Teach For America introduces 2018-2019 Regional Board

With the start of a new school year this September, Teach For America—Phoenix is introducing their newest regional board members for the 2018-19 school year. A group of community leaders, the board plays a critical role in developing the organization’s strategic direction and ensuring that Teach For America’s diverse network of leaders are supported in their efforts to expand educational excellence and equity across Phoenix. 

“It’s an honor to be part of Teach For America’s work and to further expand opportunities for kids in low-income communities who often don’t have the same opportunities afforded to their more affluent peers,” new board member Lisa Urias, a Managing Partner of CoNecs North America said. “What corps members and alumni are doing—what we’re doing as an organization—is helping to bridge that divide by expanding access to an excellent and equitable education so that students can grow and reach their full potential,” she added. 

Lisa is one of six newly appointed board members this year. Additional new board members new this year include: Greg Gautam, Partner at Snell and Wilmer LLP, Sally Gnirk, Vice President and Regional Sales Manager of Middle Market Banking, Jack Kucera, President and CEO of Varitec Solutions, Amin Maredia, CEO of Sprouts Famers Market, and Deanna Salazar, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. Together, the board consists of 29 community leaders who work in partnership with TFA’s local leaders to ensure regional strategies further accelerate the academic and personal growth of students and help strengthen schools and communities in Phoenix. 

When asked about the upcoming school year and the new additions to the board, sitting Board Chair and Arizona’s Managing Partner of Ernst & Young, Ron Butler said, “Education is a field that is always changing and growing. Therefore our Regional Board must do the same to be effective. We are so excited to benefit from the expertise of our newest board members, so that they too can share in the work we do, and contribute to the impact we’re seeing here in Phoenix.”

Greenberg Traurig’s Ralph Selitto Tech Council’s board

Global law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Ralph W. Selitto Jr. has joined the Board of Directors of the Arizona Technology Council (ATC). Founded in 2002, and based in Tempe, Arizona, ATC is an association of technology firms, educational institutions, economic development groups, and business support firms that facilitate the development of technology-based businesses and work to enhance and promote the state’s technology sector.

“Ralph will be an invaluable asset to the Arizona Technology Council,” said Nicole M. Goodwin, managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office. “At Greenberg Traurig, we encourage attorneys to demonstrate leadership through their professional and community work, and Ralph consistently answers that call.”

Selitto is a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office and a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property & Technology Practice. Over the course of his decades-long career, he has assisted clients in the development and management of global patent, trademark, and copyright portfolios, while counseling them on the strategic commercialization and valuation of their portfolios. His work has included the preparation and prosecution of numerous U.S. and foreign patent and trademark applications, as well as drafting license agreements and infringement, validity, and freedom-to-operate opinions. Ralph’s efforts in these areas have allowed him to develop broad experience in the evaluation of intellectual property, from both a legal perspective and a business perspective.

Desert Mountain instructor makes Golf Digest list

Paxton O’Connor, the PGA Director of Performance & Instruction at Desert Mountain Club, has been named to the prestigious list of “Best Young Teachers in America” for 2018-19 by Golf Digest magazine in its November issue.

O’Connor, 27, a golf instructor at Desert Mountain Club since 2016, has been selected for the first time to the list of teachers who are not yet age 40. O’Connor is one of the two youngest members of the elite group – Greg Ducharme of New York also is 27 – and one of only six instructors among the 114 listed who are in their 20s.

“It is quite an honor to be recognized as one of the best young teachers in America,” said O’Connor, who in January was elevated to the PGA Director of Performance & Instruction, overseeing Desert Mountain’s state-of-the-art Jim Flick Golf Performance Center. “As coaches and teachers, we stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us in the golf industry, striving to be our very best.”

Desert Mountain Club, the only private community in the world with six Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses, will open a new, 18-hole par-54 course – named No. 7 at Desert Mountain – in early 2019 and celebrate the reopening of its original course, Renegade, following an extensive renovation.

Benjamin Wilder appointed director of Tumamoc Hill

Desert ecologist Benjamin Wilder has been named director of Tumamoc Hill, an 860-acre ecological reserve and U.S. National Historic Landmark owned and operated by the University of Arizona in partnership with Pima County.

“This is my dream job. I have come full circle since I started as an undergraduate working on buffelgrass control,” said Wilder, who began his desert research career at the Desert Laboratory at Tumamoc Hill as an undergraduate student in 2004 and earned his bachelor’s degree from the UA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

After receiving his doctorate from the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, Wilder returned to the UA in August 2015 to work with the Consortium for Arizona and Mexico Arid Environments. He has been interim director of Tumamoc Hill since October 2016.

The Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill was established by the Carnegie Institution in 1903 to study how plants adapt to aridity. Tumamoc was officially purchased by the UA in 1956 for the purposes of research and education, continuing an arc of novel scientific pursuits in desert environments. Today, it is one of the longest continually monitored ecological reserves in the world and a thriving hub of desert research. Multiple radiocarbon dates consistently show that the earliest maize was cultivated 4,100 years ago in the Tucson valley at the base of A Mountain and Tumamoc Hill along the flood banks of the Santa Cruz river. This date makes the area adjacent to Tumamoc Hill the longest continuously habited site in the United States.

“The people that walk the hill today are only the most recent chapter in that history, the vantage point from this peak looking over the valley of Tucson continues to draw us up Tumamoc’s slopes,” Wilder said. “Now, we have 115 years of science that is the baseline of knowledge of the Sonoran Desert.