Latasha Causey of Phoenix Raceway, Elizabeth Shabaker of Versant Capital Management, and Christine Ehrich of Axis for Autism.
AZ Big 100: 25 women business leaders to watch in 2023
It’s hard to know what to expect from Arizona’s economy in 2023. The labor market remains very tight, with low unemployment, high levels of labor market churn, and a tremendous number of open jobs. But any income gains we are making are more than offset by inflation. Rising mortgage interest rates and low affordability have combined to generate a decline in home sales. But as venture deeper into 2023, one thing is certain: Arizona is filled with brilliant minds and innovative companies that are certain to guide us through any economic storms that come our way. That's why we created the AZ Big 100.
The editorial board for Az Business and AZRE magazines met with Arizona industry leaders to identify the AZ Big 100 for 2023: The 100 people and companies who will shape Arizona’s business community in 2023. Today, meet 25 women business leaders to watch in 2023 (in alphabetical order).
AZ Big 100 coverage
Monday, Jan. 16: 25 women business leaders to watch in 2023
Tuesday, Jan. 17: 25 male business leaders to watch in 2023
Wednesday, Jan. 18: 50 commercial real estate companies to watch in 2023
Thursday, Jan. 19: 25 women commercial real estate leaders to watch in 2023
Friday, Jan. 20: 25 male commercial real estate leaders to watch in 2023
Saturday, Jan. 21: 50 Arizona businesses to watch in 2023
President and CEO // Mercy Care
Bottrill has been a leader in Arizona’s healthcare community for more than 25 years. Mercy Care is a local company sponsored by Dignity Health and Ascension Health. Mercy Care exists to address and advocate for the comprehensive health of its members and families, including circumstances that impact their well-being, with special consideration for the underserved. The company currently has 1,100 employees.
Vanna Campion, MD
Chief medical officer // Terros Health
Dr. Campion joined Terros Health in July and has a strong background in family medicine and a penchant for providing patient-centered care. Campion came to Terros Health from Dignity Health Medical Group’s Chandler Family Medicine, where she managed care for 1,800 patients per year, supervised medical providers, mentored nurse practitioner students and helped create an East Valley Family Medicine Residency program.
President // Phoenix Raceway
In November, Causey become the first female Black track president in NASCAR history and the second woman to hold the position at Phoenix Raceway. Causey, one of Az Business' Most Influential Women of 2021, calls NASCAR “a sport that brings people together, and as a result, Phoenix Raceway plays a key role in showcasing our great community to visitors across the country every year."
CEO // Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Clancy is the is the first female CEO for the Arizona nonprofit in its 76-year history. She stepped into the role in 2022 after nearly 20 years of dedication to SVdP’s mission, which offers hope to those who need services and those who want to serve their community by helping SVdP feed, clothe, house and heal.
CEO // Axis for Autism
Christine Ehrich has always been a game-changer.
“I’m a healthcare entrepreneur,” she says. “I had a therapy network that specialized in worker’s compensation and getting people back to work quickly. We ended up helping employers to save about 50% off of their work compensation costs and created a better experience for the patient so better outcome.”
Now, the healthcare innovator has set out to slash the exorbitant wait times for Arizona families seeking an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. As CEO of Axis for Autism, Ehrich and her team uses groundbreaking technology and a network of psychologists to provide families with the answers they need and deserve.
“When I looked at this, the families were dealing wait times of more than a year,” Ehrich says. “I thought, ‘This is an area where with my network experience, I could really help.’”
Ehrich is leveraging the skills and relationships she honed over 20-plus years at the helm of Industrial Solutions Network, where she revolutionized how injured workers in Arizona receive therapy and grew the company to 600 clinics in three states.
Now, she’s revolutionizing ASD testing by building a deep bench of psychologists and creating a technological platform that allows those medical professionals to work from home and create a more efficient process to diagnose ASD.
“We’re doing the highest volume of diagnostic tests in Arizona — about 200 a month,” Ehrich says, “and we are reducing that wait time from a year to 45 to 60 days.”
That shortened wait time can be life-changing for those with autism spectrum disorder.
“Something that a lot of parents and people don’t know is if you can get autism testing early on,” Ehrich says. “We test as young as 12 months, but if you can get testing two years old, three years old, the brain is very neuroplastic. You can make huge short- and long-term outcome changes. Early diagnosis can make a huge difference in terms of relationships and their ability to connect with others. We’re changing people’s lives.”
Vice president of external affairs // APS
Derstine is responsible for the company’s state and local public affairs strategies, community affairs and corporate giving, including the APS Foundation. She has worked for APS for over 25 years and has served in a variety of customer service and regulatory roles. Prior to her current position, she was vice president, customer service, and chief customer officer, leading the company’s statewide customer service operations, marketing and customer programs.
CEO // Dignity Health Arizona Central and West Valley Market, CommonSpirit Health
Finley-Hazle is a chief executive officer and board member who manages a $2 billion healthcare enterprise for the largest nonprofit healthcare system in the country, CommonSpirit Health. She creates mission-driven, high-performance cultures to consistently exceed goals, leads through crises, and develops focused growth strategies with measurable outcomes.
Division president // Fry’s Food Stores
Garnes has risen from an entry-level employee to division president of Fry’s Food Stores, and now oversees more than 120 stores, 90 fuel centers, and 21,000 associates across Arizona. Garnes has made it her mission to ensure that every associate feels connected to the company and has taken steps to mentor people in ways that support their career development.
Economic development specialist // City of Mesa
Gobat joined the City of Mesa’s Office of Economic Development in 2021 and serves as a project manager. In this role, she works with many businesses, providing them with information, tools, and support to locate and expand in Mesa. In addition, Gobat uses her skills to enhance collateral materials and provide research and data for marketing purposes while using her knowledge to help companies find new space in Mesa.
Kathleen Goeppinger, Ph.D.
President and CEO // Midwestern University
Dr. Goeppinger is president and CEO of Midwestern University, Arizona’s largest health sciences University offering graduate-level degrees for the healthcare community. Established under her leadership, the Glendale campus is home to colleges of osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, optometry, dental medicine, veterinary medicine, podiatric medicine, health sciences, and graduate studies.
“I believe in empowering leaders throughout the organization by establishing clear expectation and trusting others to base their decisions on our mission and values,” Dr. Goeppinger says. “Listening and caring for those entrusting their career and livelihood to the organization is my responsibility and is reflected in my leadership style.”
Midwestern University offers a total of 23 graduate and post-graduate healthcare programs and has graduated over 13,000 practicing professionals since the Glendale Campus’ inception. The University also operates five community clinics — the Multispecialty Clinic, the Dental Institute, the Eye Institute, the Animal Health Institute, and the Therapy Institute.
“ As a healthcare university focused on the interdependence of all healthcare professions, we highly value teamwork and respect for all members of the organization,” Dr. Goeppinger says.
Anette Karlsson, Ph.D.
Chancellor // Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
As chancellor of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s campus in Prescott, Dr. Anette Karlsson brings stellar academic credentials, superb executive experience and a passion for both engineering and aviation to the unique culture of the campus.
“As the world’s leading aviation and aerospace university, Embry-Riddle has a long history of achievement and accolades,” Karlsson says. “At the heart of this success is its people.”
As a leader, Karlsson believes in hiring the best and brightest faculty and staff, then allowing them room to grow and develop instructional techniques and pathways that best suit Embry-Riddle’s students.
In addition to attributing to the school’s overall success to faculty and staff, Karlsson is most proud that Embry-Riddle has continued to grow its enrollment throughout the pandemic. “On average, the number of students in college dropped by 7% from Fall 2019 to Fall 2022 across the country,” she says, “but we increased by almost 6%. Embry-Riddle has a very high placement rate upon graduation and works with many industry partners to train our students for immediate readiness for high-paying jobs.”
President and CEO // Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
With a mission to improve the quality of life for all Arizonans, Kehaly is leading the 2,700-employee company to inspire health through inventive programs, services, and products. She was an active leader in the community through COVID-19, mobilizing the BCBSAZ team to help jumpstart two state-run vaccination sites and managing more than 145,000 volunteer hours and helping Arizonans receive more than 491,000 vaccines.
Chief operating officer // HonorHealth’s John C. Lincoln Medical Center
The American Heart Association has announced in October that Kielly would be the 2022-23 Greater Phoenix community volunteer chair of the Go Red for Women Movement, a global initiative that aims to raise women’s awareness of heart health.
President // DRA Collective
McGinty oversees the creation of comprehensive campaigns for clients across a variety of sectors including commercial, industrial and residential real estate development and brokerage; regional economic development; and numerous nonprofit organizations. She has created innovative programs to increase public awareness for multiple DMB communities, GPEC and many others.
CEO // Valley Metro
After a nationwide search, Valley Metro announced Mefford-Miller as the agency’s new CEO in March, replacing Scott Smith. Mefford-Miller comes to the Valley after spending 15 years as executive director of Metro Transit in St. Louis, which offered bus, light rail, paratransit and microtransit services.
Chief water executive and associate general manager of water resources // SRP
Meyers joined SRP in August with more than 30 years of water resources management experience. Throughout her career, Meyers has worked on strategic initiative planning and implementation with federal and state-level organizations, tribes, irrigation districts, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and others.
CEO // Assisted Living Locators
In 2022, Olea was named to “50 Women of Wonder” in Franchise Dictionary Magazine’s annual edition, honoring remarkable female franchisors making a difference with their brands. A registered nurse, she initially launched Assisted Living Locators in response to seeing aging patients have unnecessary hospital readmissions and a lack of community support.
Katherine Perry, MD
Division chief of nephrology // Phoenix Children’s Hospital
In 2022, Phoenix Children’s division of nephrology named renowned pediatric nephrologist and researcher Katherine Perry, MD, MS, the chief of the division. Dr. Perry’s core responsibilities will be recruiting and retaining top nephrologists to serve families at Phoenix Children’s clinical sites statewide.
Director of inclusion and diversity and community // WillScot Mobile Mini
Redmond is responsible for the strategy and execution of global inclusion and diversity and community efforts. Recently, she spearheaded the launch of five Inclusiveness Resource Teams (IRTs) that foster an inclusive and diverse workplace aligned with the company’s values and strategy.
CEO // Versant Capital Management
In a life filled with accomplishments, 2022 was still a banner year for Elizabeth Shabaker.
“There are two professional achievements that stand out and for entirely different reasons,” says the CEO of Versant Capital Management. “The Women’s Choice Financial Advisor Award highlighted a focus area of Versant’s practice — helping women gain confidence, knowledge, and the independence to make their own financial decisions. Helping women manage their wealth through life’s transitions gives me great personal satisfaction.”
The other highlight from 2022 was Shabaker’s selection for the Titan 100 CEO Award for business leadership. “Our firm helps small business owners with their financial and succession planning,” she says. “These business leaders can relate to the high standards and broad expectations of shareholders, clients, employees, and even the community. They appreciate that I understand the unique challenges of servicing internal and external stakeholders.”
Versant’s focus on its stakeholders is why Shabaker says the firm is continually honing its wealth management and investment practice to work specifically with people interested in more than just the numbers in a financial plan or portfolio.
“Our ideal client values a holistic approach and seeks counsel on a multitude of important life events, such as major purchases or expenses, raising financially responsible children, dealing with health events and other life transitions such as the divorce of death of a spouse, changes in tax laws, estate planning, philanthropic legacies, and preparing for retirement,” she says. “We are well-versed (versant) in addressing their pain points and goals. By continually educating ourselves and developing strategies to serve this sector, we can address their complex needs while growing our business.”
President and CEO // Vantage West Credit Union
Sagehorn-Elliott is a “farm kid,” born and raised in Nebraska. Her career began in banking but quickly transitioned to credit unions. She counts herself fortunate to have had the opportunity to oversee most functions in a credit union, eventually spending nine years as a chief operating officer. She became Vantage West Credit Union’s CEO in 2020.
Christina C. Roderick
Principal // REDW
With 24 years of experience in public accounting, Roderick leads REDW’s tax practice as a principal in the firm’s Phoenix office. Since 2010, she has also been a member of the State of Arizona’s Board of Accountancy Tax Practice Committee, serving as both Vice-Chair and Chair during her tenure, and has volunteered with the ASCPA’s Tax Legislation Review Committee.
Partner // Jones, Skelton & Hochuli
Tyszka focuses her practice in the areas of medical malpractice and health care liability defense, products liability, and wrongful death and personal injury defense. She also represents all manner of medical service providers – including hospitals, physicians, and nurses – as well as pharmaceutical and supplement manufacturers. Tyszka also has experience as a research technician at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Regional president // PNC
Walker is regional president for Phoenix and Northern Arizona and head of Corporate Banking for Arizona and New Mexico for PNC. Prior to moving to Arizona, Walker, a 30-year PNC veteran, was an executive vice president and managing director in PNC Debt Capital Markets. Walker serves on the board of directors for GPEC, the Arizona Commerce Authority and Southwest Human Development.
Site manager // Northrop Grumman
Zonneveld is the director and site manager of the Guns Operating Unit and Armament Systems at Northrop Grumman. She has more than two decades of experience in site leadership, business development and project management, and she has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Penn State and an MBA from ASU. She is also a member of GPEC’s board of directors.