Leadership

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Sandra Day O'Connor

Founder

Sandra Day O'Connor made history in 1981 when she was sworn in by then Chief Justice Warren Burger as the first woman to the United States Supreme Court in its 191-year history.   Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, it was O'Connor’s intelligence and grit that made her a transformational figure in the nation's highest court of law.

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Sarah E. Suggs

President & CEO

Sarah E. Suggs is a third-generation Arizonan whose 25-year career has taken her to the east coast and west.  She served as Senior Vice President of Marketing for Phoenix-based Pivotal Group, a private equity and real estate investment firm, and as Executive Director of The National Women’s Hall of Fame in New York, which recognizes and celebrates the achievements of extraordinary American women.

A community volunteer since the age of 12, Ms. Suggs has held several leadership positions including Phoenix Heart Ball Chairman, Arizona Science Center Gala Chairman, Women’s Board of the Barrow Neurological Foundation, a Founder of Phoenix Children’s Hospital Leadership Circle and Past President of Charter 100, whose purpose is to recognize outstanding women in the community and provide a forum for their interaction. Honorary members include former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Arizona Governors Rose Mofford, Jane Dee Hull and Janet Napolitano.

Board Officers

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Peter Hayes

Co-Chair of the Board

Peter Hayes is Associate General Manager & Chief Public Affairs Executive for the Salt River Project. Hayes directed SRP’s congressional and federal relations in Washington, D.C. for six years, before returning to Arizona to assume responsibility for the utility’s federal, state and local government relations. Prior to joining SRP, Hayes worked on Capitol Hill for the U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader, John J. Rhodes from Arizona’s First Congressional District. During the Reagan administration, Hayes worked as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of Interior, and then served as Deputy Director of Congressional Liaison in the Office of the Secretary, under both Secretaries William Clark and Donald Hodel.

In 1992, Hayes served as Chief of Staff to Arizona Governor, Fife Symington. He graduated from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and completed the program for senior managers in government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  The father of three sons Hayes, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Arizona Science Center, and the Board of Directors of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. He is a past member of the Arizona State University Barrett Honors College Dean’s Advisory Board, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and a commissioner on the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

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Gay Firestone Wray

Co-Chair of the Board

Gay Firestone Wray is President of the Roger S. Firestone Foundation and was a leader in the establishment of O'Connor House, initially helping to relocate the original adobe home, and has supported its many projects and programs over the years. Wray is a philanthropist with a long history in leadership roles, including the Smithsonian National Board, an advisory trustee of the Phoenix Country Day School, a life member of the Barrow Neurological Institute, and a member of Hospice of the Valley. She is a former director of Bank of America, Arizona, and her past philanthropic associations have included the Phoenix Zoo Auxiliary, Charter 100, Senator's Cup, Valley Shakespeare Theatre, and Christ Church Memorial Garden.

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Richard Silverman

Secretary

Richard Silverman is Of Counsel at the law firm of Jennings, Strouss & Salmon. He previously served as SRP General Manager from 1994-2011, beginning his career with SRP in 1966 as an attorney. His many accomplishments include the 2011 President's Award, J.D. Power & Associates; 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, the Agri-Business Council of Arizona; 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, Most Admired Executives, Phoenix Business Journal; and the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Individual Award, Greater Phoenix Urban League.

Silverman is a well-recognized and respected professional in the energy industry, in Arizona and on a national level. He is past Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Electric Power Research Institute; past Chair of the Large Public Power Council; and served on the American Public Power Association Board. Silverman is active in a number of organizations, including Greater Phoenix Leadership, the University of Arizona Foundation and the Translational Genomics Research Institute. He serves as Chair of the Governor's Arizona Medical Education Oversight Task Force and is a member of the Governor's Arizona Centennial Commission and Centennial Foundation. He earned both his J.D. and B.S. in Business from the University of Arizona. Silverman currently resides in Phoenix with his wife Susan.

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John Evancevich

Treasurer

John is presently an Audit Projects Manager at Salt River Project (SRP). He has been with SRP for 24 years, the last 16 years of which managing SRP’s Contractual and Joint Ownership audits. His diverse audit work experience has included contractual, financial, and information technology auditing. John earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona and his MBA from Arizona State University. John is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, and Certified Information Systems Auditor.

John’s professional and civic activities have included officer positions with the Information Systems Audit & Control Association and his own homeowners’ association as well as chairperson of the CPE Committee for the Arizona State Board of Accountancy. He currently is a Board member and Treasurer for the O’Connor Institute, and the President of the Phoenix Chapter for the Institute of Internal Auditors.

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Richard L. Boals

Immediate Past Board Chairman

Boals is President CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. He provides his strategic vision and expertise to the state's leading health insurer. Boals joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona in 1971 and has served in a variety of capacities, seeing the company through numerous years of stability and success. Prior to his appointment to chief executive officer in April 2003, Boals served as president and chief operating officer. Boals received his bachelor's degree in accounting from Arizona State University and an associate's degree from Phoenix College. Boals served four years in the United States Air Force before beginning his career at Blue Cross Blue Shield of AZ.

Board of Directors

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Tracy Bame

President of the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation

Tracy Bame is President of the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation, the primary philanthropic arm of the company.  Ms. Bame also has responsibility for providing strategic direction and oversight for the company’s social development programs in the Americas.  The Freeport-McMoRan Foundation provides grants for programs that promote education, economic development, environment, and health and wellness, with the goal of facilitating community sustainability.

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Deborah Bateman

National Bank of Arizona Vice Chairman

Deborah Bateman is the National Bank of Arizona Vice Chairman, and Director of Premier Wealth Management. In her role, Deborah oversees the delivery of products and services for the bank’s High Net Worth individuals, and is responsible for the NBAZ Private Bank, NBAZ Wealth Management, and Executive Banking.

Bateman is also responsible for several of the bank’s key departments including; Nonprofit Banking and the Women’s Financial Group. Deborah has more than 35 years of banking experience. She holds an associate’s degree from Mesa Community College and is a graduate of Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington in Seattle. An active member of the community, Deborah is currently an Arizona Skills Standard Commissioner for the Arizona State Department of Education and a board member of Homeward Bound, FreshStart and ChildsHelp. Bateman is a member of Charter 100, Women President’s Organization, Central Phoenix Women, Social Venture Partners, ASU’s Women and Philanthropy, Arizona 5 Arts Council and the Heart Ball 100.

Sara Begley

Sara Begley

CopperPoint, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer

Sara Begley oversees the General Counsel’s Office, having joined CopperPoint Insurance Companies in November 2008.  Prior to that, Ms. Begley served for 16 years with the Arizona Department of Insurance, followed by private practice where her clients included SCF Arizona and National Council on Compensation Insurance. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business from Arizona State University and a law degree from the University of Arizona.  She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Property & Casualty Insurance Guaranty Fund and has served on the Ronald McDonald House Board of Directors.

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Nikal Conti

Founder of PHX Architecture

Nikal Conti is the founder of PHX Architecture and a community leader.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a Minor in Development Economics, from Southern Polytechnic State University, Marietta, Georgia, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Conti received the American Institute of Architect’s National Henry Adams School Gold Medal. Her nonprofit engagement includes the Desert Botanical Garden and ASU Women & Philanthropy.

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Rich Endicott

Biltmore Bank of Arizona President

Rich Endicott, in his role as President of The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, brings four decades of banking experience serving the needs of commercial businesses.  Before becoming its President, Rich directed the company’s sales and marketing efforts throughout Arizona and was President of the bank’s Scottsdale operations.  Previously, he served as Senior Vice President for M&I Bank and was executive in Deutsche Bank’s financial services across the U.S. and Canada.

Rich attended the University of Kansas and Deutsche Bank’s sponsored Duke University Executive Management Program.  Through his leadership, senior executives have been encouraged to serve on numerous non-profit Boards, including Valley of the Sun United Way and Junior Achievement.

Matt Feeney

Matthew P. Feeney

Chairman of the Board, Snell & Wilmer

Matthew Feeney’s practice is concentrated in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, corporate governance matters, including advising corporate boards and board committees.  He is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, the American Bar Association and has been admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Arizona.

He serves on the Board the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education and has served on the Board of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and the Diocesan School Board, Diocese of Phoenix. A past recipient of the Sir Thomas Moore Award, he received the University of Notre Dame Exemplar Award for Community Service and a J.D., magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame Law School and a B.A. in Government and Economics, magna cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame.

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Philip L. Francis

President and CEO of PetSmart Inc. from 1998 to 2009

Phil Francis was President and CEO of PetSmart Inc. from 1998 to 2009, then was appointed executive chairman in June 2009 until his retirement in 2012. He began his career in 1971 rising to president and chief executive officer of Shaw’s Supermarkets (1991–98) before joining PetSmart, Inc. Francis is an active supporter of Arizona State University and a member of the board of trustees. In 2003 he received the Executive of the Year award from Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business Dean’s Council of 100. Francis serves on the Greater Phoenix Leadership Board of Directors and was Chairman 2009-2011.

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Leonard S. Gaby

Len Gaby served as Chief Executive Officer of Sleep America

Len Gaby served as Chief Executive Officer of Sleep America for 13 years after co-founding the company with his wife, Debbie. In 2004, Gaby co-founded Sleep America Charities Foundation, which provides assistance, support, and other resources to deserving Arizona charities and organizations in need.   Gaby’s career in the mattress industry began in 1971 at Simmons Company, where he became Executive Vice President and General Manager of the mattress division. Gaby received his BS and MBA degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

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Rufus Glasper

President and CEO of The League for Innovation in the Community College

Rufus Glasper, Ph.D., is the President and CEO of The League for Innovation in the Community College. Glasper served as the Chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges, one of the nation’s largest multi-college community college systems, from 2003-2016 and previously held District leadership positions for more than two decades. As Chancellor, Glasper oversaw all educational and administrative operations of the 10-college District, commonly known as the Maricopa Community Colleges. He provided leadership in matters of system wide strategic planning, bringing all ten colleges and many learning centers into alignment with common goals and methodologies.

Chris Herstam

Chris Herstam

Principal, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP

Chris Herstam has been Lewis & Roca Chairman of the Arizona Government Relations Practice since 1996. Mr. Herstam is a former gubernatorial Chief of Staff for Governor Fife Symington. In 1998, Governor Jane Dee Hull appointed Herstam to an eight-year term on the Arizona Board of Regents where he served as President of the Board in 2004. He was co-chair of the transition team for Governor Janet Napolitano in 2002. 

Mr. Herstam was a State Representative for eight years in the Arizona House of Representatives and has been a Director of the Arizona Department of Insurance. He received his B.A and Master’s degrees from Arizona State University.  Mr. Herstam has served on the Boards of the Morrison Institute, Arizona Judicial Council and Central Arizona Shelter Services.

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Chevy Humphrey

President and CEO of the Arizona Science Center

Chevy Humphrey is the President and CEO of the Arizona Science Center, a position she has held since 2006. Before joining the Science Center, Humphrey served as the director of development for The Phoenix Symphony and held similar positions at the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin Performing Arts Center and The Houston Symphony. At the Arizona Science Center, Humphrey oversees the $12 million operation of the 164,000-square-foot facility with more than 330 employees and volunteers.

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Francis Najafi

Founder and CEO of Pivotal Group

Francis Najafi is Founder and CEO of Pivotal Group, a thirty year old investment firm in Phoenix, Arizona, with experience in private equity investments and all major real estate product types. Najafi completed his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering at Arizona State University (ASU), followed by two Masters Degrees from Thunderbird – The School of Global Management and the University of Southern California (USC). While a Ph.D. candidate in International Political Economy at USC, he began his entrepreneurial activities. Najafi has served on the Board of Directors of Network Solutions, NxSystems and Western Alliance Bancorporation. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of EastWest Institute, is a member of Urban Land Institute (ULI), and serves as Governor of the ULI Foundation. Mr. Najafi is also active in the World President’s Organization (WPO) and Chief Executive’s Organization (CEO).

Najafi is a member of the Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL), a Trustee of Thunderbird – The School of Global Management, and a Foundation Board member of Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). He is a member of the President’s Club at ASU and serves on ASU’s Business School, Dean’s Council.

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Frederick M. Pakis

Co-founder JDA Software, Inc.

Fred Pakis co-founded JDA Software, Inc., a supply chain management international company, and retired at a relatively early age.  Subsequently, he established The Pakis Family Foundation in 1996 through the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF). Pakis serves on the ACF Board of Directors and Investment Committee, and sponsors ACF’s suite of corporate services through the Pakis Center for Business Philanthropy. He also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and on the Phoenix Symphony Board of Directors.

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Mi-Ai Parrish

President and Publisher of Republic Media

Mi-Ai Parrish is President and Publisher of Republic Media, including the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com.  Parris previously served as President and Publisher of The Kansas City Star Media Company and Idaho Statesman. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize juror, a longtime member of the Asian American Journalists Association, and was named one of the 100 Most Important Minority Journalists of the Last Century. Parrish has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and was inducted into their Alumni Hall of Fame in 2013.

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Linda J. "Mac" Perlich

CEO and Publisher, ON Media

Mac Perlich is Publisher of the philanthropic Arizona Red Book along with 2-million programs a year-for the major performing and visual arts organizations in Phoenix and Tucson.  She founded the Act One Foundation with her husband Russ, whose mission is to bring school age children to the performing arts.

Mac has served on boards including The Wellness Community, Teach for America Phoenix, Banner Foundation, Ballet Arizona, The Herberger Theatre Center and Arizona Theatre Company. She is a member of Charter 100, Central Phoenix Women, Scripps College and Kappa Alpha Theta alumnae organizations.   Ms. Perlich graduated from the University of Arizona with Honors and Highest Distinction from the College of Nursing in 1975 and received her Master’s in Nursing from the U of A.

Jane Roig

Jane Roig

Community Leader

With more than 35 years of strategic and executive management in the public and not-for-profit sectors, Jane L. Roig has focused her professional life on activities related to improving educational opportunities for students and families.  As Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Southwest Student Services Corporation, she was responsible for leading and managing a comprehensive array of student loan products and services, and helped lead the organization’s evolution to the subsequent founding of Helios Education Foundation.

Ms. Roig currently serves as a member of the Board of the Helios Education Foundation and the Arizona Science Center Board of Trustees.  She is a past Vice Chair of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross.

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Michael R. Rooney

Partner, Sacks Tierney Law Firm

Michael Rooney is a partner of the Sacks Tierney Law Firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, practicing business and corporate law and private post-secondary school law. Rooney is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® and has a long tradition of generous commitments of time in the community. Rooney also serves on the Prescott College Board of Trustees, Rio Salado Foundation, and the Tempe Center for the Arts Foundation.

He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Missouri and is a veteran of the Air Force, earning the rank of Captain. Rooney graduated from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University with academic honors and was a member of the Law Review. Rooney is a past President of the Grand Canyon Council of the Boy Scouts of America and served on the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, which regulates the private trade and technical school industry and past Board Chairman.

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Jim Rose

General Manager of the JW Marriott Camelback Inn

Jim Rose is the General Manager of the JW Marriott Camelback Inn. Rose joined the Marriott Corporation in 1968 as a front desk associate at the O’Hare Marriott in Chicago when Marriott then owned a total of seven hotels.

Rose has served as Marriott’s area general manager for the Scottsdale region, overseeing 10 properties, including the Scottsdale Marriott Suites and Mountain Shadows Marriott Resort. Earlier in his career, he was resident manager at the Maui Marriott and director of marketing for the Los Angeles Airport Marriott and Chicago Marriott O’Hare. Rose was named ‘General Manager of the Year’ by Marriott International in 2005, during his tenure at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa.

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Stephen M. Savage

Partner, Ballard Spahr Law Office

Steve Savage is a partner of the Ballard Spahr law office in Phoenix, Arizona.  Savage, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School, is a business/real estate transactional lawyer. For 20 consecutive years, Savage has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America. He is an Emeritus Board member and past Chair of the Arizona Science Center, a Board member of the Verde Vaqueros, and past President of the Maricopa County Mounted Sheriff's Posse.

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Lisa Urias

Founder, Urias Communications

Lisa Urias founded Urias Communications international marketing and communications in 2003 providing strategic advertising and PR with a multicultural focus. It is an award-winning advertising and public relations agency specializing in the multicultural markets of the U.S. Southwest, concentrating on the burgeoning Hispanic market. Urias previously served as partner with Alesco Consultores, a Mexican energy consulting agency whose managing partner was the former Mexican Undersecretary of Energy and Director General of the Comisión Federal de Electricidad. She also spent nine years at Salt River Project (SRP) in Phoenix as the Director of International Markets in the Strategic Planning division and as the Director of International Affairs in the Public and Communications division.

Urias serves on several boards including the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Latino Research Enterprise (ALRE) and Saint Luke’s Health Initiatives (SLHI) Foundation, and she is an inaugural fellow to the prestigious Flinn-Brown 2011 Arizona Civic Leadership Academy. She is the recipient of the 2012 Phoenix Business Journal, “Most Admired CEOs” award, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 2010 Business Woman of the Year Award, the 2011 Al Brooke’s Community Service award from the Anti-Defamation League the Valle del Sol Raul Yzaguirre Community Service Award. Urias holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in Political Philosophy from Arizona State University.

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Kari Yatkowski

Founder, Haven Charitable Foundation

Kari Yatkowski founded the Haven Charitable Foundation, a private family foundation. For over 20 years, she has fostered strategic collaborations between the corporate arena and the non-profit sectors. Yatkowski provides vital resources, time and leadership aimed at helping non-profit agencies make lasting changes. In 2012 she launched Corporate Citizen, LLC which provides strategies to guide businesses through every facet of corporate responsibility; from planning to implementation, including stakeholder engagement and sustainability reporting.

Yatkowski has worked with more than 100 non-profits and held numerous leadership roles that impacted fundraising efforts—collectively grossing over $50 million dollars. She was Co-Chairman of Banner MD Anderson capital campaign and has chaired the Phoenix Suns Charities annual fundraising gala. Yatkowski is a past Chairman of the Board of Homeward Bound. Her community service includes the Phoenix Children's Hospital, Halle Heart Children's Museum, Heart Ball, Arizona Women's Board, Valley Leadership Class 31 and ASU Women in Philanthropy. A graduate of the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU with a degree in Supply Chain Management, she is married to Paul and has three sons, Griffin, and twin boys, Tate and Tyler.

Advisory Board

Joseph P. Anderson
Ambassador Barbara Barrett
Alan Day
Bert A. Getz
Lucia Fakonas Howard
Kim Sterling-Heflin

Staff

Heather Schader | Vice President, Operations

Natalie Vandeventer | Vice President, Philanthrophy

Deborah Berkley | Director of Philanthropy

Rebekah Runnels | Administrator, Camp O'Connor, Office Manager

 

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