Welcome to the 2018 edition of ‘20 Under 40’ The Arizona Daily Sun, Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, Twin Arrows Casino Resort and Arizona Public Service are pleased to present the 2018 group of 20 individuals under 40 years of age who have made and continue to make significant contributions to Flagstaff through work and service. These 20 individuals come from diverse backgrounds and careers, yet they all stand out for their commitment to Flagstaff’s economic and community vitality. From a local artist who’s now a small business owner to the director
of special education in the local school system, each honoree has a unique story of how they came to work and thrive in our beautiful mountain town. The 20 Under 40 professionals recognized in this publication are chosen through a nomination and selection process. They also will be honored at a special reception in January. This is the third year of the 20 Under 40 initiative, and we are delighted to feature the positive impact young adults are making in our community. Please join us in a big round of applause for this year’s 20 Under 40 honorees. Nancy Wiechec
CONGRATULATIONS THANK YOU TO OUR PARTNERS AND SPONSORS! AWARDS PARTNER:
TO THE 2018 20 UNDER 40 RECIPIENTS
Brian Buzzard Kelly Culbertson Cynthia Dorfsmith Issac Larsen Becky McBride Ricky Molina Palmer Nackard Gavin O’Connor Corey O’Donnell Sarah Marie Olson
Cassie Petit Ryan Ross Stacey Salyer Steven Scott Lizzy Simkins Susan Smith Ryan Stuart Aaron Tabor Cameron Watson Jessica Young
President of Buzzard Construction Inc. Most kids dream of becoming a rock star when they’re young. Brian Buzzard also dreamed of being a rock star, but not in the way you’d think. “Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to own my own construction company. The goal was to have that company by the time I was 30.” Born and raised in Flagstaff, Buzzard was practically raised on the job site by his father, a licensed contractor for more than 35 years. While most kids spent their summers doing anything but work, Buzzard was out on jobs with his dad, kick-starting that dream of owning his own construction company. And that goal of owning his company by 30? Buzzard beat it by one year. In 2014 at the age of 29, he started Buzzard Construction. Since then, he and his company have worked tirelessly handling large and small construction projects around Flagstaff, not merely because it is their job, but because Buzzard feels deep ties to the city and the surrounding community. “The Flagstaff community needs to have a vision that involves everyone working together to promote a healthy and positive lifestyle,” he said. Buzzard graduated in 2002 from Flagstaff High School, where he met his wife. In 2006 he got his degree construction management with a minor in business from Northern Arizona University, where he also played football. What’s more, Buzzard is also an outdoor enthusiast and triathlete, and he is race director and manager for the Mountain Man Triathlon. From training to become a triathlete to starting up his own construction company, Buzzard has learned a lot about success and failure. “Don’t let failure get you down,” he said. “Roll with the punches and have a plan, but be prepared to adjust.” And that mentality lends itself to everything Buzzard does, professionally, personally and everything in between. Under his management, Buzzard Construction has become a multimillion-dollar company and was awarded the Coconino County Sustainable Building Award for work on his own home. He is a husband, a father of two girls, a triathlete, a business owner and, this year, Buzzard is one of Flagstaff’s 20 Under 40 recipients.
Special Events and Marketing, Nackard Companies Like many successful young professionals, Kelly Culbertson’s career began while she was still getting her degree. “I heard about an internship opening at a local beer distributor and decided to apply. My responsibilities included hosting promotions at downtown bars and restaurants in Flagstaff,” she said. “[It was] not a bad gig for a college student.” After earning her degree in public relations and advertising from Northern Arizona University, Culbertson went on to a salaried position with the distributor’s corporate headquarters in Tucson. Her beat was events and promotions. She hosted and ran “every type of event you can imagine” and became a craft beer specialist, but soon she began to miss northern Arizona. “Flagstaff has a charm that’s unbeatable and encompasses a community of just good, down-to-earth people,” she said. She moved back to Flagstaff, still working with the distributor she started with in college, but then life grew. She had a child and changed to working in the nonproﬁt sector, but there she was not utilizing her creative energy. After hearing about a marketing role with Nackard Companies, the Flagstaff-based beverage distributor, she went to interview for the position. The special events and marketing role with Nackard allowed Culbertson to dabble in multiple marketing areas — event sponsorship, brand tours, social media, design, trade sampling and more. What’s more, she’s thriving in the family-owned business. “Our co-workers care for one another unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” she said. “If we have a problem, we solve it like family. If we have personal accomplishments, we celebrate as a family.” Just as the Nackard family is committed to community involvement, so is Culbertson. It’s another commonality she respects. She’s given time and talent to numerous nonproﬁt organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Flagstaff Family Food Center, animal shelters, Big Brother and Big Sisters of Flagstaff, Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, Flagstaff Young Professionals and the Downtown Business Alliance. For her professional advice, Culbertson encourages young people to not become discouraged in their outlook or their pursuits. “Life has a way of working out and even the unexpected or unwanted has its purpose on your life journey.”
Two years ago, Cynthia Dorfsmith was sitting behind her desk processing payroll as she had done every other week for nearly nine years when she decided it was time for a change. “The monotony of the job was draining my energy, and it was time for a bigger challenge,” she said. “I wanted to ﬁnd an organization to work for that I believed in, where I could use my problem-solving skills.” That organization was Coconino Community College, where Dorfsmith now works as a human resources information technology analyst. Since accepting the position, Dorfsmith has strived in research and development for the college. Among her many professional accomplishments, she said the creation of the Northern Arizona regional compensation survey, which was launched in partnership with Northern Arizona Human Resources Association, is her proudest. The survey collects information from across the region to give employers access to relevant data on wages and beneﬁts. Dorfsmith has been a Flagstaff resident for 13 years, and during that time, she has worked with nonproﬁt organizations and has served as an officer for some of those organizations. Most recently, she was elected treasurer for the Northern Arizona Human Resource Association, where she’s been able to incorporate her skills in bookkeeping and accounting. Currently enrolled in the transitional CCC2NAU program, Dorfsmith hopes to graduate by spring 2020 with bachelor’s degree in information technology management. Meanwhile, she’s hard at work at CCC utilizing her skills in information technology, human resources, small business and payroll for the betterment of the college and to meet her goals. When it comes to improving the Flagstaff community’s growth and development, she believes communication is the essential component. She said now is the time for people to come together, ﬁnd common ground and work toward a better future for everybody. “Our local elections are becoming more divisive, with an us-versusthem attitude, and the long-time residents dislike students more than ever and are angry that NAU is growing,” said Dorfsmith. “For Flagstaff to grow and develop in a positive way, we need to break down these walls of difference and meet in the middle to ﬁnd common ground and understanding.”
When Isaac Larsen was young, his grandfather gave him advice that has stuck with him throughout his working career. His grandfather said, “Isaac, don’t try to learn the tricks of the trade. Learn the trade, and the tricks will come.” Although Larsen has taken those words to heart, he said those with knowledge must also share what they know, what they’ve learned. “I feel that if more people, especially in leadership, would impart their knowledge to those around them and teach others, then they truly would obtain power and better understanding as their own ideas become tested and reﬁned,” said Larsen. As a customer project manager at APS in Flagstaff, Larsen uses this philosophy about learning and teaching to help improve services and reliability. While attending Northern Arizona University, where he would obtain a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Larsen was working as an electrical helper, taking every opportunity to learn, grow and do as much as he could. If he didn’t know how to do something, he told his supervisor he would learn how to do it. Eventually, all his hard work paid off. After graduating from NAU in 2008, he earned an electrical apprenticeship with the ﬁrm for four years, during and after which he continued to accept challenging positions leading crews and running projects and training as many as 100 employees ranging in experience from beginning to skilled workers. Larsen eventually landed a position with Arizona’s largest electric provider. He sought to bring to the APS job his previous experience as a contractor, working from the other side of the table to develop relationships of trust and cooperation. Some of his top area projects have included the Flagstaff Mall and Market Place, Innovation Mesa, the Presidio subdivision and Flagstaff Meadows in Bellemont. He said this about his work as a project manager: “I have grown to love the opportunity to help individuals and businesses realize their dreams of new homes, new offices, and new plants. To help the community become a place that people can build memories and have opportunities for growth.” Outside of work, Larsen coaches youth basketball and football and is an advisor for the Boys Scouts of America. Living by his grandfather’s sage words and a commitment to helping others learn have led Larsen to a spot among this year’s 20 Under 40 honorees.
Human Resources Information Technology Analyst, Coconino Community College
Customer Project Manager, Arizona Public Service
Vice President and Associate Broker at Coldwell Banker Dallas Real Estate From an early age, Becky McBride was drawn to real estate. She grew up in a family of real estate agents and spent much of her young life hanging out in her father’s office after school, even making her own business cards that read “Daughters Inc.” She also awarded herself the “Million Dollar Daughter Achievement,” which her dad loves to show to friends and family. “I guess it was destiny,” said the now vice president and associate broker at Coldwell Banker Dallas Real Estate. “I love the idea that real estate has no ceiling, there’s no limit to what you can do; it’s marketing, it’s business, it’s people, it’s relationships, it’s communication, it’s education. Each day has a new set of opportunities, challenges and accomplishments.” And since starting her work with Coldwell, McBride has accomplished a lot. In 2006, she earned the Dallas Real Estate Best Example of Core Values Award, and she was the recipient of the Northern Arizona Association of Realtors President’s Team Award in 2013. She’s been a multi-million dollar producer for the business and earned her Arizona Brokers License in 2016. If that list wasn’t enough, McBride is also deeply involved in the community and actively participates in numerous leadership and volunteer programs around Flagstaff, including the Northern Arizona Association of Realtors Leadership Program as well as its Realtors MLS Committee, and the CB Hero’s Home for Dogs Adoption events. She’s also a community steward for the Flagstaff Urban Trails System and volunteers periodically with the Flagstaff Family Food Center. As a Realtor, it’s not merely about purchasing property for McBride, because what she and her team do affects everyone in northern Arizona. “Realtors play a vital role in the Flagstaff community, everything we do in our work reflects how much we care about our clients and the community we live in,” she said. “My focus is to better our real estate industry by educating and helping to build the skills needed to be successful while maintaining the highest level of ethics.” McBride also teaches real estate classes to seasoned professionals and those just starting out, and she said it’s never a wrong time for an agent to hone their skills. One thing she always reminds her students: “Stay true, stay positive, stay focused and you will achieve extraordinary results.”
Congratulations for excellence in service to NAU and the Northern Arizona community.
Sara Olson, Assistant Director at NAU
Cassandra Petit, Assistant Director of Learning at NAU
This 20 Under 40 honoree is among those who are relatively new to Flagstaff, showing that the community is attracting talented and engaged young professionals. Ricky Molina is chief executive officer for the brand new and only free-standing acute rehabilitation hospital in northern Arizona. The Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona, operated by Ernest Health, offers aggressive inpatient therapy services including physical, occupational and speech therapies, all under the 24-hour watch of a medical doctor and nurses. Molina oversees a growing staff of more than 100 employees. “We are staffed and prepared with highly skilled and trained caregivers to help folks stay more local while they recover from traumatic or chronic diseases,” said the CEO. The ultimate goal, he said, is to get patients back home with the most functional independence as possible. Molina, who’s been in the healthcare sector for nine years, arrived in Flagstaff by way of Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he worked for other Ernest Health facilities. He relocated to bring the company’s specialized care to northern Arizona, and the hospital has been caring for patients since February of this year. “As a new hospital serving Flagstaff and the surrounding region, we are excited about the partnership opportunities with other local healthcare providers and facilities so that we are ensuring availability and access to this type of specialized care is possible for everyone,” he said. Although opening a new healthcare facility is likely to keep a CEO very busy, Molina said he’s looking to become more involved in the community and in the fun outdoor experiences that are “right outside our doorstep.” He said he intends to join Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Flagstaff and to become a more active member of the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce. His advice to young professionals is to begin with the end in mind and enjoy the present. “To be able to enjoy the moment of now or today while on a pathway to tomorrow is something I think we all miss out on from time to time. I would tell that person to jump fully into whatever is their passion.”
When Palmer Nackard took on a leadership role as vice president of the Nackard Companies in 2015, he was following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Nackard worked at PepsiCo for four years. That experience taught him to appreciate the time and careful planning necessary to build an established company. Although his position with the Nackard Companies is relatively new, he said it’s fair to say he’s been involved with the family business for most of his life. “I’m reminded daily of the sacriﬁces [my family] made to build the companies we manage today, and it’s extremely humbling.” The Nackard Companies is made up of three components. Nackard Pepsi, established in 1943, distributes 200 non-alcoholic beverage brands to 2,000 customers in northern Arizona. Hi-Line Refreshment Services provides vending and pantry services to hotels, schools and workplaces. Legacy Beverage is a beer wholesale business. Palmer Nackard is proud to take on the family business and see it continue to grow. “Statistically, most family businesses don’t survive the third generation,” he said. “I look forward to proving that wrong.” One accomplishment Nackard’s particularly proud of is creating a management development program that has helped managers set and attain goals within and outside of work. “I constantly try to foster an environment where our employees can succeed both professionally and personally, and this program is an accomplishment in that ongoing process.” In alignment with the company’s mission statement to give back to the communities in which business is conducted, Nackard serves on several local education and nonproﬁt boards of directors, is a member of the Knights of Columbus and volunteers his time at Northern Arizona University’s hotel and restaurant management and business schools. Although in management, Nackard knows the basics of the business are as important as anything else. He said efficient truck routing, good selling practices, proper training, and up-to-date procedures are what make the Nackard Companies successful. “Whichever line of work you’re in, master the fundamentals,” he advised. “If your processes are disciplined, you can focus your attention on your end goal.”
CEO, Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona
Vice President of the Nackard Companies
Deputy Public Defender, Coconino County As long as people break the law and cannot afford legal representation, there will be a need for public defenders. And as long as indigent persons are navigating the court system within northern Arizona, the Coconino County Public Defender’s Office will provide them with legal representation. Gavin O’Connor has worked as a deputy public defender for the county for three and a half years and represents veterans in the Coconino County Veterans Treatment Court, which connects those who have served their country with beneﬁts and services they have earned. O’Connor himself is a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy as a weapons officer during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. “After ﬁnishing my military service, I realized that even though I no longer wear the uniform, I wanted to help those who are currently serving or those who have served,” he said. Following his Navy career, O’Connor worked at Central Arizona Shelter Services as a veterans support specialist and then as an employment manager helping homeless veterans overcome the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse. He connected veterans with shelter, food, treatment and eventually long-term housing. His wife Rachel, a podiatrist, also served veterans at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix. “We both witnessed how untreated mental health and substance abuse manifested into other areas of society, including the criminal justice system,” he said. O’Conner earned a law degree and said that becoming licensed to practice law in Arizona is one of his top professional accomplishments. Besides working as a public defender, O’Connor is an adjunct faculty member at Northern Arizona University’s W.A. Franke College of Business, where he teaches business law. A piece of advice he would give to someone starting out in their career is to “always have compassion for the plight of others and a sense of personal humility.” As co-owner of Flagstaff Foot & Ankle Specialists with his wife, O’Connor helps organize an annual Holiday Sock Drive that provides warm clothing to the Sunshine Rescue Mission. He also has contributed his services at the High Country StandDown, an annual event offering free medical and other professional services to veterans and their families.
RYAN ROSS CEO OF BLOCK-LITE 20 Under 40 Honoree
3900 E. INDUSTRIAL DRIVE | FLAGSTAFF, AZ 86001 928.433.4200 | BLOCK-LITE.COM
Sometimes the best education is not found within the walls of a classroom. Sometimes it’s found through experiencing the world through travel, and no one knows that better than Corey O’Donnell, general manager of the historic Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff. After working at a hostel in San Diego, O’Donnell left his home to travel across the U.S. and abroad in Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. “Traveling was the only way I learned who I really am, what my true passions are,” O’Donnell said. “Travel gave me the conﬁdence to pursue these passions.” And pursue them he did. When he moved to Flagstaff in 2010, he learned a lot working at various iconic Flagstaff spots, including Karma Sushi, Tinderbox Kitchen and Annex Cocktail Lounge. Since accepting the position as Monte Vista general manager in 2014, the hotel has increased its general cash flow and proﬁts by 20 percent. It also opened Lotus Lounge in 2017, hosted the 2016 and 2017 Peaks Expo, sponsored the annual TILT performance with Dark Sky Aerial and has partnered with several local businesses and organizations such as Victim Witness Services, the Museum of Northern Arizona, Mother Road Brewing Company, Flagstaff Arts Council, NAU Athletics and Canyon Diablo Spirits. As well as being a cultural landmark for tourists and locals alike, O’Donnell said he strives to make the hotel a great place to work. “I take a lot of pride in knowing that it is not only a great place to visit but also a great place to work. We receive hundreds of resumes a year of people who want to work at Rendezvous, but we have zero turnover,” he said. “When people like their jobs, they work better and generally live happier lives. I hope to see that across the entire hotel under my leadership moving forward.” As far as advice goes for someone just starting out, O’Donnell’s keeps it simple: Travel, keep a journal and ask a lot of questions. “Gathering many and diverse opinions gives you a broader view of an issue, many times giving you a perspective you may have overlooked on your own,” he said, adding that it also helps to have good people around who are motivators. “I am extremely grateful to the people in my life, from my family to the entirety of the staff at the hotel and all of the great patrons we regularly serve.”
Sometimes the perfect career plans just fall into place. As a sophomore chemistry student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Sara Olson took on a job as a resident assistant and discovered she really enjoyed the leadership opportunities that came with the role. “One day, while on a bike ride with a friend, I was discussing my future career options and she suggested that I should consider student affairs. From that point on, I began to soak up any opportunity I could to learn about student affairs and housing and residence life.” Her searching led her to Tucson, where she attended graduate school to earn a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Arizona and worked as a graduate hall director. That early position provided her with a lot of foundational experience. While attending a conference at Northern Arizona University, Olson fell in love with the campus and Flagstaff. So, following her graduation from the UA, she took a job as a residence hall director at NAU. Now as NAU’s assistant director of residence life, Olson supervises 10 graduate staff members and 70 undergraduate resident assistants. As an advocate for students, she feels they are an essential part of the conversation about Flagstaff ’s growth and development. “There are some fantastic student leaders that can see multiple sides of an issue while advocating for their own student experience,” she said. “We need to continue to ﬁnd ways to work together on town and gown relationships to make Flagstaff a place where permanent residents and students can both happily enjoy living in our mountain town.” Outside of work, Olson is further involved in the Flagstaff community. She became a “running buddy” with the nonproﬁt Girls on the Run in 2010 and has been a member of its advisory board since 2013. In 2011, she joined the Flagstaff Community Band to play trumpet and has served on its board in a variety of roles, currently holding the title of vice chair. Her most recent involvement is with the Flagstaff Leadership Program joining the board of directors in September. She said these roles “have allowed me to build connections within the community and really feel like Flagstaff is my home.”
General Manager of Hotel Monte Vista
Assistant Director of Residence Life, Northern Arizona University
Assistant Director of Learning and Organizational Development, Northern Arizona University A desire to get to work. That’s what good leadership provides, according to Cassie Petit, assistant director of learning and organizational development at Northern Arizona University. “For any organization to be successful, it needs strong leaders who understand the importance of engaged employees,” said Petit. “One afternoon, while discussing what good leadership looks like in the workplace, a mentor of mine said, ‘At the end of the day, people have to want to come to work.’ I think about that statement every day and how, when a person rises to the level of a supervisor, the amount of influence they have over those who report to them is incredible.” And Petit doesn’t take that influence lightly. “I feel that my career path has given me this incredible opportunity to create a space for supervisors to learn, discuss, practice, and debate leadership ideas to create the kind of environment they want, the kind that makes people want to come to work.” As a student at the University of Iowa, Petit began work at the university’s human resources department. After college, she focused her career in the training and development ﬁeld of hospitality, spending six years at MGM Resorts International and leading a project called Boots to Business, which partnered with the Red Cross to recruit veterans for a program that helped them translate leadership skills gained in the military to the hospitality industry. She also continued to lead and develop new efforts, including a supervisors academy and the Prosci Change Management workshops. Adding to that, shortly after beginning work at NAU, Petit joined the university’s Service for Professional Advisory Council, which, under her leadership, has adopted a FUTS trail and participated in community food and clothing drives. For more almost ﬁve years, Petit has seen growth and development in Flagstaff and the university, and the most important thing about growth, she said, is honoring heritage. “I think it’s important, as we grow as a community, to honor the special culture and place here in northern Arizona that we all love. My hope is that as our community continues to grow and develop, we attract more employers that add to our culture.” For her consistent dedication to Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University, Cassie Petit has earned her place among this year’s 20 Under 40 honorees.
AND THE WINNERS ARE ... FIND OUT
DECEMBER 9, 2018 9,2018
For many people, the easiest way to learn something is to do it. Studying theory can certainly be helpful in gaining the foundational knowledge for a skillset, but experience typically trumps theory in the grand scheme of business. When Ryan Ross and his sister Christy approached their parents with a buyout offer for Block-Lite, their masonry and hardscape product business, he already had years of experience working in the ﬁeld. “I was more or less born into the block industry,” he said. “I began working at the company when I turned 15 and, because our family has always been owner-operators, I was immersed into all aspects of the company.” Ross’ grandparents and parents purchased the business in 1995 and coowned it until his grandfather retired in 2004. His parents then continued to run it successfully until passing it on to the next generation in 2016. “My parents, Chris and Nancy, were able to keep the company up and running during the great recession, a feat I am only beginning to understand as a young business owner,” Ross said. Proud to continue the family business and its model of giving back to the community, he said Block-Lite recently provided material for the Murdoch Community Center’s chessboard park area as well as to local branches of Habitat for Humanity. The company supports Flagstaff high school sports programs through sponsorships and gives back to the disk golf community by helping support local courses. Also, Ross has done some teaching and mentoring at the Indian Bible College along with sales officer Ben Kurtze, and the company has donated building materials to the college as well. “We, as a company, have always taken a position that community involvement and giving back is a big reason for our existence,” Ross said. He acknowledged that most of his success comes from respectful partnerships between himself and employees and that the only way to continue being successful is through hard work. “Make sure that your motivation is deeper than something like monetary gain and prestige,” he advises those getting started in their careers. “I’m a small business owner because it gives me the chance to invest in my staff, customers and community. I wouldn’t work this hard for an extra buck, but the opportunity to affect others’ lives for the positive and maybe leave this world with a little more love in it is worth it.”
As the saying goes, if you ﬁnd a job doing what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. When Stacey Salyer relocated to Flagstaff from Chandler, Arizona, she realized her profession was not offered in town, and she had to rethink her career path. She applied to Northern Arizona Healthcare because she saw an opportunity to make a difference in the community and has been working there for about six years. “If you have a connection and passion for what you so, it will get you through the difficult times and make work be something you want to do and not what you have to do,” she said. At NAH, Salyer worked her way through the ranks. She was hired as a recruitment specialist in March 2013, then transitioned to a manager and ﬁnally to director of talent acquisition. “My desire to grow was truly because of the people on my team,” she said. “I wanted to be able to support them and the great work that they do each and every day.” Salyer says her top professional accomplishment with the healthcare company has been implementing a new applicant tracking system that reduced the time for prospective employees to apply for a position from 30 minutes to less than four minutes. Its convenience and ease of use helped increase the number of applicants who completed the process and also helped reduce the time to ﬁll a position from 63 days to 48 days. Outside of work, she participates in the Flagstaff Law Enforcement Association’s annual Moose Run which raises funds for families of fallen officers, supports initiatives focused on affordable housing in Flagstaff and also volunteers as a ﬁeld trip chaperone at her children’s school, Ark Early Childhood Learning Center. Salyer’s favorite part of the job is when she participates in “golden hour rounding,” which is where healthcare leaders make rounds talking to patients and their families about how they’re doing and how their care has been. “Every time I have the opportunity to speak to patients, I am reminded of why I am at NAH,” Salyer said. “What I do matters and affects my community … Being able to connect to the work I do in that way fuels me each and every day.”
CEO and Owner, Block-Lite
Director of Talent Acquisition, Northern Arizona Healthcare
on your selection as a 20 Under 40 recipient!
1851 N Gemini Drive Flagstaff, AZ 86001 rhna.ernesthealth.com 928.774.7070
is our HR IT Analyst extraordinaire! Since joining CCC in 2016, Cindy has digitized many processes within HR, leading to increased efficiencies. She has also created a regional external compensation survey as well as a Total Compensation Benefit Statement for internal employees. Cindy is also active in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at CCC. She always has a smile and by faculty, staff and students! app her helpful attitude is appreciated
-Aaron miytsht s f r a Do Anal
s IT hi Cynumtan Resource H
Most Likely To Be Your Boss
Mo Inspst Like ire o ly T ther o s
y Prof essor
Dr. Aaron Tabor is one of CCCʼs Stellar Full-Time Faculty. Every other Friday, Aaron and his CCC colleague, Andy Allen, drive to Page to teach Biology 201 in-person. The next week is taught online. The combination of in-person and online programming and the flexibility it provides has been a huge success with the students. Additionally, Aaronʼs partnership with NAU through the ICREATE Bridges and NASA grant programs, as well as his leadership on the STEM City board, has helped build strong relationships in the community.
Work With Cool People!
We have several employment opportunities. Visit coconino.edu to view positions and work together for a great cause!
Investing in relationships, exceeding expectations and mastering his craft is how this 20 Under 40 honoree approaches business and success. “Our clients are always treated like firstclass passengers with their needs and best interest always put before ours,” said Scott, who obtained his real estate license at age 18, his broker’s license at 24 and has been in property sales for nearly 21 years. He credits his entrepreneurial spirit to the example of his father, a custom home builder for 30 years. Scott founded Elevated Reality in 2015, purchased an office in 2017, and has cultivated top-producing agents, but he said never takes his customers or business for granted and continuously works on building relationships. He is the founder and president of Flagstaff Professionals, the city’s largest referral and networking group. It has nearly 60 members that meet on a weekly basis. He is also a member of Buffini & Company, the nation’s largest real estate business coaching and training company. Regarding the community, Scott’s emphasis has been on promoting and referring to other local businesses and lending support to numerous charities. “I’m very active with the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce and have served and volunteered on the ambassador committee for over 10 years,” he said. Scott is an advocate for development in this “amazing mountain community,” and said that the growth of Northern Arizona University, Arizona Snowbowl and tourism bring much to the local economy. For those starting out in their careers, Scott’s advice is practical: “Invest in yourself, hire a business coach, get up early and take care of both your body and mind. Find mentors that support and believe in you.” He also said to do the right things and arrive earlier than you’re expected. “If you’re on time, you’re five minutes late.”
A child of two artists that owned their own businesses, Lizzy Simkins was surrounded by creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. With that upbringing, “the concept of working for myself in something art related was never a scary thought,” she said. In her mid-20s, Simkins is now the co-owner of Zani Cards & Gifts, which her and her partner purchased in 2016. The gift shop specializes in art and other handmade items sourced locally and from around the nation. It also carries a large selection of cards illustrated with works from area artists and photographers. An artist with a bachelor’s degree in photography and art history from Northern Arizona University, Simkins started out as creative director and fashion photographer for a local boutique in Flagstaff. She also assisted Barrel Werks, a recycled wine barrel business with merchandising, product photography and marketing. “I got exposure to both sides of retail, being the artist selling to a store and buying for the store that worked directly with the customer to learn what they actually wanted to bring home.” Although Simkins can list many successes as a photographer and graphic artist, she said first and foremost among her accomplishments is that she’s been able to do what she’s passionate about and support herself with those passions. And she’s eager to assist other artists in meeting that goal. “I’ve met so many talented artists that just need help finding their niche and once they do their work thrives,” she said. In keeping small businesses prosperous, Simkins looks to the local community to play a role. “I would like to see our locals keep an interest in Flagstaff owned businesses as the internet continues to dominate the retail and service world. There aren’t many towns like ours anymore and as long as we continue to support our neighbors, communicate with each other, and stay informed we can retain that uniqueness.”
Realtor, Owner and Broker, Elevated Realty
Co-owner, Zani Cards & Gifts
An uncle who had an intellectual disability made a signiﬁcant impact on the life and career of educator Susan Smith. “He was such a unique person, and I loved being around him because he added so much to my life,” she said, adding that she chose a career in special education because she wanted to work with students who brought her that same joy. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Grand Canyon University before starting her teaching career. After seven years in the classroom, she was hired as a special education coordinator and helped guide and train teachers. “Every student is different, and they learn in different ways. It is our job as educators to help our unique learners ﬁnd their way.” Smith continued to obtain administration experience with the Arizona Department of Education, and then accepted her current position as director of special education services for FUSD, where she provides leadership to 366 employees in the Exceptional Student Services Department. Each step up the educational ladder prepared her for the role she has today. “Moving from the classroom into administration allowed me to help make a change on a larger scale,” she said. “I love coming to work and being a part of such a great organization that puts students ﬁrst.” The community must also support education and the wellbeing of its young people for them to become successful and engaged adults, Smith said. “Families play the most important role in raising kind and compassionate human beings, but schools and communities need to provide that wraparound support that most students so badly need.” Smith is not short on words when it comes to her advice to those starting their career. “Begin by following your passions, and hopefully those passions will lead you to something great. Establishing a reputation for yourself early on in your career is important, especially in a small town. You shouldn’t expect anything to be handed to you in your life, and that includes your career. You need to work hard to get to where you want to be. … This will take time, but if you are patient and have enough persistence and passion, you will get there.”
Combining a passion for travel with business is not that easily achieved, but this 20 and under honoree made it happen early in his career. “I was fortunate enough to align these dreams after graduation by landing an economic and valuations services position with a Big Four accounting ﬁrm, KPMG, which is based in Switzerland and has offices globally,” said Ryan Stuart. “After a few years of nose to the grindstone in Denver, I landed the opportunity to work out of the KPMG office in Sydney.” In between work trips to New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef and playing bass in a traveling band, Stuart passed a ﬁnal test and the work experience requirement to become a Chartered Financial Analyst, a reputable and globally recognized credential. In 2016, he arrived in Flagstaff with his ﬁancé (now wife), who had accepted her dream job with WL Gore and Associates. Introduced to Four Peaks Wealth Management, he discovered an impressive group of ﬁnancial professionals there and began working for the Flagstaff company. “The credo of the business was to provide ‘institutional’ investment services for your everyday individual, whether you had $1,000 or $1,000,000 to invest,” he said. “This concept intrigued me.” During his time with Four Peaks, Stuart said assets under its management doubled to $50 million, and after the merge with WT Wealth Management, the ﬁrm is “$125 million plus strong!” He said success in his work comes down to problem-solving, ﬁnding creative and practical solutions to keep the business running smoothly for staff and clients alike. Stuart believes strongly in supporting small businesses and being active in the community. In his relatively short time in Flagstaff, he’s cotaught investing classes in northern Arizona, volunteered with the Noon Lion’s Club and has led an adopt-a-highway initiative for WT Wealth Management. (“You might have seen us out there on the way to the Grand Canyon in our orange vests last month!”) His advice for young people starting careers: “Like my investing philosophy, I preach the top-down approach to career development. The ﬁrst step is to prioritize what is important to you. Having a clear end goal is essential to establishing your itinerary.”
Director of Exceptional Student Services, Flagstaff Unified School District
Business Director, WT Wealth Management
Aaron J. Tabor
Quality care for patients and helping others achieve their goals are notable achievements for this Coconino Community College professor and 20 Under 40 honoree. Aaron J. Tabor is a professor and biomedical research scientist who specializes in bioengineering. He says his ﬁrst and most signiﬁcant accomplishment is having his students achieve their personal and professional goals. “I avidly believe that education is a gateway to a better life and subsequently a better community,” he said. “As any society grows due to technological advances, having a trained workforce is very important.” Committed to education access and excellence, Tabor has championed online science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and distance learning programs and is a favorite mentor for new faculty at the college. “Dr. Tabor has a true collaborative nature and shares his talents with colleagues throughout the science community,” said Kimberly Batty-Herbert, CCC dean of learning. “Coconino Community College is extremely proud to have him on our team!” His collaborations have included serving as a scientiﬁc advisor for a local biomedical startup, providing clinical research and consultation for platelet-rich plasma treatments for a physical therapy group and completing post-doctoral appointments with Stryker Neurovascular and the Center for Bioengineering and Innovation at Northern Arizona University. In addition to being recognized as an outstanding professor, Tabor has also garnered attention in the research ﬁeld for novel techniques and innovations in acute and chronic wound healing. “I really do aspire for my research to one day translate to the bedside to improve the quality of care for all patients,” he said. Aside from his responsibilities in the classroom and in research, Tabor is a husband and father of six children. His community and volunteer service include National Public Lands Day at Grand Canyon National Park, the Boys and Girls Club of Flagstaff and holding elementary school STEM presentations. He also serves on STEM City board of directors, of which he is now president. “Aaron is a shining example of achieving success before the age of 40,” said Batty-Herbert.
“If you’re driven by the people you love and what you love to do, you cannot fail.” According to 20 under 40 honoree Cameron Watson, that’s the secret to success. Watson and his wife Kari began an organization to help kids who have developmental disabilities. Sprouted from the love and loss of their 5-year-old son, their Over the Rainbow Butterfly Garden has grown in seven years to employ 54 people and support many other local nonproﬁts. The organization provides scholarships to students needing speech and occupational therapies outside of the school environment and during the summer months, and has awarded $12,000 in scholarships since its establishment. It also provides home care to adults and children with developmental disabilities as a licensed agency with the state. “The in-home care we provide is focused on helping caregivers that are working to take care of a family member that has a developmental disability,” said Watson. Our agency, as a non-proﬁt, keeps our overhead to a minimum so that we can provide higher pay rates than most other agencies operating in the state, which in turn helps these families provide for their loved ones ﬁnancially, physically and emotionally.” Two years ago, Over the Rainbow Butterfly Garden purchased The Garden Thrift Store in Flagstaff. Proceeds from the store sales go to a different local non-proﬁt each month. It has given a total $75,000 in those two years. Watson said it’s all about giving back to the community that supported his family in trying times. “The thrift store was a great way for us to get outside of what we were doing as an organization and give back to other groups that work hard every day to make Flagstaff a better place.” When asked what he greatest accomplishment has been, Watson, a former Flagstaff police officer, says it’s anytime he can help people. “I want people to have the opportunities to be the best whatever they can be, and I think what we’re doing allows people to do that.” As far as how Flagstaff can help nonproﬁts and other businesses thrive, Watson said having an infrastructure that supports small business growth and innovation is vital. “Governmental bureaucracy can stifle the beginnings of a promising small business or nonproﬁt faster than any other variable,” he said.
Professor and Biomedical Research Specialist, Coconino Community College
Vice President, Over the Rainbow Butterfly Garden Inc.
Sales and Marketing Manager, Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau Tourism is a large part of most cities, drawing in visitors to experience the area’s unique offerings. The Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau assists people in experiencing this small slice of the world, helping to create fond memories and positive impressions of the city. As sales and marketing manager for the CVB’s meetings and events department, Jessica Young highlights Flagstaff as the premier four-season destination. Young grew up in Flagstaff, making her a reputable advocate for everything the city has to offer. After attending Flagstaff High School and Northern Arizona University, where she earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management, she started her career as an events coordinator at the High Country Conference Center. She worked her way up over the course of six and a half years to become conference planning manager before making a move to tourism. “I have learned so much in my last four years with CVB, and I love that I get to share with people how amazing Flagstaff is by teaching them about the area and working with them to bring their events to Flagstaff,” she said. Conferences and events have a tremendous economic impact on the city as attendees will typically stay in hotels and frequent local restaurants, bars and shops. During her time as sales and marketing manager, the CVB reports Young has booked approximately 30,000 room nights with an estimated economic impact of more than $10.6 million. “Through my job, I have learned how important tourism is to our community, how it supports our local businesses and economy,” she said. Young’s selling points for Flagstaff are concise and on point. “Flagstaff is not what you’d expect when traveling to Arizona. We’re an artsy community with a small-town feel that is located in the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest with mountains all around. We’re a terriﬁc four-season, outdoor destination.” Susan Shields, an industry colleague at Little America Hotel, said it’s a pleasure to work with Young. “I have a great respect for her, her professionalism and the way she represents her community.” Besides being a top promoter of Flagstaff, Young is a member of the Flagstaff Women’s Leadership Network steering committee and on the Flagstaff Arts Council board of directors. She is also president-elect of the Flagstaff Leadership Program.
Congratulations 20 Under Forty recognition
Sales and Marketing Manager: Meetings and Events, Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau
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on your 20 Under 40 recognition
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About Our Banquet Venue: Twin Arrows Casino Resort When good people work together, great things can happen. This is the overriding mantra of Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort on Interstate 40, about 20 miles east of Flagstaff. In the 1950s, the exit — with its iconic two arrows piercing the ground, served as a popular rest stop. Now, like a turnaround story, the casino and hotel complex sits on the opposite side of the interstate, with its logo arrow duo pointing skyward. Twin Arrows opened in late May 2013 as the only casino and resort north of I-40 in Arizona. Like the outbound twin arrows — reflective of the Navajo journey through time — the aim is to move the Navajo tribe and the upscale enterprise upward together. What does it take? Team, talent, training and tradition. The grand property has a variety of food options from a buffet food court to a sports bar to a café, but the food experience is particularly skyward with Zenith Steakhouse. The ambience in this high-end restaurant takes diners to a mountaintop vista. A layered ceiling structure at the entry mimics a Hogan, and dinging areas are set off by eagle nest imagery, birch branches and custom light fixtures. With 8,500 square feet of elegant, multifunctional ballroom event space, the Twin Arrows team will assist with arranging a special experience and ensure no
detail is overlooked. Events are executed seamlessly and within any budget. The ultimate mission is to provide a memorable experience by providing exceptional service coupled with creative menus that emphasize the chef’s inspirations. The Dine Event Center offers: On-site event manager; initial concept and design of the event to match the vision; award-winning cuisine and gourmet catering; an additional 1,662 square feet of flexible meeting space; state-of-theart audio visual equipment for dynamic presentations; and an upscale executive boardroom. The four-diamond resort features 200 guestrooms and suites with a décor of the Navajo culture woven into the architecture of the property. Guests can play over 1,100 slot machines or favorite table games on the award-winning casino floor. Twin Arrows offers a variety of quality dining options from the delicious Zenith Steakhouse featuring Navajo prime cuts of beef, to the Arrows Sports Bar, Four Elements Café or the Grand Falls Buffet. To learn more about the facilities, please contact the sales team: Douglas Kacena, Director of Sales at (928) email@example.com Geraldine Begay, Sales Manager at (928) 856-7145/GeraldineBegay@nnge.org Daphne Bates, Sales Manager at (928) 856-7172/DaphneBates@nnge.org.
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