Page 1

Sponsored by:




Kym Adair David R. Baker Gabriela Cervantes Marisa Cox Megan Escobar Mark W. Heckele Kimberly Schmitz Manny Teran Roberto Valdez-Beltran

The Employee-Owners of AGM Container Controls (AGM) are PROUD that one of our own,

Gabriela Cervantes, AGM’s Marketing Manager, has been recognized as an Inside Tucson Business 2011 Up and Comer.

3526 E. Ft. Lowell Rd. Tucson, AZ 85716 2 | 2011 Up & Comers




Catching up to our 75 previous honorees Photography by Patrick Mcardle

Where are they now? A look back at 9 years of Up & Comers


nside Tucson Business has been honoring the region’s Up & Comers since 2003. The paths of previous honorees are as varied as the 75 people who’ve been recognized for their unique contributions and the differences they made in the community. Unfortunately 10 honorees have left the region — though one, 2007 honoree Jennifer Malleo is still working for a Tucson firm but is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. As expected, most previous honorees have gone on to some terrific achievements. A few hit bumps along the road. Here is a look back at those Up & Comers alumni and what they are doing now (as best we’ve been able to keep up):


• Angela Baurley – continues as CEO and managing member of Affinity Financial Group, an investment management firm she co-founded in 2002. She remains active in Habitat for Humanity and the Rotary Club of Tucson. • Stephanie Healy – continues as president of the Hospital Council of Southern Arizona, where she has been since October 2004. • Ricardo Hernandez – continues as chief financial officer for the Pima County School Superintendent’s office. • Ike Isaacson – continues as a vice president in the Tucson office of CB Richard Ellis, specializing in office, medical and research and development commercial real estate; and is president of Ike’s Coffee & Tea stores. • Lance Jones – continues in business development for Simply Bits, which de-

velops network technology solutions. • Jon Justice – continues as one of Tucson’s most popular radio personalities as the morning host on the Truth KQTH 104.1-FM, where he’s been since April 2007. • Paul Loucks – continues as an attorney in the business and construction section at Mesch Clark & Rothschild, where he has been since 2006. • Dr. Salvatore Tirrito – continues as a cardiologist with Pima Heart Associates, where he has been since July 2005. He also is president and CEO of HeartWise Fitness and Nutrition, which he cofounded in February 2008 and markets a line of endurance drinks made from natural ingredients, called XOOD (pronounced like the word “exude”). continued on next page

2011 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 3

continued on next page

UP & COMERS continued from Page 3 • Lyra Waggoner – continues her photography business, LyraLyra, which specializes in photography of children, and serves on the boards of Diamond Children’s Medical Center and the Tucson Children’s Museum, all while working as a program manager at Caliber Funding. She is also a new mom to a baby daughter.


• Edgar Campa-Palafox - is senior economic development specialist at the City of El Paso. The year he was honored he was a business development specialist with Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO). • Demion Clinco - is a historic preservation consultant who owns Frontier Consulting Group LLC and is this year’s president of the Tucson Historic Preservation

Foundation. He also serves on the board of the Center for Desert Archaeology. • Barbara Dolan - continues to own 17th Street Communications and works as a public relations consultant. This summer she will begin work toward her MBA degree as part of an accelerated program being offered by the University of Arizona. • Matt Hountz - is owner/operator of Chick-fil-A, 3605 E. Broadway in El Con Mall, and continues to be active in community organizations, including Tucson Values Teachers and the American Lung Association of Arizona. • Jeff Hursh - is an attorney at Snell & Wilmer concentrating his practice in real estate and corporate law, zoning and land use, commercial lending, business entity formation, emerging businesses, and licensing agreements. He is special counsel to Beads of

Courage and is on the board of Integrative Touch Therapy for Kids. • Catherine Locke - is serving on the foundation board for Opening Minds through the Arts and working with the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. The year she was honored she was manager of community relations for Cox Communcations, which she left in April 2010. • Robert Medler - last year was promoted to director of government relations and public policy for the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. The year he was honored he was manager of government affairs for the chamber. • Don Redd - continues as a business development officer for Wells Fargo. He also is on the board of Boys and Girls Club of Tucson. • Humberto N. Stevens - continues as vice president of business banking at Commerce Bank

of Arizona. He is also a community liason with Imagine Greater Tucson and on the board of trustees of San Miguel College Preparatory High School.


• Michael R. Cleveland - is now customer support manager for marketing and promotions with Manheim Auction in Tucson. The year he was honored he was group remarketing manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where he had worked for 15 years. He’s also been an independent contractor with his own firm, Cleveland Consulting, a corporate and fleet sales manager with Chapman Automotive Group, and corporate secretary at Disciples of Christ Christian Church. • Andrea Gonzales - is someone we haven’t been able to reach, despite messages left at her last


All of us at NOVA Home Loans are proud to congratulate Kym Adair for being honored as a

Her marketing efforts and commitment to excellence have been instrumental to the success of NOVA Home Loans. BK 0902429 NOVA NMLS # 3087

4 | 2011 Up & Comers

phone number. The year she was honored she was an attorney with Lewis and Roca specializing in environmental law. She left to start her own firm in 2009 but that apparently has closed. • Todd Hanley - continues as general manager of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market and is president of Tucson Originals organization of locally owned independent restaurants. • Jeff Keeme - continues as managing partner and lead engineer at Clearwave Solutions Inc. He is also IT director at My Black Dog Books. • Howard Kong - is now a vice president and managing broker at Grubb & Ellis. He is also president elect for the Tucson chapter of CCIM, (Certified Commercial Investment Member) Institute. The year he was honored he was with CB Richard Ellis. • Frank McCune - now lives in Phoenix and is executive director of Valley Leadership, a 30 year-old leadership development organization. The year he was honored he operated his own State Farm Insurance office and was actively involved in Greater Tucson Leadership. • Gavin Milczarek-Desai - in March was named a co-managing partner in the Tucson office of Quarles & Brady where he continues his law practice in the firm’s intellectual property practice focusing on patent, trademark and licensing matters. • James Patrick - owns his own photography firm, JP Photography. He is also president of Ad2 Tucson, an association of young advertising professionals affiliated with the American Advertising Federation Tucson Chapter; on the boards of the Southern Arizona Architects and Engineers Marketing Association and American Society of Media Photographers; vice president of membership for the Tucson chapter of Toastmasters International; and marketing coordinator for Stantec Consulting Inc. • Joel Minteu - is now in Phoenix where he is a staff accountant with Steven Phillips CPA. In 2007, while attending the University of Arizona, he founded Badere, which sold advertising and reimbursed owners for putting wraps

on their cars. The company is no longer active.



• Benjamin J. Burnside - continues as an attorney with Bogutz & Gordon. • Pamela Freeman - is now the children’s pastor at Desert Son Community Church. The year she was honored she was human resources director at CyraCom International. • Andrew Greenhill - continues as chief of staff for Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup. • Dr. Susan E. Hoover - continues to specialize in the practice of infectious disease with University Physicians Healthcare. • Cindy Jordan - continues as a lead strategist with LP&G Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations Inc. • Lydia Kennedy - in February opened ReActivate, 2782 N. Campbell Ave., a retail store where people can buy, sell and trade active clothing gear. The year she was honored she was human resources director for Buffalo Exchange. Since then, she also has worked as the human resources manager in the Tucson office of Granite Construction. • Jennifer Malleo - is now regional vice president and account director for Strongpoint Public Relations, running the company’s office serving the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2007, she was in the company’s Tucson headquarters. Her name is now Jennifer Malleo Osinga. • Teresa Nowak - continues as senior vice president and commercial loan officer at Commerce Bank of Arizona. • Will C. White III - continues to head the Tucson office of the land brokerage firm Land Advisors Organization.


• Mich Coker - is now a partner with Farhang & Medcoff practicing in commercial litigation and insurance. The year he was honored he was an attorney with Snell & Wilmer. continued on Page 6

Congratulates our alumna and current Board of Trustee

MARISA BERNAL COX ‘94 as a 2011 “Up and Comer”

“With you every step of the way”


MARK W. HECKELE, Esq. Of Counsel to Karp & Weiss

OFFERING THE FOLLOWING LEGAL SERVICES Business & Contracts Law Real Estate (Commercial & Residential) Estate Planning & Probate Karp & Weiss also provides legal services regarding: Divorce & Family Law, Child Custody, Adoption, Spouse & Child Support, Pre & Post Nuptial Agreements, Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, Criminal Defense and DUI Karp & Weiss, P.C. | 3060 North Swan Road Tucson, Arizona 85712-1225 Telephone: 520-325-4200 | Facsimile: 520-325-4224

2011 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 5

UP & COMERS continued from Page 5


Director of Admissions, Eller MBA Programs




Inside Tucson Business Up and Comer 2010






From your friends and colleagues at the Eller College of Management

• Abbe Goncharsky - continues as a partner with Lewis and Roca specializing in labor law. • Jeffrey Jacobson – is now part of his own law firm, Jacobson & Larrabee PLLC, which was founded in 2009. The year he was honored he was with Waterfall, Economidis Caldwell Hanshaw and Villamana. • Michelle Livingston – continues as marketing director of Buffalo Exchange. She also is this year’s president of the American Advertising Federation’s Tucson chapter. • Michael Luria - is now executive director of the Children’s Museum Tucson. He also writes a weekly column called Meals & Entertainment for Inside Tucson Business. In 2006, he was an owner and president of Terra Cotta restaurant. • Ethan Orr - continues as executive director of Linkages, which matches job opportunities to people with disabilities. He is also an adjunct political science professor at the University of Arizona. • Bill Roh - continues as vice president of Roh’s Fine Home Electronics. • Dev Sethi - continues as a partner with the law firm of Kinerk Schmidt & Sethi. He is serving as president this year of the Law College Association at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law and last year was president of the Children’s Museum Tucson board. • Al Wynant - is CEO of, a website he co-founded in 2010 offering online meeting planning tools, including event registration, speaking management, event marketing and sponsor and exhibit sales. The year he was honored he owned A6 Consultants, an event management and technology firm.


• Melissa Amado - is now vice president of operations for Nanini Northwest. The year she was honored she was community development manager for the Business Development Finance Corporation. She also has served on the Gover-

6 | 2011 Up & Comers

nor’s Council on Small Business. • Gary Cohen - continues as an attorney with Mesch Clark & Rothschild. He is also a Judge Pro Tem with the Pima County Superior Court. • Michael Descour - continues as an associate professor in optical sciences at the University of Arizona. The year he was honored he was also chairman of DMetrix Inc., a firm working to develop instrumentation for microscopicimaging. • Britton Dornquast - is now manager of the Regional Transportation Authority’s Mainstreet Assistance Program, which works with businesses during road construction projects. The year he was honored he owned Hear’s Music retail store and was active in small business issues. • Rodney Glassman - was the unsuccessful 2010 Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat won by Republican John McCain. Glassman resigned his seat on the Tucson City Council last year to seek the position. • Kai Hsiao - is now in Portland, Ore., where he is vice president of business development for Holiday Retirement, a retirement community operator. The year he was honored he was senior marketing manager for Westcor and manager of La Encantada shopping center. Subsequently, he was director of Real Estate Marketing for Canyon Ranch Living Communities and director of brand and marketing for the Long Companies. • Kenya Johnson - is now owner and principal consultant of her own marketing and advertising firm, Kenya Johnson Consulting. In 2005, she was an account executive with Ridgewood Associates and subsequently was vice president of community and fund development for Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse. • John Thon Majok - plans to receive a Master of Public Administration degree this year at George Mason University in Virginia. The year he was honored he was in his senior year at the University of Arizona’s Eller College School of Public Administration and Policy. He had come to Tucson in 2001. He received notoriety for being among the “Lost Boys of Sudan.”

UP & COMERS In 1987, at the age of 7, he and more than 27,000 other boys of the Dinka ethnic group that were displaced or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War walked thousands of miles to Ethiopa. In subsequent years he has worked as program officer at Council of American Overseas Research Centers in Washington, D.C., and been project specialist at the Academy for Educational Development and a policy clerk at Fidelity National Title Agency. • Jon Volpe - continues as CEO of Nova Home Loans, which now lays claim to being the largest independent mortgage lending firm in Arizona.


• Linda Welter Cohen - continues as president and CEO of the Caliber Group Inc., marketing and advertising company she founded in 1997. • Mónica Contreras – is now

in New York where she is corporate vice president and head of Hispanic Markets for New York Life Insurance, a position she has held since June 2009. The year she was honored she was director of public affairs for Cox Communications and chair of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She also has been vice president of communications at the Center for the Advacement of Women in New York and owner of her own Hispanic marketing development firm, Nexo Communication. • Andrew Karic - continues as CEO of Triumph Builders. • Greg Miedema - continues as president and owner of Dakota Builders. • Bradley Nozicka - is now staying out of the limelight. It’s unclear where he is living after being indicted in Maricopa County on charges of fraud, money laundering and theft of more than $26 million taken from at least 125 investors. The year he was honored,

he was CEO of the City Limits Nightclub and co-manager of Cal Productions, a concert promoter, both of which are closed. • Matt Russell - continues as president of Russell Public Communications and now also hosts a weekly radio show, “On the Menu Live” that airs at 5 p.m. Thursdays on the Jolt, KJLL 1330-AM. • Jim Storey – continues as owner of Jim Storey Productions. The year he was honored his company ran the website GoAZCats. com, which it billed as the “totally unofficial UofA fan site.” Last year, Storey was asked to disassociate himself from the website and the UA after it was learned he had been unofficially aiding in recruiting to the school’s basketball program using his access to high school allstars and their coaches. • Kerry Stratford - is now the chief operating officer and chief creative officer of the Caliber Group marketing and advertising. The year she was honored she was

a principal in Boelts-Stratford Associates. • Bobby Sutton Jr. - is in the garage door business and runs a business called Tucson Screamers, which puts on haunted houses around Halloween time. Last year, it was in the old Farmer John Meats packing plant, 1102 W. Grant Road, and in 2009 it was in the former Linens ‘N’ Things building in Foothills Mall. The year he was honored he was mayor of Marana. He resigned that position in April 2004 after federal authorities charged him with extortion over a garbage hauling contract through the town limits. He was acquitted of the charges.


• Nathaniel T. Bradley - is now chief executive officer and president of Audio Eye Inc., which he founded in 2010 to use a patent continued on next page

Inside Tucson Business is honored to announce the 2011 Up & Comers, as well as the work they’ve done for their companies and for the community. - - - - -

2011 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 7

Celebrating the Profession and the Professional Congratulations to Kimberly Schmitz, an ITB 2011 Up & Comer ďŹ nalist, and Helen Gomez Bernard, semi-ďŹ nalist, both active members of PRSA’s Southern Arizona Chapter. Kimberly and Helen represent the high quality of public relations practitioners in our chapter. Both have held leadership roles with the chapter: Kimberly is a Chapter Past President and Helen is currently the Membership Chair. The Public Relations Society of America sets standards of excellence and principles of ethics, fairness and accuracy for communications professionals. Learn more about public relations by attending monthly Southern Arizona chapter programs featuring the latest public relations tools and trends. For more information about how a public relations professional can help you achieve your communications goals, review our chapter membership list at or attend an upcoming presentation.

ACCION is honored to benefit from the talents of many of the dedicated and passionate leaders, like

Roberto Valdez-Beltran, recognized as an Up & Comer by Inside Tucson Business. We celebrate the impact of Roberto’s advocacy to empower hardworking entrepreneurs and small business owners in Tucson and throughout Arizona.

!##)/..EW-EXICOs!RIZONAs#OLORADO 800-508-7624 or TTY 800-659-8331


8 | 2011 Up & Comers

UP & COMERS continued from Page 7 he was awarded to help the visually impared navigate the Internet. He is also chief technology officer for Augme Technologies Inc., a technology and services provider for interactive media marketing platforms. The year he was honored he was CEO of Kino Communications, a company he had founded in 1998. It was acquired by Modavox Inc. in 2005. In 2009, Modavox was acquired by Augme Mobile Inc, which became Augme Technologies in March 2010. • Joe Cristiani - is now the owner of Aqua Chill, a nationwide firm that develops purified drinking water systems. The year he was honored he was ubiquitous in Tucson as the owner of Joe Cristiani Mobile Communications, a chain of mobile phone retail stores he sold in 2005. • Larry L. Curran II - is now executive vice president of oversees marketing, sales and acquisitions for Vion Holdings, where he has been since 2005. Vion, an Atlanta-based company with offices in Phoenix, is an international provider of receivable investment services to businesses managing consumer and commercial receivables. The year he was honored Curran was president of the Tucson franchise of New Horizons Computer Learning Center. Prior to joining Vion, he was a vice president at OSI Portfolio Services and director of acquisitions for Vision Management Services. • David Fina - continues as managing member of his own real estate development firm, Fina Companies. • Darren Gottschalk - is now in Nashville where he is vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Operating Group for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The year he was honored he was the Tucson general manager for Enterprise. • Alaina Levine - is president of her own business consulting firm, Quantum Success Solutions. The year she was honored she was director of special projects at the University of Arizona, which she left in 2009.

• Tom Lickliter - is regional manager in the Tucson office of the human resources consulting firm Employers Solutions Group. The year he was honored he and a partner were running CheckMate Systems, which became CheckMate Professional Employer. • Jonathan Paton - This month was appointed to the Rio Nuevo board of directors. He continues running his political consulting firm, Paton & Associates, which he started in 2000. In 2010, he pursued an unsuccessful bid in the Republican primary for the U.S. House of Representatives. Before that, he was elected to the state Senate in 2008 and served two two-year terms in the state House. • Kathleen Perkins - is executive director of strategic initiatives with the Critical Path Institute (CPath) and serves on the board of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. In 2002, she was the CEO of Breault Research Organization, which she left in 2007. • Keri Silvyn - is a partner in the Tucson office Lewis and Roca, specializing in land use and planning. She also is currently one of the principal leaders in a think tank project called Imagine Greater Tucson. • Curt Stinson - continues as an associate broker with Realty Executives. • Herb Stratford - is now billing himself as Tucson’s “Arts and Culture Guyâ€? showcasing arts and cultural offerings in regular appearances on KVOA 4, on the morning “Wake Up, Tucsonâ€? show on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM and in a weekly column in Inside Tucson Business. He also teaches arts management at the University of Arizona and is an artist. The year he was honored he was spearheading the renovation of the Fox Tucson Theatre and was the theater foundation’s executive director until April 2008.




Technology you can’t live without? “I feel naked without my BlackBerry but also ‘SnagIt.’ It’s software that you can use to capture screen images on the Web, pdfs, whatever you need of the document, e-mail it, save it, take pictures, website pages and utilize however you need to.” What is your Facebook/Twitter status? “Just saw the Phoenix Suns locker room I heart Channing Frye.” What do you most want to see changed about Tucson? “I would like to see a more productive and supportive business environment. Tucson has a lot of incredible things to offer and the importance of small and large businesses in the community needs to grow.” What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? “I like to take my kids to Starbucks and sit down, talk and spend time together.”

Really living every day By Samantha Sais Inside Tucson Business


ym Adair gets a thrill from activities that make her feel alive. From driving with all the windows down to being on a roller coaster in Las Vegas or being involved with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson, she wants to really live every day. Adair is known in the Tucson region for her leadership positions in the Greater Tucson Economic Council, Tucson Association of Realtors, and Nova Home Loans. At Nova Home Loans, Adair, 34, is the director of corporate marketing. She is proud of the team she works with and has assembled. “I have a great team that works with me, we’re like a little family among a much bigger NOVA family. We’re improving the company and more importantly, we’re all happy to come to work.” Jennifer Skaggs has known Adair since the two of them attended college at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. “Kym really goes out of her way, she gives her best to everything,” says Skaggs. “Kym is

committed to making Nova Home Loans one of the most recognized brands in Arizona. She is a hard worker and uses her position at Nova to help as many people as possible. She commits herself whole-heartedly to her philanthropic work, professional career, community service and her family life.” Adair is devoted to helping children in need throughout Southern Arizona. As a director on the board for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson, she earned the Rookie of the Year Award as recognition for being the most outstanding new director. In the past 10 years, Adair has made an effort to get to know a considerable amount of people in both the business and charity communities. The past few years with Nova has given her additional opportunities to meet other professionals. With an optimistic view on world, Adair strives to give her best to Tucson and all the roles she plays within it. She says she wouldn’t be where she is without the love of her husband who supports her to go out and achieve all of this.



2011 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 9




Technology you can’t live without? “My refrigerator. I can’t seem to keep enough food in it for my 14-year-old son.” What is your Facebook/Twitter status? “I used the district’s Facebook page, but don’t have a personal account.” What do you most want to see changed about Tucson? “I would like to see additional recognition programs for our teachers.” What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? “I love coaching Little League for my daughter’s softball and son’s baseball teams. And in my personal time, I like to hike the Catalina Mountains.”

A career dedicated to educational excellence By Shannon Maule Inside Tucson Business


avid Baker, 43, has dedicated 20 years to education, since graduating with his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and then going on to obtain master’s and doctorate degrees. He has been a teacher, principal and now is associate superintendent in the Flowing Wells Unified School District. Baker was born and raised in Tucson and plans to stay committed to education in his hometown. He credits the size of the Flowing Wells district for his success, which he says enables him to work directly with all facets of educational institutions. “I have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people and I have the ability to really listen and understand where they’re coming from. Then, I frame it into the overall goal of the organization,” he says. Baker said he is proud of his profession because everyone he works with is committed to excellence. “It’s an enjoyable and unique opportunity,” he said. “I come to work not sure what the day is going to bring, but I still have to be strategic and have plans for academic standards and challenges with the state budget.” He also stressed the importance of making

education the best for the students. “The mission of our district is to help prepare all children for their futures. They are the future of our community,” he said. Baker doesn’t take all recognition for the success of the school district. Instead, he acknowledges each staff member. “You can’t do it alone and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a group of people who are intelligent and dedicated,” he said. Baker also expressed his love for Tucson. “I like the fact that we still feel like a small community and that we really integrate the university in town,” he said. “And I also love the community service here. Our number of nonprofits and our commitment to others is very strong.” He believes that the businesses in Tucson are a part of what makes the city so special. “Businesses here share a sense of responsibility and needs for others. There are a lot of partnerships. It doesn’t feel like an ultracompetitive environment,” he said. Baker hopes to use these partnerships to better public education for students and the recognition of teachers. He especially would like to acknowledge educators for the younger grade levels. He said he plans to work with legislators, university faculty and other leaders to compose collaborative policies to “structure our school system for the next century.”

David R.

10 | 2011 Up & Comers





Technology you can’t live without: “I’m not terribly technology oriented, but I really do love my laptop because I can watch Netflix and Hulu whenever I feel like it.” What is your Facebook/Twitter status: “It’s kind of funny, people really enjoy having all their personal stuff out there online and that’s just weird to me. I’m not really into that.” What do you most want to see changed about Tucson? “I think I would like to see more young people involved in politics - and not necessarily run for certain positions. People think somebody else is going to take care of it, or this problem doesn’t really pertain to me. I would like to see more young people be part of democracy, go out and get other people to vote and to make a bigger difference.” What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? “I love going to museums. That’s one of my favorite things. I like going to the movies. Anything that is arts oriented, I really enjoy all of that.”

Blazing an independent trail everywhere she goes By David A. Robbins Inside Tucson Business


n independent soul might be an understatement in describing Gabriela Cervantes. As the first person in her family to attend college, one would imagine that Cervantes was surrounded by a family fan-club, cheering on all of her early achievements. One would be wrong. “I think the biggest challenge came from something cultural within my family,” Cervantes said. “There was this sense that I was supposed to get married and have kids instead of go to college. So it was one of those situations where the people closest to you don’t know exactly what is the best thing for you, but I knew that I needed to do it.” At 30, Cervantes holds a bachelors degree in marketing, an MBA from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, and the position of marketing manager at AGM Container Controls Inc., which designs containers for sensitive defense and aerospace equipment. Cervantes also utilizes her professional resources to help better the community. She has been AGM’s campaign coordinator for the past six years, and has raised over $100,000 for

United Way. In addition to that, she has organized fundraisers to benefit causes such as the Humane Society, and the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona. Asked why she feels so motivated to improve the world in which she lives, she answers with a question of her own. “It was never a matter of why do it, it was a matter of why not do it? I don’t have a right to complain if I don’t do anything about it,” she said. Cervantes explained that she was raised primarily by her grandparents, as her mother died when she was nine and her father was seldom a component of her upbringing. “I didn’t have a very easy childhood,” she said. “But I didn’t feel that I could use that as an excuse to complain about things that I was unhappy about. I knew there were other people who had similarly difficult childhoods and I wanted to occupy my time by making the world a better place.” Cervantes was recognized as an honorary citizen of Nogales by Mayor Louis Valdez Council for her extensive involvement in a youth wellness program that promoted student involvement in their nutritional choices at school, as well as bringing awareness about domestic violence to the youth community through the use of theater.


Cervantes 2011 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 11




Technology you can’t live without. “My iPhone, absolutely. I’m just addicted to it. I get two e-mail accounts on there, I’m checking LinkedIn and Facebook and ESPN.” What is your Facebook/Twitter status? “The last thing that I put on my Facebook status was for the MBA program. I actually shared a link to a solar bullet project that we have here. What do you most want to see changed about Tucson? “I would say economic development. We produce some wonderful students in professional graduate programs here. The fact that a lot of them have to leave Tucson to get the kind of job opportunities in line with their skill set is really disheartening to me. As a young working professional, that’s a constant challenge for us.” What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? “I love watching sports. I love being outside and playing soccer with my girls or going for hikes. I love to read and I love spending time with my family.”

Cox guides future Up & Comers By Andi Berlin Inside Tucson Business


hen up and comers of tomorrow come to Tucson to further their education, the first place they often go is the office of Marisa Cox. As the director of MBA admissions, Cox is in charge of recruitment, marketing and admissions for the MBA programs at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. Her job takes her well beyond interviewing prospective students. Since much of it is press relations, Marisa, 34, manages the college’s social media presence and works with local media outlets to advertise on signs, the Internet and beyond. “I spin a little bit from the different programs that I manage. My typical day can be from doing a phone interview or an in-person interview, to reviewing the analytics of how the campaigns are doing and seeing if we’re getting the draw that we’re looking for, to reviewing Web content, doing budgeting things, planning upcoming events,” she says. “Every day is a little bit different.” Since she joined Eller in 2006, Cox has been credited with increasing enrollment by 100 percent. Much of this has to do with adding new programs and expanding the college beyond its Tucson roots. With a new campus in Scottsdale, Cox developed an online review platform to

facilitate document sharing between the two cities. “It’s a lot about creating efficiency,” she says. “We have a relatively small staff, so it’s a matter of getting the most out of everybody. A Tucson native and UA summa cum laude graduate, she returned after seven years in Los Angeles and Washington D.C., where she completed a masters at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. An interest in energy policy led her to a job at Tucson Electric Power, but eventually folks at the UA came knocking. In that time, she’s managed to have two children with her husband Matt, an entrepreneur who just launched a music sharing site called SoleStream. “I have friends who are working professionals who are busy and love their careers, but there’s always that element of childcare that’s really challenging. I like to say I’ve got a deep bench here, because if my mom’s busy, I’ve got cousins and aunts and grandparents…” Marisa also is involved in the community through several programs including the Tucson Urban League and St. Gregory College Preparatory School. And for the future, she only wants to see the community grow. “That would be the biggest thing for me: Seeing more and better opportunities for everyone but particularly for young professionals. It’s a university and a retiree town, but what do you do in the middle?”

Marisa 12 | 2011 Up & Comers





Technology you can’t live without? “BlackBerry for sure, I know how to use it and I love the BBM feature.” What is your Facebook/Twitter status? “TGIF.” What do you most want to see changed about Tucson? “I wish we, Tucson as a community, could recognize what we have in terms of resources and support those resources. For example the trauma center, we don’t realize what we have until we need.” What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? “We build a lot of restaurants in town. We like to just go out and relax and partake in the Tucson Originals. We like to try the newest cuisines and wines.”

Contractor in the pink hard hat looks to build a better Tucson By Samantha Sais Inside Tucson Business


ts not often you see a pink hard hat at a construction site but Megan Escobar is new to the commercial contractor industry and she’s doing it with style. About a year ago, Escobar and her partner, Doug Perry, created Ventura Pacific Development. Much of the work the company does involves restaurants including members of Tucson Originals, the local group of independently owned restaurants. Escobar also is working on getting jobs with hospitals and larger corporations. As a newer company, Escobar is proud of the team she and Perry have created at Ventura Pacific. “It’s a family atmosphere, its definitely a team effort. I couldn’t do it without him and he couldn’t do it without me,” she says. That family atmosphere at the company extends to their clients. “We’ve become friends with all of our clients, we pride ourselves on that. We want to maintain those interpersonal relationships,” says Escobar. She explains that as a business, there are

no limits and there is an ability to grow but staying connected with clients and their decisions is always in the forefront of the company’s mind. The sense of teamwork resonates throughout Escobar’s life, both professionally and personally. The team at Ventura Pacific is mirrored in her personal life with Perry. Between the two of them, they have seven children; the newest addition is a one-yearold girl named Sedona. “Needless to say we’re all about Arizona!” says Escobar. The team effort that Escobar and Perry are a part of is for each other, for their children and the community. She says teamwork is an emphasis throughout her life, both personally and professionally. Escobar’s newest venture in teamwork involves the trauma center at University Medical Center. After the Jan. 8 shooting, she says her eyes were opened to how much support Tucson has to offer. As a friend of the trauma center, Escobar is contributing to find funds for the center and is urging Tucson to show its support for its valuable resources such as these, “It’s about the teamwork Tucson can offer.”


Escobar 2011 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 13




Technology you can’t live without? “I grew up in the Internet boom. I have the Android 2, obviously it’s got all the bells and whistles. It’s my walking iPod, it’s my calendar, it’s my Internet search engine. It’s everything. Once you get one, going back brings you to the stone age.” What is your Facebook/Twitter status “Congratulations to the UofA Wildcats for their win over Memphis and good luck against the Longhorns on Sunday.” (This interview was conducted March 18.) What do you most want to see changed about Tucson? “I’ve made friends and I’ve lost friends because they come here for the education and then the goal is to get out. I wish we could retain some of that talent.” What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? “I dabble playing the guitar. I have family I like to spend time with in Tucson, and playing with my miniature dachshund, Sofia.”

Starting a private practice straight out of law school By David A. Robbins Inside Tucson Business “


f you outline how the game is to be played, and there are no surprises, there is less contention amongst parties and less litigation. My goal is to avoid litigation for my clients,” said Mark Heckele. Heckele opened the doors to his own law firm just over a year ago, right from graduating from the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. He did in the face of an economy where jobs were hard to find and the demand for lawyers was dwindling. “I had no idea what to expect to be honest with you,” said Heckele, 31. “I was flying by the seat of my pants which was very scary as a new attorney. I had run my own business for over six years, that’s why I went to business school, and I fell back on that experience and knowledge of business.” Almost immediately after opening his own practice, Heckele was approached by a larger Tucson firm, Karp & Weiss PC, which wanted to bring him on board. Though he says he does “almost 100 percent of his work under the Karp & Weiss letterhead,” he still has the freedom to act independently from his private practice. Heckele has had the opportunity to become involved in the Small Business Association

through Karp & Weiss’s membership. “The SBA is the antithesis of people who want to ‘get out of Tucson.’ It’s exciting because it’s a lot of eager business people who are all Tucsonans, who want to make Tucson grow and thrive as a community.” Seeing Tucson grow is one of the biggest motivators behind Heckele’s success. “We’re poised to be a strong player in business, whether it’s bio tech or defense. But for whatever reason, we kind of prevent that from happening,” Heckele said. “There’s a generation that’s trying to keep Tucson a small cow-town. I want to be part of the movement that pushes Tucson towards financial success.” Heckele volunteers at the UA’s Eller College of Management and acts as a mentor for both new business undergrads and people in the graduate program. It is his goal to help Tucson retain some of the talent that comes through the university system. “I want students to feel like Tucson can really be their home,” he said. When he’s not working or volunteering, he plays sports five days a week: hockey Tuesday, flag football Wednesday, soccer Thursday, tennis Friday, golf Sunday. “I wake up Saturday and my legs are killing me and I realize I’m turning into an old man and won’t be able to do this forever,” he said.

Mark W.


14 | 2011 Up & Comers




Technology you can’t live without? “iPhone. If I leave the house without my cell phone, I go back and get it. I don’t even have a land line at home.” What is your Facebook/Twitter status? “My last tweet promoted a Caliber blog post. My most recent Facebook status was a photo showing my son playing in the snow.” What do you most want to see changed about Tucson? “I’d like to see people be happier with the community that they live in.” What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? “In my spare time I love horseback riding and reading. And I love spending time with my son, husband, horses and dogs.”

Showing the love and passion she has for promoting Tucson By Shannon Maule Inside Tucson Business


imberly Schmitz, 38, has worked to promote her love for the Tucson community for the past five years. In November, she left her job at the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau (MTCVB), where she had comfortably represented the region’s tourism industry, in order to “grow as a professional and gain new experience,” as she put it. Schmitz is now the public relations account director for the Caliber Group. Any client “that has a need for a PR, publicity or crisis communication, I’m involved with that work,” she said. She likes to think of herself as an Arizona native, which vouches as the reason she loves Tucson. Schmitz was born in Superior and lived in a handful of cities around the state. She attended junior high, high school and most of college in Mesa. While working as director of communications and public relations for the MTCVB, she was very much in the spotlight.

“It was a very public position, very high profile and very visible. If there was something going wrong, I worked directly with local media. I got to help promote our great local events like the gem show and the results of the work by an amazing team of people at the MTCVB. I became embedded and got to know the community really well,” she said. Schmitz said she believes Tucson has much to offer anyone, of any audience, if they look in the right direction. “There really is something for everybody. If people are unhappy about something, then they need to take the time and initiative to improve it,” she said. She also said the people of Tucson have treated her well and she loves the authenticity of the people here. Her advocacy for Tucson works in tandem with what she’d like to see improved in the community. She said she’d like to see people be happier with the community they live in. “I see too much stuff online and on Twitter that there’s nothing to do here. I’d like to see the people who are happy express it more,” she said.


Schmitz 2011 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 15




Technology you can’t live without? “My BlackBerry doesn’t leave my side – ever. I actually slept with it on last night. What is your Facebook/Twitter status? “I kind of lay low on Facebook, I’m more of a lurker. I’m seeing a lot of the value of the doctors and engineers coming out and being more social on the social networks. What do you most want to see changed about Tucson? “Everyone talks about Raytheon as the biggest thing in town. I’d like to see other companies bring/grow our presence here, some more of the big players come in. Having the right talent pool here is crucial. What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? “Free time, I haven’t had that in a while. We really enjoy camping – going to events, the museum, going out to dinner. My wife is from Argentina, traveling is our big thing.

An ‘enabler’ to successfully marketing inventions By David A. Robbins Inside Tucson Business


s he an inventor? “Well, yes and no. I work pretty closely with inventions, but I’d prefer to call myself an enabler,” says Manny Teran, owner of a number of Tucson companies including NascentMD LLC and Aztera LLC. Both operate to achieve the goal of helping inventors successfully bring their products to market. While Aztera is a more traditional consulting firm, NascentMD works primarily for equity in the companies in which they are consulting. Their vested interest in the success of the project is increased by doing this because if they help their clients bring a commercially viable product to market, they too benefit from the gains. Because Teran, 37, takes such an active interest in the success of his clients, he has to be very selective in which projects he takes on. “f we don’t see that an idea has value, then it is our duty to tell them so that they don’t waste any time or money – and so that we don’t make any money off something we don’t believe in. We don’t just look for the right idea, we look for the right team to be behind it.” One project being developed by NascentMD is SafePatient, a product that combines

military and medical technology to let hospitals more effectively monitor a patients heart rate, respiration and position without any wires, sensors or implantables. “What that is doing for the community is keeping these super bright people in Tucson,” Teran said. “The process of running these companies keeps these top people local.” Keeping talent local is something Teran thinks is incredibly important. He’s a member of the Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity, and says he’s a huge proponent of finding one’s own strength and talent. “I want to help them find the time to put wind behind their passion,” Teran said. Encouraging others to discover their own passion is something Teran finds equally important as a parent of two young boys. He said watching his sons Joaquin and Benicio explore the world around them to be an inspiration. “This morning, they found a worm in the yard and were completely awe stricken. I want to provide them with a community and sustain that awe-stricken feeling. I’m an Eagle Scout, and we always talked about leaving things better than when we got there. That’s what I want to do with Tucson and my children. I want to build it up in my community to make it better and provide a piece of the puzzle for my children.”


16 | 2011 Up & Comers





Technology you can’t live without? “My BlackBerry, it’s a great way to stay connected.” What is your Facebook/Twitter status? “I have Facebook but it has been a long time since I’ve used it but Acción has a Facebook and Twitter page: ACCIONNM_AZ_CO.” What do you most want to see changed about Tucson? “I would like to see a vibrant small business community because I believe that’s one of the most important ways to get the economy back to normal. With small businesses, we’re starting to create the impact that we need to generate jobs.” What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? “I like to spend time with my wife, meeting with friends, going out to dinner, reading, going to the movies. I’m a pretty conventional guy.”

Making an impact for small businesses through microfinancing By Samantha Sais Inside Tucson Business


ot far from Tucson, Roberto Valdez-Beltran was born and raised in Obregón, Sonora. Valdez-Beltran is proud of his parents who taught him the value of a strong and honest work ethic but above all else, to be happy. He says his parents gave him the opportunity to get an education that helped him start a successful career. After moving to Tucson in 2005 to attend the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, Valdez-Beltran earned his masters degree in Public Administration and Policy in 2007. While at Eller, Valdez-Beltran was granted a research fellowship with the nonprofit microfinance organization Foundation for International Community Assistance. The fellowship allowed him to travel to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala to conduct client research. That led him to Acción New Mexico– Arizona–Colorado, where he has been the regional senior lending officer for the past two years. Acción is also a nonprofit microfinance organization that helps emerging and existing small business access credit, makes loans and provides training to businesses to use their assets.

Valdez-Beltran’s role at Acción is to facilitate the development of the organization’s lending program in Arizona, which began in Tucson and has now branched out to Phoenix. Another important part of his role is to build partnerships within Arizona, to better serve the state’s small-business community. Valdez-Beltran, 31, considers himself lucky to have to discovered his passion early in life. He enjoys being involved with his work and says it is easy to do what he loves. It makes him happy to see the impact he’s contributing. “Being involved in the community and working with small business owners that have a passion and dedication to succeed and have a sense of entrepreneurship – I’m inspired by what they do and helps me to stay focused to keep doing what I’m doing,” he says. When Valdez-Beltran commits to a goal, he’s persistent and works hard until he sees it materialize. He wants to make an impact within the community. “The opportunity Acción has provided me to help others develop their own businesses has provided a lot of good experiences for me, I’ve learned much more from them than they probably do from me,” says Roberto.


Valdez-Beltran 2011 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 17





Tucson Young


Tucson Young 21 to 45 year-olds working to improve Professionals region, keep young people here A place for the next generation of leaders to share their ideas, test their insight and participate in a dynamic conversation.

Ben Korn

By Heather Raftery Inside Tucson Business


t just over half a million people inside the Tucson city limits and almost a million in the region, Tucson is neither a sprawling metropolis nor is it a small town where everybody knows everybody else. It can be a challenge to meet and connect with the right people — especially people outside of one’s own professional circle — and engage in dynamic dialogue to promote positive changes within the region. This is where Tucson Young Professionals (TYP) enters the picture. The organization sees itself as a group of “young business and community leaders focused on the promotion, attraction and retention of young professionals in Tucson.” To that end, TYP not only offers networking events but opportunities for members to become involved in the development of the region to make it a place they and others would want to stay and live, says Ben Korn, current president and a promotional consultant at Safeguard Business Systems. “When I first got involved, and throughout the process, I really liked the vision and idea that we have a place for our demographic to go to get involved in the community,” said Korn. “We want to be a central voice, one that is part of the solution toward getting Tucson to the next level, more or less, and to becoming a vibrant community.” The brainchild of Leah Taylor, TYP started in 2007. Members are between the ages of 21 and 45, and pay a yearly membership fee of $60. Although similar groups existed in Tucson, the others were mostly made up of members in a single professional field, according to Korn. TYP welcomes members from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions. Members

18 | 2011 Up & Comers

include bankers, attorneys, artists, fundraisers, real estate agents, and employees from some of Tucson’s one-of-a-kind businesses such as the Loft Cinema and Tucson Botanical Gardens. Some members are currently unemployed, but nevertheless share the same vision. One of the most obvious advantages to being a member of TYP is the networking opportunities. “It’s really a great place to meet other professionals, people who are in the same place in their lives, concerned about the same things, and motivated to be the next group of leaders for the community.” said Amy Harclerode, a TYP board member and development director for the Loft Cinema. TYP also enables its members to establish connections with more experienced professionals in the community. “I think anywhere, but especially in Tucson, it’s cliché but, it’s not what you know, but who you know,” Korn said. “And you never know what kind of doors can be opened up and what kind of opportunities can come.” One of the most important relationships TYP has created in Tucson is with the Southern Arizona Leadership Council (SALC), which has acted as a mentor to the budding group since its inception. Started in 1997, SALC is an organization of Tucson business and community leaders who seek to “commit their skills, time and resources in collaborative efforts to enhance the region’s quality of life as well as its economic climate”, according to its website. “Our goal was not to bring them into our organization, but to help them establish their own and work with them and help them develop,” said Ron Shoopman, the president of SALC. “We’re delighted with our partnership. They have done a terrific job and they are a really important group for Tucson.”





As declared in TYP’s mission statement, their primary goal is the retention of young professionals in Tucson. “You look around, and you got this great university community, it’s kind of a college town to some extent, but there’s also a big retirement community,” said Korn. “I think for any community to thrive and do well, you got to have a good mix of people that cover all the different demographics. The folks that are more or less running Tucson today, that are the leaders in this town, need somebody to come up behind them, right?” Based on projections, it’s estimated that about 30 percent of Tucson’s populations is between the ages of 25 and 45. TYP would like to see that percentage increase, primarily by investing time and funds into making Tucson a place where young professionals and recent university graduates would want to live. The group has pledged $20,000 to Imagine Greater Tucson’s effort to involve as many people as possible in a three-phase project to communicate, envision, and implement a “future scenario” for the region. Imagine Greater Tucson has completed its first phase, administering more than 40,000 surveys asking “what do you value and what do you want to improve in Tucson?” Korn says.

Ben Korn, president of Tucson Young Professionals, discusses advantages with potential members at a networking event held by the group.

Billed as the “Big Reveal: Our Shared Values and the Future of the Greater Tucson Region” was scheduled to be unveiled Thursday (April 7) by Imagine Greater Tucson. That will lead to scenario building workshops due to be held in May. Beyond that, TYP’s latest focus has been working to improve education in Tucson. Research shows that the quality of education is one of the greatest factors in a person’s or business’ decision on where to locate, said Korn. “What their families need – especially the trailing spouses, because if one person takes a job they’re going to bring everybody with them – and what they need is a good education system. They need

for the kids to be able to come up in schools that are going to set them up to do well,” he said. “And you know, we haven’t had the best track record.” To that effort, TYP has become involved with Tucson Values Teachers, an organization aiming to recruit, retain and reward K-12 teachers. “I think in order to bring the economy that we want to have in this town, that isn’t just based on boom and building and expansion like it has been in the past, to bring those types of businesses in, we got to have a good environment for them.” Korn said. “Education is a big part of that.” In order to support these efforts, TYP holds fundraising events. “First Fridays” is the biggest

fundraiser. Put on the first Friday of each month, it is an upscale social event, typically held at an art or cultural venue in downtown Tucson. TYP also is currently working on getting nonprofit status to raise funds from local companies, according to Korn. “I think we’ve been building momentum. We’ve been getting more and more organized and getting more people involved and trying to develop our events into a variety that accommodates a broad spectrum of people. We’re hoping to build on that,” he said. “The more people we can get involved in this, the better it will be.”

NEWS TO YOU! Check out and sign up for the e-newsletter.

Get business news delivered to you when it happens. 2011 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 19

������_����� �.�� x ��� �C

Great leaders inspire our communities

In every community, there are people who can inspire others to work for positive change. True leaders know how to forge a consensus and create a lasting legacy of success. Congratulations to all of the 2011 ���� Inside Tucson Business “Up & Comers.”�We proudly celebrate your achievements. � ���� 2011 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. (������_�����)

127811_15661 8.5x11 4c.indd 1

20 | 2011 Up & Comers

3/11/10 10:12 AM

Inside Tucson Business Up and Comers 2011  
Inside Tucson Business Up and Comers 2011  

The special section celebrating the winners of Inside Tucson Business' 2011 Up and Comers awards.