Meet 30 Millennials who are changing Arizona’s business landscape

Above: From left: Scott Harkey, 35, president, OH Partners; Charity Rice, 34, branch manager, Washington Federal; Roxanne Wingate, 34, senior community relations specialist, Cox Communications; Robert Carlson III, 36, co-owner and winemaker, Carlson Creek Vineyard; Steven Sheets, 34, senior vice president, Maricopa County, Southwest Behavioral & Health Services; and Gregory Goldsand, 34, attorney, Weiss Brown. (Photo by Mike Mertes, AZ Big Media) Business News | 16 Jan |

There’s no doubt that Millennials get a bad rap.

Too many people view Millenials as a generation of foosball-in-the-office-playing, craft-beer-drinking, constant-affirmation-needing, selfie-stick wielding narcissists who have overinflated self-esteem because they grew up in a time when everyone gets a trophy.

So we are not going to call the incredible business leaders you will meet on the following pages Millennials because they erase every negative stereotype heaped upon their generation.

You’ll meet a champion of Arizona’s wine industry, a woman who has impacted the lives of more than 10,000 children, a leader who helped his company triple in size over the past year and a resilient leader who survived a brutal encounter with the sharks on “Shark Tank.” But, most importantly, you’ll see a recurring theme of a generation of business leaders who are looking to give back to the community with a dedication that other generations should emulate.

In an era when the average tenure of Millennial employees is two years, meet 30 business leaders in their 30s who are staying put long enough to have an impact on Arizona’s economic landscape, while reimagining workplace culture and social responsibility.

Lauren Bailey, 37, co-owner and CEO, Upward Projects

Bailey leads Upward Projects, which emphasizes preparing high-quality food and adapting and reusing historically relevant buildings that are an integral part of neighborhoods. To uphold this philosophy, Bailey focuses primarily on conceptualization, strategy and operations.

Mike Bianco, 36, president, AvAir

Bianco relies on his ability to build strong teams and equally strong relationships to help AvAir become the No. 2 aircraft parts supplier in the world within the highly competitive aviation aftermarket inventory industry.

Jan Bracamonte, 35, president, J. Lauren PR

Bracamonte owns one of the Valley’s top public relations firms and counts some of Arizona’s most high-profile companies among her clients — including Alliance Bank of Arizona, Westgate and CityScape.

Robert Carlson III, 36, co-owner and winemaker, Carlson Creek Vineyard

A champion for Arizona’s wine industry, he started the company nine years ago when there were only 17 wineries in the state. There are now more than 100.

Tyler Carrell, 32, associate, Gallagher & Kennedy

In 2015, Carrell became the first attorney in Arizona history to serve as president for both the State Bar of Arizona Young Lawyers Division and the Maricopa County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.

Brandon Cleveland, 38, area sales manager and designated broker, Taylor Morrison

Cleveland has distinguished himself by managing 15-20 sales professionals and delivering multi-millions in revenue for the Taylor Morrison Phoenix division in 2017.

Caroline Conner, 32, director of corporate culture, at Homeowners Financial Group

Conner is the one who makes HFG an award-winning “best place to work,” organizing everything from blood drives to video contests and business bonding vacations.

John Damiris, 35, senior vice president commercial team lead, UMB Bank

Damiris has shown leadership both in the office and the community through his efforts to establish UMB’s commercial team while also dedicating countless hours to multiple nonprofits.

Dani Durnal, 32, business development, Hughes Federal Credit Union

Durnal was named one of the Mountain West Credit Union Association’s Top 20 Young Professionals Under 40. Ms. Durnal, one of only three in Arizona to be recognized.

Lauren Elliott Stine, 37, partner, Quarles & Brady

Elliott Stine is a Southwest Super Lawyer Rising Star, co-chair of Quarles & Brady’s Health Care Litigation team and a member of the UMOM New Day Center’s board of directors.

Jessica Flowers, 39, program director, Free Arts for Abused Children in Arizona

Jessica Flowers has trained more than 5,000 people on the resilience building powers of the arts and affected the lives of more than 10,000 children.

Gregory Goldsand, 34, attorney, Weiss Brown

Also a Certified Public Accountant, Goldsand’s practice focuses on start-up companies, corporate and securities transactional work, including mergers and acquisitions, formation, private placements, and corporate governance.

Jake Golich, 33, CEO, Mountain Vista Medical Center

What sets Golich apart from others is his heartfelt mission, based on his own life experiences, to make a marked difference in the lives of patients and their families.

Scott Harkey, 35, president, OH Partners

Through Harkey’s unparalleled leadership, OH Partners has tripled in size over the past year and has increased its revenue by 100 percent, while understanding the value of winning as a community.

Melissa S. Ho, 37, shareholder, Polsinelli

Ho is a trial attorney with a detailed understanding of government regulations, intellectual property, and international business. A former prosecutor, she is sympathetic to the disruption and chaos a government inquiry and criminal investigation causes.

Mallory Hutchison, 34, director of strategic partnerships, StartupAZ Foundation

Hutchison has been instrumental in the organization’s continued impact in the boarder entrepreneurial ecosystem and impacting a more innovative local economy rooted in innovation.

Stephanie Kotula, 37, director of operations, Wilde Wealth Management

Kotula serves as chair of the firm’s charitable committee, which works with charities including Child Crisis Arizona, Boys & Girls Club, Ryan House, Sunshine Acres and others.

Eric Marcus, 37, CEO, Marcus Networking Inc.

Marcus began his Tempe-based company in his early 20s and now has 19 full-time employees. He volunteers time and money for organizations such as Scottsdale Active 20-30 Club.

Rob Maver, 38, senior vice president and regional commercial manager, National Bank of Arizona

Maver leads a group of lenders for NB|AZ that has a portfolio exceeding $400 million. He is an active board member with International Cancer Advocacy Network.

Ryan Naylor, 33, founder, LocalWork.com

Naylor survived a brutal encounter with the Sharks of “Shark Tank” to become the founder of one of the fastest growing jobs websites and job fair companies in Arizona.

Sarah O’Keefe, 31, associate, Burch & Cracchiolo

O’Keefe is a proven and savvy civil trial attorney with an ever-growing passion for her clients that drives her to adapt and thrive in this new, modern world of litigation.

Miles Pondelik, 36, vice president, deposit initiatives manager, Alliance Bank of Arizona

Following a career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, Pondelik leads Alliance Bank’s efforts to evaluate alternative sources of corporate liquidity to fund accelerating growth.

Charity Rice, 34, branch manager, Washington Federal

Rice helps run Washington Federal’s Save at School program, which brings financial literacy programming to students and is an active member of the bank’s Focus on Arizona community outreach program.

Edgar Salinas, 32, managing partner, EpiFinder

Despite coming from a disadvantaged upbringing, Salinas graduated with a master’s in biomedical diagnostics and in less than two years became a managing partner in EpiFinder’s mission to end misdiagnosis.

Amanda Salvione, 33, attorney, Radix Law

Salvione solves clients’ legal problems in regards to business, commercial and real estate law and gives back by presenting continued education programs and authoring legal materials for the State Bar of Arizona.

Steven Sheets, 34, senior vice president, Maricopa County, Southwest Behavioral & Health Services

Sheets started as an intern in 2012 and was recently promoted to vice president of outpatient services, where he oversees Maricopa County and Gila County outpatient teams.

Natalie Speers, 31, founder and CEO, Social Ally

Speers has been engaging social media before it was even called that. The Grand Canyon University alumna now leads an innovative, full-service social media marketing and brand management agency.

Ben Tobias, 36, senior loan office, Fairway Independent Mortgage

Tobias spends his free time as president of Scottsdale Active 20-30 Club. The entirely volunteer based organization helps raise funds for local children’s charities—something Tobias is very passionate about.

Roxanne Wingate, 34, senior community relations specialist, Cox Communications

Over the past eight years, Wingate has developed into a well-known community leader, not only in the Latino community, but throughout the Greater Phoenix area.

Megan Word, 38, director of development and marketing, Foundation for Senior Living

Under the leadership of Word, the Foundation for Senior Living’s development has generated growth of more than 700 percent in just two years.

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