BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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 Doug Ducey, 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
Supervisor Jean Bishop
Jean Bishop is a longtime resident of Mohave County who is has devoted herself to public service at the local, county and state levels.
Bishop is currently on the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, where she represents Mohave County's Fourth District. District Four encompasses Kingman, Golden Valley, the northwest portion of Arizona before the Nevada state line, north of Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon West. Bishop has held this role since 2014, along with other public service positions throughout her career.
Before becoming a Movahe Counties Supervisor, Bishop had more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement. Bishop was educated in Mohave County. She acquired a degree in applied science from Mohave Community College and has multiple professional and technical certifications, such as her private pilot license.
Bishop has earned many awards and accolades throughout her career. In 2010, she received the prestigious Women Making History Award and achieved the Life-Time Achiever Andy Award four years later.
She has been on numerous boards and commissions. She has served as the County Supervisor's Association Executive Committee President and sits on two committed for Arizona's Criminal Justice Commission. Additionally, Bishop served as a President for the Mohave County Board of Health President, a Director for Kingman Area Food Bank, and a past Treasurer and Secretary for the Fraternal Order of Police.
Representative Russell Bowers
Russell “Rusty” Bowers is the State Representative from Legislative District 25 (Mesa), representing the district since January 5, 2015. Bowers began serving as state House speaker in 2019.
Rusty was a member of the Arizona Senate from 1997-2001 and before that, the Arizona House of Representatives from 1993-1997. He has had an active career in construction, education, the legislature and as a professional artist who is well-known for his outstanding talents, skills and diverse artistic ability. Bowers is a classically trained artist, emphasizing in watercolor, oil painting, and sculpting.
Rusty served with honor and distinction for several years in the Arizona legislature before engaging in several community and career endeavors. Recent events and the continued erosion of the core principles that made this the greatest nation on earth have caused Rusty to reflect and realize that he still has a lot to offer to the individuals, families and businesses in this area and the state. His unique conservative outlook will help restore our communities and state to a principles-based society that develops strong individuals working in a strong economy with good jobs. Rusty Bowers is committed to serving the people of this district in a fair and honest manner and will always have an open door policy. The people he represents can feel confident that he will work on the issues that are important to them, and that he will find real solutions that will set our state up for permanent success.
Rusty Bowers has lived in Arizona and the East Valley for a very long time. Rusty’s great-grandparents settled in the White Mountains, and he is a fourth generation Arizonan. He spent his formative years in Prescott where his father was a teacher and coach at Prescott High School. His family then moved to Mesa and Rusty attended Mesa High School where he graduated with honors. A strong believer in a well-rounded education, Rusty attended Mesa Community College, Arizona State University, and Brigham Young University. In 1992 he returned to do post-graduate work at Arizona State University. His education has spanned many years, interrupted by a two year mission in Mexico, marriage to best friend Donetta Russell of Mesa, and the birth of their seven children.
Dr. Michael Crow
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 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 Jenn’s leadership, the Town implemented advisory groups including Advancing Education in Gilbert, ONE Gilbert and the Executive Advisory Committee. During Jenn’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. Jenn has also been a small business owner since 2005.
Jenn 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.
Jenn’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.
Jenn 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.
Governor Doug Ducey
Governor Doug Ducey was elected on November 4, 2014 and was sworn into office on January 5, 2015, becoming Arizona’s 23rd Governor.
As governor, Ducey’s priorities are growing the economy, creating jobs, improving outcomes in K-12 education and balancing the budget. A champion of limited government, economic development and Arizona businesses and families, Governor Ducey has pledged to work every day to ensure “Opportunity for All.”
Prior to taking his oath as governor, Ducey served as Arizona’s 32nd state treasurer, a position he held since his oath of office in January 2011. As Arizona’s chief banker and investment officer, Ducey managed more than $13 billion in state assets and served as an investment manager for local governments. He also served as chairman of Arizona’s State Board of Investment and State Loan Commission, as Arizona’s Surveyor General and was a member of the State Land Selection Board.
As state treasurer, Ducey notably led the opposition of Proposition 204, a tax increase that would have cost Arizona taxpayers $1 billion per year. With Ducey’s leadership, the proposition was soundly defeated by a nearly two-to-one margin. During his tenure, Ducey also oversaw the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund. Under his watch, the trust fund surpassed $5 billion for the first time, with 90 percent of the earnings allocated toward K-12 education.
Before being elected state treasurer, Ducey was chief executive officer of Cold Stone Creamery. An Arizona-born concept, Cold Stone expanded from a handful of locations to more than 1,400 worldwide under Ducey’s management.
Governor Ducey was born in Toledo, Ohio. He moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University’s business school, where he earned his bachelor of science in finance in 1986. Governor Ducey and his wife, Angela, live in Phoenix with their three sons, Jack, Joe and Sam.
Senator Karen Fann
Senator Karen Fann was elected in November of 2016 to represent Legislative District 1, which covers 8,000 square miles throughout Yavapai County and portions of Maricopa County. She previously served this district from 2011 to 2016 as a State Representative. Karen moved to Prescott at the age of four and has been a life-long Republican. She continues to represent her community by serving as a precinct committeeman and is a member of the Rotary International and Elks. Senator Fann currently serves as the Vice-Chair of both the Finance Committee and the Transportation and Technology Committee and as a member of the Natural Resources, Energy and Water Committee.
Senator Fann’s previous experience includes: 2011-2016 Arizona House of Representatives; Chairman, Transportation Committee; Chairman, Insurance Committee; Member, Agriculture, Water and Lands; Member, County and Municipal Affairs; 2002-2009 Town of Chino Valley Mayor and Councilman; 2007-2009 BQAZ Statewide Transportation Board; 2005-2009 Chairman and Board, Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO); 2006-2009 Chairman and Board, Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition; 2005-2008 Governors Rural Water Legislative Study Committee; 2002-2007 and 1992-1994 Northern Council of Governments (NACOG); 1992-1995 Prescott City Mayor Pro Tem and Councilman; 1993-2002 President and Board, Prescott/Tri City Town Hall; 1994-1996 Chairman, Governors’ Commission on Non-Traditional Employment for Women.
Karen is the owner and CEO of a highway construction company specializing in the installation of guardrail and signs throughout the State of Arizona, which recently celebrated its 33rd business anniversary. Her business was started in 1984 with $500 and has grown steadily to become Arizona’s largest guardrail company, with 40 employees. Karen is a licensed contractor with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, past president of Yavapai County Contractors Association and past president of Prescott Chapter National Association of Women in Construction. Her previous work includes four years of legal experience, 10 years of airport/airline experience and as a licensed Arizona realtor.
In addition to the guardrail company, Karen and her husband Jim owned and operated the equine facility FANN-M Ranch for nine years. The FANN-M Ranch provided services to boarded horses, produced equine competitions and worked with local 4-H clubs and other nonprofit organizations for community fundraisers.
Phil Gallagher is the Chief Executive Officer of Avnet and a member of its board of directors. As CEO, Gallagher's focus is 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 39-year Avnet veteran with a passion for serving customers, 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, 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 Electronics Marketing Americas from 2004 to 2009 and as global president of Avnet Technology Solutions from 2009 to 2014.
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 advisory board of Women in Electronics. Gallagher is also a member of Greater Phoenix Leadership and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
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. Monica 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, Monica received the Athena award from the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
Monica 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. Monica 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.
Dr. Richard J. Gray
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 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. Sharon 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 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.
Duff C. Hearon is the owner of the Ashland Group, LLC, a diversified investment company in commercial real estate, startup companies and securities. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona School of Law, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree with majors in both Finance and Accounting from the University of Arizona. In 1972, Hearon was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army and completed his reserve duty in 1980 as a Captain.
Hearon began his career as a CPA in the Chicago office of Arthur Andersen & Company in 1972. Later, after graduating from law school with the highest distinction, he practiced real estate, and commercial law and tax law with southern Arizona’s premiere law firm of Molloy, Jones & Donahue, P.C. As an attorney, he is recognized as an “A” and “V” (highest rating for ethics) rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell, the National Lawyers Directory. In 1985, Mr. Hearon founded Ashland Group and in 1997 became its sole owner.
Hearon is an active community leader and has held or holds board positions and memberships with many governmental and professional associations including: the Governor’s Strategic Partnership for Economic Development – GSPED; Board of Directors, Pima County Real Estate Research Council (past Chairman) ; Board member, Greater Tucson Economic Council – “GTEC”, (past Chairman); the Southern Arizona Leadership Council (Board Member, and member of its Executive Committee); Tucson Airport Authority, and University of Arizona President’s Club. Hearon is a member of the Tucson Conquistadores, a philanthropic group that raises millions of dollars for Tucson’s youth sports. He has served as a Board member and Chairman of the United Way Campaign of Greater Tucson’s Fundraising Campaign. He is a current member of the Board of the University of Arizona Campus Research Corporation.
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.
As 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 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 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. Kehaly's specialties include: transformational change | strategic vision | executive leadership
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.
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.
Lee D. Lambert has been Chancellor of Pima Community College since July 2013.
Throughout his community college career, he has been an innovator in connecting industry and community colleges to further economic development and educational opportunity in an age marked by rapid technological and demographic change.
Chancellor Lambert has long held that community colleges such as Pima are institutions of social justice and are uniquely positioned to address systemic educational and economic inequity.
Chancellor Lambert received a Juris Doctor degree from Seattle University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.
A U.S. Army veteran, Chancellor Lambert was born in Seoul, South Korea, grew up on three continents, and graduated from high school in the Olympia, Wash. area.
Clate 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, Clate is leading Infusionsoft on its mission to simplify growth for millions of small businesses worldwide.
Under 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.
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. Clate has a BA in Economics from Arizona State University, as well as an MBA and a JD from Brigham Young University.
Simer is CEO and founder of Valor Global, overseeing all aspects of the company’s strategy. Prior to founding Valor, Simer worked with top consulting companies around the globe in different technical and management roles. Simer’s drive for excellence and commitment to customer delivery have been keystones for the success of Valor.
Simer 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).
Quynh Palomino is the founder and CEO of Virtua Partners, an international private equity company headquartered in Scottsdale, with offices in Hong Kong, Edmonton, Newport Beach, and Atlanta. Virtua Partners invests in commercial real estate and operations and management companies in thirty one states and four Canadian provinces. Virtua relocated its headquarters from Southern California to Arizona in 2017, and employs 3,000 associates through its operating subsidiaries.
Quynh was born in Saigon and left Vietnam on the last day of the Vietnam War. Originally housed at the Fort Chafee refugee camp in Arkansas, her family settled in Mission Viejo, California, where she attended elementary, high school, and college at the University of California Irvine. Quynh resides with her family in Scottsdale and enjoys hiking and spending time with her four children.
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 Wick 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, Wick 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, Wick served as President/CEO for Wick Pilcher Insurance, Inc.
Wick 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 Wick was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Arizona office.
In June 1992 Wick 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.
Wick 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. 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, Rishi held executive leadership positions at Motorola, Tyco, and Symbol Technologies, leading global businesses that delivered IoT, software, and services. 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.
Dr. José Luis Cruz Rivera
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—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, 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.
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.
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 Robbins
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 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, Danny 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.
Danny worked at Intel, was a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig where he chaired the Phoenix office government law and policy practice. Danny 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.
Danny 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. Danny 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. Danny 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. Danny 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, Jack 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.
Jack 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. Jack’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 with Governor Doug Ducey and founder/chairman of invisionAZ, a non-profit dedicated to advancing the local Arizona technology ecosystem. Jack is a resident of Paradise Valley, Arizona.
Cathleen C. Walker
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, 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.
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.
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, Walker served on the board of directors of JDRF of Western Pennsylvania and the board of The Woodlands Foundation as treasurer.
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 28 years of leadership experience in business attraction and expansion, innovation, entrepreneurship, economic policy and workforce development. She and her teams have worked with more than 1,067 companies committed to creating more than 237,000 quality jobs and investing more than $69 billion in capital in the state.
Currently, Ms. Watson serves as the President & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), a public-private partnership that leads statewide economic development. The unique structure of the ACA brings together leaders from private industry, academia and all three branches of state government. She also oversees the Workforce Arizona Council and Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, a data-driven team focused on economic and labor market analysis. In addition to leading the ACA and serving on its Board of Directors, Ms. Watson serves on Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s leadership team as his Senior Economic Policy Advisor.
Ms. Watson serves as a founding member and the Chair of the State Economic Development Executives Network board. She is also a member of the National State Science and Technology Institute Board of Trustees and the Make-A-Wish Foundation Arizona Board of Directors. She is also a founding partner on the Institute for Automated Mobility Board of Directors.