process, including product strategy, origination and distribution.
Ms. Walker began her PNC career in 1992 as a member of the Corporate Banking training program and spent several years in PNC’s Commercial Banking group as a relationship manager. Following that experience, she worked in loan syndications and was initially responsible for sales and distribution for both primary and secondary transactions, and she eventually transitioned to the structuring and origination team and worked with a broad array of clients.
Ms. Walker currently is a member of Greater Phoenix Leadership, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business Dean's Council, the Valley of the Sun United Way Women's Leadership Council and Golden Seeds. She serves on the board of directors of Southwest Human Development. Prior to her relocation to Phoenix, Ms. Walker served on the board of directors of JDRF of Western Pennsylvania and the board of The Woodlands Foundation as treasurer.
Ms. Walker holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, with a Finance concentration and a certificate of International Studies, and a BA in Economics from Pennsylvania State University.
Sandra Watson is an economic development professional with 33 years of leadership experience in business attraction and expansion, innovation, entrepreneurship, economic policy and workforce development. Since 2011, Ms. Watson has served as President & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), a public-private partnership that leads statewide economic development. She and her teams have worked with more than 1,117 companies committed to creating more than 267,000 quality jobs and investing more than $113 billion in capital in the state.
Ms. Watson is a collaborative leader who excels in strategic thinking and relationship building. She worked tirelessly to implement the new vision for the ACA, providing invaluable leadership and stability during its transition from the Department of Commerce into one of the nation’s first public-private partnerships focused on economic development. Under her leadership, she has achieved record results against two of the ACA’s five-year plans and is currently on track to exceed the goals of the organization’s third ambitious five-year business plan. From 2016-2023, Ms. Watson oversaw the Arizona Workforce Council and was the Director of the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, a data-driven team focused on economic and labor market analysis.
During her tenure as an economic development professional, Ms. Watson has had the privilege of serving six Arizona Governors and is currently a member of Governor Katie Hobbs’ cabinet. In 2022, Ms. Watson was selected to advise the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimaindo, as a member of the U.S. Investment Advisory Council (IAC). The 20-member council is charged with identifying strategies for increasing foreign direct investment. In addition to her role as a member of the council, Ms. Watson is the Co- Chair of the IAC’s Workforce Subcommittee, and is responsible for leading the committees’ strategic recommendations for strengthening domestic talent. She is also a founding member and Chair of the State Economic Development Executives (SEDE) Network board, a nationwide forum for top state economic development and commerce officials.
With a penchant for science and emerging technologies, Ms. Watson holds several leadership positions across organizations that advance innovation. She is the Chair of Science Foundation Arizona, a founding partner on the Institute for Automated Mobility Board of Directors and a member of the National State Science and Technology Institute Board of Trustees.
Ms. Watson began her career in Canada and earned an Honors Bachelor of Commerce degree from Laurentian University. She also completed the Global Leadership Certification program at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. In addition to serving on numerous regional, statewide and national Boards of Directors and councils, Ms. Watson is passionate about her role as board member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona.
Supervisor Jason E. Whiting has served on the Navajo County Board of Supervisors since 2014. Supervisor Whiting represents District III, which includes the communities of Holbrook, Snowflake, Taylor, Woodruff, Shumway, Silver Lake Estates, White Mountain Lakes, Clay Springs, and a portion of Heber-Overgaard.
Supervisor Whiting has served in the past on the Snowflake Town Council for six years, including as Vice-Mayor. He currently serves on the boards of several local and state organizations, including RealAZ, the Chairman of the Eastern Arizona Counties Association (ECO), the Chairman of the Natural Resource Working Group (NRWG), Arizona County Supervisors Association Legislative Policy Committee, President of the Arizona County Supervisors Association, 4-FRI Stakeholders, and the National Association of Counties Organization Public Lands Steering Committee.
Community involvement and service are very important to Supervisor Whiting. Since moving home, Supervisor Whiting has served on the Northland Pioneer College (NPC) Foundation, the Snowflake/Taylor Chamber of Commerce, the Snowflake/Taylor Economic Development Committee, the Snowflake/Taylor Tourism Committee, and the Snowflake/Taylor Youth Football Board.
Supervisor Whiting is a partner with The Mahoney Group, one of Arizona's largest privately owned independent insurance agencies. He is active in his church and enjoys working with youth in our area as a football coach at Snowflake High School. Supervisor Whiting and his wife, Shanda, were both raised in northeastern Arizona and love raising their four children in District III. His family has been in this region for multiple generations and has served and partnered with its communities in many capacities over the years.