Tag Archives: blue cross blue shield of arizona

Staying Innovative as a One Man Operation

Arizona businesses win Spirit of Enterprise Awards

We all win when local companies grow, create jobs and help boost our still-recovering economy. Today, several of the state’s best businesses were honored for their positive role in our communities. They’re the winners of the 18th annual Spirit of Enterprise Awards from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

“We enjoy recognizing locally owned companies that introduce innovation, empower employees, impress customers, and make a real difference in Arizona,” says Sidnee Peck, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “This year’s Spirit of Enterprise Award winners are in a variety of industries, and they all meet a market need and have a great impact on the Valley.”

Hundreds of business and community leaders attended today’s awards luncheon at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, where the winners were announced. The finalists’ impressive stories were shown on video, as the firms were lauded for ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship.

The 2014 Spirit of Enterprise Award winners are:

• Ersland Touch Landscape – Overcoming Adversity Award. This state-of-the-art landscape maintenance company started as a one-man, one-mower operation run out of a garage. After 30 years in business, it now has a complete customer “feedback log,” an Adopt a Highway commitment, work with nonprofits, and more than 400 residences and 20 homeowner associations as clients.

• IO – Emerging Enterprise Award. This growing firm is focused on rethinking data-center technology, using software solutions, instead of just physical locations. It has more than 650 global clients, including Goldman Sachs and LexisNexis, as well as two patents and an emphasis on energy efficiency.

• I-ology – Gary L. Trujillo Minority Enterprise Award sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. This woman-owned technology company offers Web design and related services. It features close client relationships, heavy community involvement, and no management hierarchy, offering all employees a chance to participate in revenue sharing, stock options, flexible schedules and industry events.

• Kitchell – The Hahnco Companies Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award. This 100-percent employee-owned commercial builder, developer and program manager launched 65 years ago. It now has more than 850 employees, international operations, an internal leadership program, significant charitable contributions, and a focus on enabling employee-driven innovation.

• Melrose Pharmacy – Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award. This independent pharmacy offers fast, highly personalized service; utilizes cutting-edge equipment; and supports charities like the March of Dimes and local community issues. It has also achieved a 119-percent increase in net income already for this year.

The other Spirit of Enterprise finalists this year were Clean Air Cab, Endless Entertainment, India Plaza/The Dhaba, The James Agency and Potter’s House Apothecary.

Also this year, the Spirit of Enterprise Student Entrepreneur Award went to Anthony Gonzales, a recent W. P. Carey School of Business MBA graduate. Gonzales is a finalist in Entrepreneur magazine’s College Entrepreneur of the Year competition with his grant-winning, ongoing development of FITGuard, a mouthguard designed to indicate levels of head impact for athletes, as well as a smartphone application that can provide data to a diagnosing physician.

The event also included its first-ever National Founder of the Year award. The honoree is Sam Calagione, founder and president of Delaware-based Dogfish Head Brewery. Calagione’s family-owned business started small and grew about 400 percent in just four years. He still experiments with new products, works creatively with other breweries and food companies, and has written books about his experiences as an entrepreneur.

The Spirit of Enterprise Awards are just one focus of the Center for Entrepreneurship, which helps hundreds of businesses each year. The center offers companies the chance to recruit and meet with top student talent, while also allowing students to get hands-on business-creation experience. The center recently introduced the Sun Devil Select competition to honor ASU alum-owned or alum-led businesses. The center is also self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships to sustain its activities. For more information, visit wpcarey.asu.edu/entrepreneurship.

insurance

BCBSAZ launches open enrollment initiative

Nine out of 10 people are unaware they can enroll in health insurance starting November 15, according to the recent  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. To help educate Arizonans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is launching a new program called, “Get In!”. It is designed to encourage Arizonans to get interested, to get informed and to get involved in making their health insurance selection.

For useful information about open enrollment or purchasing health insurance coverage, visit GetInformedAZ.com.

GetInformedAZ.com will serve as the hub for information by providing useful links and answers to commonly asked questions regarding health insurance coverage. The website will be a convenient resource offering tips for selecting a plan, featuring at-a-glance comparisons, providing definitions of health insurance terms, and explaining how to qualify for financial assistance, along with many additional tools.

“With 75 years of service to Arizonans across the state, our members and community rely on us to be a trusted advisor, especially during the open enrollment time frame,” said Jeff Stelnik, senior vice president of BCBSAZ. The ‘Get In!’ campaign aims to demystify insurance and equip consumers with information so they can choose the best health insurance plan for themselves and their families.”

In addition to the information on the website, the “Get In!” campaign will include a series of community outreach events hosted by BCBSAZ to further educate consumers about their options during open enrollment.

The current open enrollment period is Nov. 15, 2014 through Feb. 15, 2015.

foodbank

BCBSAZ donates 6,250 meals to the hungry

Arizonans across the state struggle with hunger. According to the Association of Arizona Food Banks (AAFB), almost one in five adults, and one in four children, struggle with hunger and poverty in rural and metro communities alike.

Because food insecurity rates in Arizona are higher than the national average, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) selected three organizations to receive support as part of its 75th anniversary, “Arizonans First.  Always” campaign.

“Hunger is a disheartening and undeniable issue in Arizona,” said Rich Boals, president and CEO of BCBSAZ. “We will do what we can to help fight hunger with the hope our contributions encourage others to do the same.”

The three programs supported include:

1.     The Association of Arizona Food Banks (AAFB) through a donation of 7,500 lbs. of canned food. The 7,500 lbs. is equivalent to 6,250 meals.“Items like canned chicken and similar canned foods are greatly needed,” said Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of the AAFB. “They are healthy and full of protein, which is always in short supply and necessary for a balanced diet. The Association of Arizona Food Banks could not accomplish our goals without these kinds of generous donations.”

2.     The Valley of the Sun United Way’s World Record to End Hunger project was supported by BCBSAZ volunteers lending time to assembling food bags for those in need. As it turned out, the volunteers broke the Guinness World Record by assembling more than 2,000 food bags in just three minutes.

3.     A contribution was also made to the Yavapai Food Council (YFC) which administers the Yavapai Food Neighbors Project and the National School Lunch Program countywide. The food that is collected through the Yavapai Food Neighbors Project will be donated to community food banks, pantries, and child-hunger programs. The National School Lunch Program provides free or reduced meals to students at rural and charter schools, comprised of more than 60 percent low-income families based on the U.S. Governments poverty guidelines.  A study conducted by YFC shows that one out of four adults and one out of three children in Yavapai County face food insecurity. Program funding is critical in helping these children grow up healthy and strong.

The “Arizonans First. Always.” campaign has already visited Pima, Maricopa, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Greenlee, Graham, Apache, Navajo, Mohave and La Paz counties. Following the World Record to End Hunger project, BCBSAZ will visit Coconino County. To learn more about BCBSAZ and its 75 years in Arizona, visit azblue.com/birthday.

Rich Boals, president and CEO of BCBSAZ.

BCBSAZ supports Mount Graham Safe House

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) continues its 75th anniversary statewide outreach campaign, “Arizonans First. Always.” in Graham and Greenlee Counties with essential program funding to Mount Graham Safe House and Greenlee County Library System.

Mount Graham Safe House is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing 24-hour emergency and ongoing services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Since 2008, the emergency crisis shelter has lacked necessary funding, causing them to be understaffed and unable to help as many victims as previous years. The BCBSAZ funding will allow the shelter to provide crucial services, aiding victims with a quicker recovery and offering a safe haven to even more people in need.

“We are dedicated to the prevention of domestic violence in the communities that we serve,” said Jeanette Aston, Mount Graham Safe House executive director. “We work diligently in promoting awareness and education in schools and communities.”

BCBSAZ also is providing a donation to the Greenlee County Library System. The main goals of the library system are to provide a place for patrons to meet and interact in a common environment, to be an educational support center for students and to preserve the historical relevance of Greenlee County. The BCBSAZ donation will be used to help expand the community-centered Blue Library, as well as promote the Duncan Pride Society Museum and develop a website, both of which will be used to preserve important historical artifacts. These endeavors will assist the County Library System in advancing its mission of preserving Greenlee County and encouraging people to visit and experience the towns located there.

“The Greenlee County Library System is pleased to receive this donation from BCBSAZ,” said Karen Soohy, Greenlee County librarian. “The BCBSAZ donation could not have come at a better time to help us continue to improve the communities within Greenlee County.”

“Our statewide outreach campaign is a wonderful way to pay tribute to the array of organizations that serve families and individuals in need throughout our state,” said Rich Boals, president and CEO of BCBSAZ. “It is an honor to support two organizations as remarkable as the Mount Graham Safe House of Graham County and Greenlee County Library System, both of which are striving to make a difference in the communities they serve.”

The BCBSAZ statewide corporate outreach campaign has already visited Pima, Maricopa, Santa Cruz and Cochise Counties. Following Graham and Greenlee are Navajo and Apache. To learn more about BCBSAZ and its 75 years in Arizona, visit azblue.com/birthday.

phoenixday

BCBSAZ provides technology sponsorship

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) has selected early education and youth development center Phoenix Day as the recipient of a technology sponsorship. This donation celebrates BCBSAZ’s 75th anniversary statewide outreach campaign, “Arizonans First. Always.,” and commemorates Phoenix Day’s 100th anniversary next year.

Phoenix Day helps improve school performance and introduces exciting career choices to at-risk youth from lower income families who reside in the Central Park neighborhood of South Phoenix. The BCBSAZ technology sponsorship includes providing 12 new computers, a charging station, WiFi, tables, chairs and educational software for the Phoenix Day computer lab. The computer lab will be used for Phoenix Day’s Summer Youth Enrichment Program and by students throughout the year during its Afterschool Program. The computer lab supports the development of language, science, technology, engineering and math skills that are aligned with the Arizona Department of Education’s CORE standards.

“Our year-long outreach campaign is a wonderful way to pay tribute to the diversity of our state and the array of organizations that leave a lasting impact on those they serve,” said Rich Boals, president and CEO. “Phoenix Day is the only academically focused program of its kind in this area of Maricopa County and we are honored to support such an incredible organization.”

“We are so grateful for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s support of Phoenix Day. Providing access to a computer lab outside of school hours enriches and builds upon knowledge gained in the classroom, especially for students who may not have access to technology at home,” said Karyn Parker, Executive Director, Phoenix Day.

“This is particularly important for today’s youth as they are preparing to compete in a society driven by scientific and technological innovations. Long term, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s contribution will support a more educated workforce prepared to compete in the global market.”

In addition to the Phoenix Day sponsorship, BCBSAZ participated in the HandsOn Greater Phoenix Serve A Thon on April 28, which involved a variety of community service projects across Maricopa County. A total of 57 BCBSAZ employees volunteered for activities including painting animal-themed murals and assembling animal beds at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, painting the interior of a group home for disabled individuals with VALLEYLIFE, and gardening at Faith United Methodist Church’s West Alice Community Garden.

The BCBSAZ statewide corporate outreach campaign kicked off in March with Pima County. Following Maricopa County, Santa Cruz and Cochise are the next counties to take part in the celebration. To learn more about BCBSAZ and its 75 years in Arizona, visit azblue.com/birthday.

2341 W Royal Palm Rd

Pentecostals of Phoenix purchase 2341 W. Royal Palm Rd.

The Pentecostals of Phoenix closed escrow today on a 24,568 square foot building in the Black Canyon Business Park, just northeast of I-17 and Northern Ave. in Phoenix, Arizona. The building was leased by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona in the past.

Joe Holeva of Accelerated Commercial Real Estate represented the Seller, Ivy Realty Trust of Houston, Texas. Gene Montemore of Real Living Success Realty represented the Buyer.

“This building offers the Pentecostals of Phoenix room to grow their congregation, offer ancillary services for children during worship hours, and a convenient location near the I-17 freeway. The Pentecostals of Phoenix staff is ecstatic about the possibilities this building offers” reports their representative, Gene Montemore.

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Az Business honors healthcare leaders

Each year, Az Business magazine hosts the Healthcare Leadership Awards to honor the women, men and institutions that bring excellence and innovation to Arizona’s healthcare system. Here are the winners and finalists who were chosen by a panel of industry experts and were recognized at the 2014 Healthcare Leadership Awards on Thursday, April 10 at the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix. See photos from the event here or on our Facebook page.

BIOSCIENCE COMPANY
Winner: Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)
TGen has made great strides in the field if genomics medicine. TGen researchers work to help physicians prescribe drugs that are designed more intelligently, work more effectively and have fewer toxic side effects. They have received numerous grants to support research into brain cancer and brain injuries, advanced cancers, Parkinson’s, rare childhood disorders, and more.

Finalists:
Barrow at PCH
Sonora Quest

COMMUNITY OUTREACH/EDUCATION
Winner: Barbara Kavanagh, Arizona Myeloma Network
Kavanagh’s mission is to change the lack of information and support resources for myeloma cancer by forming the Arizona Myeloma Network and the Living with Myeloma Conference, which has grown to 300 people. She also introduced the Pat and Bill Hite Cancer Caregivers Education and Support Program for caregivers to receive support and answers.

Finalists:
Catherine Ivy, Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation
Kathleen Goeppinger, Ph.D., Midwestern University

HEALTHCARE EXECUTIVE
Winner: Robert L. Meyer, Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Meyer is credited for the rapid and significant turnaround of Phoenix Children’s Hospital from the edge of financial failure to a successful $588 million expansion that made the hospital into one of the largest pediatric medical centers in the country. PCH is ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals.

Finalists:
Tim Bricker, Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert
Mary Lee DeCoster, Maricopa Integrated Health System
Tony Marinello, CEO of Mountain Vista, IASIS Healthcare
Ed Myers, St. Luke’s Medical Center, IASIS Healthcare

HEALTHCARE ADVOCATE
Winner: Dr. John Chen, Maricopa Integrated Health System
Serving the community’s most vulnerable residents, Chen has helped thousands of patients within the Maricopa Integrated Health System. He sees patients who are in urgent need of treatment because of their lack of dental insurance or location in third world countries. He promotes dental care and hygiene to help prevent serious diseases.

Finalists:
Dr. Randal Christensen, Crews ‘n’ Healthcare
Gerri Hether, Orchard Medical Consulting

INSURANCE PROVIDER
Winner: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Marking its 75th anniversary in Arizona, BCBSAZ is committed to improving the quality of life for all Arizonans. The company focuses on providing the best value in health insurance as well as outside programs targeted to children and their families to help reduce childhood obesity.

Finalists:
Health Net of Arizona
UnitedHealthcare of Arizona

LEGAL ADVOCATE
Winner: Kristen Rosati, Polsinelli
As an attorney dedicated to the healthcare industry, especially to healthcare privacy, health information exchange and clinical research, Rosati has written 12 books, 30 articles and made 200 presentations on healthcare topics. She also helped establish two nonprofits in Arizona that support health information exchange and health information technology.

Finalists:
Richard Mallery, Snell and Wilmer
Martin L. Shultz, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

MEDICAL CENTER OR HOSPITAL
Winner: Scottsdale Healthcare
As a nonprofit, Scottsdale Healthcare not only employs 6,500 staff members, but also is comprised of 1,400 volunteers who donate more than 155,000 hours of service each year. They are the largest employer in the City of Scottsdale and is known for its innovative medical technology, research and patient care.

Finalists:
Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
St. Joseph’s Medical Center
St. Luke’s Medical Center

MEDICAL COMPANY OF THE YEAR
Winner: Ventana
Ventana is driving personalized healthcare through the development of “companion diagnostics” to identify patients most likely to respond favorably to specific therapies. Ventana has worked is currently engaged in more that 150 collaborative projects to develop and commercialize companion diagnostics globally.

Finalists:
Medtronic
W.L. Gore and Associates

MEDICAL RESEARCH COMPANY
Winner: Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
BAI has undergone a major prevention trial to evaluate a treatment in cognitively healthy older adults at the highest known genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease at older ages. The study is part of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative API, an international collaboration led by BAI to accelerate the evaluation of promising but unproven prevention therapies.

Finalists:
Banner MD Anderson
University of Arizona Cancer Center

PHYSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Winner: Jimmy Chow, IASIS Healthcare
Chow improved the field of orthopedics by helping to design and teach a hybrid technique of a minimally invasive total hip replacement where the surgeon builds a new hip from inside the body. This surgery results in no post-operative limitations and many patients are discharged within 24 hours. Chow is one of 10 surgeons in the world to perform his surgery.

Finalists:
Karen Corallo Chaney, Magellan Health Services
David Notrica, Phoenix Children’s Hospital

RESEARCHER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Venkatesh G. Ramaiah, Arizona Heart Hospital
Ramaiah, the medical director and director of vascular and endovascular research, successfully created the “un balloon,” which is used to remodel thoracic endografts without the wind sock effect. This products was able to be marketed and sold.

Finalists:
David Jacofsky, CORE Institute
Glen Weiss, CTCA

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Linda Hunt, Dignity Health
Hunt, who has served as the leader of Dignity Health in Arizona since 2012, has taken a leadership role to advance healthcare and the biosciences for the people of Arizona. She has worked diligently with legislators, business leaders, educators, scientists and community organizations in order to identify, formulate, and support policies that will give Arizonans better healthcare and raise the bar of knowledge.


Click here to see all the photos.

Rich Boals, president and CEO of BCBSAZ.

CEO Series: Richard L. Boals

Richard L. Boals
President and CEO
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

What qualities does and effective CEO need to have?
You have to be able to create a vision that your team can follow. You have to be very flexible. You have to be sincere and honest and you have to care about your customers.

What qualities do you have that make you an effective leader for BCBSAZ?
I am able to envision the future. I’m adaptable to change and comfortable with change and I sincerely care about our customers and team members.

How difficult has it been to manage through the changes coming as a result of the Affordable Care Act?
The Affordable Care Act has been the biggest challenge we have ever had. The change has resulted in thousands of hours of our staff time and millions of dollars in expenditures, but we are passionate about doing the right thing. It’s the law and once it was passed, we said we would do our best to implement it.

What have you done to prepare for the ACA?
We’ve designed all new products to comply with the law. We’ve revamped our systems so they interface with the systems the government expects us to interface with. I’m happy to say we are a little ahead of schedule.

How will the ACA impact businesses and how they insure their employees?
The biggest question for businesses is whether they will continue to provide coverage to their employees. We’ve talked with many business owners who are struggling with this. Do they pay the fine, give their employees a stipend and let them go onto one of the healthcare insurance exchanges? With healthcare costs continuing to escalate, many are wondering if this is the time to step aside and let  employees take that responsibility directly.

How is being CEO of BCBSAZ different from being CEO of another company?
We’re a not-for-profit company. We pay federal income tax but we aren’t responsible to shareholders, so we’re not as inclined to worry about short-term profitability and that allows us to focus far more attention on delighting our customers.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in your industry?
People are living longer, healthier lives because of new technology and innovation. How many people do we know now who have had knee replacements and would otherwise have been incapacitated or on disability? That’s not the expectation we have today. We want to live long, vibrant lives and healthcare is enabling us to do that. That said, costs have have gone up steadily since I started my career and one of our challenges is finding ways to moderate that and still deliver great value.

What advice would you give to someone entering the healthcare industry today?
If you believe in delighting your customers, if you believe in helping people when they need help the most, this is a great industry.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you like to be doing?
A career in the military would have been a great calling. I also have this vision of going to Washington and making a difference. I would like to see Washington more effective, more efficient, and maybe even improve its image a little.

Rich Boals, president and CEO of BCBSAZ.

CEO Series: Richard L. Boals, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

Richard L. Boals
President and CEO
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

What qualities does and effective CEO need to have?
You have to be able to create a vision that your team can follow. You have to be very flexible. You have to be sincere and honest and you have to care about your customers.

What qualities do you have that make you an effective leader for BCBSAZ?
I am able to envision the future. I’m adaptable to change and comfortable with change and I sincerely care about our customers and team members.

How difficult has it been to manage through the changes coming as a result of the Affordable Care Act?
The Affordable Care Act has been the biggest challenge we have ever had. The change has resulted in thousands of hours of our staff time and millions of dollars in expenditures, but we are passionate about doing the right thing. It’s the law and once it was passed, we said we would do our best to implement it.

What have you done to prepare for the ACA?
We’ve designed all new products to comply with the law. We’ve revamped our systems so they interface with the systems the government expects us to interface with. I’m happy to say we are a little ahead of schedule.

How will the ACA impact businesses and how they insure their employees?
The biggest question for businesses is whether they will continue to provide coverage to their employees. We’ve talked with many business owners who are struggling with this. Do they pay the fine, give their employees a stipend and let them go onto one of the healthcare insurance exchanges? With healthcare costs continuing to escalate, many are wondering if this is the time to step aside and let  employees take that responsibility directly.

How is being CEO of BCBSAZ different from being CEO of another company?
We’re a not-for-profit company. We pay federal income tax but we aren’t responsible to shareholders, so we’re not as inclined to worry about short-term profitability and that allows us to focus far more attention on delighting our customers.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in your industry?
People are living longer, healthier lives because of new technology and innovation. How many people do we know now who have had knee replacements and would otherwise have been incapacitated or on disability? That’s not the expectation we have today. We want to live long, vibrant lives and healthcare is enabling us to do that. That said, costs have have gone up steadily since I started my career and one of our challenges is finding ways to moderate that and still deliver great value.

What advice would you give to someone entering the healthcare industry today?
If you believe in delighting your customers, if you believe in helping people when they need help the most, this is a great industry.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you like to be doing?
A career in the military would have been a great calling. I also have this vision of going to Washington and making a difference. I would like to see Washington more effective, more efficient, and maybe even improve its image a little.

140007839

BCBSAZ, CPLC educate Arizonans about healthcare reform

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) and Chicanos Por la Causa, Inc. (CPLC) announced a joint effort  to help educate Arizonans about the healthcare reform law. Together the organizations aim to reach those who likely haven’t had insurance in the past and may not understand how the law will benefit them.

With a combined 117 years in the Valley, BCBSAZ and CPLC have a long history and shared commitment to the community. In the days ahead, the organizations are teaming up to:
· Make bilingual healthcare reform advisors available.
· Host healthcare reform education events.
· Conduct shared media opportunities with Hispanic outlets.
· Identify ongoing education opportunities.

“Working with CPLC, we’ll serve Arizonans in every corner of the state by providing resources and tools needed to make smart decisions in a time when healthcare is changing greatly,” said Richard L. Boals, president and CEO for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. “The open enrollment period gives Arizonans a chance to research their options and learn more about the value health insurance plays in keeping our communities healthy.”

“As one of Arizona’s largest social services organization, we are always looking for new opportunities to expand our service and support those who are historically underserved. Healthcare is a fundamental need and helping individuals understand how the Affordable Care Act impacts their lives and the best way to get coverage is our goal,” said Edmundo Hidalgo, CPLC President and CEO. Working with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, we have the opportunity not only to educate the community, but assist individuals in getting health insurance through local, personalized service.”

Healthcare reform open enrollment begins October 1 and runs through March 31, 2014. Within Arizona it is estimated that 480,000 people will be eligible for financial assistance. If a person is eligible for a subsidy, they must purchase their health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the exchange. Health insurance plans can also be purchased directly through a broker or BCBSAZ.

More healthcare reform information can be found in English at azblue.com or in Spanish at salud.azblue.com. BCBSAZ representatives can be reached at (877) 874-9958.

humana

What does the Obamacare mean for small businesses?

Small-business owners who are anxiously waiting for regulators to finalize rules that will define the three-year-old Affordable Care Act remain uneasy. Their anxiety is justified since they are waiting for rules that will be enacted next year and no one knows what growing pains lie ahead.

But they shouldn’t necessarily view the ACA as a bad thing for business.

“Beginning in 2014, purchasing insurance coverage should become simpler and more streamlined,” said Jon Pettibone, managing partner of Quarles & Brady in Phoenix. “When a small business purchases a new insurance policy, insurance rates will vary only due to the following limited factors: family size, age, geography, and tobacco use. Insurers will no longer be able to base insurance rates on pre-existing conditions, claims history, gender, size of employer, and/or occupation of employees. In addition, insurers cannot deny a small business’s application for insurance if the business fails to meet the plan’s minimum participation or minimum contribution requirements as long as the small business applies for coverage between November 15 and December 15.  Although coverage may not become cheaper, increases from year- to-year will be based on a significantly larger risk pool and so may become somewhat more predictable.”

According to Scott B. Carpenter, an attorney with Carpenter, Hazlewood, Delgado & Bolen, the ACA will require all business with 50 or more employees to provide affordable, minimum essential coverage or face a penalty of $2,000 per employee, excluding the first 30 employees.

“An employer with 60 employees, for example, that does not provide coverage, will pay a penalty of $60,000,” Carpenter said. “If a small business owner decides to pay the penalty, the amount of the penalty is not a deductible business expense.”

So what happens if an employer realizes that a $60,000 non-deductible penalty is still less than what she would pay in health insurance?

“That decision will force those employees into the individual market or ‘exchange,’ where there is no guarantee that the subsidies and premium tax credits will make the insurance affordable for that employee based on the wages they receive,” Carpenter said. “In other words, employees who do not receive coverage through their employer may seek employers who do provide coverage. This is one of the biggest unknowns – the behavior of employees who do not receive coverage through their employer.”

Pettibone said a small business owner should analyze the “shared responsibility” payment it might owe if it makes no changes to its health insurance program.

“In some cases, a small business owner might discover that it could have a small — or even zero — shared responsibility payment,” Pettibone said. “In that case, the business owner may decide to make little change to its health insurance program. In other cases, the small business owner might discover that it could have a very large shared responsibility payment and thus needs to develop a strategy to minimize the amount of the payment.  Developing a plan now will help avoid an unwelcome surprise later.”

Carpenter also suggested that small business owners need to make sure that they are outsourcing non-critical functions — including payroll processing, IT support, etc. — to reduce headcount, if possible.

“From there, an attorney can be utilized to make sure that employee and independent contractor policies are ironclad and that possible business restructuring options are pursued,” Carpenter said. “ There is no question that today there is an incentive, until the Affordable Care Act and the various markets it will create — both good and bad — become more mature, to stay under 50 employees. Companies under 50 employees will have maximum flexibility.”

While the potential impact of the ACA remains anything but clear for small-business owners, there is one major misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up, even for companies with fewer than 50 employees.

“The biggest misconception out there,” said Rich Boals, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), “is that health insurance is going to be free. That’s not going to happen.”

The cost of health insurance has been a growing concern for small businesses, said Jeff Stelnik, senior vice president of strategy sales and marketing for BCBSAZ. Overall, about 71 percent of firms with 10 to 24 employees offered health insurance in 2011, compared with 77 percent in 2001, according to a 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Of firms with three to nine workers, 48 percent offered insurance in 2011, compared with 58 pecent in 2001.

“While the Affordable Care Act gives more people access to health insurance coverage, it doesn’t address the affordability issue,” Stelnik said. “In the coming year, small businesses will see higher premiums that are the result of the ACA provisions including essential health benefits, guaranteed issue, ratings and taxes/fees. These increased premiums are a weight that could have a significant impact on the bottom line of small businesses.”

Another misconception is that many small business owners don’t think there are not many requirements if they stay under the 50 full-time employee or 50 full-time employee equivalent threshold, but experts said that is not the case.

“Small employers still need to be educated on their compliance responsibilities,” said Shay Bierly, director of client services for MJ Insurance’s employee benefits department. “Those compliance responsibilities include maximum waiting periods, how to distribute medical loss ratio rebates, SBC (Summary of Benefits and Coverage) disclosure rules and reporting requirements, to name a few.”

Bierly said that all business owners — no matter the size of the business — need to educate themselves and prepare a strategic plan with a professional consultant or advisor so that they don’t fall prey to the many misonceptions that are floating around regarding the ACA.
“The law is here and is not going away before the big implementation date of January 1, 2014,” Bierly said. “Business owners need to understand the expectations, possible financial impact and prepare themselves and their employees.”

Bierly said the ACA provides an opportunity for employers to assist their employees in becoming educated consumers.

“With the possibility of moving to a consumer driven health plan, employees will have more skin in the game and, by necessity, find the need to understand the cost and quality of services they need,” she said. “It is all about working smart and staying in the know. Employers must be engaged in what the market demands from a recruiting and retention standpoint while creating a responsible, healthy workforce.”

To make sure they are ready for the arrival of the ACA, Stelnik said business owners should do these things:

* Understand if your business has a grandfathered health plan.
* Know how your business is classified under the ACA. For example, businesses with 51 or more full-time employees will have to pay a penalty if they do not offer employees health insurance. Small businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees may be eligible for tax credits to assist with cost of insurance.
* Balance the decision to offer health insurance by weighing corporate finances, culture and the best interests of your employees.
* Begin looking into unique, new offerings specific to small businesses. Companies like BCBSAZ is tailoring plans to meet the needs of small businesses.

“For some businesses, a number of employees may be eligible for subsidies through the ACA, lessening the employer’s responsibility to offer health insurance,” Stelnik said. “Employers might also see improved employee satisfaction and quality of life as a result of the increased access to healthcare.”

Ultimately, experts said the ACA may drive small businesses in Arizona to new levels of success and innovation.

“Currently, many people who would like to start businesses do not do so because they cannot obtain affordable insurance in the private market and must rely on employer-provided coverage,” Pettibone said. “If those budding entrepreneurs can obtain subsidized coverage on the individual insurance marketplace, they might be more likely to take career risks and start new businesses. It’s thus possible that the Affordable Care Act will enable more people to pursue entrepreneurial activity and create more small businesses.”

5 THINGS TO KNOW FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

On average, small businesses pay about 18 percent more than large firms for the same health insurance policy because they lack the purchasing power that larger employers have. The Affordable Care Act provides tax credits and gives small businesses the ability to shop for insurance in the new Health Insurance Marketplace, which should help close the cost gap.
1. If you have up to 25 employees, pay average annual wages below $50,000, and provide health insurance, you may qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35 percent (up to 25 percent for nonprofits) to offset the cost of your insurance.
2. Under the health care law, employer-based plans that provide health insurance to retirees ages 55-64 can now get financial help through the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. This program is designed to lower the cost of premiums for all employees and reduce employer health costs.
3. Starting in 2014, the small business tax credit goes up to 50 percent (up to 35 percent for nonprofits) for qualifying businesses.
4. In 2014, small businesses with generally fewer than 100 employees can shop in the Health Insurance Marketplace, which gives you power similar to what large businesses have to get better choices and lower prices. Open enrollment begins on October 1, 2013.
5. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from new employer responsibility policies. They don’t have to pay an assessment if their employees get tax credits through an Exchange.

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Lavidge Launches National Campaign with Dole

The Lavidge Company (TLC), a full-service advertising, public relations, communications, consulting and interactive marketing agency, and Dole® Food Company have partnered in developing the summer “Peel the Love” campaign.

TLC edged out national agencies with its Peel the Love campaign idea and was selected to lead the concept, design and messaging standards of the year-long Dole campaign. The Peel the Love theme focuses on the fun, versatility and universally loved aspects of the iconic yellow fruit, which Dole grows more of globally than anyone else. The campaign is playful and modern, utilizing vibrant, summer colors, that invites people to Peel like a kid again. Dole. Peel the love.

TLC’s team created the overall campaign concept, developed the messaging and visual direction, and worked on in-store promotional materials including posters and special recipe cards. Additionally, the agency oversaw the production of the campaign standards guide, working in collaboration with Dole’s public relations and interactive agencies that extended the campaign through additional channels.

A feature of the Peel the Love campaign is the Peel the Love Summer Food Truck tour that will be visiting banana-loving cities across the country. The brightly colored Peel the Love food truck, featuring TLC designs, is staffed by healthy-eating advocates and will stop at supermarkets, parks and other venues to dispense samples and recipes that use DOLE Bananas in fun ways. The truck will be making several stops in Phoenix, Arizona and surrounding areas from June 27 through July 6. Dates, times and truck stop locations can be found at www.dole.com/peelthelove.

“We’re extremely proud to have worked with Dole on this campaign,” says Bob Case, chief creative officer of TLC. “The work was strategically driven, smart, and incredibly fun to do – we thank Dole for the opportunity and look forward to continuing our work with them.”

TLC is a Phoenix based full-service advertising, public relations, and interactive marketing agency offering best-in-class traditional and leading-edge marketing services all in-house. Since 1982, The Lavidge Company has specialized in developing brand positioning for products and services. Lavidge serves prominent national, regional and local brands including Dole, United Rentals, Phoenix International Raceway, Republic Services, Discount Tire, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Massage Envy, Phiten USA, Banner Health, McDonald’s and many more. The agency has helped companies increase sales, raise brand awareness and grow their businesses.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona honors hospitals

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona has named both Mountain Vista Medical Center and St. Luke’s Medical Center as a Blue Distinction Center+ in the area of Knee and Hip Replacement.

The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care® program is a national designation awarded by Blue Cross Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality specialty care – and has recently been expanded to include more robust quality measures focused on improved patient health and safety as well as new cost-efficiency measures.

The selection criteria used to evaluate facilities were developed with input from the medical community and include general quality and safety metrics as well as program specific metrics. Mountain Vista and St. Luke’s are proud to have met the rigorous selection criteria that have been set by the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program.

“Our hospitals are honored to be recognized for their enduring commitment to deliver quality specialty orthopaedic care in a cost-efficient way,” said Bob Wallen, regional vice president, Managed Care, for IASIS Healthcare, the parent company of Mountain Vista and St. Luke’s. “This designation will help guide patients to choose the very best care available.”

Research confirms that the newly designated Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients, with lower rates of complications and readmissions than their peers. Blue Distinction Centers+ also are more than 20 percent more cost-efficient. The program provides consumers with tools to make better informed health care decisions, and these results will enable employers, working with their local Blue Plan, to tailor benefits to meet their individual quality and cost objectives.

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Hispanic Chamber names Guerra Woman of the Year

The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is honoring BioAccel CEO and Co-Founder MaryAnn Guerra as the Woman of the Year on Saturday at its 55th Annual Black & White Ball and Business Awards.

Guerra is being recognized for BioAccel’s leadership role in economic development and its ongoing effort to start new companies and create jobs in Arizona. The gala, which honors three other community leaders and a business, is being held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 330 N. Third Street.

“The centerpiece attraction of our gala is the Hispanic Chamber’s prestigious business awards, and we’re extremely proud this year to salute the achievements of MaryAnn Guerra, one of our the state’s innovative figures, by awarding her the 2013 Woman of the Year Award,” said AZHCC President & CEO Gonzalo A. de la Melena, Jr.

Guerra is known for creating novel programs to accelerate the transfer of technology from the lab into new business opportunities. She has spent much of her career operating successful and progressive health, science and technology businesses. Guerra is an expert at business development initiatives that create organizations poised to deliver commercial outcomes. Since the launch of BioAccel in April 2009, 10 companies have been successfully launched with products close to commercial availability. Additionally, BioAccel recently partnered with the City of Peoria to create the first medical device accelerator, embedding the BioAccel model into its operations to ensure positive economic impact.

“I’m honored and humbled by this award,” Guerra said. “BioAccel is a new kind of accelerator model in Arizona dedicated to creating knowledge-industry jobs and new companies that drive our state’s economy. It’s inspiring and invigorating work, and a privilege to work with a staff, board and industry leaders committed to realizing a big bio vision for Arizona.”

Prior to founding BioAccel, Guerra served as President of TGen Accelerators, LLC, and Chief Operating Officer at TGen. While at TGen, she facilitated the start-up of six companies and was involved in the sale of three of those yielding significant profits for the organization. As TGen’s former COO, she grew the organization from $30 million to $60 million in fewer than three years.  Guerra also served as the executive vice president of Matthews Media Group where she was responsible for developing and implementing commercial strategic business plans that expanded and enhanced services and extended relationships with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. She had an impressive career at the National Institutes of Health in various senior level positions including executive officer at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and deputy director of management & executive officer at the National Cancer Institute.

Guerra has received numerous awards for her work including Arizona Business Magazine’s 2013 Fifteen Women to Watch. Last year, BioAccel received the State Science and Technology Institutes’ Most Innovative New Initiative Award, a first time national recognition for BioAccel and the state of Arizona. Currently Guerra is a board member of Planned Parenthood of Arizona and the Mollen Foundation as well as a Commissioner of the Arizona Skill Standard Commission. In addition, she serves on the advisory board for ASU School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering. Guerra earned an undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and an MBA from George Washington University in Science, Innovation and Commercialization.

The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 55th Annual Black & White Ball and Business Awards event is the state’s longest running formal gala and honors the achievements of business and community leaders statewide. More than 1,200 of Arizona’s most notable business and community leaders attend every year.

The Chamber will present awards during the gala in four other categories. This year’s winners are:

• Lattie F. Coor, Legacy Award

• Alfredo J. Molina, Man of the Year

• Israel G. Torres, Entrepreneur of the Year

• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Corporation of the Year Award

molina

Hispanic Chamber honors leaders

The Center for the Future of Arizona’s founder and CEO is among the five award recipients to be honored at the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 55th Annual Black & White Ball and Business Awards later this month.

“Dr. Lattie Coor is one of our state’s most iconic and beloved figures, and we’re honored to present him the 2013 Legacy Award,” said AZHCC President & CEO Gonzalo A. de la Melena, Jr. “The awards ceremony is the highlight of the evening, and this year’s slate of winners prove that people who succeed in business are also among the most generous individuals in our community.”

Awards also will be presented in four other categories:
MaryAnn Guerra, Woman of the Year;
Alfredo J. Molina, Man of the Year;
Israel Torres, Entrepreneur of the Year;
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Corporation of the Year Award.

The Black & White Ball is Arizona’s longest running formal gala. It honors the achievements of business and community leaders statewide. The gala also is the Hispanic Chamber’s largest annual fund-raiser. More than 1,200 of Arizona’s most notable business and community leaders are scheduled to attend.

Emceed this year by international celebrity Marco Antonio Regil, the gala takes place April 27, 2013, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 340 N. Third St. An “after-party” is scheduled at the same location from 9 p.m. to Midnight. Cox Communications continues its support as presenting sponsor for the event, which features an elegant dinner, the business awards, and live music and dancing at an after-dinner cocktail party.

Past Legacy Award winners include Governor Raul H. Castro, Senator John McCain, Jerry Colangelo, former Govenor Janet Napolitano and the late Eddie Basha, Jr., who will be honored with a special memorial tribute at this year’s dinner.

“In addition to the honor of presenting our business awards, the gala’s Brazilian Carnival theme this year promises to make it a great night out on the town,” said De la Melena. “I invite everyone to come and celebrate the good work of our award winners, and afterward relax and dance the night away.”

For information about ticket sales or sponsorship opportunities, contact Christina Arellano at 602-294-6085 or ChristinaA@azhcc.com or visit www.azhcc.com.

Dr. Lattie F. Coor / Legacy Award
Dr. Lattie F. Coor is President-Emeritus, Professor and Ernest W. McFarland Chair in Leadership and Public Policy in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University, and is Chairman and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona.

For the previous 26 years, Dr. Lattie Coor served as a University President. He was President of Arizona State University from 1990 to 2002, and President of the University of Vermont from 1976 to 1989.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Coor served as an assistant to the Governor of Michigan and held faculty appointments in Political Science at Washington University. His administrative responsibilities there included those of Assistant Dean of the Graduate School, Director of International Studies, and University Vice Chancellor.

He has held positions with a variety of higher education associations, board and commissions, having served as a founding member and Chairman of Division I of the NCAA President’s Commission. He held the position of Chairman of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges in 1992-93, and served on the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education from 1990 to 1993 and again from 1999 to 2002. He also served on the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land Grant Universities from 1996 to 2002. He served as a Trustee of the American College of Greece, Athens, from 1988 to 1998, and has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Deer Creek Foundation, St Louis, since 1983. He has honorary degrees from Marlboro College, American College of Greece, the University of Vermont and Northern Arizona University.

In Arizona, Dr. Lattie Coor serves on the Board of Directors of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Arizona, and has served on the Board of Directors of Bank One Arizona, Samaritan Health Services, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and is a member of the Greater Phoenix Leadership Council. He was a member of the Arizona State Board of Education from 1995 to 1999. He served as Chairman of the Education Section of the Valley of the Sun United Way Campaign from 1990 to 1993, and of the Public Sector of the United Way Campaign from 1999 to 2002.

Dr. Lattie Coor received the Anti-Defamation League’s Jerry J. Wisotsky Torch of Liberty Award in 1994, the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Individual Award from the Greater Phoenix Urban League in 2000, The American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award in 2000, The American Jewish Committee Institute of Human Relations Award in 2001 and the Center City Starr award from Phoenix Community Alliance in 2001. He was named Valley Leadership’s Man of the Year in 2006.
An Arizona native, Dr. Coor was born in Phoenix and graduated with high honors from Northern Arizona University in 1958. He pursued graduate studies in Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, earning a master’s degree in 1960 and a Ph.D. in 1964.

Alfredo J. Molina / Man of the Year

International jeweler Alfredo J. Molina is Chairman of The Molina Group, based in Phoenix, Arizona. The Molina Group is the parent company of Molina Fine Jewelers in Phoenix and New York and Black, Starr & Frost, America’s first jeweler since 1810, in Newport Beach and New York. Alfredo Molina is one of the nation’s most prestigious jewelers. His ability to secure the world’s rarest gems – such as the historic Archduke Joseph Diamond, the world’s twelfth largest historic perfect white diamond – has earned him guest appearances on numerous television programs, including CBS’ Early Show and NBC’s Today Show.

Mr. Molina’s education and experience in the jewelry industry is extensive. He is a graduate gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America and a Fellow Member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain with distinction. He is a certified gemologist and appraiser from the American Gem Society. He is considered one of the world’s experts in the determination of country of origin of gemstones. He is past President of the American Society of Appraisers, Arizona Jewelers Association, and the GIA Alumni Association. He served as Vice-Chairman of the Jewelers of America Council and Co-Chairman of the Master Gemologist Appraiser program. Mr. Molina is also a qualified appraiser for the Internal Revenue Service and an alumni of the FBI Citizens Academy. He appears as keynote speaker at seminars and workshops on appraising gems, and discussing the latest gemological trends and developments. He assists law enforcement agencies in recovering stolen gems and serves as an expert witness for U.S. Customs Service as gems authority. In 2002, he was appointed to serve as Honorary Counsul of Spain for Arizona.

Alfredo, his wife Lisa and their four children devote time and many resources to the Arizona and California communities. The Molinas feel that The Molina Group is fulfilling their duty to their community, friends and supporters.

Lisa and Alfredo have chaired numerous charity events including the Arizona Cancer Ball, The Samaritan Foundation, The Symphony Ball, The Arizona Heart Ball, Crohn’s and Colitis, Women of Distinction Gala and Childhelp. They have supported Candlelite, JDRF Dream Gala, Susan G. Komen, the Pacific Symphony, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and were honorary Chairs of 2009 Orange Country High School for the Arts Gala and the 2011 Banner Health Foundation Candlelight Capers. Lisa and Alfredo have dedicated their lives to the service of others and their children are following in their footsteps. Through their generous sponsorship and support of local and national charities, they seek to improve the lives of those less fortunate. Gratitude, selflessness, love and a firm belief in the legacies of sharing comprises the Molina way of life.

Alfredo was honored in Washington, DC as one of seven caring Americans and was inducted into the Frederick Douglass Museum & Hall of Fame for Caring Americans on Capitol Hill. He was named 2008 Outstanding Business Leader by Northwood University at the Breakers in Palm Beach and he was recently inducted into the National Jewelers, Retailer Hall of Fame in the single store independent category.

MaryAnn Guerra / Woman of the Year

MaryAnn Guerra, MBA is Chairman of the Board, CEO, and co-founder of BioAccel. Ms. Guerra is known for creating novel programs to accelerate the transfer of technology from the lab into new business opportunities. Ms. Guerra spent much of her career operating successful and progressive health, science and technology businesses. She is an expert at business development initiatives that create organizations poised to deliver commercial outcomes. Since the launch of BioAccel in April 2009, 10 companies have been successfully launched with products close to commercial availability. Additionally, BioAccel recently partnered with the City of Peoria to create the first medical device accelerator, embedding the BioAccel model into its operations to ensure positive economic impact.

Prior to founding BioAccel, Ms. Guerra served as President of TGen Accelerators, LLC and Chief Operating Officer at (TGen). While at TGen she facilitated the start-up of six companies and was involved in the sale of three of those yielding significant profits for the organization. As TGen’s former COO she grew the organization from $30M to $60M in less than three years. Ms. Guerra also served as Executive Vice President, Matthews Media Group, where she was responsible for developing and implementing commercial strategic business plans that expanded and enhanced services and extended relationships with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. She has had an impressive career at the National Institutes of Health having held various senior level positions, including: Executive Officer, NHLBI and Deputy Director of Management & Executive Officer at the NCI.

Ms. Guerra has received numerous awards for her work, including the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 2013 Woman of the Year and Arizona Business Magazine’s 2013 “Fifteen” Women to Watch. Last year BioAccel received the State Science and Technology Institutes’ most Innovative New Initiative Award, a first time national recognition for BioAccel and for the State of Arizona. She has received the Phoenix Business Journal’s “Top 25 Women in Business” award, as well as their “Power People” award, the Girl Scouts “Women of the Future World” award. Ms. Guerra has served on numerous Boards throughout her career. Currently she is a Board member of Planned Parenthood of Arizona and the Mollen Foundation as well as a Commissioner of the Arizona Skill Standard Commission as well as many other board seats. Ms. Guerra holds an undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and an MBA from George Washington University in Science, Innovation and Commercialization.

Israel G. Torres, Esq. / Entrepreneur of the Year

Israel G. Torres is Managing Partner of Torres Consulting and Law Group, LLC. The firm provides a variety of services, including regulatory compliance, law, and government relations, to clients in the construction trades throughout the United States. His firm has been recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of the Best Places to Work in the Valley in 2011. Torres Consulting and Law Group was also named 2009 Service Firm of Year during the Minority Enterprise Development Week Awards, a program that is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Prior to establishing his firm, Mr. Torres was elected as the Democratic nominee for Arizona Secretary of State in 2006. He was the first Latino candidate in Arizona history to garner more than 600,000 votes statewide.

From 2003 to 2006, Mr. Torres served as Director of the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and as a member of Governor Napolitano’s Cabinet. As the director, Mr. Torres served as the chief regulator of Arizona’s construction industry, regulating the activities of more than 52,000 active commercial and residential construction licenses amidst a time of unparalleled construction activity in Arizona. In that role, he also served as an advisor to the Governor and State Legislature on construction- and development-related issues. Mr. Torres was a national leader in the advancement of regulatory initiatives.

Mr. Torres is a member of the Arizona Bar and is licensed to practice law in Arizona. His educational background includes a Juris Doctorate from the University of New Mexico School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Arizona State University. He also holds a Construction Management Certificate from the Del E. Webb School of Construction in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at ASU.

Mr. Torres and his wife, Monica, live in Tempe and are raising two children, Cristian and Alysa. He enjoys outdoor sports, including mountain biking, hiking, boating, camping, and skiing.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona / Corporation of the Year

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest Arizona-based health insurance company. The not-for-profit company was founded in 1939 and provides health insurance products, services or networks to 1.3 million individuals. With offices in Phoenix, Flagstaff, Tucson and the East Valley, the company employs more than 1,300 Arizonans. Follow BCBSAZ at www.facebook.com/bcbsaz or on Twitter at @bcbsaz to get information on health and wellness, a knowledgeable perspective on health insurance reform, and become a part of what BCBSAZ is doing in your community.

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The 25 Most Influential Hispanic Business Leaders

Benito Almanza
Arizona president
Bank of America
Born into a family of migrant workers, Almanza is now responsible for all lines of business efforts, community and civic activities in the state. The graduate of Stanford University and the University of Santa Clara has been with Bank of America for 30 years, working in California before moving to Arizona in 1992.
His hope for his professional legacy: “Hiring top talent and developing them to replace me someday.”
Surprising fact: “Growing up working with my family in the fields helped me better understand agribusiness banking.”

Marty Alvarez
CEO, principal in charge
Sun Eagle Corporation
Alvarez is founder of family-owned and operated Sun Eagle, one of the top minority-owned general contracting and construction management firms in the country. He has been a chair and officer for the Associated Minority Contractors of America since 1993.
His hope for his professional legacy: “That our well-constructed buildings improved the landscape, and our assistance to individuals and families improved lives.”
Surprising fact: “I have been involved with Shotokan Karate continuously for the past 39 years.”

Victor M. Aranda
Area president, Northern Arizona
Wells Fargo Arizona
Aranda manages six Wells Fargo Community Banking markets; Northeast Arizona, Central Arizona, White Mountains, North Phoenix, North Scottsdale and Scottsdale. He is responsible for 816 team members, 69 banking stores, and $4.1 billion in deposits. A 25-year financial services veteran, Aranda presently serves as a board member for Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Valley Leadership Arizona.
His hope for his professional legacy: “My passion in life is to add value to those I come in contact with.  What I would like to be remembered for is how I spent my life serving, helping and developing the leaders of tomorrow.”
Surprising fact: “I was involved and directed a church Spanish choir and I have also sang in Las Vegas at the Bellagio Hotel.”

Tony Astorga
Retired CFO
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Astorga recently retired from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona where he served as the Senior Vice President, CFO & CBDO since 1988. He currently serves as chairman of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation and is a member of the board of directors for the Arizona Community Foundation, AZHCC, ASU Foundation, CSA General Insurance Agency, Phoenix Art Museum, and US Bank Arizona.
His hope for his professional legacy: “I would like to be remembered in my profession as a CPA and CFO for being a good mentor and for helping develop my staff in their work ethic and level of growth.”
Surprising fact: “I have a sweet tooth for twinkies or that my favorite movie is ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’, I still laugh when I think about the movie”.

Miguel Bravo
Senior community development consultant
Arizona Public Service Company
Bravo is responsible for directing community development initiatives statewide to help serve diverse markets for APS. He also collaborates with economic development organizations to attract industry to Arizona. Bravo also serves the boards of Friendly House, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Latino Center at Morrison Institute, Boys Hope Girls Hope and Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates.
His hope for his professional legacy: “For conducting business with integrity, purpose, passion; and for having a conviction for public service.”
Surprising fact: “I became a US Citizen in 2007. Having grown up in Arizona, this was one of my proudest moments.”

José Cárdenas
Senior vice president and general counsel
Arizona State University
Before joining ASU in 2009, Cárdenas was chairman at Lewis & Roca, where he became the first Hispanic to serve as managing partner of a major law firm in Arizona. A Stanford Law School graduate, Cárdenas has served on many boards and commissions and has received various awards.
His hope for his professional legacy: “As a good lawyer who served his clients and community well with the utmost integrity.”
Surprising fact: Cárdenas was involved with death penalty cases for more than 30 years.

America Corrales-Bortin
Co-founder
America’s Taco Shop
Corrales-Bortin grew up Culiacán in Sinaloa, Mexico, watching her mother prepare the dishes that would become the recipes for success at America’s Taco Shop. Founded in 2008, America’s authentic carne asada and al pastor quickly built a following that has led to rapid expansion and a partnership Kahala, a franchise development company. So far in 2013, America’s has already moved into California, Texas and Maryland.
Her hope for her professional legacy: “As someone who has a passion for the food we serve at America’s Taco Shop.”
Surprising fact: “People would be surprised that I am named after a famous soccer team in Mexico.”

Gonzalo de la Melena Jr.
President and CEO
Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
In addition to leading the Hispanic Chamber, de la Melena Jr. operates the Phoenix Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the state’s leading advocate representing more than 100,000 minority business enterprises. De la Melena is also the Founder of edmVentures, LLC a small business investment company with holdings in Phoenix airport concessions at Sky Harbor International.
His hope for his professional legacy: “Helping small businesses succeed.”
Surprising fact: “I had the opportunity to do business in more than 30 countries before the age of 30.”

Robert Espiritu
Acquisition marketing
American Express
Espiritu’s diversified professional experience includes working for small business enterprises as well as corporate 100 businesses in the areas of sales, marketing and financial management. He has also been actively involved with various nonprofit organizations; most recently as the former chairman of the board for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
His hope for his professional legacy: “Innovative and focused leader who delivers with energy and is known for building successful relationships and high performing teams.”
Surprising fact: “As a first generation American, I am passionate about helping aspiring and under-privileged youth achieve their dreams and advocating for Hispanic career advancement, education and scholarships.”

Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick
Executive vice chancellor and provost
Maricopa Community Colleges
Harper-Marinick oversees all areas of academic and student affairs, workforce development, and strategic planning. She serves on several national and local boards including ABEC and AMEPAC, which she chairs.  Originally from the Dominican Republic, Harper-Marinick came to ASU as a Fulbright Scholar.
Her hope for her professional legacy: “Passion for, and unwavering commitment to, public education as the foundation of a democratic society.”
Surprising fact: “The joy I get from driving fast cars.”

Julio Herrera
National Spanish Sales and Retention Director
Cox Communications
Herrera and his team work across markets and cross-functional departments to drive Spanish language sales and grow Cox’s Hispanic markets nationally. He also helped establish LIDER, a leadership program tailored for Hispanic team members looking for advancement opportunities in Phoenix and Southern Arizona.
His hope for his professional legacy: “Growing and improving the Hispanic customer experience and making a difference our communities.”
Surprising fact: “Spanish was my first language and I started my career in sales leadership at 18 ears old.”

Lori Higuera
Director
Fennemore Craig
Higuera defends, provides counsel and trains employers of all sizes. She’s a Southwest Super Lawyer, an employment law expert for the Arizona Republic/Arizona Business Gazette and is a recent recipient of the High-Level Business Spanish Diploma from the Madrid Chamber of Commerce.
Her hope for her professional legacy: “A skilled lawyer who elevated the practice by integrating the diverse perspectives of our community.”
Surprising fact: “I was fired from my first job as a Santa’s helper for being too social!”

Ana María López, MD, MPH, FACP
Associate dean, outreach and multicultural affairs
Professor of medicine (Tenured) and pathology, College of Medicine
Medical director, Arizona Telemedicine Program
University of Arizona
López has a passion for addressing health inequities and human suffering. From clinical research with molecular targets to health services research, her work focuses on optimizing the health of individuals and communities.
Her hope for her professional legacy: “Life is an opportunity to contribute. I hope to contribute, to make a difference.”
Surprising fact: “I love simple pleasures. Witnessing the daily miracle of the sun rising sustains me.”

Paul Luna
President and CEO
Helios Education Foundation
Luna leads Helios Education Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to succeed in postsecondary education. He is the former president of Valley of the Sun United Way and has held positions with Pepsi, IBM and the Office of Governor Bruce Babbitt.
His hope for his professional legacy: “That I cared about our community and helped make it better.”
Surprising fact: “I’m seriously considering getting matching tattoos with my kids in the near future.”

Steve Macias
President and CEO
Pivot Manufacturing
Macias is a co-owner of Pivot Manufacturing, a Phoenix machine shop, chairs the Arizona Manufacturers Council, and is on the boards of the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber. He is an active proponent of manufacturing in Arizona and a proud father of three boys.
His hope for his professional legacy: “Contributed in some small way to the sustainment of manufacturing in Arizona.”
Surprising fact: “In high school, I was the school mascot – a Bronco.”

Mario Martinez II
CEO
360 Vantage
Martinez is responsible for the overall vision, strategy and execution of 360 Vantage, a leader in cloud-based sales and marketing technology solutions designed to solve the unique challenges of the mobile workforce in life sciences, healthcare and other industries.
His hope for his professional legacy: “I would most like to be remembered for truly changing the lives of our clients, employees and our community in great and meaningful ways.”
Surprising fact: “I hosted a radio show during my college years.”

Clarence McCallister
CEO
Fortis Networks, Inc.
McAllister was born in Panama and earned his master’s in electrical engineering from ASU. In 2000, he and his wife started Fortis Networks, Inc., a certified 8a and HUBzone government contractor specializing in engineering, construction and technology services.
His hope for his professional legacy: “Building a world-class organization that always exceeds our customers’ expectations.”
Surprising fact: “I did an emergency landing on a City of Mesa street.”

Rodolfo Parga, Jr.
Managing shareholder
Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
In addition to managing a law firm with 120 attorneys, Parga has been to Best Lawyers in America for the last four years. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Chicanos Por la Causa, a leading non-profit helping advance and create economic and educational opportunities.
His hope for his professional legacy: “I want to be remembered as always trying to do the right thing and having led with integrity.”
Surprising fact: “I was bullied until age 11, which drove me not only to strengthen my body, but my resolve.”

Hector Peñuñuri
Senior planning analyst
SRP
Peñuñuri is an Arizona native and has spent most of the past 15 years in the Customer Services Division at SRP.  He has served on several boards including the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and LISC.  He was raised in the West Valley, and currently resides in Gilbert.
His hope for his professional legacy: “A trusted and valuable team member/leader; a communicator who understands the importance of sharing knowledge to help others.”
Surprising fact: “I’m a jack of all trades – woodworker, photographer, musician, outdoorsman and a decent cook when I put my mind to it.”

Dan Puente
Owner
D.P. Electric
Puente founded D.P. Electric in 1990 out of his garage with one truck. D.P. Electric now has more than 200 employees and generated more than $30 million in revenue in 2012, making it the biggest Hispanic-owned company in Arizona.
His hope for his professional legacy: “A guy that is fair, honest, hard-working and gives back both personally and professionally.”
Surprising fact: “Professionally, that I do not have a college degree and personally, that I am a Bikram Yoga junkie.”

Marie Torres
Founder
MRM Construction Services
Torres is an Arizona native and built her business in the community that she grew up in. With more than 30 years experience in the construction field, she started MRM in 2002 and currently has more than 50 employees. The focus of her company has been in government contracting and has self performed airfield work at Luke AFB, MCAS Yuma and Davis Monthan.
Her hope for her professional legacy: “As being technically competent.”
Surprising fact: “I don’t like to drive and I am happy as a passenger – even in my own car.”

Lisa Urias
President and CEO
Urias Communications
After 15 years in international marketing and communications, Urias founded Urias Communications to address the need for advertising and PR with a uniquely multicultural focus. Now an award-winning advertising, and PR agency, Urias Communications specializes in the multicultural markets of the U.S. Southwest, with concentration on the burgeoning Hispanic market.
Her hope for her professional legacy: “Bridging the divide between corporations and the growing Hispanic community for mutual benefit and respect.”
Surprising fact: “I am a fourth-generation Arizonan whose grandfather was the first Hispanic city councilman.”

Dawn C. Valdivia
Partner, chair of the Labor & Employment Practice Group
Quarles & Brady
Valdivia is the chair of Quarles & Brady’s Labor and Employment Group in Phoenix. She regularly advises clients in all matters of labor and employment law and is skilled in complex litigation matters, including wage and hour class action litigation in Arizona and California.
Her hope for her professional legacy: “A creative problem solver, committed to her clients and to giving back to the community.”
Surprising fact: “I love adventure — sky diving, gliding, scuba diving, helicopters, etc.”

Lorena Valencia
CEO
Reliance Wire
Valencia is the founder and CEO of Reliance Wire Systems, a wire and tubing manufacturing company she founded in 2000. She is also the founder and president of Magin Corporation — an eco-friendly wood pallet alternative company — and the FRDM Foundation.
Her hope for her professional legacy: “Empowering children by building schools and libraries in impoverished countries through my FRDM Foundation.”
Surprising fact: “I put hot peppers on almost everything I eat. The hotter. the better.”

Roberto Yañez
Vice president and GM
Univision Arizona
Yañez is a 27-year broadcast television veteran, who has served 17 of those years with the Univision Television Group (UTG). Yañez has created various opportunities that helped build the station’s relationship with the community: Cadena de Gente Buena, El 34 Esta Aqui and Ya Es Hora.
His hope for his professional legacy: “Someone who used his craft to build bridges between the problem and the solution.”
Surprising fact: “Though Monday through Friday you will never see me without a suit and tie, I am most comfortable in boots, jeans and driving a pick-up truck.”

Brossart Diane final 9314 5-29-12

Valley Forward Exands its horizon

Timing is everything, even when it comes to Mother Nature.

“In 2010, we got an $85,000 grant to look at some federal issues on sustainability,” says Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Valley Forward, which brings business and civic leaders together to improve the environment and livability of Valley communities. “We were asked to target Arizona’s Congressional delegation and get them up to speed in regards to understanding a sustainability agenda for Arizona and what that meant.”

What grew from that seed was an initiative that had actually been germinating for more than a decade, Brossart says: taking the successful Marocopa County-centric Valley Forward and giving is a statewide focus. In August, Valley Forward’s board voted unanimously to to move forward with a business plan that will transition Valley Forward into Arizona Forward in January.

Brossart says the state is facing some serious issues related to the environment and the livability and vitality of Arizona’s cities and towns will be impacted by upcoming decisions related to:
* Land use planning and open space,
* A balanced multi-modal transportation system,
* Improving and maintaining healthy air quality,
* Solar and renewable energy technology,
*  Managing our water resources, and
* Protecting wilderness, parks, national monuments and other natural areas for Arizona’s tourism economy.

“As Arizona and the country recover from the Great Recession, a statewide dialogue is more important than ever,” says William F. Allison, a shareholder at Gallagher & Kennedy. “The issues impacting us – water, energy, transportation, land use – involve the entire state rather than only the Valley. Arizona Forward will provide a forum to think outside the box and beyond the Valley.”

To get Arizona Forward to have its greatest statewide impact, Brossart and her staff connected with nine companies that had influence on communities along the Sun Corridor — the stretch of freeway that connects Tucson, Phoenix, Prescott and Flagstaff — to become charter members of Arizona Forward.

“The leaders of those companies have become our tour guides as we go into Pima County and Northern Arizona,” Brossart says. She points to Kurt Wadlington, employee-owner of Sundt Construction in Tucson, for opening doors for Arizona Forward to spread its wings into Southern Arizona.

“Southern Arizona already has a very strong environmental focus, but struggles with areas that are dependent on statewide engagement from both a funding and advocacy perspective,” Wadlington says. “(Valley Forward’s) shift (to a statewide focus) will provide Southern Arizona with added resources to coordinate its future growth in the larger context of the Sun Corridor.”

Experts agree that now is the perfect time for Valley Forward to shift to a statewide focus statewide because Arizona is at a turning point, economically and environmentally.

“There are major issues that affect the state like transportation; managing resources; and protecting the wilderness, parks, and national monuments,” says Alfie Gallegos, area sales manager for Republic Services. “These are not just environmental issues, but are issues that have an effect on Arizona’s economy statewide. I think Arizona is ready to start having more positive statewide conversations about finding ways to grow our economy in a manner that can be sustained and is environmentally friendly.”

Brossart says that while Arizona has had countless groups that have focused on making their communities better, Arizona Forward will be looking to help educate legislators become the glue that brings those regional organizations together in a spirit of cooperation and unity.

“So much of our goal is to drive a political agenda to the middle and bring folks on both sides of the aisle together,” Brossart says. “The issues that we focus on are sustainability and environmental. Everybody needs clean air, clean water, open space and parks. Those are the things that make a community viable, healthy and liveable. We all want that. Those aren’t political issues. But they do fall into a political arena that sometimes clouds the issues. But if we can be a reasoning voice of balance like we have been successfully in Maricopa County, if we can bring that statewide, it will be really good for Arizona — economically and environmentally.”

Valley Forward members expect the transition to Arizona Forward to foster additional collaboration and conversation on statewide issues, bring additional viewpoints on key issues and allow for a more global conversation.

“My hope is that we can, over time, have a collective vision that regardless of our own regional filters, we’re all in this together and need to find ways to move forward as one sustainable, economically successful state,” says Iain Hamp, community affairs representative, Wells Fargo Team Member Philanthropy Group.

Brossart says one of the biggest messages Arizona Forward will be trying to communicate is that making sound decisions about issues surrounding sustainability and the environment are good for business.

“If we make a case that shows the economic impact of parks and open space on the tourism industry, the business community will take notice and they are uniquely poised to deliver of that message and be heard,” Brossart says. “Parks groupies are great and they are important. But when the business community gets involved, people listen.”

Where Arizona Forward could have its biggest economic impact is on growth industries that rely on the state’s amazing natural resources.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of solar energy, as the clean, renewable energy source is experiencing massive growth and helping the state and country achieve greater energy independence,” says Patricia Browne, director of marketing and communications for SOLON Corporation in Tucson. “And Arizona has been at the center of this growth. This has been made possible not only by the companies developing the solutions, but by the state and local officials, Arizona-based businesses and individual residents who recognize the importance that solar plays in a number of ways such as a cleaner environment, economic development, and energy price stability. However, there are still challenges in making the adoption viable on a large scale, and Arizona Forward helps bring together the right players to help make this happen on a state level.”

Richard Mayol, communications and government relations director for Grand Canyon Trust in Flagstaff, says Arizona Forward will give members in northern Arizona the opportunity to not only have a voice in discussions that affect the state today, but in decisions that impact what Arizona will be like 20 years from now.

“We hope it will help create an economy that provides the opportunity for prosperity without sacrificing the environment,” he says, “and makes northern Arizona an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

And that is what Arizona Forward’s mission is all about: bringing business and civic leaders together in order to convene thoughtful public dialogue on statewide issues and to improve the environment and sustainability of Arizona.

“All areas of the state will benefit, from urban to rural and suburban areas in between due to a coordinated and planned strategy for such essential elements as affordable energy, water, transportation, affordable housing, and a wide band of employment opportunities,” says Janice Cervelli, dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona. “All geographic, economic, and environmental sectors of the state will increasingly become part of a larger, interdependent, connected system.”

GOALS OF ARIZONA FORWARD

* Establish cooperative relationships with like-minded Arizona conservation organizations and facilitate collaboration on sustainability initiatives.
* Bring business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue on regional issues and to improve the environment and sustainability of Arizona.
* Increase awareness of and interest in environmental issues initially in the Sun Corridor and then beyond, statewide, building on an agenda of land use and open space planning, transportation, air quality, water, and energy.
* Support efforts to promote the Sun Corridor as an economic development area incorporating sustainability and smart growth principles.
* Serve as a technical resource on environmental issues through Arizona Forward’s and Valley Forward’s diverse membership of large corporations, small businesses, municipal governments, state agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations.

ARIZONA FORWARD CHARTER MEMBERS
Arizona Community Foundation
First Solar
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
National Bank of Arizona
SOLON Corporation
Sundt Construction
The Nature Conservancy
Total Transit
Wells Fargo

FOUNDING MEMBERS: Access Geographic, LLC; Adolfson & Peterson Construction Company; APS; Arizona Conservation Partnership; Arizona Department of Transportation; Arizona Heritage Alliance; Arizona Investment Council; Arizona State Parks Foundation; Arizona State University, Global Institute of Sustainability; Aubudon Arizona; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona; Breckenridge Group Architects/Planners; Caliber Group; City of Tucson; Environmental Fund of Arizona; Fennemore Craig; Gabor Lorant Architects; Gammage & Burnham; Godec Randall & Associates; Grand Canyon Trust; Guided Therapy Systems; Haley & Aldrich; Intellectual Energy, LLC; John Douglas Architects; Jones Studio; Kinney Construction Services, Inc.; Lewis and Roca LLP; Logan Halperin Landscape Architecture; Pima County; RSP Architects; Southwest Gas Corporation; SRP; University of Phoenix; TEP / UNS Energy Corp.; The Greenleaf Group