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.
President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority
Sandra Watson brings more than 20 years of economic development leadership experience to Arizona. She and her teams have successfully attracted to Arizona more than 750 companies that have committed to invest nearly $10 billion in capital and create more than 125,000 jobs.
During her tenure with the Arizona Department of Commerce, and now the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), Ms. Watson served in multiple positions with increasing responsibilities and results. She has the led Business Attraction, Business Development, Innovation & Technology, Workforce and Marketing divisions. She served as the Executive Director on the Governor’s Council of Innovation & Technology in advancing the state’s Innovation and Technology roadmap.
Ms. Watson began her career in Canada and brings not only a wealth of knowledge on the regional, state and national levels but can execute effectively on an international scale.
Ms. Watson is a collaborative leader who excels in strategic thinking and relationship building. She worked tirelessly to implement the new vision for the Arizona Commerce Authority, 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. She was instrumental in guiding the implementation of the ACA’s aggressive five-year business plan promoting the state’s pro-business, competitive value proposition. Under her leadership, the ACA has transformed into Arizona’s leading economic development organization, and advances its three-pronged approach to strengthen the overall economy: recruit, grow, create – recruit out-of-state companies to expand their operations in Arizona; work with existing companies to grow their business in Arizona and beyond; and partner with entrepreneurs and companies large and small to create new jobs and businesses in targeted industries.
She earned an Honors Bachelor of Commerce degree from Laurentian University, and has completed the Global Leadership Certification program at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. In addition to serving on numerous regional and statewide Boards of Directors, Ms. Watson serves on the Board of Trustees for the State Science and Technology Institute, a national organization focused on promoting technology-based economic development, and is a board member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona.
In 2014, the Phoenix Business Journal recognized Ms. Watson as one of the 25 "Most Admired Leaders in Business" and Az Business selected her for its 2014-15 Az Business Leaders publication spotlighting Arizona’s most respected and influential business leaders. In 2013, Az Business also recognized Ms. Watson as one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business.” The Phoenix Business Journal in 2012, recognized Ms. Watson among the "Top 25 Women in Business,” one of the 2008 “Power Players in the Phoenix Metro Area,” and in 2004, recognized her as an up-and-coming Arizona leader, with its “Forty Under 40” designation. Ms. Watson is also a two-time recipient of the Arizona Technology Council’s Chairman’s Award (2003 and 2010).
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.
Co-Chairman / President and CEO, Grand Canyon University
President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Mueller, joined Grand Canyon University in July 2008 to usher in a new era for the institution – from an entrepreneurial venture to a market-supported public company. Taking the successes he experienced at Apollo Group (the parent company of the University of Phoenix), Mueller guided Grand Canyon University to the first IPO on Wall Street after a nearly four-month drought when it went public in November 2008.
With his rich background in higher education, Mr. Mueller brings to GCU the professional perspective of leading a highly profitable, customer-centric higher education company with his experience as a university professor and basketball coach.
Immediately prior to joining Grand Canyon University, Mr. Mueller was president and a director of Apollo Group. He also served in a variety of positions with the University of Phoenix Online including CEO, chief operating officer and senior vice president. Under his leadership online enrollment grew from 3,500 to 340,000.
Mr. Mueller began his higher education career as a professor at Concordia University. Mr. Mueller earned his Master of Arts in Education degree and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Concordia University.
CEO and President, Abrams Airborne Manufacturing
Gary L. Abrams began his career as a second generation leader of Abrams Airborne Manufacturing, Inc., a precision sheetmetal manufacturing company that was founded by his father in 1965. Mr. Abrams currently serves as the President of Abrams Airborne. He is also the President of Vltor Weapons Systems, a weapons manufacturing company that supplies weapon accessories to the US Military and many law enforcement agencies. He is an owner and the President of Milkor USA, Inc., a manufacturer of the M32A1 multi-shot grenade launcher.
As a lifelong pilot, Mr. Abrams’ passion of flying and his drive for business enabled him to establish two companies in the field of aviation. He is the President of Pima Aviation, which acts as the long-term lease holder of the Marana Regional Airport, as well as the President of a FBO at Marana Regional Airport, titled Tucson Aeroservice Center. Mr. Abrams has been an active member of the Pima Air and Space Museum for many years serving as a past President, and currently serving as the Trustee on the Board of Supervisors.
President and CEO, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold
Richard C. Adkerson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Freeport- McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. FCX, with headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, is the world’s largest publicly owned copper producer and the principal supplier of copper to the United States. FCX operates the Grasberg mining complex in Papua, Indonesia, the world’s largest copper and gold mine in terms of reserves, and conducts significant mining operations in North and South America and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is also Co-Chairman of McMoRan Exploration Co., a New York Stock Exchange company engaged in oil and gas exploration and production offshore and onshore in the Gulf of Mexico region of the United States. McMoRan is an industry leader in drilling deep natural gas wells in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Mr. Adkerson graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science degree with highest honors and an MBA degree. In 2010, he received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Mississippi State. He also completed the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Business School in 1988. Prior to joining Freeport-McMoRan in 1989, he was Partner and Managing Director in Arthur Andersen & Co., where he headed the Firm’s Worldwide Oil and Gas Industry Practice. From 1976 to 1978, he was a Professional Accounting Fellow with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Adkerson currently serves as Chairman of the International Council on Mining and Metals and on the Executive Board of the International Copper Association. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, The Business Council and the Business Roundtable. He serves on the Host Committee for the 2011 APEC CEO Summit, on the Advisory Council of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States and as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Commerce Authority, Greater Phoenix Leadership, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and the Dean’s Council of 100 for the Arizona State University W. P. Carey School of Business. He is Vice-Chairman of the National WWII Museum, serves on the Board of Visitors of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and is Campaign Chair of the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, “Cancer Has Met Its Match” campaign in Phoenix. He served as President of the Mississippi State University Foundation Board of Directors, chaired its “State of the Future” capital campaign, and serves on the University’s Advisory Board for the College of Business. He was inducted into the American Mining Hall of Fame in 2010, named National Alumnus of the Year of Mississippi State University in 2011, received The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers Charles F. Rand Memorial Award in 2011 and named Executive of the Year by the W. P. Carey School of Business Dean’s Council at Arizona State University in 2011. In each of the past four years, Mr. Adkerson was named The Best CEO in Metals and Mining by Institutional Investor magazine and was named The Copper Man of the Year 2009 by The Copper Club.
President, Arizona Cardinals
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 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.
CEO, Salt River Project
Mark B. Bonsall was named SRP’s CEO and General Manager in April 2011. Based in Tempe, Arizona, SRP is one of the nation's largest publicly owned electric and water utilities. Since joining SRP in 1977, Bonsall has served in a variety of positions including Treasurer, and Chief Financial Executive.
Bonsall is a former member of the Phoenix Metro YMCA Board of Directors, where he served as Chairman. He is a past board member of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. He is past chair of the Board of Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and is past chair of the Board of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. He is currently a member and past chair of the Board of Trustees for the Heard Museum, and a member of the Greater Phoenix Leadership Board of Directors.
Bonsall is an industry leader, having served as a member of the Task Force on Electric System Reliability, by invitation of the Secretary of Energy. Bonsall is a former board member and Chairman of the Western Systems Coordinating Council, and former member of the Board of Trustees of the North American Electric Reliability Council. He also serves on the Board of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and currently Chairs the Board of the Large Public Power Council (LPPC). Bonsall also served on the Issuer Advisory Board of the Municipal Securities Rules Making Board.
Bonsall earned his baccalaureate degree in engineering from Arizona State University. He earned a Master's of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Born in Phoenix in 1952, Bonsall and his wife Mary have three children: Benjamin, Jonathan, and Molly.
Founder and Chairman of the Board, DMB Associates
Drew Brown is co-founder and Chairman of the Board of DMB. Mr. Brown has previously served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director and he continues to oversee the company’s board and strategic direction. Together with his partners, Mr. Brown has guided the company’s growth and evolution for the past 30 years and has provided strategic and creative leadership for each of DMB’s major projects.
Prior to co-founding DMB in 1984, Mr. Brown was a partner and director in the Phoenix law firm of Fennemore Craig, where he specialized in real estate and commercial lending matters. Mr. Brown has been active in a number of professional, civic and community organizations. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Phoenix Art Museum, Greater Phoenix Leadership, The Flinn Foundation, Scottsdale Healthcare, Arizona Commerce Authority, and is a member of Notre Dame Law School Advisory Council and Urban Land Institute.
President, Northern Arizona University
Rita Hartung Cheng is the 16th president of Northern Arizona University. As a first-generation and non-traditional college graduate, Dr. Cheng firmly believes in making higher education accessible and affordable for all students. She has set forth a vision of excellence in education through student-centered teaching, a robust research environment and inclusive support services focused on success measured through retention and graduation rates.
Before joining NAU in 2014, Dr. Cheng was chancellor of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale for four years and spent 22 years in teaching and administrative roles at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
She earned her Ph.D. in management from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management, an MBA degree from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor of business administration degree with honors from Bishop‘s University in Quebec.
A certified public accountant and certified government financial manager, Dr. Cheng is internationally recognized for her research in government and nonprofit accounting.
Dr. Cheng currently serves on a variety of local and national boards including:
- Higher Learning Commission, Board of Directors (2015-present)
- NCAA, Board of Governors (2012-present)
- AASCU, Board of Directors (2015-present)
- APLU, Committee on Use of Data for Decision Making (2014-present)
- Big Sky President’s Council (2014-present)
- Future University of Egypt, Board of Advisors (2011-present)
- APLU Audit Committee, Vice Chair (2013-present)
- Arizona State Board of Education (2016-present)
- Arizona Women in Higher Education, Presidential Advisor (2015-present)
- Arizona Commerce Authority, Board Member (2014-present)
- Phoenix Leadership Council (2014-present)
- Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance, Board Member (2014-present)
- Southern Arizona Leadership Council (2015-present)
- Phoenix Chamber of Commerce (2014-present)
- Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce (2014-present)
President, Arizona State University
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.
CEO, Mayo Clinic in Arizona
Wyatt W. Decker, M.D., is Mayo Clinic Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Dr. Decker is a Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. He served as the inaugural Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine in Minnesota, and Chair of Emergency Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Florida. Dr. Decker has held numerous leadership positions at Mayo Clinic in Rochester which has included the oversight of hospital operations; public affairs; and the recruitment, retention and leadership development of staff physicians.
As an Emergency Physician, Dr. Decker chaired the Clinical Policy Committee of American College of Emergency Physicians, and served as editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Emergency Medicine. He has published numerous peer-reviewed research articles and lectures internationally on topics including syncope and atrial fibrillation, hospital management, team building, change management and leadership. He has received leadership and team-building awards from Mayo Clinic and the prestigious Heroes of Emergency Medicine award from the American College of Emergency Physicians. Prior to his medical career, Dr. Decker worked as a mountaineering guide in the western United States for the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Dr. Decker holds an M.D. from Mayo Medical School, an MBA from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, and a BS from the University of California-Santa Cruz. He completed internal medicine residency training at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Medicine and Emergency Medicine training at Denver Health and Hospitals.
President, Diamond Ventures, Inc.
David Goldstein is President of Diamond Ventures, Inc. and has held this position since the company's inception in 1988. Diamond Ventures, headquartered in Tucson, is a privately held company specializing in real estate and private equity investments in Arizona and the southwest. Mr. Goldstein is responsible for setting the company's overall strategic vision and priorities.
Immediately prior to joining Diamond Ventures, Mr. Goldstein served as Vice President of Acquisitions and Sales for the Venture West Group, Inc., a Tucson based real estate development company which owns and develops office and retail projects in the southwest.
Mr. Goldstein began his business career as a Certified Public Accountant in Arizona and practice with both Ernst & Whinney and Coopers & Lybrand. His emphasis was in the areas of real estate, corporate and partnership taxation.
Mr. Goldstein earned his Bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Connecticut in 1977 and his Masters of Business Administration degrees from The University of Arizona in 1979.
Mr. Goldstein is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Tucson Airport Authority where he serves as Vice-Chair. His community involvement on boards and committees have included: Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Greater Tucson Economic Council, Business Leaders Alliance at the Eller College of Management, Desert Angels, United Way's Alexis de Tocqueville Society, AIPAC, and the Tucson Jewish Community Center.
CEO & President, Business & Tax Analyst, LLC
Currently the CEO of Business and Tax Analyst, LLC and executive director of the Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation, Mignonne has over 30 years of hands-on business and economic development experience. From business and personal tax advice and preparation to promoting and supporting industries such as aerospace and defense, small business, health care, Arizona/Mexico commerce, and transportation, which have provided thousands of new jobs throughout the state.
Mignonne brings bring both small-business executive experience and hands-on experience successfully implementing economic development programs to the State. Although her focus is on rural Arizona, Mignonne is dedicated to making an economic impact throughout the entire state. She sits on the board of the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED), where she serves on the government relations committee and the rural committee as past chairman. Mignonne was appointed by the Governor to the Greater Arizona Development Authority (GADA) and the Aerospace and Defense Commission.
Among her efforts to support economic development in Arizona, Mignonne operates an entrepreneurial co-working facility and co-writes a weekly newspaper advice column for business owners. She is also the CEO of two businesses. Mignonne is an active member of the International Economic Development council where she serves on the public policy committee and she recently accepted a position on the Arizona Advisory Committee of the US Global Leadership Coalition. Through her foundation she has taken the lead in Arizona’s unmanned aerial systems industry. After partnering with the Arizona Commerce Authority on an FAA Test Site proposal, her foundation created a commercial test site in Southern Arizona. She is well known for working with industry as well as academia to ensure success and create a large economic impact to the region and ultimately the state. Mignonne received the 2013 Governor’s Excellence in Economic Development award and is a Flinn-Brown Fellow. She also serves on the board of trustees of the Canyon Vista Medical Center.
Mignonne graduated from Tombstone Union High School, received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, and went on to earn her MBA from the University of Phoenix. In her spare time, she enjoys nothing more than long horseback rides through the trails of Cochise County. Mignonne has a daughter who attends Baylor University.
Owner, Public Policy Partners, LLC
Mr. Kaites is the owner of numerous companies from Global Security to Public Affairs. He currently owns the government relations firms of Public Policy Partners, LLC as well as the branding and advertising firm of World Class Service and the marketing and advertising firm of Avant Strategies, LLC. He is a founding partner in Global Security Innovative Strategies and owns parts of businesses ranging from Real Estate, Construction and Water. He is a partner in the Law Firm of Ridenour, Hienton & Lewis in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been a leader in the High Technology Sector; Energy & Biotech Sectors and he helped in the formation of the Arizona Commerce Authority and has been a member of many efforts to recruit businesses to Arizona and has participated in the International Trade Delegations in support of the Arizona Commerce Authority. He is a leader in Business and Policy in Arizona.
Mr. Kaites also has extensive experience with professional sports franchises and leagues. Over the course of his career, he has represented fourteen Major League Baseball Clubs, two NBA Basketball Teams, the National Hockey League, an Arena Football Franchise and a Minor League Baseball Team.
Mr. Kaites is a graduate of the Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were he was a member of The Order of Barristers. He began his legal career in 1989 as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arizona in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Division. Mr. Kaites later served three terms in the Arizona Legislature. During his tenure in the Arizona Legislature, he was the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee. Mr. Kaites authored the Securities Litigation Reform Act, the Interstate Banking & Branching Act, and The Privilege of Self-Critical Analysis for Products Liability Act. He also sponsored the final draft to the Arizona Criminal Code and the Arizona Juvenile Justice Code. In 1998, Mr. Kaites was recognized nationally by the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 3,000 legislative members and received The National Outstanding Legislator of the Year Award.
In May of 2012 Mr. Kaites graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary with a Certificate of Christian Studies.
Mr. Kaites is married with two (2) children.
James P. Keeley
Founding Partner, Colliers International Scottsdale Office
James Keeley is the Scottsdale Partner in Colliers International and leads the office in production. He is considered to be one of the leading commercial real estate experts in regards to the Loop 101 Employment Base (Scottsdale Airpark, Desert Ridge and Deer Valley).
Since 1981, Mr. Keeley has specialized in the site selection, development process and sale of office, flex, industrial buildings, land and aviation. He has more than 30 years of industry experience as a sales leader, developer and consultant.
Mr. Keeley is a graduate of The University of Arizona with a Bachelors Degree in Business. He is currently serving on several local Boards including the First Fidelity Bank. He has previously served as a Board Member on Moss Adams: CPA Firm, the Phoenix FBI Citizens Academy, Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, the Scottsdale Airport Advisory Commission, the Scottsdale Airpark P.O.A. and is a Lifetime Member of the Scottsdale Charros.
Mr. Keeley has published and/or been quoted in more than 230 magazine and newspaper articles and has produced the Annual Greater Scottsdale Airpark 2010 Report and nowGreater Scottsdale Airpark 2030 Report since 1989.
An Arizona native from Tucson, Jim and his wife Theresa reside in Scottsdale and have 2 daughters, Karly and Roxanne and 2 sons Tommy and Kyle.
President, Arizona Board of Regents
With more than 20 years of strategic fiscal and executive management experience in the public and private sector, including leading reform efforts on pivotal statewide issues such as education and health care, Eileen Klein is uniquely positioned in her role as president of the Arizona Board of Regents to help Arizona’s public universities achieve critical goals to transform Arizona’s economy.
Ms. Klein oversees the $4 billion Arizona public university enterprise – Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona – as well as guides and advises the regents to help inform effective governance.
She provides leadership to the Board administration and manages the Enterprise Executive Committee (EEC), comprised of the university presidents. The EEC is responsible for achieving the ambitious 2020 goals outlined in the Board’s aggressive strategic plan which calls for significant gains in degree production and research activity, and major reforms in both the instructional delivery model and financing of the university system to support and stimulate Arizona’s economy.
Previous to joining the Board, Ms. Klein served as chief of staff for Gov. Brewer. Taking the helm in the midst of a severe financial crisis and economic downturn, Klein was instrumental in charting Arizona’s path to recovery. Klein refocused the state’s efforts on economic competitiveness by creating the Arizona Commerce Authority, the state’s leading public-private economic development organization; and ushering in Arizona’s Competitiveness Package which included a mix of business incentives and tax reforms making Arizona one of the most desirable places to do business. Additionally, in a matter of just two years, Klein led the state out of a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall through budget and personnel reforms resulting in a positive cash balance.
During her tenure as chief of staff, Klein helped launch Arizona Ready, an education reform plan to align statewide education goals across the P-20 spectrum. The initiative raises standards for teachers and students, improves transparency for parents, and establishes ambitious goals in areas from third grade literacy to high school and college graduation rates. Klein also played a critical role in spearheading Gov. Brewer’s transformational health care reform plan, which enabled the state to modernize Medicaid and behavioral health programs while reducing costs, improving care and preserving the safety net for Arizonans in need.
Prior to joining the governor’s office, Klein was chief operating officer for Arizona Physicians IPA by UnitedHealthcare, a $1 billion corporation with 250 personnel dedicated to serving Arizonans with special health care needs enrolled in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Department of Development Disabilities and Arizona Department of Health Services Programs. Ms. Klein also served for three years as vice president of state affairs, representing all UnitedHealthcare lines of business in government relations and public policy in Arizona, Utah and Idaho.
President, Raytheon Missile Systems
Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence is a Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) vice president and president of its Missile Systems business, a position he assumed in July 2008. Raytheon Company, with 2014 sales of $23 billion and 61,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity markets throughout the world. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass.
Headquartered in Tucson, Ariz., Missile Systems also has locations in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Kentucky, New Mexico and Texas, as well as oversight of the operations of Raytheon UK. Its broad portfolio of weapon systems supports every mission area of its customers, including air-to-air, land combat, naval weapons, strike weapons, missile defense, guided projectiles, directed energy systems, and combat and sensing systems. The business continually develops and invests in new, innovative technologies to provide rapid, high-quality, affordable mission capability to its customers. Raytheon Missile Systems is the world’s leading producer of weapon systems for the United States military and the allied forces of more than 50 countries. Missile Systems had 2014 sales of $6.3 billion and employs more than 13,500 people.
Prior to leading Raytheon Missile Systems, Dr. Lawrence served as Raytheon’s vice president of Engineering, Technology and Mission Assurance. In that role, he guided the company’s vision and provided corporate leadership in the strategic areas of technology and research, engineering, operations, performance excellence, Raytheon Six Sigma™ and Mission Assurance.
Prior to Raytheon, Dr. Lawrence was sector vice president and general manager of the C4ISR and Space Sensors division for Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. He joined Northrop Grumman in March 1999 as vice president of Products and Technology for the company’s Systems Development and Technology division. He was promoted to sector vice president and general manager of that division in August 2001.
Before joining Northrop Grumman, Dr. Lawrence served as the staff director for the Select Committee on Intelligence for the U.S. Senate and, previously, as deputy director of the Information Systems Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He also held a variety of scientific and research leadership positions, including deputy program leader of the Advanced Imaging, Imaging & Detection Program of the Lasers Directorate at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; senior staff scientist of the Research and Development division of Trex Enterprises; and research assistant and undergraduate research fellow in the physics department at the California Institute of Technology.
Dr. Lawrence holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in applied physics from Stanford University. He earned his doctorate in applied physics from Stanford in 1992.
Dr. Lawrence is a member of the Caltech Space Innovation Council. He is a former member of the Defense Science Board and vice chairman emeritus of the Air Force Studies Board of the National Academies. He is a fellow and lifetime member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and serves on the boards of the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Zanjeros. In 1996, Dr. Lawrence was honored with the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service. In 2013, he received the Medal for the Advancement of Research from ASM International.
President and CEO, Pivot Manufacturing
Steve Macias is a co-owner of Pivot Manufacturing and has been the President and CEO since the company’s inception in 2000. Pivot has grown from a small job shop to a company that does machining, assembly and contract management for a variety of industries including aerospace and defense, semiconductor and oil and gas.
In addition to sales and financial duties at Pivot, Mr. Macias is also involved in promoting the small business community and the manufacturing industry in Arizona. He currently serves as Chairman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council and sits on the Executive Board of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry as well as the main Chamber Board. Mr. Macias also serves on the Governor’s Council on Small Business and is on the board of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Macias works with variety of elected officials on both the state and federal levels, specifically bringing a focus to the Defense and Aerospace industries and the importance they play in the economy by helping expand and develop additional manufacturing opportunities as well as creating and providing high-wage jobs.
Mr. Macias earned both his Bachelor of Science degree and his MBA from Arizona State University.
Speaker of the House
J. D. Mesnard is the State Representative from Legislative District 17 (Chandler, Gilbert and Sun Lakes), having been elected to the Arizona House of Representatives on November 2, 2010.
Prior to running for office, J. D. spent eight years working at the Arizona Senate where he served as a policy advisor on issues ranging from education, transportation and retirement, to family services and government administration. One of J. D.’s proudest accomplishments during his employment at the Senate involved his role as Senate Coordinator for the “Legislators Back to School Program.” Sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the intent of this program is to bring civics to life by connecting legislators with classrooms to give kids of all ages a chance to talk about their ideas with the state legislators who represent them. The program is designed to motivate students to engage in politics, and help build personal links between schools and legislators while providing legislators an opportunity to observe what is going on in classrooms. J. D.’s work ethic and passion for civic engagement were instrumental at helping to move Arizona to #1 on the national charts, in terms of legislative participation in the program.
J. D. is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelors degree in Music Composition. He also holds two masters degrees, one in Business and the other in Public Administration exemplifying his interest in both the public and private sectors and had the honor of being named The Outstanding Student of his MBA program. While in graduate school, J.D. caught the attention of a professor who was an Adjunct Scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis (a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy think tank based in Texas and Washington D.C.), and was subsequently recruited to join with the professor and with Chief Economist and internationally renowned speaker Dr. Barry Asmus to be a spokesman for the NCPA. As such, J.D. traveled all over Arizona, speaking to numerous foundations, companies and Rotary/Lions/Kiwanis clubs regarding the issue of Social Security reform.
Born at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL (his father is a retired fighter pilot), J.D. has lived in Arizona for over 20 years. He is a small business owner, investor and consultant, and has always sought to be an active participant at all levels of the community. In terms of his immediate surroundings, J. D. spent many years as a music team leader, and as a youth counselor and mentor at his local church. He also serves on the board of his homeowner association. In addition, J. D.’s compassion for those less fortunate who struggle in places outside of the greatest country on earth led him to help establish Voices of the World, a non-profit Christian charity whose mission includes providing humanitarian aid to the poor and destitute of the world.
J. D. is currently adjunct professor at Mesa Community College, where he teaches courses in political science.
CEO, USI Insurance Services LLC
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.
President and CEO, Republic Services, Inc.
Donald W. “Don” Slager is President and Chief Executive Officer of Republic Services, Inc., an industry leader in the recycling and waste services business. The Company generates over $9 billion of annual revenue, has a market cap exceeding $17 billion and operates the 8th largest vocational fleet in the nation. Don has more than 35 years of experience in the industry, starting his career as a teenager and subsequently working at all levels within the organization. He has served Republic for over 30 years.
As CEO, Don has built a leadership team that has taken a holding company of hundreds of subsidiaries and shaped it into a unified American brand that stands for customer-focused simple solutions, reliability and environmental responsibility under its We’ll handle it from here.™ brand promise. Republic’s industry-leading safety program reflects his commitment to ensuring safety for 33,000 employees and 14 million customers, a successful model that has raised the bar across the industry.
Don and the Republic Services leadership team, alongside Republic’s dedicated employees, are passionate about achieving the goal of becoming America’s preferred recycling and waste services partner. He has overseen the strategy, growth and strong performance of the Company and delivered outstanding shareholder value with a relentless focus on safety, customer experience, sound environmental practices and good neighbor principles.
In his career, he has served in a wide variety of leadership positions, including as President and Chief Operating Officer of Republic, prior to becoming CEO in 2011. Don also served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Allied Waste Industries from 2003 until Republic’s acquisition of Allied Waste in December 2008. Previously, he held various management roles of increasing responsibility at Allied (and formerly National Waste Services) from 1985 through 2008, including Senior Vice President, Operations, Region President, Area President and General Manager.
In addition to serving on Republic’s Board of Directors since June 2010, Don currently serves on the Board of Martin Marietta, a leading supplier of aggregates and heavy building materials. He is a member of the Finance Committee and the Ethics, Environment, Safety & Health Committee. He is also a governing board member of Together for Safer Roads, an innovative coalition that brings together global private sector companies, across industries, to collaborate on improving road safety. From September 2009 until March 2016, Don served on the Board of UTi Worldwide as Chairman of its Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and member of its Compensation Committee.
Don earned a certificate from the Stanford University Board Consortium Development Program and completed the Northwestern University Kellogg School Advanced Executive Program.
President and Owner, JV Farms
Victor Smith is CEO and owner of JV Farms (Yuma, AZ), Agricola El Toro (Baja, MX) and Skyview Cooling Co. (Yuma, AZ & Center, CO). He is second generation in the fresh vegetable industry with Skyview Cooling started by his father, John B. Smith after a successful law career in Colorado. The Smith family has other agri-business entities in Colorado including Skyline Potato Co., Southern Colorado Farms and Skyline Land Co.
JV Farms and Agricola El Toro specialize in winter leafy green vegetables working with the major shipper/handlers in California including Dole, Fresh Express, Taylor Farms and Earthbound Farm. Their combined program covers more than 12,000 acres which includes 4,500 acres of certified organic vegetables.
Mr. Smith has been in the industry for more than 30 years, starting in the cooling and distribution sector in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California. He started the production farming in 1991 with JV Farms and then in 1992 with Agricola El Toro.
Mr. Smith grew up in southern Colorado and attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, studying economics and business law.
President, League of Arizona Cities and Towns
Mayor Jay Tibshraeny began his unprecedented 7th term as Chandler’s Mayor in January 2015, after returning to the Mayor’s Office in January 2011, and serving eight years in the Arizona State Senate from 2003-2011. He originally served as a member of the City Council from 1986 to 2002 as Councilmember, Vice Mayor and as Mayor. He was first elected Chandler Mayor in 1994, and served in that capacity for four consecutive terms through 2002.
A native of Chandler, he has a lifetime of public service in the East Valley. He serves on the following Professional & Civic Organizations: Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley Emeritus Board; Chandler/Gilbert Association for Retarded Citizens Advisory Board; Child Crisis Center Advisory Board; and Chandler Chamber of Commerce Ex-Officio Board member. His current regional assignments include President of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns Executive Committee, Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Regional Council, Greater Phoenix Economic Council Board of Directors (GPEC), Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) Ex-Officio Board member, and East Valley Partnership (EVP) Ex-Officio Board member.
Since returning to the Mayor’s Office in 2011, Mayor Tibshraeny has received a number of awards for his work at the local and regional level. In 2015, he received the Teal and Silver Community Leader Award from Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and the Outstanding Public Official Award from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association. In 2014, he received the Maricopa Association of Governments Desert Peak Regional Excellence Award and the Chandler Chamber of Commerce Community Cup award. In 2013 Mayor Tibshraeny received the prestigious American City and County Magazine Municipal Leader of the Year Award as well as the Greater Phoenix Economic Council Outstanding Regional Contribution Award. In 2012 he received the Dwight Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award from the EVP.
Locally, some of his past professional & civic organizations include: Chandler Historical Society; Chandler Museum Advisory Board (2007-2011), Board Chairman (2008-2011); ICAN Site Advisory Committee; Chairman of the Chandler Citizen's Oversight Committee, General Plan Update (2007 - 2008); Chairman of the Chandler Mayor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Boards & Commissions Appointments (2005); Chandler Public Safety Personnel Retirement System Board (1994 - 2002); and Chandler Volunteer Fireman Pension Board (1994 - 2002).
During his tenure in the State Senate he served on a number of committees as a member of the National Conference of State Legislatures: Labor and Economic Development (2005-2006); Transportation (2007-2008); Redistricting and Elections (2009-2010); and Legislative Effectiveness. As a member of the America Legislative Exchange Council he served on: Civil Justice Task Force (2003-2004); and Tax and Fiscal Police Task Force (2005-2010).
On the Regional and National level he has served on: Greater Phoenix Economic Council Board of Directors (2002); Greater Phoenix Economic Council Executive Committee (2002); MAG Secretary/Treasurer (2000 - 2002); MAG Executive Committee (1997 - 2002); Arizona League of Cities and Towns Executive Committee (2000 - 2002); National League of Cities Transportation Infrastructure & Services Policy Committee (1986 - 2002); Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce Advisory Council (1999 - 2002); Williams Air Force Base Redevelopment Partnership (1994 - 2002); Regional Public Transportation Authority (Past Chairman) (1994 - 2002); and Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (Past Chairman) (1994 - 2002).
Mayor Tibshraeny is a small businessman and home builder. He completed 12 years in the Chandler Public School System and holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Arizona State University. He and his wife Karen have one daughter, Lauren.
President, Arizona State Senate
Senator Steven B. Yarbrough has lived in Arizona since 1963. He graduated from Phoenix Union High School in 1965, earned his B.S. in Business Administration (finance) from ASU in 1968 with high distinction, and graduated magna cum laude with his Juris Doctor from the ASU College of Law in 1971. During 1970-71 he was a Rockefeller Foundation Graduate Fellow in University Administration.
From 1971-1975 he served as a director in the ASU Office of Student Affairs. Since 1975 he has practiced law in Tempe and Chandler. For many years he was a board certified specialist in family law.
Since 1998 he has been the Executive Director of the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization that has provided scholarships to thousands of Arizona students to attend the school of their parent’s choice.
Senator Yarbrough taught business law at Mesa Community College from 1975-1977. He was a co-founder and served on the school board for Valley Christian High School from 1981-2005.
Senator Yarbrough has been married to his wife Linda since 1968. She taught high school choral music for thirty years. They have three adult sons, all married, seven grandsons, and one granddaughter. Two of their sons are East Valley police officers (a Chandler lieutenant and a Gilbert officer) and one is the Global Business Supply Chain Manager for Shell Oil and lives in London, England.
First elected to the House in 2002, Representative Yarbrough was re-elected three times from former District 21. He was elected to the State Senate in 2010 and re-elected from District 17 (portions of Chandler and Gilbert and all of Sun Lakes) in 2012 and 2014.
Senator Yarbrough previously served on the House Education, Appropriations and Judiciary Committees and on the Ethics Committee of which he was Chairman. He served eight years as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee including four years as Vice-Chairman and two years as Chairman. He also served two years as Vice-Chairman of the Rules Committee. Senator Yarbrough was House Speaker Pro Tempore for the 49th Legislature during 2009-2010.
Senator Yarbrough is Vice-Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, the Finance Committee and the Commerce and Workforce Development Committee. He previously served on the Senate Judiciary Committee and as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee for four years before becoming Majority Leader. He also serves on the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the Joint Committee on Capital Review, and the Legislative Council. He continues as chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.
CHAIRMAN, ARIZONA WORKFORCE COUNCIL
Dawn Grove is Corporate Counsel for Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, the parent company of PING and related subsidiaries, and has served on the board of directors of Karsten Manufacturing Corporation continuously since 1995. KMC’s main subsidiary, PING, is one of the top three golf equipment brands in the U.S., exports about half of its products outside the U.S. and has earned the most Golf Digest Hot List awards of any golf equipment brand for three straight years (2012, 2013, 2014). Ms. Grove is the Chairman of the Arizona Workforce Council and Vice-Chairman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council (formerly known as the Arizona Association of Industries) and is the longest serving member of its board of directors. She also serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and chairs its Budget and Government Reform Committee and Fiscal Policy Task Force.
Prior to going in-house with Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, Ms. Grove practiced law in Los Angeles and Phoenix from 1991-1998 (most recently at Bryan Cave, LLP), primarily representing manufacturers. Her work in environmental litigation inspired her to seek more effective means of assisting clients, such as through public policies that encourage making products in the U.S. while discouraging protracted lawsuits, and helping corporate boards avoid litigation through improved internal policies and comprehensive corporate recordkeeping. She received her doctor of Jurisprudence from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1991.
Ms. Grove is married to Rawleigh Grove and they have three children. She has a black belt in Taekwon-do, mentors young adults, and enjoys golf.
Dr. Robert Robbins, MD
PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
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.
Chancellor, Maricopa Community College District
Maria Harper-Marinick is Chancellor of the Maricopa Community College District, one of the largest community college systems in the nation. She oversees operations for the system, which serves 200,000 students and nearly 10,000 faculty and staff members across 10 colleges (Chandler-Gilbert, Estrella Mountain, GateWay, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Rio Salado, Scottsdale, and South Mountain), a Corporate College, and two skills centers.
Chancellor Harper-Marinick has served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance by appointment of U.S. Secretary of Education, National Community College Hispanic Council (2016-18 President), American Council on Education, League for Innovation in the Community College, and Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. She is also an active community member in Arizona serving on the boards of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Greater Phoenix Leadership, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Valley of the Sun United Way among others.
Dr. Harper-Marinick has been the recipient of various awards and recognition, including 2017 Woman of the Year Award from Valley Leadership, 2016 Athena Award – Public Sector, 2015 Woman of the Year award from the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She was featured in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as one of 25 women who have made a difference in the world by tackling some of higher education’s toughest challenges and exhibiting extraordinary leadership skills; and was selected to join the 2015-16 class of the Aspen Institute’s Ascend Fellows.
President, County Supervisors Association
Anthony Smith was elected to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors in November 2012. Prior to his election as Supervisor, Smith served two terms as the Mayor of the City of Maricopa.
Supervisor Smith represents Pinal County District 4 covering an area that includes the City of Maricopa, Arizona City, Thunderbird Farms, Hidden Valley, Papago Butte, Red Rock, SaddleBrooke, the Ak-Chin Indian Community and the Tohono O’odham Nation. Anthony is focused on an agenda that actively promotes leadership, economic growth and service to all citizens; qualities that Supervisor Smith believes will enable Pinal County to accelerate into the next wave of growth.
Smith spent much of his professional career in the project management profession. He obtained certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP) in 1995. Smith holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University. Smith moved to Arizona in 1997 to work for Motorola. After moving to Maricopa in 2003, he has been instrumental in helping to create or launch several non-profits. Smith has a heart for and recognizes the value that non-profits bring to communities, and remains a committed advocate who actively promotes their causes.