JLL’s Phoenix Capital Markets office appoints new co-leads

JLL Capital Markets announced that it has promoted Senior Managing Directors Ben Geelan and Brad Miner to co-heads of the Phoenix Capital Markets group.

Ben Geelan
Brad Miner

Geelan and Miner have more than 27 years of combined commercial real estate experience. Geelan will oversee the investment sales advisory platform of the business while Miner will oversee the debt and equity advisory platform.

“We are happy to continue our proven tradition of growing our best people into leadership roles,” said Kevin MacKenzie, Executive Managing Director, National Production Leader, JLL Capital Markets. “Ben and Brad have both been excellent producers, with natural leadership abilities and possess the complementary skill sets we seek in office heads. Phoenix has strong fundamentals, with massive growth opportunity, so we look forward to continuing our trajectory in this important market under new leadership.”

Geelan focuses primarily on office and industrial sales in Phoenix and the greater Southwest region. He joined JLL in 2019 as part of the HFF merger and has more than ten years of experience in the industry.

Miner has more than 17 years of experience in commercial real estate finance and focuses primarily on originating debt and equity transactions in the Southwest with an emphasis on multi-housing. He has been involved in various capitalizations through his career, including construction, bridge and conventional debt placements as well as subordinate debt and joint venture equity financings. Miner also came to JLL as part of the HFF acquisition in 2019.

JLL Capital Markets is a full-service global provider of capital solutions for real estate investors and occupiers.

First Place elects BCBSAZ’s Greg Wells to board of directors

First Place® AZ, an Arizona nonprofit with the vision of ensuring housing, healthcare and community options are as bountiful for people with autism and other neurodiversities as they are for everyone else, has elected Greg Wells to its board of directors.

Wells is senior vice president and chief people officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), responsible for leading the organization’s human resources programs. His team oversees the benefits, compensation, employee relations, change management, talent acquisition and development, succession planning and employment of over 2,500 BCBSAZ staff members across the state.

Graycor hires new head of business development

Leading national general contractor Graycor Construction Company has hired industry veteran Sue Sylvester as Business Development Manager, responsible for identifying and pursuing new business opportunities across the Southwest region.

Sylvester joins a leadership team that includes Graycor Construction Company’s President Tim Hanifin, Southwest Division Operations Manager Rusty Martin and Construction Manager Geovanni Villalta. This combination of national and regional expertise brings the full scope of Graycor’s manufacturing, industrial, office, hospitality and retail capabilities to Arizona and the region.

“Sue understands the sectors driving our economic future and takes an approach that optimizes creativity and strategy in pursuing those opportunities,” said Hanifin. “Leveraging her 25-plus years of experience in the Valley, Sue brings a wealth of local relationships and knowledge in a variety of markets and product types to our Phoenix-based team. We look forward to the successes we will achieve together as we continue to evolve and grow our Southwest footprint.”


ABOR confirms 5 new UArizona regents professors

The Arizona Board of Regents today confirmed the appointments of University of Arizona faculty members Sama Alshaibi, Jean-Luc Brédas, Dr. Juanita Merchant, David Pietz and Dr. Donata Vercelli as Regents Professors.

The title of Regents Professor is reserved for full professors whose exceptional achievements merit national and international distinction. Regents Professor appointments are limited to no more than 3% of the total number of the university’s tenured and tenure-track faculty members.

Sama Alshaibi

Professor in the School of ArtCollege of Fine Arts

Alshaibi joined the School of Art in 2006. Due in large part to her efforts, the School of Art’s Photography, Video and Imaging program has grown substantively and is currently ranked No. 3 in U.S. News & World Report’s list of best photography schools. In her field, she is among the most sought-after presenters, having given nearly 100 presentations, and among the most frequently cited visual artists, with more than 200 citations.

Alshaibi’s work explores the notion of aftermath – the fragmentation and dispossession that violates the individual and a community following the destruction of their social, natural and built environment. In her photographs and videos, Alshaibi often uses her own body as both subject and medium.

Alshaibi’s professional accolades include an extensive list of fellowships, exhibitions, publications and awards at both the national and international level. Recognition for her work includes an exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale, a monograph published by Aperture, a 2014 Fulbright Research Fellowship to the West Bank city of Ramallah, a 2019 Artpace residency and a 2021 Guggenheim fellowship. Her work has also been featured in recent exhibitions such as “Women in the Face of History and Migration(s)” and “Meaning in Art.”

Jean-Luc Brédas

Professor of chemistry and biochemistryCollege of Science

The development of colorful cell phone displays, thin-film solar cells and high-efficiency optical components for telecommunications requires scientists and engineers to design new materials and fabrication methods. An essential prerequisite to the successful design of new materials is understanding their electronic energy levels.

Over the past 30 years, Brédas and his group have been devising theoretical approaches that have led to a revolution in materials design. A substantial theoretical component is now an essential centerpiece of any major research effort in the design of devices and materials. Without Brédas’ insight and innovation, such developments would have been insufficient to guarantee success and impact.

Brédas is the winner of the 2013 David Adler Award in Materials Physics of the American Physical Society, the 2016 Award in the Chemistry of Materials of the American Chemical Society, the 2019 Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, the 2020 Materials Theory Award of the Materials Research Society and the 2021 Centenary Prize of the U.K. Royal Society of Chemistry. He has been elected as a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science, the Royal Academy of Belgium and the European Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Juanita L. Merchant

Professor of medicineCollege of Medicine – Tucson

A leader in research on the stomach, Merchant is among the most accomplished and celebrated faculty members in the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. She joined the university in 2018 as a professor and chief of gastroenterology and hepatology. She has since added the titles of professor of physiological sciences and interim associate director of basic science for the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

Her research program has been supported for more than 25 years by competitively awarded grants from numerous sources, primarily the National Institutes of Health. In addition to her work as a physician-scientist, Merchant is a celebrated teacher and mentor. She has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Council of the National Academy of Medicine and the Association of American Physicians. In 2016, she also joined the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a unit of the NIH.

Merchant has also received the Funderburg Research Award in Gastric Cancer – a top honor in her specialty – as well as the Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science and the Distinguished Mentor Award from the American Gastroenterological Association.

David Pietz

Professor of history, UNESCO Chair in Environmental History and Director of the Global Studies ProgramCollege of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Pietz is among the world’s preeminent scholars researching China’s environmental transformations. His award-winning research has focused on the management of water in China, with an emphasis on two issues: how China has managed water to advance its state- and nation-building efforts, and the domestic and international environmental consequences of those efforts.

His research has been supported by several of the most prestigious foundations in the United States, including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Fulbright Program and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In spring 2020, Pietz became UArizona’s first Andrew Carnegie Fellow, selected because of his capacity to “address important and enduring issues confronting our society.” Pietz received the recognition at the same time he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship – giving him the two top awards for scholars in the arts, humanities or social sciences.

Dr. Donata Vercelli

Professor of cellular and molecular medicine and associate director of the Asthma and Airway Disease Research CenterCollege of Medicine – Tucson

Vercelli studies the interaction of genetic and environmental factors in the development of allergic diseases, and her investigations have had a profound impact on the public’s understanding of the development of asthma and allergic diseases.

In a highly acclaimed and influential experiment, the results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Vercelli and colleagues used a natural setting to demonstrate that the more children and their mothers played with and were exposed to farm animals, the fewer asthmatic symptoms the children displayed in later life. Comparing the allergy history of children raised in the Amish tradition in Indiana – where children and their mothers were exposed to horses and domestic animals on a daily basis – with families of Hutterites in South Dakota – whose farming practices were more structured and for whom daily contact with animals was much less – the researchers demonstrated that even though both populations had similar genetic backgrounds and lifestyles, the asthma and allergy symptoms of those in the former group were significantly lower than those of the latter.

Her research has led to several major prizes, grant funding totaling more than $40 million and national and international accolades. In 2010, she was elected to the Association of American Physicians. In 2018, she was elected secretary general of the Collegium Internationale Allergologicom – an international group that examines the scientific and clinical problems in allergy and related branches of medicine and immunology.

WOODPATEL appoints new principals

WOODPATEL is strengthening the firm’s foundation by appointing as Principals Derek Nichols, PE (left); Antonio Cortes (center); and John “Gordy” Ritchie, PE (right). Their commitment to excellence and dedication in the industry defines WOODPATEL’s dynamic organization and the firm’s core purpose to “Create, Connect, Protect.”


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