Az Business and AZRE magazines announced the publications’ lists of the Most Influential Women in Arizona of 2023, including Sister Joan Fitzgerald, president of Xavier College Preparatory. In celebration of the 12th anniversary of the Most Influential Women program, is profiling one of the Most Influential Women of 2023 each day leading up to the Most Influential Women of 2023 dinner and reception.

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The Most Influential Women for 2023 will be honored at a reception on Thursday, August 17 at Chateau Luxe in Phoenix. For sponsorship information, email For information about the event honoring the Most Influential Women, email or click here. To buy tickets, click here.

Sister Joan Fitzgerald, president, Xavier College Preparatory

BACKGROUND: Sister Joan Fitzgerald’s faith guides her in all she does. She grew up in the small town of Boone, Iowa. Sr. Joan received a Bachelor of Arts from Mundelein College in Chicago, Illinois and a Master of Arts from Arizona State University. She came to Xavier in 1962 as a Spanish teacher. She became treasurer in 1970 and the school’s first president in 2019. She has raised $50 million dollars so far — for campus improvements, capital campaigns and scholarships. She did not have experience in finance or administration, but was taught by nuns to always do the right thing and do it with excellence. Sr. Joan has been a role model and mentor to thousands of young women, many of whom return to Phoenix after college. She has been a trendsetter: Xavier is the first school in Arizona to include Dual Enrollment — students take college courses on Xavier’s campus — and over a third graduate each year with Associate degrees. Also, 100% of students are accepted to four-year colleges/universities all over the world. She presides over 200-plus employees and a 19-acre campus. Xavier was named a Top Workplace by AZCentral in 2021. Sr. Joan’s goal today is to raise money for student scholarships so that any qualified student, regardless of her economic situation, may attend Xavier without worrying about tuition.

CAREER PATH INSPIRATION: “I was educated for 13 years by excellent teachers who all were religious women. They were a great inspiration to me.”

SOURCE OF PRIDE: “Every annual graduation when these young women have accomplished their dream of graduating from Xavier. We have prepared them well to go out and meet the challenges of our changing global society.”

SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: “The religious community has been a great support of me. Also, I have had some wonderful superintendents of schools at the Diocese of Phoenix over the years.”

SURPRISING FACT: “Mamie Eisenhower grew up in the same town as me. I had the opportunity to meet General Eisenhower when he came to the town. He gave me and my classmates a ride in his Jeep.”