Chuck Sowers Joins BCBSAZ

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) has named Chuck Sowers as its general manager of government business. In this role, Sowers will help BCBSAZ expand Medicare and other government-related services to increase access to care for more Arizonans.

“Chuck is an industry veteran with deep healthcare experience here in Arizona,” said Paige Rothermel, chief growth officer for BCBSAZ. “He will be a great addition to our organization and is committed to helping us execute our strategy to grow BCBSAZ’s government services.”

Sowers joins BCBSAZ from Banner Health where he was the vice president and chief financial officer for insurance operations. Prior to his time at Banner Health, Sowers served as the chief financial officer of an Arizona Medicaid health plan and chief executive officer of HealthNet’s Arizona business.

Upward Projects hires hospitality powerhouse

Upward Projects, the locally grown Phoenix-based hospitality group with a cult-like following is proud to announce the hiring of Alex Taylor as its new Chief Operations Officer. Founded in 2009, Upward Projects’ portfolio features eight unique Postino WineCafé locations in ArizonaColorado and Texas (with three new locations coming soon to Denverand Houston); plus Windsor & Churn, a pub-style neighborhood hangout with an adjoining nostalgic ice cream parlor; Federal Pizza, a wood-fired pizzeria and craft beer spot; and two Joyride Taco House locations featuring a stylish-yet-casual South-of-the-Border vibe. In 2017, Upward Projects entered into a partnership with the progressive L.A.-based private equity firm, Brentwood Associates, to grow the Postino WineCafé brand across ArizonaColoradoTexas and beyond.

Most recently serving as the Senior Vice President, Restaurants and Bars for the Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group, overseeing this $400M division with 80 unique concepts in 22 states and three countries, Taylor says he never imagined leaving a fast-growing brand such as Kimpton, but was intrigued by both the dynamic trajectory and, most important, Upward Projects’ unique company culture. “It’s rare to be presented the perfect scenario—a strong foundation, a vibrant culture and robust financial backing—combined to create the perfect opportunity to expand Upward Projects into a national powerhouse.”

Lisa Karnatz joins Arizona Association For Economic Development

Lisa Karnatz has been named associate director for the Arizona Association for Economic Development. 

In her new role, she will be responsible for membership engagement, coordinating the organization’s special events and marketing. 

Karnatz has an extensive background as a marketing and business development professional, most recently serving as a marketing and public relations specialist for a large Scottsdale medical transport company. Her experience includes working with business entities, attractions, manufacturers, startups and entrepreneurs.  Prior to moving to Arizona, Karnatz was the business and tourism development consultant for the Nebraska Tourism Commission and previously worked as the economic development director of the city of Minden, Neb.  Karnatz has a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Brent White to Lead UA Global Engagement

Brent White, an internationally known legal scholar and international education expert, has been named vice provost of UA Global. In this role, White will guide the University of Arizona’s comprehensive international vision.

“Global engagement is one of five pillars of the strategic plan for the UA, and Brent is the ideal person to lead the UA’s global effort,” said Jeff Goldberg, acting senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Our global engagement drives our opportunities to partner with international universities, collaborate across borders to solve global problems, and expand student access to transnational experiences and education. Brent’s expertise in these areas will be invaluable to the success of UA Global.”

White has served as interim vice provost since July 2018, when UA Global was created by combining the offices of international education and global initiatives into one unit. White also led a team that developed the first UA micro-campus at Ocean University of China in Qingdao, which has become the model for the larger UA initiative to create a network of micro-campuses around the globe. He will continue to lead this initiative as dean of global campuses and international education.

“Global presence, connectivity and collaboration are vital to the success of a great research university, and UA Global will provide the framework for the UA to set the standard for a global university in the digital age,” White said. “This includes building the world’s most affordable, accessible and expansive global network for higher education and collaborative research.”