Tag Archives: Science Foundation Arizona


Women to watch in healthcare, energy, aerospace and technology

Here are some of the the Arizona innnovators who Az Business magazine thinks will be making waves in healthcare, energy, aerospace and technology in 2013:

Ruth Carter
Owner, Carter Law Firm
Her background: After graduating from ASU Law School in 2011, she opened her own law firm in January 2012 and focused her practice on social media law, intellectual property, business formation and contracts, and flash mob law. She will deliver a talk entitled “Protecting Your Copyrights in Digital Media” at the South By Southwest Interactive (SXSW) in March 2013. She also wrote the book “The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed.”
Fun fact: She was selected as an American Bar Association Legal Rebel in September 2012.
Her goal for 2013: To help entrepreneurs, writers, and artists turn their ideas into reality, to help them push the limits of what’s possible without crossing the line.

Michelle De Blasi
Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig
Her background: De Blasi focuses her practice on environmental law, with an emphasis on natural resources matters. She advises local and multi-national clients on energy and environmental sustainability, including the development of traditional and renewable energy power plants, climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions. She is a leader in many community organizations, including serving as the Co-Chair of the Arizona Energy Consortium, which has recently released the Arizona Energy Roadmap to further develop the state’s energy industry.
Fun fact: “I wanted to be an environmental attorney since junior high.  Working for six years at NOAA starting in law school was an amazing way to begin my career.”
Her goal for 2013: “Continue to assist my clients’ growth and expansion, including improving the regulatory and business atmosphere in the areas where they are located.”

MaryAnn Guerra
CEO, BioAccel
Her background: BioAccel was named the most promising initiative among the six winners of SSTI’s 2012 Excellence in TBED (technology-based economic development) awards. In three years, BioAccel — whose mission is to transform high-risk technologies into new businesses and high-wage jobs — has supported 11 companies in Arizona, investing more than $4 million directly as well as helping get an additional $15.5 million in downstream funding.
Fun fact: “I love camping outdoors in tents. After gathering wood from the forest, I  build the campfire, cook, then relax under the moonlight — with wine if possible.”
Her goal for 2013: “Personally: spend more time with my husband.  Professionally: expand BioAccel’s overall capacity, validate BioInspire as a model and help launch the BioAccel Accelerator Fund.”

Chevy Humphrey
President and CEO, Arizona Science Center
Her background: She oversees the $8 million operation of Arizona Science Center’s 185,000-square-foot facilities with more than 400 employees and volunteers. She is in line to become the next president of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, an international organization representing science centers and museums with more than 600 members in over 40 countries worldwide. She currently serves as its secretary-treasurer.
Fun fact: Humphrey secured the largest gift in the Center’s history – $3.5 million.
Her goal for 2013: “Maintain excellence as Arizona’s largest provider of informal science education while providing educators with professional development and resources supporting the new common core education standards.”

Mary Juetten
Founder and CEO, Traklight.com
Her background: While earning her JD at ASU, Juetten combined her new knowledge of the law with accounting designations and 25 years of management, business and financial consulting experience to create Traklight.com in 2010.  Traklight is an online software as service company that offers products for inventors, creators, start-up or small companies to identify, secure, and manage their intellectual property to reduce the risk of infringement and IP loss, all without any prior knowledge of IP.
Fun fact: She played ice hockey in Canada and Phoenix.
Her goal for 2013: “I plan to spend more time outside with my husband: golfing and hiking.  Traklight will build upon our October launch and expand nationally in 2013.”

Kim Kundert
Vice president of clinical operations
Clinical Research Advantage
Her background: Kundert received the 2012 Silver Stevie Award — which honors the world’s bets and brightest female entrepreneurs and executives — for Female Executive of the Year in the Business Services category. Kundert has been a driving force behind the rapid growth of CRA, a clinical trial management organization that has helped trial sponsors bring drugs to market more quickly and efficiently.
Fun fact: She was born in Germany on Christmas Day.
Her goal for 2013: “My goal is to open 20 new clinical trial sites.”

Jessica Langbaum
Principal scientist, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
Her background: Langbaum is actively involved in research activities focusing on the use of brain imaging for studying the earliest evidence of Alzheimer’s and on the design and execution of preclinical Alzheimer’s treatment trials. Langbaum has published papers in leading scientific journals on cognitive training, brain imaging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Fun fact: Her family has been in Arizona for generations.
Her goal for 2013: “Enroll 100,000 people in our Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry (endALZnow.org/registry), launch the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API)/Genentech trial, prepare for the next API-led trial, and potty train my son.”

Paula O’Neal Wichterman
Vice president, medical private banker, National Bank of Arizona
Her background: Wichterman is vice president in the Private Bank of National Bank of Arizona. Prior to joining NB|AZ, she spent 9 years in various advisor roles at two other lending institutions in both private banking and credit administration. In her role at NB|AZ, Wichterman is responsible for increasing NB|AZ’s focus on the physician and medical banking market.
Fun fact: “Being the Southern girl that I am, I LOVE to shoot sporting clays. It is a great stress reliever after a long week at work.”
Her goal for 2013: “I want to always inspire my family and friends. I try my best to lead by example. Whether it is at home or at work, I want to be the best that I can be.”

Angela Perez
Partner, Snell & Wilmer
Her background: Perez is an Arizona native who holds a biology degree from Harvard University and law degree from The University of Arizona. She practices law in the field of business and finance, with special attention to representing clients in the biotechnology industry. Perez represents companies at all stages of their life cycle, from start-up to liquidity. Perez is committed to using her education and experience to improve the strength of Arizona’s economy by facilitating the growth of Arizona’s biotech industry.
Fun fact: Formed Snell & Wilmer’s Bioscience and Healthcare Industry Group shortly after graduating from law school.
Her goal for 2013: “Contribute to the success of my firm and clients by providing sound legal advice; support Arizona’s biotech industry; and shower my young family with love.”

Darcy Renfro
Vice president and coordinator of the Arizona STEM Network, Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz)
Her background: Renfro is leading the way for Arizona’s STEM — science, technology, engineering, math — education initiatives. She spearheaded the development of SFAz’s Arizona STEM Network, a first-of-its-kind strategic effort to help transform Arizona’s educational system. The Network will help teachers and students prepare for the state-adopted, internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards, higher-education and careers that will help ensure our state remains globally competitive.
Fun fact: Arizona is just one of 16 states in the U.S. with developing or existing STEM Networks.
Her goal for 2013: “Increase the access and quality of STEM opportunities for Arizona’s students and teachers to inspire excitement and achievement in math and science.”

Virginia Rybski
President and CEO, Regenesis Biomedical, Inc.
Her background: Rybski has combined 35 years of experience founding, building and growing emerging bioscience companies by developing and launching numerous advanced-technology, healthcare related products. She strategically positioned the company as a regenerative medicine business; raised $5.3 million in capital; has grows sales for 8 consecutive years; and helped it earn a position on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America in 2012.
Fun fact:
Her goal for 2013: “Focus on improving patient care, and helping to provide better patient outcomes while lowering the overall cost of care. Healthcare, now more than ever, needs collaboration between providers, patients, and manufacturers like Regenesis, to help rein in spiraling costs.”

Joyce Schroeder
Chief science officer, Arizona Cancer Therapeutics
Her background: Schroeder, program co-leader in Cancer Biology and Genetics at the Arizona Cancer Center, is moving toward clinical trials for breast cancer treatment that inhibits metastatic breast cancer growth at cellular level and it is non-toxic. In layman’s terms, this could block breast cancer growth without the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. She is also associate professor of molecular and cellular biology at the University of Arizona.
Fun fact: She is an avid Stephen King reader and loves Star Wars.
Her goal for 2013: “My goal for 2013 is to get our breast cancer drug approved by the FDA to be given to patients.”

Lori Singleton
Manager of Sustainability Initiatives and Technologies, SRP
Her background: Singleton’s primary focus at SRP is environmental and renewable energy issues. Under her direction, SRP has provided incentives to more than 12,000 customers who have installed solar energy systems on their homes and businesses. In addition, she is an active volunteer and effective advocate serving on the boards of Audubon of Arizona and the National Solar Energy Power Association.
Fun fact: “Ballroom dancing is my passion. For me, it not only helps keep me physically fit but allows me to focus on something other than looming deadlines and work projects.”
Her goal for 2013: “As a Valley Forward board member, I will work to promote environmental quality statewide, elevate our state’s image and drive balanced policy as the organization evolves into Arizona Forward.”

Joy Seitz
Vice president of business and policy development, American Solar
Her background: Since joining Scottsdale-based American Solar in 2009, Seitz has been a leading advocate for Arizona’s solar industry, making her presence felt everywhere that decisions are made about solar energy — city halls, Salt River Project and the Arizona Corporation Commission. Her company has designed and installed solar electric for more than 3,500 customers and created partnership with homebuilders including Shea Homes and AV Homes.
Fun fact: “I am a proud ASU West Campus graduate from the School of Global Management and Leadership, with an emphasis in finance.”
Her goal for 2013: “To put the power of solar energy into the hand of every homeowner. It is time that every Arizona homeowner understands that they can control what energy powers their home.”

Lois Wardell
Principal, Arapahoe SciTech
Her background: Wardell’s technology focus includes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and associated sensor technologies.  By developing partnerships with other innovators, she has been able to tackle technical challenges in emerging fields such as those in polar science. One example is a sterilization system for an ice drill that will access an Antarctic sub-glacial lake below a half-mile of ice to explore this unknown frontier on our planet.
Fun fact: Wardell has worked on all seven continents.
Her goal for 2013: “My goals include continued development of technology for exploration (both Earth and beyond) and to increase my focus on outreach activities to inspire students.”


Science Foundation releases 5-year plan to strengthen STEM education

Ask any leader of a technology company in Arizona what their biggest hurdles are and there is always one common challenge: finding enough homegrown qualified workers to fill their needs.

“Arizona is transitioning to an economy that is increasingly dependent upon a knowledge-based workforce,” said Steve Sanghi, CEO of Microchip in Chandler. “Out No. 1 challenge is to improve the schools. Arizona high schools are near the bottom and if we don’t improve them soon, it’s really going to impact the future.”

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is doing something to help Sanghi and other business leader. The nonprofit public-private partnership has launched the Arizona STEM Network. The STEM Network is a first-of-its-kind strategic effort to help transform Arizona’s educational system for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“The vision for a statewide, strategic commitment to STEM education is coming to fruition,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. “The Arizona STEM Network will help build a common agenda for STEM education that will lead our teachers and students forward.”

The five-year plan being led by SFAz will leverage effective education practices and teaching advances, including the state-adopted, internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards. The Arizona STEM Network will provide educators, the business community and donors with a centralized infrastructure, tools, resources and the framework needed to measure performance and achieve collective impact in Arizona classrooms. The plan’s driving force is to help Arizona children be successful in school, careers and life.

The Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation — which provided $2.2 million for the establishment of SFAz’s STEM initiative, announced a new three-year, $2.1 commitment beginning in this year that will allow SFAz to roll out its plan for the Arizona STEM Network. Also providing financial support for the launch were the Helios Education Foundation, Intel, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

“We believe that the private sector must play an active role in developing the next generation to keep our businesses competitive and our economy vibrant,” said Tracy Bame, president of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation. “A first-rate education that encompasses the STEM disciplines is a foundational step to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.”

The STEM Network focuses on four strategic areas:

* Integrating STEM learning into Arizona schools and districts.

* Developing and deploying a predictive analytics system to measure impacts.

* Strengthening teacher effectiveness in STEM teaching.

* Creating opportunities for the private business sector to meaningfully engage with schools.

“Arizona must develop a globally competitive educational system and STEM disciplines will lead the way,” said Darcy Renfro, vice president of education and coordinator of the Arizona STEM Network at SFAz. “The Network will link existing STEM assets in Arizona, build on best practices and foster innovative teaching approaches for school districts to help students improve in these areas.”

Arizona Commerce Authority - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011

Arizona Commerce Authority Aims To Bolster The Business Environment

The new kid on Arizona’s economic development scene is poised to shake things up. The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), a public/private entity, is not merely a name change, a rebranding of the Arizona Department of Commerce that over the years received its share of praise and an increasing level of criticism. And it’s not just a committee of top-shelf business leaders.

“It’s more than that,” says Don Cardon, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “It’s really a call to arms.”

Created by Gov. Jan Brewer through an executive order a year ago, and formally established by the Arizona Legislature early this year, the Arizona Commerce Authority is the cornerstone of the Arizona Competitiveness Package, a mix of tax benefits and incentives targeting quality job growth. The Arizona Commerce Authority’s leadership board consists of 17 of Arizona’s top CEOs who provide oversight and valuable input, with House Speaker Andy Tobin and Senate President Russell Pearce as ex officio members. Brewer chairs the Arizona Commerce Authority, and sports entrepreneur Jerry Colangelo serves as co-chairman.

The state’s university president, chair of the Rural Business Advisory Council and other committee chairs round out the balance of the 31-member ACA board.

The leadership board’s focus is on growing and diversifying Arizona’s economy and creating quality jobs throughout the state. The ACA works closely with such key partners as the Science Foundation Arizona, the three state universities, regional economic development groups and local communities.

The ACA is targeting these key base industries — aerospace and defense, renewable energy, science-technology, and small business and entrepreneurship. It is funded through existing payroll withholdings under an annual operating budget of $10 million, plus a so-called deal-closing fund of $25 million, some of which will be allocated for job training.

Michael Manson, an ACA board member and founder/executive chairman of Motor Excellence in Flagstaff, says he thinks the quasi-public agency will produce results for a number of reasons.

“By involving business leaders as we have and funding it by government we are removing some of the politics, enabling more performance and quicker response to commercial opportunities,” says Manson, who also founded PETsMART. “The pendulum swung a little far before the recession toward government regulations, but we need to get back to being more oriented toward entrepreneurial commercial opportunities.”

Mary Peters, president of Mary E. Peters Consulting Group, says the ACA draws from the successful endeavors of other states.

“We now have a mindset that Arizona is open for business,” says Peters, a former federal highway administrator with the U.S. Department of Transportation and former director of the Arizona Department of Transportation. “We’ll do what we can, especially in the aerospace and defense industries. If we’re not out there working to bring them to Arizona, other states will.”

Under the deal-closing Arizona Competes Fund, a company will need to achieve certain performance measures including average employees’ wages above the county’s average wage, health insurance coverage minimums and other requirements similar to the state’s existing job-training program. Backers say the fund will spur investment in projects in the targeted industries.

It replaced the inactive Commerce and Economic Development Council deal-closing fund, is controlled by CEO Cardon, and puts Arizona among the top one-third of states with aggressive economic development programs, supporters say.

Funds provided to growth projects must result in a net benefit to the state, consistent with the Arizona Constitution’s gift clause. In addition, an economic impact analysis by an independent third party will be conducted on all projects to determine potential return on investment benefits to the state. Furthermore, funding will be awarded with contractual provisions for performance and “claw-back” of funds for non-performing projects.

The Competitiveness Package extends the existing job-training program, a reimbursable grant program for job-specific training plans for employers creating new jobs or increasing the skill and wage levels of current employees.

Arizona’s Enterprise Zone Program is replaced with a new Quality Jobs Tax Credit for new job creation statewide. This tax credit is performance based on net new job creation and capital investment with specific eligibility qualifications for urban and rural businesses.

The tax credit for each new quality job created is $3,000 per year for three years and is limited to 400 new jobs per employer, per year. The program is capped at 10,000 new jobs per year. Experts say the program will increase Arizona’s competitiveness ranking to No. 3 from No. 9 in the Mountain West.

On the tax side of the equation, the electable sales factor for multistate corporations increases to 100 percent from 80 percent in equal increments from 2014 to 2017. A corporation that conducts business both in-state and out-of-state must apportion its income from business activity based on the ratio of property, payroll and sales in

Arizona compared to the corporation’s property, payroll and sales everywhere.

The corporate income tax rate is reduced by 30 percent to 4.9 percent from 6.97 percent in equal increments from 2014 to 2017. The change is expected to improve Arizona’s national ranking from 24th to No. 5, and from No. 6 to No. 3 in the Mountain West.

Arizona Commerce Authority

Under personal property, depreciation schedules are further enhanced for prospective acquisitions of commercial personal property on or after 2012.
Colangelo, partner of JDM Partners, explains his determination in agreeing to serve as co-chairman of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

“We will eliminate all distractions in pursuit of the ultimate goal — restoring economic vitality and stability to our state,” says Colangelo, former top executive of the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks. “Our new structure automatically eliminates the agency’s culture of entitlement and political sloth, and we have introduced what I believe to be a ferocious approach to both retaining and attracting business for the benefit of Arizonans, their families and our children.”

For more information about the Arizona Commerce Authority visit www.azcommerce.com.

Photography by Mark Peterman

Who to Watch ‘O7

Who to Watch 2007

These seven individuals will undoubtedly make headlines in 2007. Enjoy this sneak peak of the Class of ’07.


William Harris, Science Foundation Arizona

William HarrisWhen you enter Dr. William Harris’ office, something other than science jumps out at you. Photographs of Harris with state leaders like President George W. Bush hang near autographed photos of baseball heroes. His bookshelves feature rows of studies that lie near bats and leather balls. But upon closer examination, his baseball bat has a flat face with a curved end and is not a baseball bat at all. His bat is a hurling stick. And the stick is covered with autographs—from Ireland’s prime minister and deputy prime minister. Harris began his new role as president and CEO of Science Foundation Arizona fresh off a five-year term as Science Foundation Ireland’s director general. He adopted hurling as his sport-of-choice after moving to Ireland, to strengthen the country’s science industry in 2001. His work helped contribute to a booming, viable economy that has become a template for other nations to follow.

“In 1988, the World Bank almost declared [Ireland] bankrupt,” says Harris. “Through education and a commitment to the idea that being rich is better than being poor, the country changed things around…These simple principles galvanized people to work together. Ireland wanted to create a cadre of competitive workers and speed was important in getting it done. The challenge was compelling.”

Harris spent his career teaching chemistry at the collegiate level in South Carolina. Later, he worked for the National Science Foundation for 18 years, then came aboard Columbia University’s Biosphere 2 project in Tucson and eventually returned to the south.

Born out of the 21st Century Innovation Fund and initiated in the spring of 2006, Science Foundation Arizona seeks to support the science, engineering and innovation industry within the state. The nonprofit is a public/private partnership and was appropriated with $35 million to help create a competitive environment that encourages and supports knowledge-driven economics.

“We should be embarrassed by the fact that we rank 47th or 48th in education,” says Harris. “How can you be an Arizonan and be at the bottom and think that it’s okay? Why don’t we have a shared consensus that we owe our children a good education?”

“A culture that welcomes new things and new ways of thinking is very attractive to young people.” he says. “I’d like to create a culture where there is an ambition here for high school students to become the next Bill Gates or Michael Dell, where this state will inspire and support these students. Of course, I also want the next greatest baseball pitcher to come from here too,” he adds.

Dana Naimark, Children’s Action Alliance

Dana NaimarkDana Naimark possesses that rare combination of business savvy and genuine compassion. Her desire to advocate for children does not detract from her business acumen and strategic expertise. This dichotomy has helped her represent Children’s Action Alliance for 13 years as director of special projects and now, allows her to segue into her new role as president and CEO starting this month.

“How children are doing and functioning is so important for all Arizonans,” says Naimark. “[CAA] is 18 years old and our founder is moving out of state, so our goal is to remain as strong, credible and active as ever.”

CAA is a nonprofit, privately funded research and advocacy organization which seeks to improve the quality of life of Arizona’s children. The organization focuses on vulnerable children, including those who are abused, neglected or live in poverty. CAA does not provide direct services; its staff influences public decision and provides research and potential solutions to benefit these children. “We identify the problem, identify the solution, then bring people and ideas together to make those solutions happen,” she says.

Her major goals for the organization are health coverage and early childhood development. She stresses that continued research of babies, toddlers and preschoolers’ experiences affect their overall brain development.

“[This research] is incredibly vital to the state,” she says. “It’s critical to what Arizona will look like—Who will be our workforce? Who will care for us?”

Her involvement in policy began as a budget analyst for the state legislature under Gov. Rose Mofford. CAA Founder Carol Kaiman soon realized the agency couldn’t be too effective on children’s issues without being effective on budget issues and needed someone who would both understand and excel in both these subjects. “At that time (1993), I was looking for a challenge that was rewarding and had a mission I cared about, so it was a perfect match,” says Naimark.

CAA’s $1.3 million budget supports non-partisan research and advocacy projects and a staff of 13 people in Phoenix and Tucson. Both national supporters, like the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Ford Foundation, and local funders, like the Pulliam Foundation, help provide the needed financing to let Naimak and her staff continue their work.

“Over the past few years, Arizona and the United States have become more polarized,” she says. “CAA focuses on finding common ground. There is a lot of hope and confidence we’ll find ways to carve solutions out in this polarized environment. Professionally and personally, I’m committed to helping families here—both for the state’s future and for my own family.”

Jennifer Croll, Croll Corp.

Jennifer CrollIf you instantly recognize Jennifer Croll’s name, you probably have a savvy shopper in your circle or you yourself are the fashion plate. Her boutiques, which share the same name, offer high-end designer clothing for men and women. This fashion-forward entrepreneur could easily be mistaken for one of the glamorous celebrities she dresses—from her white, Dior sunglasses down to her black, peep toe heels.

However, this successful, trendsetting retailer now has another avenue to create a more stylish Arizona. The Mix, a 30,000-square-foot space along Scottsdale’s waterfront, is Arizona’s newest foray into exclusive shopping and upscale entertainment, and Croll’s first foray into large-scale development. Her project is the retail element of Southbridge, the “urban village” that will offer residences, dining, entertainment, a nonprofit aspect and plenty of pedestrian-friendly space.

“We’ve handpicked the tenants and stayed local,” she says. “We wanted to embrace the local talent, so we sat with each prospective retailer to find out their vision, reputation and personality… We want something unique.”

There are no national chain stores included in the $10 million retail development. “If there ever were to be another Mix in another city, we’d localize the retailers there too,” she says. Three buildings comprise the retail component: Nest offers upscale products for home and garden; Live features fashion, lavish restaurants and luxurious spa treatments; and Play, which features a toy store and interactive retailers.

Her aptitude for predicting fashion trends (in addition to her aversion to mall culture) led to the opening of her first boutique in Los Gatos, Calif. A few years later, Croll and husband Cristian opened boutiques throughout California, Texas and Arizona. They eventually relocated here and now have been completely focused on The Mix. She hopes retailers like Moody Blues, Melange and Angelic Garden will help create a major destination point in downtown Scottsdale.

Croll’s retail experience complements the work of partner Fred Unger, president and founder of Spring Creek Development, who is developing Southbridge. “Fred knows all about the hospitality and residential industries, and since I know retail, it was a great [collaboration],” she says. “I’ve worked with brilliant people on this project. We’ve collected a group of people that all believe in this vision—I couldn’t do it on my own.”

With The Mix opening August 2007, six successful boutiques across the western United States and two children, Croll’s schedule will not be easing up any time soon. “This has been an unbelievable process—designing the project, picking retailers,” she says. “It’s been fun and different from my past projects.”

Mike Ebert, RED Development

Mike EbertVisit any Arizona drugstore or airport gift shop and you’ll find racks of postcards featuring cacti, sunsets, howling coyotes and the Grand Canyon. Mike Ebert hopes to add one more photo to the display—CityScape.

Ebert, a managing and founding partner of RED Development, hopes CityScape, a 2.5 million-plus-square-foot downtown development, will be the “iconic project for all of Phoenix” and its skyline will serve as postcard fodder for years to come. “When people are flying over the airport, they will say ‘What’s that?’ as they touch down near downtown Phoenix. This is the opportunity for downtown Phoenix to have a heart and soul.”

The three-block, Copper Square downtown project is one of the largest private investments in the state’s history—nearly $1 billion to create a thriving urban development. CityScape will offer residential units, a boutique hotel, 550,000 square feet of Class-A office, 250,000 square feet of retail, more than two and a half acres of pedestrian-friendly open space and three Light Rail stops. Phase I is set to open spring 2009 and the remaining construction planned for a 2011 completion.

“Consumers want an experience now,” he says. “[CityScape’s] niche will be the one place in Arizona to have a true urban experience.”

Ebert’s vision for an urban destination perfectly matched downtown’s renaissance as the Phoenix Convention Center expansion, Arizona State University campus, University of Arizona Medical School and other projects began to take form. Building an urban hub required the collaboration of commercial real estate leaders like Cardon Development Group, Baron Collier Companies and Atlanta’s Novare Group. Ebert says downtown previously focused on government, law and banking. Now, as the Arizona Biomedical Campus and ASU campus progress, Phoenix can get the “creative type” downtown.

“Our timing couldn’t be better,” says Ebert. “CityScape can embrace diversity; suburbia tends to be very homogeneous.”

Ebert’s youthful looks seem to contradict his well-established reputation throughout the state. He, with three colleagues, formed RED Development in 1995.

Select purveyors A.J.’s Fine Foods and P.F. Changs China Bistro are the first retailers to commit to the project and be a part of the downtown entertainment attraction. The development will look progressive and contemporary, intermixed with an outdoorsy quality to satisfy pedestrian needs.

“There is no central spot downtown,” says Ebert. “Our goal is when someone says, ‘Let’s meet downtown,’ it’s at Central Avenue and Washington Street—at CityScape.”

Gary Waissi, Ph.D., Arizona State University

Gary WaissiWhen you first meet Gary Waissi, Ph.D., its difficult not to pay attention. A hard-to-place accent comes out of an imposing frame, and while you’re still figuring out where he’s from, Waissi has cracked a joke about his native Finland and his worldly escapades.

With an academic and global business background, Waissi will impart his knowledge and professional skills within his new position as dean of Arizona State University’s School of Global Management and Leadership (SGML). He hopes to extend the school’s “global footprint,” designating ASU as a leader of globally oriented management education and research by 2011.

“When everything is said and done, my internal goal is to make this school nationally recognized as a global presence within five years,” Waissi says. “If I can help ASU expand globally, from this small school at ASU West, then I’ve succeeded.” Currently, the school has 1,700 undergraduate students (200 graduate students); in five years, he hopes enrollment increases to 2,000 undergraduate students (800 graduate students). Additionally, he plans for the SGML to launch six new degree programs by fall 2008.

Accomplishing this goal will be a challenge, but this is nothing new to someone whose strategic planning efforts have become a professional trademark. Waissi’s proven ability to successfully assess, plan and implement academic opportunities for international institutions has taken him around the world, specifically in developing regions like Rwanda, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

Waissi comes to ASU from the University of Michigan-Dearborn (UM) where he completed his deanship at the School of Management last year. Since 1982, Waissi had been with the UM first as a Ph.D. candidate, then as faculty member, then department chair and eventually dean.

Before his time at the UM, he worked as project manager for Philipp Holzmann AG in 1979. His position with the construction giant brought him to west Africa, where he helped build Nigeria’s Onne Lighter Terminal Port and other projects during the course of three years. Earlier, he left Finland to study in Germany and later work as an assistant at the Helsinki University of Technology.

“I went to Nigeria as an engineer, but during my stay, the project manager wanted to return home,” he says. “Overnight, I was given the responsibility of this huge project. I was 29 years old and had almost 1,000 people working for me. I had no idea at the time, but [in today’s dollars], that was a $1 billion project.”

Dr. Richard H. Carmona, Canyon Ranch

Richard Carmona

Photography by Brian Fiske

Dr. Richard Carmona traded in power lunches for balanced, gourmet cuisine and bi-partisan juggling for low-impact aerobics when he left Washington D.C. for Arizona earlier this year.

After completing his term as 17th Surgeon General of the United States, Carmona returned to his home in Tucson and began work with Canyon Ranch—serving as vice chairman of the parent company, CEO of Canyon Ranch Health and president of Canyon Ranch Institute, the company’s nonprofit division. He’ll achieve his goal of prevention not only as business leader but educator as he receives the first Distinguished Professorship in Public Health at the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Mel Zuckerman founded Canyon Ranch 27 years ago, with its original destination health resort in Tucson, abutting Sabino Canyon.

“D.C. is a contentious environment and health is one of the most partisan issues out there; but as the doctor of the nation, you’re there to take care of the people,” says Carmona. He is the image of good health—a toned physique that more resembles one of his university students than one of his 57-year-old peers. Starting a new career path within a wholesome, amiable setting has allowed Carmona to re-focus his efforts on preventative medicine and health and wellness. A staunch supporter of “health-oriented” treatment, Carmona’s new challenge becomes the conversion of medical research into a best practices format for people to improve their health.


“I have a very close relationship with the community in southern Arizona,” Carmona says. “I’ve known Mel and Enid for years and they brought me back here. When [I left D.C.], there were job offers from around the world. But my work as surgeon general was a perfect fit for Canyon Ranch’s vision and mission.” Canyon Ranch goes beyond the hospitality, healthcare and beauty industries—the company is an amalgamation of everything needed to live a healthy life, both physically and metaphysically. The resorts offer sumptuous meals that meet balanced dietary guidelines, individual and group classes designed to enhance the mind, body and spirit and opportunities to create personalized assessments of current health goals and future aspirations. Canyon Ranch conveys its philosophy of disease prevention and overall health betterment every way possible—on campus, by research and through collaborations.

Zuckerman, aware of the fact that not every person has the means to access Canyon Ranch’s world-class resources, set up the Canyon Ranch Institute, where doctors and nurses from low-income areas can learn Canyon Ranch methodologies and techniques to take back to improve their respective community’s level of health.

“The revenue brought in by Canyon Ranch provides opportunities to better communities,” says Carmona, who now serves as president of the nonprofit sector. “I have students who want to provide public health to third world countries, and I tell them, ‘Look around.’ Some of the Native American reservations have health statistics sometimes worse than a third world country. Domestic violence, obesity, hypertension, maternal and child mortality rates are all too high. Mel and Enid want best practices in place for needier communities to change the current numbers.”

Carmona describes himself as an “agent of change.” His goal to position Canyon Health at the forefront of the health and wellness industry will secure its place as the No. 1 health organization. “What I’m trying to do here is to ‘be a futurist’ and figure out where we need to be for the health of the American public.”

Brian Mueller, Apollo Group

Brian MuellerOne of the biggest local stories in 2006 was the Arizona Cardinals’ stadium. And with the excitement that surrounded the new look, just as much controversy swirled around the frenzied bidding wars to name the stadium. As potential sponsors salivated at the chance to win naming rights, ticket holders soon discovered where they would be attending games: University of Phoenix Stadium. The 20-year, $154 million naming-rights deal was a huge marketing coup for Apollo Group Inc. (University of Phoenix’s parent company) and its president, Brian Mueller. This sports-marketing venture sets off a massive marketing campaign beginning in January. “The naming rights [deal] is just a small part of the campaign,” says Mueller. “The point is to create dialogue of who the University of Phoenix is and what we do. We want to lift the credibility of the institution so the value of our degrees continue to grow.”

Mueller’s push for national exposure goes far beyond the NFL—University of Phoenix will soon partner with giants Time Warner and Monster.com. Time Warner will work with the academic institution in regards to content. Mueller wants archived/current CNN material to be sorted into coursework, and partner with America Online to build online communities of students, alumni and faculty. Monster.com would involve an advertising partnership to build co-branded Web sites offering information about careers.

“We’re targeting working adults that comprise most of our student population,” says Mueller. “We want to position the university as being innovative in higher education, that thinks ahead in terms of its students.”

According to Mueller, 320,000 students throughout the world attend University of Phoenix, either in person or online. He hopes this marketing push grows the students base 10 percent a year, while also improving the image of the institution. To accommodate this growth, the company is consolidating its online staff and corporate headquarters to the new Riverpoint Center at Interstate 10 and 32nd Street. The 630,000-square-foot project, opening spring 2007, is one of the largest capital projects for Apollo.

AZ Business Magazine December January 2007The University of Phoenix is an important force in Arizona’s economy. Mueller says the school produces $2.4 billion worth of revenue per year, employs a workforce of 10,000 people, leases 2.5 million square feet of space and pays more than $40 million in taxes.

Mueller began his career in education as a high school teacher and basketball coach, later teaching at Concordia College in Nebraska. His work with the University of Phoenix began in 1987 on the Phoenix campus and after many promotions, including CEO of the online campus, he became president of Apollo last year.


AZ Business Magazine Dec Jan ’07 |  Next: Open for Business