Three Phoenix women honored by BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank announced three BMO Celebrating Women honorees in Phoenix last night. The women were nominated by local employees of BMO Harris Bank and selected for their professional achievements and impact on the community.

The bank surprised the three honorees on Tuesday at a reception held at the Wrigley Mansion. Receiving accolades in each of the three categories were:

• Women Who Lead: Sintra Hoffman, President and CEO of WESTMARC. For more than 20 years, Hoffman has been a leader in government, influencing community leaders in the 15 cities of West Valley to come together to support the growth and development of these cities. Previously serving in leadership roles with the City of Surprise and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Sintra now leads WESTMARC, a public/private organization focused on positioning the region for economic development.

• Women Who Serve: Paula Cullison, President of Arizona Women’s Partnership (AZWP). As founder of AZWP, an all-volunteer, philanthropic, non-profit that awards grants to small charities, Cullison has helped underserved women and children at risk throughout the state of Arizona. Since 2003, AZWP has awarded $450,000 in grants to more than 70 non-profits. Paula has published numerous articles and one book called The Daughters of the American Dream, a collection of stories and essays of first-generation Italian American women who also understood the hardships and sacrifices of their immigrant families.

• Women Who Inspire: Karen Blevins, Founder of STEP (Stepping Into Hope). STEP is a faith based organization supporting family and friends who have loved ones struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. Before founding STEP, Blevins served as one of many volunteer facilitators for PALS (Parents of Addicted Loved Ones) after experiencing her son’s struggles with addiction. Karen tirelessly volunteers at numerous events sponsored by police departments and medical communities to help provide awareness and resources for families who have loved ones battling substance abuse.

PetSmart Charities appoints Kimberlee Cornett as president

The Board of Directors of PetSmart Charities today announced the appointment of Kimberlee Cornett as president, effective January 1, 2020.

An experienced leader in both nonprofit and private-sector organizations, Ms. Cornett most recently served as the director of the social investment practice at the Kresge Foundation, a national foundation based in Troy, Michigan. She oversaw Kresge’s $350 million fund for impact investing. Ms. Cornett will report to J.K. Symancyk, president and CEO of PetSmart and chairman of the PetSmart Charities Board.

“The Board and I are confident that Kimberlee will be an excellent fit for PetSmart Charities,” said J.K. Symancyk, president and CEO of PetSmart. “Kimberlee has extensive expertise in driving organizations to achieve growth and strategic focus and, having served on the Board, she understands the goals of the organization. Under her leadership, PetSmart Charities will have an even greater impact on the people, pets and communities it serves and elevate the company’s commitment to the social mission that is part of our business”

Ballet Arizona announces new school director

Ballet Arizona announced that Maria Simonetti, longtime Studio Company rehearsal director, has assumed leadership of The School of Ballet Arizona as school director. Simonetti, who has been with Ballet Arizona’s Studio Company for 22 years, will focus her leadership on school management, curricular and faculty development and school productions.

The appointment comes as the result of a year-long search that included candidates from throughout the United States. During that time, Simonetti served as interim director along with Lisbet Companioni. Simonetti demonstrated that there is no better candidate to lead student development than one who has worked alongside Ballet Arizona’s Artistic Director, Ib Andersen, for many years, helping him establish Ballet Arizona as a nationally-recognized professional company. 

“I am honored to serve as the school director for Ballet Arizona,” Simonetti said. “Working alongside Ib Andersen for the past twenty years has given me the unique opportunity to provide dance education directly modeled after his artistic vision. Our students will continue to receive impeccable training from world-renown faculty that believe in a holistic and well-rounded dance education.” 

Louie Tovar named assistant chief of Avondale Police Department

he City of Avondale has hired Louie Tovar as the new Assistant Chief of Avondale Police Department.  Tovar, recently retired from Phoenix Police Department as an Assistant Chief, brings 35 years of public safety service experience to his new role in Avondale. He started the job August 12.  

“Avondale is fortunate to have Louie Tovar join our team.  He has tremendous passion for the job and his background is strong in recruiting, training, and community relations.  He has a philosophy of team work and will fit in well, ”  said Avondale Police Chief Dale Nannenga.

Assistant Chief Tovar holds a Bachelor’s and a M.Ed. degree from Northern Arizona University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Session #237.  He shares his profession with all three of his brothers who work with Phoenix and Surprise Police Departments. 

Assistant Chief Tovar will oversee the Support Services Division for Avondale Police Department.  The Police Department encompasses 182 employees in 2 divisions.