Never before has the Arizona business community needed leaders who are agile, adaptable, and innovative more than they are needed in today’s rapidly expanding economy. That’s what the Champions of Change awards are all about — recognizing those dynamic innovators and trailblazers who are changing Arizona’s economic environment through leadership and visionary thinking.

READ ALSO: Nominations open for Arizona’s Most Admired Companies of 2022

“We created the Champions of Change Awards to recognize those innovative leaders, for-profit companies, and nonprofits who are changing the landscape of Arizona business,” says AZ Big Media Publisher Amy Lindsey. “These awards shine a spotlight on the state’s true game-changers and thought leaders. This is an awards event that is unlike any other the state has even seen.”

In the days that follow, the 2022 Champions of Change will be spotlighted right here on Be sure to check back every day.

Champions of Change: Education leaders of the year

Grand Canyon University President and CEO Brian Mueller.

José Luis Cruz Rivera, president, Northern Arizona University: Cruz advocated before Congress for increased investments in Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). He offered five policy recommendations to equip HSIs and other Minority Serving Institutions to better serve their students and the communities they represent.

Jay Heiler, CEO, Great Hearts Academies: Heiler — along with Dan Scoggin and Bob Mulhern — created Great Hearts nearly 20 years ago with 130 students in a leased church building. They have grown the liberal arts academies to more than 22,000 students and 2,500 teachers in Arizona and Texas.

Deborah L. Helitzer, ScD, dean, College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University: During Helitzer’s tenure, the college has increased grant funding by 75% and has grown student enrollment by 28%. CHS now collaborates on research and innovation with the arts, engineering, journalism and business schools at ASU.

Brian Mueller, president, Grand Canyon University: Under Mueller’s watch, the university’s ground campus enrollment has jumped from about 1,000 students to about 25,000. Enrollment in online programs is over 70,000. Mueller has also helped tremendously expand the campus and rejuvenate the area surrounding GCU.

Julie Young, vice president of education outreach and student services and managing director, ASU Preparatory Academy and ASU Prep Digital: As a visionary CEO, educator, and entrepreneur, Julie Young is passionate about leveraging technology and building innovative education models that help students reach bold goals and achieve extraordinary outcomes.