A recent Washington Post story illustrated the connectivity of bike lanes and paths in several major U.S. cities. The result? In places like Miami and Seattle, bike lanes are intermittent and sporadically connected.
By comparison, Phoenix boasts a well-connected set of dedicated bike paths and lanes, according to analysis of data provided by the Maricopa Association of Governments.
Bike lanes and paths connect heavily populated areas from Surprise to Mesa, despite the Phoenix metropolitan area being a notable example of urban sprawl in the United States. The bike lanes extend as far west as Buckeye and as far north as Cave Creek, though they are less densely connected in these far-reaching areas.
The map does not include off-road recreational trails, paved shoulders or multi-use paths.
A similar map of Washington D.C. displays a number of short bike paths that rarely connect to one another, according to an illustration created by the Washington Post’s Wonkblog. Boston’s bike lanes line major roads but fail to run through smaller streets. It is Miami, however, that presents the least-connected system of bike lanes and paths.
Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix announced the grand opening of their new experience – The Crazy Cactus Roaring River. Formerly the lazy river, the new experience features wave action, fast-moving water, tipping buckets, refreshing waterfalls and water curtains in an invigorating river ride.
Local dignitaries will join Season Pass Holders for a ribbon cutting and first rides today. Lifeguards will be dressed as castaways and share treats and gifts with guests throughout the day.
Julie Watters has been named Phoenix Public Information Director by City Manager Ed Zuercher, following a national recruitment. Watters comes from the city of Glendale where she spent 13 years, most recently as Communications Director. In Phoenix she will oversee the staff handling public information, and the city’s digital media team including the website, social media and the city TV station, Phoenix Channel 11.
Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher said, “Julie has a proven track record of strategic communication leadership. We are excited to welcome her to the Phoenix team.”
Since 2002, Watters served in various communication and leadership roles in Glendale in both the communications and fire departments. As Communications Director she oversaw Glendale’s public information office, city-owned TV station, Glendale Media Center, website, office of special events, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, creative services, and city convention center.
Watters worked on the 2015 and 2008 Super Bowls and has played a role in high-level communications projects on topics ranging from economic development projects to the city budget, complex management agreements, public safety education campaigns and day-to-day operational services. She has also been nominated for and received Emmy awards for her work at the city-owned TV station. Prior to her work in municipal government, she was an anchor and reporter at KPNX-TV, Channel 12, for more than eleven years.
“I’m so pleased to have this opportunity to live and work in the same community and to lead the Public Information team in sharing the city’s diverse messages locally, nationally and internationally,” said Watters.
Phoenix Deputy Aviation Director Deborah Ostreicher, has been running the Public Information Office since November and will be returning to the Aviation Department next month.
“Deborah Ostreicher has done an outstanding job of upping our game in communications and we are looking forward to continuing our outreach and communication to Phoenix residents with Julie Watters,” said Zuercher.
Watters begins with the city of Phoenix on June 15.
Business Use by Quarles and Brady Only. No personal use allowed.
The national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLPannounced that David E. Funkhouser III, a partner in the firm’s Phoenix office, has been appointed Chair of the Grants, Corporate Sponsorships and In-Kind Donations Committee for the Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ) Development Team.
In this role, Funkhouser will focus on cultivating current relationships, as well as developing new partnerships between the business community in Arizona and SOAZ. The objective is to enhance the organization’s ability to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Funkhouser also serves as a member of the Leadership Council for the Special Olympics Advocacy Resource program.
Funkhouser handles complex commercial litigation matters, where he focuses his practice on trust, estate, and probate litigation and other business disputes. He also routinely represents financial institutions and servicers in all aspects of litigation.
Funkhouser is also heavily involved in the local community, just recently being named to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) Ambassador Steering Committee, which is focused on ensuring GPEC’s Ambassador Program aligns with the organization’s key objectives and mission. Funkhouser is also a Past-President of the Maricopa County Bar Association and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He was selected for inclusion in the 2014 and 2015 Southwest Super Lawyers magazines and named to both the Phoenix Business Journal’s “40 under 40” and Richman Media’s “Leaders under 40” lists, respectively. Funkhouser is a founding member of Suns 88 Charities and a certified ambassador for the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He also served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 2008–2009. Funkhouser earned both his law degree and undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa, and received the 2013 Recent Alumni Award from the College of Law in 2013.
TinyKicks and Omni BioCeutical Innovations won $135,000 in the second Scorpion Pit early-stage funding competition sponsored by BioAccel and powered by the Arizona Board of Regents.
The competition, dubbed the Scorpion Pit, was held on Friday, May 15, at the Croft in downtown Phoenix. The bioscience companies were selected for investment from local investors, called Scorpions, and also BioAccel. This intense evaluation process is modeled after Japan’s Dragon’s Den and American TV’s Shark Tank.
· Two winners: TinyKicks, which is developing technology to advance healthy pregnancy outcomes, will receive an estimated $75,000 to conduct a research study. Omni BioCeutical Innovations, which offers human translational stem cell/growth factor-based skin and hair care product lines, will receive an estimated $60,000 in early-stage funding. Final terms will be negotiated and awarded based on milestones defined by investors.
· Two entrepreneurial start-up packages: Student entrepreneur teams, NeoLight and EpiFinder, will receive an entrepreneurial package of funding up to $15,000 and business and technology services. NeoLight is developing equipment that treats jaundice in babies while EpiFinder provides clinical decision support technology to neurologists for diagnosing epilepsy.
· Grant for young entrepreneur: The Scorpions also awarded a $500 grant to a young entrepreneur, Asher Taghizadeh, for his “designer toothpaste” for children. The grant will be used to develop his website. LifeLock CEO Todd Davis, a Scorpion, provided Asher with a $100 investment on the spot during the young entrepreneur’s presentation to investors. Watch this cute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tR7Fcs787KU&feature=youtu.be
The winners and all the other companies in the competition will continue to work with BioAccel, an Arizona based non-profit whose mission is to drive economic development through the accelerated commercialization of research. BioAccel will provide mentorship by helping the companies create improved business plans, new business opportunities, technical support and an opportunity to re-pitch their ideas to the Scorpions as they address the recommended actions provided by the Scorpions and mentors.
In 2014, BioAccel launched the Solutions Challenge – and its Scorpion Pit competition – to help advance the biosciences and created an enhanced start-up ecosystem.
“Year two was bigger and better than the first. Having Blue Cross Blue Shield and Gore involved as both sponsors and Challenge Category designers was really the icing on the cake. The Solutions Challenge is all about matching market need with innovation and investment, and this year we nailed it!” said MaryAnn Guerra, Chief Executive Officer of BioAccel. “For Arizona to reach its full potential in creating a strong bioscience driven economy, we need to build a solid ecosystem made up of a robust technology pipeline and local investment. The Solutions Challenge event was designed to help grow this ecosystem.”
Working with local medical centers, provider organizations and specific industry leadership, BioAccel identified five critical unmet health needs in the categories of:
· Digital, Wearable and Mobile Health (sponsored by Molded Devices)
· Regenerative Wound and Aesthetic Therapy (Sponsored by Ulthera)
· Simplified Access to Care (Sponsored and identified by Blue Cross Blue Shield)
· A New Approach to Eliminating Type 2 Endoleaks (Sponsored and identified by Gore)
· Wildcard for Student Entrepreneurs (Sponsored by Medtronic). The Wildcard Category
was new this year and targeted to help Arizona create the next breed of entrepreneurs focused on addressing market needs along with solid work force skills.
To address start-up company needs and to stimulate early-stage funding of these solutions, BioAccel assembled a prestigious panel of local investors, Scorpions, to judge the Scorpion Pit competition. The Scorpions have agreed to invest up to $50,000, if they find worthy projects. BioAccel agreed to match their investment. This early-stage investment is critical as 96% of Arizona investment dollars come from outside the state. Additionally, according to the National Venture Capital Association data, VCs provided only 1% of entrepreneurial funding in 2014 with the vast majority of ventures financed by entrepreneurs, their friends and family. BioAccel supports those entrepreneurs, providing critically needed advice and funding during the formative stages when the risk and potential benefit to society are greatest.
After a competitive process, seven finalists were identified to compete in the May 15 Scorpion Pit competition. Finalists were given 10 minutes to pitch their concept, followed by an onslaught of questions from the Scorpions.
Saccadous provides the best non-invasive eye-tracking solution for diagnosing, tracking and advancing the treatment of neurological diseases and conditions like Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Alzheimer’s.
RightBio Metrics is focused on ensuring accurate placement of gastric tubes. RightBio Metrics’ fluid measurement solutions challenge existing clinical and health care economics standards to produce safer, better and more financially viable results.
Omni is one of the first medical cosmeceutical companies offering human translational stem cell/growth factor-based skin and hair care product lines.
Saguaro Medical Technologies, Inc.
Stacy Faught, CEO
Saguaro is developing a novel Liquid Embolic material intended to treat abnormalities in the peripheral and neuro vasculature such as arteriovenus malformations, arteriovenus fistulae, Type I and II AAA endoleaks, and other vascular procedures such as renal embolization.
France Helfer, CEO
TinyKicks is developing a wearable health-monitoring smart sensor that captures fetal movement and uses machine learning to predict and guide healthy pregnancy outcomes.
Provides clinical decision support technology to neurologists who want to know more about and effectively diagnosis epilepsy syndromes at the point of care.
The morning event was capped with the presentation of a young entrepreneur, Asher Taghizadeh, presenting his concept for “designer toothpaste” for children. He designed a product to encourage the youth to brush more often and longer by using toothpaste that they mix themselves, or co-create with their parents, based on the flavors they like best! Asher’s father, Farhan Taghizadeh, M.D., is a principle in one of BioAccel’s portfolio companies, Aesthetics BioMedical. While Asher lives in New Mexico, his initiative was recognized as a good model for youth and future entrepreneurs. “Obviously it is never too early to take your creative ideas and turn them into a business,” said Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock. “We hope with BioAccel’s new Fund Raising Campaign, Reaching Our Potential, that we will see many more entrepreneurs, young and old, developing among us!” Watch Asher’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tR7Fcs787KU&feature=youtu.be
The Scorpions for the event were: Alex Brigham, CEO, Ethisphere Institute; Eric Crown, Chairman Emeritus, Insight Enterprises; Todd Davis, CEO, LifeLock; Francine Hardaway, Ph.D., Founder Stealthmode Partners; and Vishu Jhaveri, M.D., Senior Vice President, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona; and Jeff Pruitt, CEO, Tallwave.
Alex Brigham, Executive Director and Founder of the Ethisphere Institute, created the world’s most recognized authority in the research, rating and certification of corporate and institutional ethics, anti-corruption, and sustainability efforts.
Eric Crown, Chairman Emeritus, Insight Enterprises, is a serial entrepreneur and investor who has been building and investing in companies – startups to multibillion-dollar enterprises – for more than 30 years. A leader known for creating high-performance cultures and streamlined business processes, he co-founded Insight Enterprises, which became a Fortune 500 company with $5 billion in annual sales.
Todd Davis built an organization at the forefront of helping to combat identity theft crimes. Under his leadership, LifeLock was honored with the 2010 Best New Product or Service of the Year Stevie Award for the LifeLock Identity Alert™ system and the American Business People’s Choice Award for its TrueAddress™ service in 2009.
Francine Hardaway, Ph.D., co-founded Stealthmode Partners, an accelerator and advocate for entrepreneurs in technology and health care, in 1998. Hardaway was an Entrepreneurial Fellow of the Eller Entrepreneurship Center at University of Arizona, and was a founder of Social Media Club Arizona and the Arizona Software Association.
Dr. Vishu Jhaveri, Senior Vice President, Blue Cross Blue Shield of AZ, oversees the development of corporate medical policies and the daily administrative functions of the Health Services Division. In addition to the academics of medical policy development, those functions include: accreditation, medical claims review, clinical quality improvement, care management, disease management, health promotion/wellness, utilization review and provider credentialing.
Jeff Pruitt is the Founding Partner, President and CEO of Tallwave, a venture development firm and commercializor, headquartered in Scottsdale that helps entrepreneurs build their early-stage companies through sound capital strategy and well-executed go-to-market plans. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and has sat on the advisory councils of Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft.
Back in high school’s trips to the repair shop involved an all-too-common experience: the local mechanic assuming she knew nothing about cars, simply because she’s a woman.
Today, she’s not only shattered that stereotype by launching the successful 180 Degrees Automotive in Phoenix – she’s also committed to empowering and educating customers to ensure they never feel talked down to.
Now, 180 Automotive is getting national attention from Deluxe Corporation’s Small Business Revolution documentary project. The Small Business Revolution, which also features “Shark Tank” star Robert Herjavec, is a yearlong campaign that celebrates the vibrancy, variety and community impact of small businesses across the country. Its latest story is a photo essay profiling 180 Automotive, one of 100 profiles of inspiring small businesses that will debut throughout 2015 at SmallBusinessRevolution.org.
In addition to running a successful business, Lateiner actively encourages other women to pursue careers as mechanics. In fact, six of her shop’s eight employees are women. But she doesn’t stop there: Lateiner is also one of three female hosts on the show “All Girls Garage,” and she mentors other small businesses too.
Deluxe developed the Small Business Revolution to focus on the importance of personal touch and local involvement in an era when business is becoming increasingly impersonal. The campaign is capturing the stories of small businesses and their customers, families and friends – all of whom are a crucial part of what makes our communities whole.
“The hands-on customer service, the entrepreneurial spirit and the deep community involvement people find in the small businesses they frequent make all the difference,” said Amanda Brinkman, chief brand and communications officer for Deluxe Corp. “Telling these moving, inspirational stories and putting a spotlight on these owners is our way of celebrating the best parts of American business.”
The Small Business Revolution will unfold throughout 2015, as a part of Deluxe’s 100th anniversary celebration. Since 1915, Deluxe has helped small businesses and financial institutions grow and thrive by providing a range of business services, from websites and logos to social media and email marketing to checks and other financial services.
The Small Business Revolution will also award $25,000 to one small business later this year. Anyone can nominate their favorite small business at SmallBusinessRevolution.org, and Shark Tank’s Herjavec will help Deluxe choose the winner who best exemplifies the Small Business Revolution spirit. The person who nominates the winning business can see how it feels to be a “shark” by personally delivering the $25,000 prize.
CBIZ, Inc. today announced the hiring of Will Spong as market leader for Phoenix for CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services, Inc.
Spong comes to CBIZ with 14 years of professional experience and the professional designation of Group Benefits Disability Specialist (GBDS). Before joining CBIZ, Spong was a senior sales consultant at Hartford Life Insurance Co. and a sales consultant at Unum. Most recently, he was senior vice president at Brown & Brown Insurance of Arizona, a position he held for eight years, leading the national sales contest teams.
In his new position, Spong will be responsible for growing employee benefits revenue through personal production, and leading both producers and client service teams to expand CBIZ’s market share in Phoenix. His role will include serving as a market influencer and collaborating with all CBIZ partners to broaden cross-serving success. Along with other members of Phoenix senior leadership, Spong will work to develop and enhance the Phoenix organizational design and outline responsibilities for future team members.
“Will joins the CBIZ team at a transformational time in the Arizona employee benefits market, as the firm seeks to add new creative talent to grow our market share. Will is a strong addition to our leadership team in the region, and we’re confident that he will be a prominent player in leading our next chapter,” said Jim O’Connor, president of CBIZ Employee Benefits.
Spong holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration and marketing from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan.
CBIZ provides professional business services that help clients better manage their finances and employees. CBIZ provides its clients with financial services including accounting, tax, financial advisory, government health care consulting, risk advisory, real estate consulting, andvaluation services.Employee services include employee benefits consulting, property and casualty insurance, retirement plan consulting, payroll, life insurance, HR consulting, and executive recruitment. As one of the largest accounting, insurance brokerage and valuation companies in the United States, the company’s services are provided through 100 company offices in 34 states.
“Our ability to recruit high-level immigration specialists like Lucrecia and now Matt is a testament to Jackson Lewis’ excellent reputation as well as our strategic growth in the field in response to client demand,” said Sean G. Hanagan, Leader of the Immigration Practice Group. “Matt’s talents contribute significantly to our bench strength in Arizona – a significant market for immigration – and his proximity to Las Vegas and Silicon Valley provides a tremendous upside for our clients in those regions.”
“We are pleased to welcome Matt to the Phoenix office, where his experience will immediately strengthen our immigration capabilities and ability to service all of our clients in the Phoenix area and throughout Arizona,” added Phoenix office Managing Shareholder Gregg E. Clifton. “Matt is a proven leader with strong connections to the local employer community, and he adds tremendous value to our team.”
Mr. Martinez provides immigration-related counsel for multinational corporations, academic institutions, information technology providers and manufacturers from countries throughout the world. He represents companies in the preparation of nonimmigrant visa petitions, labor certification (PERM) applications, immigrant petitions, and permanent residency applications. He regularly works with companies to conduct internal I-9 audits in an effort to assess compliance with immigration, employment and discrimination laws, and works with clients to develop hiring policies and procedures. He also assists employers in responding to agency-initiated workplace audits and investigations.
Mr. Martinez works closely with companies from diverse industries, including the resort, equine and agricultural industries, to develop guest worker programs that provide temporary and seasonal workers. In addition, he has extensive experience representing athletes, particularly in the baseball and equestrian industries. He also assists companies in sending employees abroad, working with HR professionals and individual employees to obtain appropriate outbound visas.
Mr. Martinez is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and frequent lecturer on immigration law issues. He received his B.S. from Brigham Young University and his J.D. from Brigham Young’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, where he was Senior Editor of the BYU Law Review. He is fluent in Spanish.
Jackson Lewis’ Phoenix office can be reached at (602) 714-7044.
Dillan Micus, Executive Vice President of AXA Advisors Southwest.
AXA Advisors Southwest, a leading provider of financial services for consumers and businesses, has announced that Anvita Gupta, a high school senior attending BASIS in Scottsdale, will receive $25,000 as a national winner of the 2015 AXA Achievementsm Scholarship in association with U.S. News & World Report.
Gupta is one of 52 students – one from each state, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico – that has been awarded scholarships of $10,000. Of those 52 students, only 10 nationwide – including Gupta – were chosen to receive an additional $15,000 scholarship award. All of the scholarship recipients are graduating high school seniors who demonstrated ambition and drive, determination to set and reach goals and the ability to succeed in college.
“Though not yet out of high school, Anvita founded non-profit organization LITAS For Girls, an after-school program that aims to inspire middle school girls to pursue computing careers by introducing them to computer science technologies,” says Philip Kim, senior vice president and director of retirement benefits at AXA Advisors Southwest, who serves as office champion of the scholarship program. “During Anvita’s year-long program, students learn visual programming, game development, and app development.”
According to Kim, LITAS mentors students to eventually develop their own project to solve a social program of their choice, using the technology skills they have learned. At the end of the program, the girls present their project in a Technology Showcase to several women CEOs of technology corporations.
In addition to Gupta, AXA Advisors Southwest is pleased to announce five fellow Arizona students will each receive $2,500 as winners of the 2015 AXA Achievementsm Community Scholarship program. They are:
• Mathew Kaplan of the Tesseract School in Phoenix
• Sara Mavis of Nogales High School in Nogales
• Selvam Sathana of Prescott High School in Prescott
• Tata Bharath of Hamilton High School in Chandler
• Meagan Bethel of Tucson High Magnet School
The program is administered by Scholarship Management Services®, a program of Scholarship America®, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit private sector and educational support organizations.
Funded by the AXA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AXA Advisors, AXA Achievement was established to address the financial barriers faced by college bound high school students. Another component is the highly successful AXA Achievementsm Scholarship in association with U.S. News & World Report, which awards $670,000 in annual scholarships. Since the program began, AXA Achievement has awarded $22.8 million in college scholarships to more than 5,100 students.
“Our Southwest branch has a history of community involvement and we are proud to provide information and support to families so that they can help their children financially prepare for, attend and succeed in college,” commented Dillan Micus, Executive Vice President of AXA Advisors Southwest, recently honored as a 2015 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award Winner. “AXA Advisors is about investments, and we consider these scholarships an investment in these students and in our community.”
CBRE has negotiated the following multi-family sale transaction:
Clear Sky Uptown III LLC from Phoenix, AZ has purchased West Osborn, a 17-unit multi-family property located at 445 West Osborn Road in Phoenix, Arizona from West Osborn Apartments LLC of Phoenix, AZ. Brian Smuckler and Jeff Seaman of CBRE’s Phoenix office represented both buyer and the seller in negotiating the $800,000 transaction.
MJ Insurance, a leading property-casualty and employee benefits agency and one of the largest privately-held insurance agencies in the nation, is celebrating its 10th anniversary of its Phoenix’s office. Headquartered in Indianapolis, MJ Insurance expanded to the Southwest opening its Phoenix office in 2005.
MJ’s Phoenix office, strategically located in a centralized business district in Phoenix along Camelback Corridor, has continued to grow since 2005 and now has 16 team members serving clients from around the region and throughout the country. Impressively, over the past decade all of MJ’s growth in Phoenix has been organic and continues to be a key element of the agency’s overall long-term growth plans.
“Ten years ago, we saw great opportunity in the Southwest and knew opening our Phoenix office was the right decision at the right time,” said MJ Insurance CEO Michael H. Bill, who runs the company from its Phoenix location and grew-up and attended school in Arizona.
“I could not be more proud of our employees – both here and in Indiana – who have contributed to the immense success we have enjoyed in Arizona. Of course, our clients and community partners in the region deserve great praise for the trust they have placed in MJ Insurance. We look forward to the great things that lie ahead and are excited to maintain our continued success and help current and future clientele achieve their business goals,” Bill added.
Recently, MJ Insurance celebrated its 50th ‘golden’ anniversary. MJ has earned several award accolades throughout the years and regularly is named one of the “best places to work” and as a “top employer” in the industry – including in Arizona.
MJ Insurance is a risk management and benefits consulting agency that, since 1964, has grown from a two-person start-up to an agency with more than 135 employees.
MJ Insurance specializes in a diverse selection of unique service lines including construction, energy, transportation, real estate, manufacturing, sororities and mining. MJ also offers complete employee benefit programs including major medical, group disability, group life and onsite employer clinics. MJ Insurance currently has clients in 16 countries and in every U.S. state.
The national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP today announced that Phoenix partner and Business Law Practice Group chair Leonardo Loo was honored with the 2015 Chairperson’s Award by the Black Chamber of Arizona (formerly the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce) at its 17th Annual Awards Banquet, which was held March 13, 2015, at the Phoenix Convention Center. The award is given each year to an individual making a positive economic impact across the state through his/her service to both the Black Chamber and the community-at-large.
Loo volunteers on the boards of directors for the Black Chamber of Arizona and Asian American Bar Association, respectively, and also serves as general counsel for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Loo, who focuses on mergers and acquisitions, commercial financing, international transactions, securities, and general corporate law involving clients in a wide variety of industries, is also currently serving as the chair of the board of directors for Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC), a statewide community development corporation committed to building stronger, healthier communities as a lead advocate, coalition builder, and direct service provider. CPLC promotes positive change and self-sufficiency to enhance the quality of life for the benefit of those it serves.
Earlier this year, Loo was honored by Az Business Magazine as one of the top “Minority Leaders in Arizona.” In 2014, he was honored with the Community Leader of the Year Award from the Phoenix chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals for his devotion to the community and outstanding service to the Valley. Loo earned his law degree from the University of Chicago and his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.
Melissa Ho, a shareholder in the Phoenix office of the national law firm Polsinelli, has been asked to serve on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Justice Project (AJP). Since 1998 the Justice Project has been helping to overturn and prevent wrongful convictions in the State of Arizona. It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to examine claims of innocence and manifest injustice, and provides legal representation for inmates believed to have been failed by the criminal justice system.
“It is an honor to be elected to the Board of Directors of an organization that works tirelessly to strengthen the criminal justice system.” said Melissa. “For a system of justice to be truly just, it must take steps to assist those who have been wrongfully convicted, falsely accused, or have suffered manifest injustice. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the board to further its goals.”
Melissa previously worked on the Louis Taylor case, which received national visibility on CBS 60 Minutes. Taylor was released at the age of 58 after maintaining his innocence and being incarcerated for more than 42 years. Together with attorneys and volunteers from the Arizona Justice Project, Taylor was released after developments in arson science showed that the original investigation was flawed.
As a shareholder of the national law firm Polsinelli, Melissa works in the areas of government investigations and white collar criminal defense. She also dedicates her time to the State Bar of Arizona as a member of the Bar’s Board of Governors. Melissa is a former past president of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association. She has also served on numerous boards and commissions for the City of Phoenix, and volunteers her time on domestic violence, guardianship and immigration matters.
Last year, Melissa was the recipient of the Judge Learned Hand Emerging Leadership Award, which is a tribute to an attorney practicing twelve years or less who has demonstrated a commitment to the values of public or community service. She is also a past recipient of “Best Lawyers Under 40” awarded by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, an honor bestowed on only a select few attorneys in the United States. In 2013, she was chosen by the Phoenix Business Journal as a recipient of its “Forty Under 40” award honoring the best and brightest leaders in the Phoenix metro area. Melissa has also been named to the “Lawyers of Color Hot List” and recently was selected by AZ Business Magazine as a “Generation Next Forty Under Forty.” Most recently, Chambers USA, the world’s leading guide to the legal profession, ranked Melissa in its 2014 America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the category of Litigation: White Collar Crime. Southwest Super Lawyers named her as a Rising Star in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 in the category of Criminal Defense – White Collar.
Melissa earned her B.A. with honors and a B.S. from Arizona State University and her J.D. from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona named Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Management at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix as part of its Blue Distinction® Centers for Specialty Care program. This healthcare facility has been designated as a Blue Distinction® Center+ for delivering quality care resulting in better overall outcomes for bariatric patients, while also meeting key requirements for cost efficiency.
To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation, a new designation added to the program this year, a healthcare facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety as well as bariatric-specific quality measures, including complications and readmissions, for gastric stapling and/or gastric banding procedures.
A healthcare facility must also have earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the bariatric care-specific level, as well as demonstrate better cost efficiency relative to its peers. Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet Blue Distinction’s nationally-established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+.
“The Blue Distinction Specialty Care recognition program was developed to identify healthcare facilities with proven expertise in delivering specialty care,” said Dr. Vishu Jhaveri, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona chief medical officer. “The Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Loss Management team at St. Luke’s Medical Center has a commitment to quality and helping members better manage their care through the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.”
Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S., which provides a significant opportunity to improve quality and efficiency within the healthcare system. There were 179,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2013, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and the average cost is more than $28,000 per episode, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Furthermore, it is estimated that 72 million Americans are obese and 24 million suffer from morbid obesity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated annual healthcare costs of obesity-related illnesses are $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S., according to the Journal of Health Economics.
Research shows that facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients compared with their peers. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent or more cost efficient than non-Blue Distinction Center+ designated healthcare facilities.
“We’re honored to receive this noteworthy designation,” said Hilario Juarez, M.D., FACS, Co-Medical Director of Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Management at St. Luke’s Medical Center. “Our team is dedicated to making positive experiences for our patients by guiding and supporting them through every step of their weight loss journeys.”
Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants while encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the care they deliver.
For more information about the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.
Commercial Properties, Inc. has sold ±5 acres located at 3502 E. Roeser Rd. in Phoenix. Jeff Hays, Chad Neppl and Ryan Steele of CPI’s Tempe Industrial Team represented the seller, Hadco Corporation, in this $1.58 million sale.
The site offers convenient freeway access and is located south of Broadway Road and east of 32nd Street. The buyer, Colten Cowell Foundation was represented by DTZ.
The Phoenix office of international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP has 19 attorneys on the 2015 Super Lawyers list, an independent rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas. In addition, the publication named six Greenberg Traurig attorneys as Southwest Rising Stars.
“We are extremely proud of the achievements of our attorneys,” said John E. Cummerford, a co-managing shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office. “They are certainly deserving of this significant recognition.”
Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters organization, is a research-driven, peer-influenced rating service of lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The mission of Super Lawyers is to bring visibility to those attorneys who exhibit excellence in practice.
The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Super Lawyers Magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the state or region and the ABA-accredited law school libraries. Super Lawyers is also published as a special section in leading city and regional magazines across the country. In the United States, Super Lawyers Magazine is published in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., reaching more than 13 million readers.
DeVry University recently announced the appointment of Anthony Spano as president of the Phoenix campus in Arizona. Spano will provide executive leadership at the university’s Phoenix, Glendale and Mesa locations (collectively known as the Phoenix metro).
Spano has more than 24 years of academic leadership experience and has served as the campus director of DeVry University’s campus in Oklahoma City since 2008.
“Anthony has demonstrated a propensity for leadership and has shown a focus on student needs since he joined DeVry University,” said Shelly C. DuBois, group vice president of DeVry University. “His strong rapport with students has helped many make the dream of college education a reality. Anthony’s personal knowledge and understanding of DeVry University’s mission and goals will be integral to leading the Phoenix area campuses as the new president.”
Spano began his career as a financial aid director at Oklahoma Junior College in Oklahoma City. Most recently, he served as the interim president of DeVry University’s Phoenix metro. Spano is a member of the Oklahoma, Southwest and National Associations of Student Financial Aid Administrators, which provide professional development for financial aid administrators and advocate for public policies that increase student access and success.
“During my time as campus director for the Oklahoma City campus, I had the privilege of meeting many students and administrators who exemplify the diverse success stories DeVry University has come to represent,” Spano said. “I look forward to making Phoenix my permanent home and deepening my relationships with DeVry University and the local community.”
Spano earned both his bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s degree in adult education from the University of Central Oklahoma.
For more information about DeVry University, visit devry.edu.
Fennemore Craig, a leading Mountain West law firm, announced Stacey Johnson and Paul Omerza have joined the Estate Planning and Probate practice in the firm’s Phoenix office.
“We are pleased to welcome Stacey and Paul to the firm,” said Jim Lee, practice group chair of Fennemore Craig’s Estate Planning and Probate practice. “The combined depth of knowledge of Stacey and Paul further enhances the firm’s reputation as one of the largest and most sophisticated estate planning practices in the Southwest.”
Johnson focuses her practice on assisting persons responsible for managing another’s personal or financial matters, including family members, licensed fiduciaries, corporate trustees or those nominated in estate planning documents. She currently serves as Chapter President for the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys’ Arizona Chapter. Johnson earned her J.D. from Creighton University School of Law and her B.A. from the University of Washington.
Omerza practices in the areas of estate planning, probate and elder law. He assists clients on guardianships and conservatorships, heath care and mental health care powers of attorney, wills, and trust agreements, and fiduciary administration matters. Omerza earned his J.D. from Arizona Summit Law School and his B.S. from Arizona State University.
The Technology Management department at Phoenix-based Banner Health was recently awarded the 2015 ‘Department of the Year’ by TechNation Magazine. The publication began the award in 2011 to recognize the top technology management departments across the nation in terms of customer service, efficiency and exemplary procedures.
“Receiving the department of the year award by the leading biomedical engineering magazine in the country is a true honor and distinction that separates Banner Health from many of the great departments across the county,” said Tim Riehm, Banner Health’s vice president of technology management.
TechNation is devoted to the technology management/biomedical engineering career fields. While focused on the issues and current news within the technology management and biomedical engineering community, the publication is also dedicated to recognizing individuals and departments that strive to advance and improve the industry on a daily basis.
“We hope that by recognizing the top achievers in our industry, we will continue to draw attention to individuals and departments who set the bar and provide an outstanding example for others in our industry,” noted TechNation Publisher John Krieg.
The Technology Management department at Banner Health will be presented with the award on Oct. 23 at the 2015 MD Expo in Las Vegas.
Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 28 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, Banner Medical Group, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services, including family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.
Jennings, Strouss & Salmon’s charitable foundation, the Jennings Strouss Foundation, recently teamed up with the non-profit organization Girls on the Run as the Presenting Sponsor of its April 26th 5K event.
Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. Its mission focuses on positive youth development, combining interactive curriculum and running to cultivate self-respect and healthy lifestyles in young girls. visit gotrmc.org.
As the presenting sponsor of the Girls on the Run 5K, staff and attorneys from Jennings Strouss supported the girls through a financial contribution, the creation of a slew of motivational posters, volunteering as running buddies and providing games for all to participate in after the run had concluded. Those who volunteered as running buddies partnered with young girls and accompanied them through their 5K, providing encouragement along the race route as well as celebrating the accomplishments at the finish line.
“Serving as the presenting sponsor of the Girls on the Run 5K was an honor for all of us at Jennings Strouss,” said Keith Overholt, President of the Jennings Strouss Foundation and Member of Jennings Strouss. “The faces of the girls crossing the finish line showed pride, accomplishment and determination. We were thrilled to play a small role in helping Girls on the Run spread its positive message throughout Phoenix.”
Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc., the nation’s largest lodging real estate investment trust (REIT), announced that the iconic Ritz-Carlton, located near 24th Street and Camelback Road in Phoenix, will be closed and re-branded.
During the second quarter the company completed an agreement to convert The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix to an independent hotel to be operated by Destination Hotels. The property will close in July 2015 for extensive renovation work and will reopen early in 2016 as part of the Autograph Collection, a diverse collection of high-personality independent hotels worldwide.
The company has not announced an official closing date for the Ritz.
The 2015 Super Bowl kicked off an unprecedented run for the Phoenix metro area as the host of mega-sporting events. But if the Valley is going to continue to lure Super Bowls, NCAA championship football games and Final Fours, leaders in the sports community say the current system needs to be improved.
“We’re playing with a bow and arrow and everybody else is playing with a howitzer,” said Jon Schmieder, founder and CEO of the Huddle Up Group that is based in Phoenix and consults with sports commissions across the country.
The howitzer belongs to cities like Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Miami that have deep pockets and one central sports commission with full-time staffers.
Phoenix, in conjunction with Glendale, Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa, won bids for high-profile collegiate and professional events without the benefit of a unified sports commission to spearhead the effort. The successful bids were the results of hard work by dozens of people around the city, none of whom work together under one roof on a regular basis.
Phoenix might be in danger of falling behind other cities if it doesn’t update the system used to organize these events.
In 2016, the College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium. One year later, the Men’s Final Four rolls into the Valley.
These rotating events complement the annual large-scale sporting events that call the Greater Phoenix area home. For more than 40 years, college football pageantry has descended on the Valley with the Fiesta Bowl and, more recently, the Cactus Bowl. Phoenix International Raceway hosts two NASCAR races every year. The Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale is arguably the most raucous and fan-friendly tournament on the PGA Tour.
And the city hosted two Super Bowls in seven years.
When the pieces fit together, the picture seems clear: Phoenix has carved out a place among the major host cities of the nation’s biggest sporting events.
The question now becomes: Can the metro area maintain its hot streak?
David Rousseau, president of the Salt River Project and chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, worries the current system of assembling a different committee each time a new event comes to town could hinder future attempts to secure and produce the events.
“That (system), at some point, is going to start to be this frayed, fragmented effort,” he said. “I think there’s some value in just continuing to improve upon and refine that effort and you can only do that if you have that one platform model as opposed to startup efforts every time a new bid opportunity comes by.”
Only one person served on both the 2008 and 2015 Super Bowl host committees. Several members of the 2015 committee have transitioned to the Arizona Organizing Committee that will produce the college football championship game. But the majority of the Super Bowl host committee members have taken other jobs and gone their separate ways.
Each loss means some institutional knowledge gained from valuable experience is siphoned off, but the lack of overall consistency in personnel from committee to committee doesn’t necessarily mean a drop in the quality of the event.
By all accounts, the 2015 Super Bowl was a major success for the Valley. Rousseau hopes the economic impact report being produced by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business will show numbers that equal or exceed the half-billion dollars of direct-spend money he said was captured around the 2008 game.
“We’ve never been better in terms of customer satisfaction than we are right now but we don’t have a staff to go ahead and go forward and secure that commitment for future bids,” Rousseau said.
Tom Sadler, president of the Arizona Organizing Committee, shined a positive light on the current model but also acknowledged there might be a better way to operate.
“I wouldn’t say it puts us at a disadvantage when we are bidding head to head … because at the end of the day we’ll rise to the occasion,” he said. “Could it be more efficient to have an overarching commission overseeing this so we’re not reinventing the wheel every year? The answer is yes.”
Sadler is a busy man in the landscape of mega-events en route to the Valley. As president and CEO of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, he is the head of the group that oversees the operation of University of Phoenix Stadium. He was also co-bid chair for the Final Four.
“I would like to see an organization that would respond to not just the big three mega events – Super Bowl, college champ, Final Four – but soccer events, entertainment events, to be an agency that’s nimble enough to be on the leading edge of competition with these other cities,” Sadler said.
Cities that perennially host major sporting events in the country are the competition: Miami, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco and Indianapolis. The New York Super Bowl opened the door for so-calledcold-weather cities to host the game.
Minneapolis was awarded the game in 2018, to be played in a new domed stadium.
Those cities, as well as many others in the rotation for at least one of the big events, have one central sports commission to oversee the recruitment and coordination of events of all sizes. The size and scope of the commission varies from city to city.
Individual committees can be formed on an as-needed basis or the commission itself can double as the host committee, as is the case with the Dallas Sports Commission.
“The sports commission is the local organizing committee (for the 2017 Women’s Final Four),” said Larry Kelly, communications and marketing manager for the Dallas Sports Commission. “It varies event to event but on all the collegiate and amateur events that we bring in, we’re the local organizing committee. And then on the major professional events, depending on the event, there will be a larger committee involved.”
The oldest sports commission in the country is the Indianapolis Sports Corp. Founded in 1979, its website lists close to 30 full-time employees who run departments like business development, finance and events.
Miami’s sports commission is one of the smallest, though the city is obviously a prime destination. The staff is comprised of only two people but the commission’s large board of directors, which includes ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard, helps bring in all types of events.
“We have a very wide array of board members so that helps bridge a lot of the gaps and helps bring everyone together,” said Miami-Dade Sports Commission Associate Executive Director Mathew Ratner.
Despite the size and duties of a specific commission, the NFL requires each host city to form a new stand-alone committee to oversee the production of a Super Bowl. Even with an all-hands-on-deck mentality, the effort required for success is enormous.
“It is a herculean task put together an effective bid,” Sadler said. “It’s beyond herculean to execute these events when they come out.”
Two themes run through the discussion when the word “fundraising” comes up among metro-area leaders of the sports community: Arizona could benefit from a state fund for mega-events similar to the one used in Texas. Fundraising on an event-by-event basis is not a sustainable model for the future if Phoenix wants to remain competitive with other markets.
“Our fundraising focus was on largely (the) business community and I think we probably raised on the order of 70 percent of our dollars of the $30 million that it took to host the game from our business community,” Rousseau said.
With three mega-events landing in the Valley in consecutive years, the concern is each host committee must try to raise money from the same small pool of potential donors.
“We just can’t year in and year out count on the support from the private sector,” Sadler said. “I think it’s possible to do it for a few years in the short run, but year after year would be very difficult, and that’s why we need the state’s help.”
Texas has adjusted and amended its model over the years, but the concept has remained the same. If an event hosted in the state can prove a certain level of revenue was generated during its run, the state will reimburse the host committee for a percentage of its operating budget on par with the money earned.
The host committee can then pass some of those savings on to the rights holder of the event to hopefully ensure the event returns in the future and also roll some of the money over to pursue subsequent events.
Said Kelly: “The Texas Major Event Trust Fund program has been a tremendous success story for the city of Dallas and its ability to attract and retain major sporting events and certain citywide conventions to the state of Texas, and to Dallas.”
Texas has $50 million authorized for the fund for the 2015 fiscal year.
While many sports leaders in Phoenix agree a state fund would be beneficial, if not necessary, they also agree the $50 million figure is probably too high for Arizona.
“I frankly think that’s too rich of a model,” Rousseau said.
The exact dollar amount feasible in Arizona is debatable, but attempts to create such a fund have already begun.
In 2014, former state Rep. Tom Forese, R-Gilbert, introduced a bill that would have created a $10 million fund, though he and others were quick to say the fund must be carefully regulated.
“It’s a very competitive environment when you’re chasing opportunities like this, so you want to give the state every competitive advantage and yet you don’t want to be throwing money blindly at anything,” said Forese, now a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission. “So the model that we had was a revolving fund, and it was a fund that could be used in order to provide that competitive edge and then be reimbursed by the proceeds of the event.”
The bill did not make it through the Legislature, but Sadler, who helped promote the bill, hopes to keep the issue alive.
“Given the state’s current economic status, it wasn’t a great time to enter into that conversation, but we’re going to keep it on the front burner and see if we can get something enacted,” he said.
The challenges of raising money in the Valley can be daunting, and proponents of the fund say it would help ease the burden on both the host committees and local businesses.
The Phoenix metro area is home to only four Fortune 500 companies, according to the 2014 list compiled by Fortune magazine. By comparison, Dallas and Minneapolis both have 18 and Atlanta has 16.
Steve Moore, president and CEO of Visit Phoenix, has the unique experience of having worked with the Texas fund during his 14 years at the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and 14 years at the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has overseen Visit Phoenix for 13 years and sees the need for some kind of state fund for events.
“Those states that enjoy mega-event funding have clearly placed us at a disadvantage. It’s no longer just that our good weather is going to bring mega events here. It has to be an organized, consistent, well-funded effort that is a great business model, that is inclusive and aware, and abides by the sunshine (law) of open government.”
Questions without answers
The reason for a central sports commission, which would recruit and coordinate major sporting events in the Valley, seem plentiful. However, the idea is rife with questions.
Alan Young, COO of the Arizona Sports and Entertainment Commission, which primarily organizes youth and amateur events, sees several outstanding issues that would need to be addressed.
“I think the main question to ask is, what do the citizens believe?” he said. “What is the overall concept of this? Is building stadiums a drain on the economic impact of the community or is it a positive, is it a plus? Investing in these events – is it a drain on the citizens, the taxation, or is it a good investment? Is it a good business decision or not?”
Despite numerous questions, Young is in favor of a unified sports commission and a state fund.
“I certainly believe and our commission believes it’s a great business decision to invest in these types of events but getting the Legislature, getting the citizens, to buy into this has always been a difficult task,” he said.
Steve Moore speculated about the uses of a potential state fund for event production.
“Is this (state fund) something you’d use for a national political convention?” he asked. “That’s a partisan event. Would you use that for it? Is there an answer to that? That’s not a sports commission issue, but it’s a mega-event issue.”
Tom Sadler raised the issue of the year-round responsibilities of the prospective commission.
“What does this commission do between bids and between executing these bids?”
Opinions and theories are abundant in the sports community, and the discussion is ongoing. The goal, though, is the same for all.
“When we have these national sporting events … they’re massive economic drivers and so it’s much more than just sports,” said Commissioner Forese. “This is a way to put Arizona’s best foot forward, and also it’s a way to have people come and take a look at Arizona and consider moving here or moving their business here.”
Beazer Homes Phoenix, a Top 10 national homebuilder, is offering summer savings opportunities to buyers through the Come Home to More Event May 1-17.
“This is a great opportunity for homebuyers to see how they can get more out of a new home,” said Tim Little, Division President for Beazer Homes Phoenix. “All of Beazer’s high quality, ENERGY STAR® certified homes provide cost saving benefits through our Choice Plans program allowing our buyers’ to personalize main living areas of their home at no additional cost, and through our Mortgage Choices program where preferred lenders compete to earn our buyers’ business leading to great service and highly competitive rates and fees.”
During the Come Home to More Sales Event, Beazer Homes Phoenix will offer a free move-in ready package including refrigerator, washer/dryer and blinds on Quick Move-in homes. Interested buyers are encouraged to visit www.beazer.comto view offer details for their desired community. Also available on the website are comprehensive galleries of homes in the area, an array of floor plan options, estimated average utility costs, community overviews, reviews from other buyers and much more.