It hasn’t been easy to navigate the business landscape — or any landscape for that matter — in the past year. But the individuals on this list have all distinguished themselves as leaders of the future — and leaders of the present. While they come from a wide range of backgrounds, these young business leaders have pushed boundaries and come up with visionary ways to progress their businesses.

Here are 10 young business leaders to watch in 2021.

Ray Damm


Damm is the CEO of ACCEL, a nonprofit organization that provides innovative, individualized and comprehensive educational, therapeutic, vocational, behavioral and life skills training for children and adults who have special needs. He has been working with ACCEL since March of 2016, starting as CFO and chief development officer, and transitioning to the role of CEO in June of 2018.

Adam Finkel

Principal / Tower Capital 

Prior to founding Tower Capital, Finkel began his real estate career with Levrose Real Estate and Investments, a boutique commercial brokerage firm located in Scottsdale, Arizona. At Levrose, he negotiated more than 300 commercial real estate transactions which included office, industrial, and retail properties. In 2014, he earned the designation of Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), a title held by only a small group of elite commercial real estate investment professionals. He is actively involved with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP).

Alissa McDowell

Senior corporate counsel / Axon

McDowell says the greatest challenge in her seven years as in-house counsel was, “Coming into a role at Axon that had no processes in place. Deals were slowed down while we waited for approval, or we accepted terms that negatively impacted revenue in order to keep things moving. After learning Axon’s risk tolerances, I created a negotiation playbook that fit our risk profile and allows us to negotiate effectively and efficiently.”

Lindsay Moellenberndt

Chief business development and marketing officer / Fennemore

Since joining Fennemore, Moellenberndt has launched the Elevate program that helps the law firm’s associates reach their desired outcomes and enhance their overall human experience through career road mapping, one-on-one consultations and strategy sessions and through monthly educational programs.

Breanna Naegeli

Associate dean / Grand Canyon University

After nearly 11 years working in various roles at Grand Canyon University, Naegeli became a graduate of the educational institution in May of 2020 after successfully defending her dissertation, “The Influence of Fan Engagement Through Social Media on Performance Anxiety and Male, NCAA Division I Athletes,” and earning her her Ph.D. in performance psychology from the College of Doctoral Studies.

Anna Ortiz

International program director / Esperança

Ortiz has been with Phoenix-based Esperança in varying capacities since 2013. Ortiz was raised by immigrant parents in a small town outside of Yuma. Her father volunteered with AmeriCorps, Ortiz often went with her dad to service projects. She believes her dad wanted to make sure her head and heart were always working together – finding ways to be of service to others. While attending ASU, Ortiz worked at Chicanos Por La Causa, where she provided after-school assistance to at-risk students, and later serving in an administrative role over the entire program.

Danae Presler

Sustainability officer / City of Avondale

Presler moved to Avondale from the City of Chandler, Arizona where she worked in various positions, most recently serving as a Neighborhood Programs Administrator and leading that city’s sustainability efforts through interdepartmental collaborations and new partnerships with universities, businesses, and nonprofits. Presler represents Avondale as a member of Arizona State University’s Sustainable Cities Network Steering Committee and the Rio Reimagined and El Rio projects.

Stanton Shields

Senior financial advisor / Alerus

Shields is a senior financial advisor and leads wealth management activities for Alerus clients in Arizona. He has more than 12 years of experience in the financial industry and has served in a variety of roles, including portfolio advisor, analyst, controller, and trader. Shields holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Arizona State University and a certificate of finance from Stanford University. He is a Certified Financial Planner, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, and holds Series 7 and Series 66 investment licenses.

Ryan “Bucky” Slomski

Associate / Burch & Cracchiolo

Slomski is a top-rated trial advocate and emerging leader in his field. He focuses his practice on serious personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims, and he provides much-needed representation and support to clients across Arizona who have suffered an injury or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. Slomski has a broad range of clients as he is fluent in Spanish and has a deep understanding of the Hispanic culture.

Kevin Walsh

Partner / Quarles & Brady

In his practice, Walsh partners with his clients to help them create new value in their businesses. He concentrates his practice in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, private equity, early-stage and emerging growth companies, equity and debt financing, crowdfunding, and general business counseling.