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& COMERS Steven Eddy Jeff Ell Ryan Field Nikia Gray Christina Huyett Joseph Kroeger Nathan McCann Frederick Petersen Brandon Rodgers

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The 2012 Up & Comers Cocktail reception is Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Lodge on the Desert. Register online at | Call 520-295-4236 | E-mail jahearn@ | RSVP by April 25




A look back at a decade of Up & Comers Inside Tucson Business has been honoring the region’s Up & Comers since 2003. The paths of previous honorees are as varied as the 84

Wells Fargo is proud to sponsor the Inside Tucson Business Up & Comers, once again. We salute all of this year’s finalists and wish the class of 2012 all the best. Just as you are making a difference in the Tucson community, Wells Fargo is striving to make a difference in each community we serve by donating team member volunteer hours, supporting local non-profit organizations and helping customers stay in their homes.

people who have been recognized for their unique contributions and the differences they made in the region. As expected, most previous honorees have gone on to make some terrific achievements. Ten have left the region and presumably are doing great things in their new homes. 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):

Our vision is to satisfy all of our financial customer’s needs and help them succeed financially. Congratulations to each of you.




2011 • Kym Adair continues as director of corporate marketing for Nova Home Loans where she has been since 2009 and continues to serve on the board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson. • David R. Baker continues as associate superintendent at Flowing Wells Unified School District, the position he has held since 2004. He has also been a principal and teacher. • Gabriela Cervantes continues as marketing manager at AGM Container Controls where she has worked since 2002. • Marisa Cox continues as director of admissions for the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona where she has been since 2006. • Megan Escobar continues as a partner in the general contracting firm Ventura Pacific Development, which she helped start in 2010. She is also a member of the Friends of UA Trauma Center, a fund-raising organization launched last year. • Mark W. Heckele continues as managing partner of the Heckele law firm which he started in March 2010. Until March of this year he was also affiliated with the law firm of Karp & Weiss. • Kimberly Schmitz in January launched her own firm, Spur Public Relations. Previously she had been public relations account director for the Caliber Group since November 2010 and was director of communications and public relations for the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau since 2005. • Manny Teran continuing as a serial entrepreneur, in December he became president of Aztera LLC, a technology product development firm. He also continues as a partner in NascentMD, another firm that brings technology to market but focusing on the medical field. In September, Teran also became an at-large representative to the University of Arizona Alumni Council Association’s National Alumni Council. • Roberto Valdez-Beltran continues as a senior regional loan officer for the microfinance organization Acción New Mexico-Arizona-Colorado where he has been since August 2008.

2010 • Angela Baurley continues as CEO and managing member of Affinity Financial Group, an investment management firm she cofounded in 2002. • Stephanie Healy in January became an executive vice president directing public policy and external relations at the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. Last fall she was among 26 selected to Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Fellows, a program that develops Arizona leaders through a series of seminars. Previously, she had been president of the Hospital Council of Southern Arizona since October 2004. • Ricardo Hernandez continues as chief financial officer for the Pima County School Superintendent’s office. • Ike Isaacson has been named to become managing director of the Tucson office of CBRE, effective July 1. He has been a vice president of the commercial real estate firm since September 2008. He also continues as owner of Ike’s Coffee & Tea stores, which he started in August 2001. • Lance Jones continues in business development for the IT firm Simply Bits where he has been since 2009. • Jon Justice this year signed a contract extension to continue hosting is morning talk radio show on Journal Broadcast Group’s the Truth KQTH 104.1-FM where he has 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. Last year, he and a partner shut down Xood (pronounced like the word “exude”), a line of endurance drinks made from natural ingredients that they had launched in February 2008. • Lyra Waggoner continues as a program manager at Caliber Funding and runs her own photography business, LyraLyra, which specializes in photography of children. She also serves on the board of the Children’s Museum Tucson. continued on next page

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2009 • Edgar Campa-Palafox in October moved to Gainesville, Fla., where is economic development coordinator for the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners. Previously he had been senior economic development specialist at the City of El Paso since February 2010. The year he was honored he was a business development specialist with Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO) where he was from September 2007 to February 2010. • Demion Clinco is a historic preservation consultant who owns Frontier Consulting Group LLC and is president of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation. He also serves on the board of the Center for Desert Archaeology. • Barbara Dolan Anderson is due to receive her MBA in May from the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. She is also participating in the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship program and, as part of that, is presenting a business plan at a competition this month. The year she was honored she was running her own public relations firm, 17th Street Communications, which still exists though she is not actively doing work. • 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. • Jeffrey 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. • Catherine Locke as of January is the coordinator for the U.S. Air Force’s Discovery Resource Center in England. She also serves on the Board of Director of Girl Scouts USA. The year she was honored she was manager of community relations for Cox Communications, where she was from January 2007 until April 2010. • Robert Medler is director of government relations and public policy for the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, the position he has held since

October 2011. The year he was honored he was manager of government affairs for the organization, then known as the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. • Don Redd in June 2011 joined Alliance Bank of Arizona where he is vice president of business banking. He also serves on the executive board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, TMC Foundation’s Rock-n-Rodeo board and the ambassador’s committee for the Arizona Technology Council. The year he was honored he was a business development officer with Wells Fargo, where he was from January 2005 through May 2011. • Humberto N. Stevens continues as vice president of business banking at Commerce Bank of Arizona where he has been since August 2007. Last year he also joined the board of the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and continues to serve on the board of trustees of San Miguel College Preparatory High School.

2008 • Michael R. Cleveland is customer support manager and commercial and online sales manager for the wholesale vehicle marketplace Manheim Auctions Tucson where he has been since June 2010. The year he was honored he was group remarketing manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car Tucson, where he had worked for 15 years. • Andrea Gonzales Carlson died last November at the age of 39. 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. • Todd Hanley continues as general manager of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market where he has been since January 2004. • Jeff Keeme continues as managing partner and lead engineer at Clearwave Solutions Inc., an information technology he helped start in June 2006. He is also IT director at My Black Dog Books, a firm he started in June 2010

Common Ground. Uncommon Vision.

Congratulations, Nikia! The attorneys and staff of Quarles & Brady congratulate our colleague and friend, Nikia Gray, on her selection as one of Tucson’s Up & Comers 2012 in recognition of her outstanding intellectual property practice and her commitment to animal advocacy. One South Church Avenue, Suite 1700 Tucson, Arizona 85701 (520) 770-8700

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that seeks to develop the next-generation of children’s books. • Howard Kong is a vice president and managing broker at Grubb & Ellis where he has been since September 2008 as a founding partner of the commercial real estate company’s Tucson office. He is currently serving as president of the Southern Arizona chapter of CCIM, (Certified Commercial Investment Member) Institute. The year he was honored he was an associate with CBRE, then known as CB Richard Ellis, where he worked from June 2002 to September 2008. • Frank McCune is executive director of Valley Leadership, a 30 year-old leadership development organization in Phoenix, where he has been since September 2009. The year he was honored he ran his own insurance firm in Oro Valley and was active in Greater Tucson Leadership. • Gavin Milczarek-Desai is a partner and comanager of the Tucson office of Quarles & Brady law firm. He became a partner and comanager in March 2011. The year he was nominated he was an associate in the office. He practices in the firm’s intellectual property area focusing on patents and trademarks. • James Patrick is continuing to expand his horizons, now taking up the challenge of being a keynote speaker. He owns JP Photography, which specializes in fitness and portraits. He also remains active in Ad2 Tucson, an association of young advertising professionals affiliated with the American Advertising Federation Tucson Chapter, and the Southern Arizona Architects and Engineers Marketing Association. The year he was honored he was marketing coordinator and photographer for Stantec Consulting Inc. • Joel Minteu is the chief operating officer for Emerging Markets Research Group, which he started in October 2010. Based in Jersey City, N.J., it is an organization of experts who can advise investors on various aspects of emerging markets. A native of Cameroon, his group’s specialty is Africa. He came to Tucson in 2004 and the year he was honored he was a 22-year-old accounting student at the University of Arizona who had launched a firm called Badere, which reimbursed owners for putting advertising wraps on their cars. He expanded the business into Phoenix but it is no longer active.

2007 • Benjamin J. Burnside continues as an attorney with Bogutz & Gordon, where he specializes in estate planning and probate and elder law. He has been with the firm since 1999. • Pamela Freeman is children’s pastor at Desert Son Community Church and the mother of five adopted children. The year she was honored she was human resources director at CyraCom International. • Andrew Greenhill was named chief of staff by Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild when he took office in December, continuing to hold the position he held through former mayor Bob Walkup’s three terms dating back to 1999. • Dr. Susan E. Hoover continues her medical practice with University of Arizona Medical Centers where she has been for nine years specializing in infectious disease. • Cindy Jordan is now chief marketing officer and one of five founders of Medical Referral Source (MRS), which launched in May 2010. MRS is Webbased referral software. The company is headquartered at 1718 E. Speedway. The year she was honored, she was a lead strategist with LP&G Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations Inc. • Lydia Kennedy in February celebrated the first anniversary of her retail venture, ReActivate, 2782 N. Campbell Ave., a 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 regional vice president and account director for Strongpoint Public Relations, running the company’s office serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The year she was honored she was in the company’s Tucson headquarters. continued on next page

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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 has been there since February 2004. He is also an adjunct political science professor at the University of Arizona. This year he is a candidate for the state House of Representatives from Legislative District 9 in Tucson. • Bill Roh opened Roh’s Commercial Audio and Video in April 2011 after closing Roh’s Fine Home Electronics, a retail store his family had started in 1940. • Dev Sethi a partner with the personal injury law firm of Kinerk Schmidt & Sethi. • Mich Coker is a partner with Farhang & Medcoff, the firm he joined in • Al Wynant now lives in Phoenix where he is CEO of EventInterface. 2010, focusing on commercial litigation and insurance issues. He is also on com, a website he cofounded in 2010 offering online meeting planning tools. the board of the Tucson Audubon Society. The year he was honored he was an The year he was honored he owned A6 Consultants, a Tucson-based event attorney with Snell & Wilmer. management and technology firm. • Abbe Goncharsky is a partner with the Lewis and Roca law firm specializing in labor law. She has been with the firm since 2003. • Jeffrey Jacobson now has his own firm, the Jacobson Law Firm, which was started as Jacobson and Larrabee in 2009. He is also the Arizona founder • Melissa Amado is vice president of operations for the real estate inand serves on the national board of the Wills for Heroes Foundation, which offers free wills and powers of attorney to first responders. The year he was vestment company Nanini Northwest. The year she was honored she was honored he was with Waterfall, Economidis Caldwell Hanshaw and Villama- community development manager for the Business Development Finance Corporation. na. • Gary Cohen is a partner in the litigation section of the Mesch Clark & • Michelle Livingston continues as marketing director of Buffalo Exchange where she has been since 1999. In 2011 she was honored as a Woman Rothschild law firm where he has been since 1993. He is also a Judge Pro Tem of Influence, making her one of two people (along with Teresa Nowak from with the Pima County Superior Court. • Michael Descour now works at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuthe class of 2007) to be named to both of Inside Tucson Business’ annual recquerque. This year he also began serving a three-year term as the chair of ognition honors. • Michael Luria is executive director of the Children’s Museum Tucson the microscopy and optical coherence tomography division of the Optical where he has been since April 2009. He also writes a weekly column called Society, OSA. The year he was honored he was an associate professor at the Meals & Entertainment for Inside Tucson Business. The year he was honored University of Arizona and a founder of DMetrix, a startup firm working to • Teresa Nowak continues as senior vice president and commercial loan officer at Commerce Bank of Arizona. Last year she was honored as a Woman of Influence, making her one of two people (along with Michelle Livingston from the class of 2006) to be named to both of Inside Tucson Business’ annual recognition honors. • Will C. White III continues to head the Tucson office of the land brokerage firm Land Advisors Organization.



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develop instrumentation for microscopic-imaging. The firm still exists but is in the process of retooling its business plan. Descour is still a consultant to the firm but not actively involved in the day-to-day operation. • Britton Dornquast is 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 named director of public sector sales in Arizona and New Mexico for Waste Management Inc. in June 2011. He has also been an attorney since November 2010 and a captain in the Judge Advocate General’s office of the U.S. Air Force Reserve since March 2009. He also continues to run the Glassman Foundation, which he founded in 2003. Elected to the Tucson City Council in 2007, he resigned in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate and was the Democratic nominee, losing to incumbent Republican John McCain. • Kai Hsiao is vice president of business development for retirement community operator Holiday Retirement, a company he joined in October 2008. He is based in Portland, Ore. 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 owner and principal consultant of Kenya Johnson Consulting, which she founded in January 2009. The year she was honored she was an account executive with Ridgewood Associates where she was from 1999 to 2008, and subsequently was vice president of community and fund development for Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse. • John Thon Majok is a special projects coordinator in international relations for the U.S. State Department, based in Washington, D.C. He earned a master’s degree in public administration last year from George Mason University in Virginia. The year he was honored he was in his senior year at the continued on next page

The Board and Staff of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson congratulates

Joe Kroeger for being one of Tucson’s Up and Comers. We are proud of you and thank you for all of your service to our community!

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson

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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.” 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. Since leaving Tucson in 2006 he has worked as program officer at Council of American Overseas Research Centers in Washington, D.C., and a project specialist at the Academy for Educational Development. • Jon Volpe is chairman and CEO of Nova Home Loans, where he has been since 1995. He was a football running back who went to Stanford University on a scholarship and spent his professional career in the Canadian Football League before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1995 but never playing due to a pre-season shoulder injury that ended his career.

2004 • Linda Welter Cohen is president and CEO of the Caliber Group Inc., a brand marketing and advertising company she founded in 1997. Last year Cohen and partner Kerry Stratford (also a 2004 Up & Comer) were honored with the Tucson Leadership Award from Greater Tucson Leadership. Also last year, the Caliber Group opened an office in Tempe to serve the greater Phoenix area. • Mónica Contreras is corporate vice president and head of Hispanic Markets for New York Life Insurance, a position she has held since June 2009. She is based in New York. 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 Advancement of Women in New York and owner of her own Hispanic marketing development firm, Nexo Communication. • Andrew Karic is CEO of Triumph Builders Southwest, which he founded in 2001, and senior vice president and owner of United Builders LLC. • Greg Miedema joined the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association (SAHBA) in January as coordinator. He also serves as a director on the National Association of Home Builders, which he has done since 2003. In December he shut down the remodeling firm he founded in 1987, known originally as Dakota Builders and then Rushmore Remodelers. • Bradley Nozicka is in the process of rebuilding his life working as a nightclub DJ, promoting concerts and writing a book about his experiences that made him one of the region’s biggest promoters the year he was honored and co-owned Cal Productions and had his own nightclub, City Limits. He and a partner, William Galyon, were indicted on charges of fraud, money laundering and theft of more than $26 million taken from at least 125 investors. The charges in Maricopa County Superior Court were subsequently dropped. Meanwhile, both Cal Productions and City Limits closed. • Matt Russell is president of Russell Public Communications, a master of ceremonies and continues to promote the Tucson restaurant scene at www. . In March he discontinued his “On the Menu Live” weekly radio show but he said he is continuing to look for opportunities that might include bringing it back on another station. • Jim Storey continues his entrepreneurial ways as owner of Jim Storey Productions, a firm he founded in January 2000 and manages and operates Internet ventures and has a real estate arm. His latest venture, launched in January, is called FoodSwagger, which offers discount deals on food and drinks in Tucson. The year he was honored his company his companies included, which bills itself as the “totally unofficial UofA fan site.” He disassociated himself from the website last year after being asked to do so by the University of Arizona that found he had been unofficially aiding in recruiting to the school’s basketball program using his access to high school all-stars and their coaches. • Kerry Stratford is the chief operating officer and chief creative officer of the Caliber Group marketing and advertising. Last year she and partner Linda Welter Cohen (also a 2004 Up & Comer) were honored with the Tucson Leadership Award from Greater Tucson Leadership. The year she was honored she was a principal in Boelts-Stratford Associates. • Bobby Sutton Jr. is president and CEO of the nonprofit firm Tucson Screamers, which puts on haunted houses each year around Halloween. For

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the past two years it has taken over the old Farmer John Meats packing plant, 1102 W. Grant Road, turning it into “The Slaughter House.” 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 subsequently acquitted.

2003 • Nathaniel T. Bradley is chief executive officer and president of Audio Eye Inc., which he founded in 2010 to use a patent he was awarded to help the visually impaired navigate the Internet. The firm is in the University of Arizona’s Science and Technology Park, 9040 S. Rita Road. 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 2010. • Joe Cristiani is the owner of the Tucson franchise Aqua Chill 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 executive vice president of oversees marketing, sales and acquisitions for Vion Holdings, where he has been since 2005. Vion is an international provider of receivable investment services to businesses managing consumer and commercial receivables. Headquartered in Atlanta, Curran works in the company’s Denver office. The year he was honored Curran was president of the Tucson franchise of New Horizons Computer Learning Center. • David Fina is running Brothers Link, a custom fencing firm, with his brother John Fina. The year he was honored he was the managing member of his own commercial real estate development firm, Fina Companies, which has closed. • Darren Gottschalk is vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Operating Group for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, based in Nashville. 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 and is a writer specializing in scientific articles. 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 is a candidate this year for the U.S. House of Representatives in the newly redrawn Congressional District 1, which runs from Marana and Oro Valley north to the Utah state line and includes SaddleBrooke, Casa Grande, the White Mountains, the Navajo Nation, Flagstaff and Sedona. The year he was honored he was running his own political consulting firm, which he had started in 2000. In 2004 he was elected to the state House of Representatives where he served two terms and in 2008 he was elected to the state Senate. • Kathleen Perkins is chair of the board of the Bio5 Institute at the University of Arizona. She also serves on the executive board of the UA’s College of Science. The year she was honored she was CEO of Breault Research Organization, where she had been for 14 years before leaving 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 Tucson’s “Arts and Culture Guy” showcasing arts and cultural offerings in regular appearances on KVOA 4, on the morning “Wake Up, Tucson” show on the Voice KVOI 1030-AM and in a weekly column for 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.

The Board and Members of Tucson Young Professionals would like to recognize our current President, Jeff Ell, as a 2012 Up and Comer. Jeff’s energy and leadership drive our organization’s mission to attract, promote, and retain young professionals in Tucson.

Congrats, Jeff!


2012 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 9


Up & Comer

The Governing Board, staff, students and community are proud to recognize Dr. Nathan McCann as a 2012 Up & Comer. His personal commitment to Education and the Altar Valley School District are exemplary. Dr. McCann’s professionalism and leadership is positively impacting our student achievement and the status of our district has improved greatly.

Thank you for your efforts Dr. McCann & congratulations!

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Steven Eddy

Technology you can’t do without “My iPod.” Facebook or Twitter “Facebook.” Change for Tucson “I’d like to see more people listen to one another and act kindly to one another. The more we listen to other’s thoughts and ideas for the city, the better off we’ll be.” Favorite place to unwind “The backyard playing baseball with my son. That and gardening. My son likes to dig for worms.”

Steven Eddy, TEP’s land use planner with a passion for Tucson By Christy Krueger Inside Tucson Business oung people who are passionate about seeing Tucson thrive are key to successfully moving our city into the future. One such promising leader is Steven Eddy, 30, who believes his commitment comes from his upbringing and his supportive family. “I grew up here in Tucson and my father, especially, taught me about character and attitude. He taught me to care about Tucson and what’s best for the community. I also get a lot of drive from my wife. She pushes me and she’s very involved in the community, as well,” Eddy said. In his position as environmental and land-use planner for Tucson Electric Power and UniSource Energy Services, Eddy oversees environmental permitting for capital projects, such as construction of new substations or maintenance of existing poles. Outside of work, Eddy is involved with nearly a dozen local organizations,


ranging from Ben’s Bells and Arizona Cancer Center to Metropolitan Pima Alliance and Arizona Town Hall. A large number of his volunteer hours are spent supporting community development, such as working on the City of Tucson Planning Commission as vice chair. Two years ago he was appointed to the committee by Councilman Steve Kozachik and is helping to update the city’s land-use codes — the guiding document for local development. “Our primary task this past year is to see Tucson succeed in attracting positive growth and employment in the city,” Eddy said. His other passions are cycling; University of Arizona sports; and most of all, his wife and two children, ages one and three. “My kids and wife play a huge role. We commit a lot of time together.” Eddy hopes his future includes his current employer. “I love working at TEP. Its reputation in the community was what really drew me. I’d like to have a successful future at TEP, maybe in a leadership capacity; time will tell. I strive to do what’s best.”


Eddy 2012 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 11




Jeff Ell

Technology you can’t do without “My iPad.” Facebook or Twitter “Facebook.” Change for Tucson “I think self image, a positive outlook, and the rest will fall into place from there.” Favorite place to unwind “Mount Lemmon is one place, but anywhere on my bike; it’s therapeutic

Jeff Ell, taking a positive attitude representing young professionals By Christy Krueger Inside Tucson Business s president of Tucson Young Professionals and a current participant in the Greater Tucson Leadership program, Jeff Ell has been exposed to many important issues facing our community today, and he has positive visions of what’s still to come. He represents the younger generation of business leaders when he says, “We are the future of Tucson.” Ell, 33, is an associate broker with Tierra Antigua Realty. Despite a poor economy and a damaged housing market, Ell continues to increase sales year after year. This is accomplished, he said, by “non-stop being out in the community, volunteering with different organizations, making new contacts and communicating with existing clients.” His civic work leans toward education — volunteering with Junior Achievement, Tucson Values Teachers and Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson. He chairs Tucson Association of Realtors’ Housing Education Committee, which




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teaches high school students about budgets, credit, renting and home buying. Going into the schools, he said, is inspiring. “When I start my day volunteering at a high school, it’s amazing. It can’t be a bad day. The kids give us hope for the future.” One of the most eye-opening lessons Ell has learned through his experience with Greater Tucson Leadership is how wonderful our city is. “Tucson has amazing things we never talk about,” he stressed. “We don’t celebrate our community enough and we should be proud of it.” He gave the example of our education system, which he believes receives too much bad press. “We have great education and people who do a great job. There’s always room to improve on everything, but it would be easier if we took a positive approach.” Through Tucson Young Professionals, Ell meets with local officials to offer suggestions on how the city can promote, attract and retain young professionals — the organization’s core purpose and mission statement. “We meet with community leaders and let them know what young professionals want,” he said.




Ryan Field

Technology I can’t do without “Blackberry.” Facebook or Twitter “I don’t do either personally, but for the restaurant we do both.” Change for Tucson “Definitely the whole thing about being more pro-business and helping small business, local business.” Favorite place to unwind Traveling in general, doesn’t matter when or where.”

Ryan Field, booming restauranteur By Hank Stephenson Inside Tucson Business ost people with a stable, wellpaying, post-college job might look back on their younger days working in the frenzied food service industry wistfully, but not longingly. Ryan Field looked back at his time working in restaurants and knew he wanted to return to it. With 11 restaurants to his name, and 29 years old, Fields is a kind of a restaurant bigshot. But it wasn’t always that way. He started working in his neighborhood restaurant as a kid, washing dishes on the weekends at the often jam-packed Iowa Cafe in Mesa, where he’s from. “I started as a dishwasher and kind of worked my way through the kitchen and out to the front,” Field said. “I went and worked for a couple chains after that. Then got a day job. And I said, ‘You know what? I’m going back to doing what I like, what I love.’” Since he opened his first restaurant, My Big Fat Greek Restaurant in Tucson, nearly four years ago, Field has started 10 more restaurants, including two


more My Big Fat Greek Restaurants in Southern Arizona, two Over Easy cafes in Phoenix, Taverna Greek Grill in Flagstaff and Mays Counter in Tucson. He also owns two restaurants in Colorado, one in New Mexico and one in Kansas. And he’s not stopping there — Field currently has two more Arizona restaurants in the works. Keeping up with 11 restaurants in four states requires a lot of travel, but that’s fine with Field, who loves checking out new places and especially new restaurants. While some restaurateurs are shuttering their doors do to the slow economy, Field Restaurants LLC has found a way to use the recession and the depressed real estate to its advantage. By buying only second-generation restaurants, and putting a lot of research into why the first-generation restaurant failed at the location, Field has been able to expand at a pace most people wouldn’t dream of in this economy. He says Tucson is on the cusp of something big in the restaurant scene, with new, cool places opening constantly — especially in the downtown stretch along Congress Street — and he wants to be a big part of it. “We’re actually working on something new down there right now,” he said.


Field 2012 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 13




Nikia Gray, left, with a client.

Technology you can’t do without “My Blackberry.” Facebook or Twitter “Facebook.” Change for Tucson “I’d like to see Tucson put more protections in place for domesticated animals. I’ve done legislative work. One is to make Pima County shelters no-kill.” Favorite place to unwind “In my neighborhood. I live in the Mercado. I like to sit in the plaza in front of my house.”

Nikia Gray, lawyer who sees all creatures as clients By Christy Krueger Inside Tucson Business rowing up, Nikia Gray always had a special place in her heart for all creatures great and small. Today, she lends her voice and expertise in supporting them as an animal-rights advocate. “It was instilled in me by my parents,” said Gray, 33, of her passion. “I’m Native American and I grew up with respect for animals.” Her career choice, as an intellectual property attorney with Quarles & Brady LLP, fits right in with her personal mission. “One thing about being a lawyer is you are an advocate. It allows me to be an advocate for this group.” Gray’s animal work includes volunteering for greyhound rescue and adoption groups and speaking out for them whenever she can. But being a lawyer also allows her to take her advocacy a step further. “A lot of people don’t realize there is a section called animal law. Some universi-



ties offer these classes. I’m vice chair, and will be chair in June, of the animal law section of the Arizona State Bar.” She has already conducted continuing legal education classes for fellow lawyers in such topics as animal research, and this summer she’ll head a CLE seminar about representing animal activist organizations. The role for which Gray is most proud is starting a national debate on keeping elephants out of captivity. She led the way in attempts to transfer Reid Park Zoo’s two elephants to a sanctuary, where she believes they belong. Although the outcome, so far, has not been what she hoped, she said it sparked national talks about the issue. “Shortly after, a zoo in New York decided not to get new elephants, and Philadelphia, after their elephants have died, will close the elephant enclosure.” Professional goals for Gray include bringing animal defense into her practice on a large scale. “I do mostly intellectual property litigation. I would like to continue getting experience so I can take on large animal rights cases. I have a passion to see all creatures live in peace and have a place to belong.”

Gray 14 | 2012 Up & Comers




Christina Huyett, left, at work.

Technology I can’t do without “My iPhone.” Facebook or Twitter “Facebook.” Change for Tucson “I really like Tucson, I haven’t been here very long, but it would be fantastic if we could attract more large businesses.” Favorite place to unwind “In the pool with my kids.”

Christina Huyett, ‘babysaver’ By Tara Kirkpatrick Inside Tucson Business hristina Huyett’s son was born early, weighing less than two pounds, despite great prenatal care and a healthy pregnancy. It was while he fought to live in the neonatal intensive care unit Huyett first learned more about the March of Dimes. “They told me he was under the care of one of the best neonatologists in the nation, but I didn’t believe them,” recalls Huyett. So, she researched the physician on the Internet and found out that the groundbreaking surfactant therapy and research this doctor had worked on was funded by the March of Dimes, an organization started by President Franklin Roosevelt to establish a polio patient aid program. Huyett soon became one of the March of Dimes’ most ardent volunteers. “They knew I wasn’t going to go away,” she says. “I am not short on passion for this cause.” Huyett has since made a career in the March of Dimes organization, moving


to Tucson in 2010 to be division director of the March of Dimes-Southern Arizona. Here, she has increased fundraising efforts by more than 20 percent in Tucson to more than $300,000 in 2011 and 7 percent overall in the region to nearly $450,000 — numbers expected to increase further this year. Participation in March of Dimes’ flagship event, March for Babies, has risen 200 percent in the past two years. “Part of it is having great volunteers on staff, finding people like me who will yell our mission from the rooftops,” Huyett says. Huyett prides herself on educating the public about birth defects and healthy pregnancies. Yet, it’s perhaps her now healthy 7-year-old son, Dutch, who is her best ambassador. He came up with her license plate, “Babysaver,” and also tells anyone who will listen that his mother saves babies. “He will walk up to people in the grocery store and tell them that. The first time he did it, it brought tears to my eyes.”


Huyett 2012 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 15




Joseph Kroeger

Technology you can’t do without “I’d have to go with the iPad. I guess I could live without it, but it would not be as good of a life.” Facebook or Twitter “Facebook.” Change for Tucson “I’d like it to be more business friendly. It has a ways to go in that area, hopefully we’ll be able to get there. I think we’re headed in the right direction.” Favorite place to unwind “I don’t get to do a lot of unwinding… Catalina State Park, taking a hike with our dogs. We have two Labradorrs.”

Joseph Kroeger, giving and getting a lot back By Hank Stephenson Inside Tucson Business ucson has given a lot to Joseph Kroeger, an associate in the law firm Snell & Wilmer LLP: He found a great job, friends and even his soon-to-be-wife after moving out here just four years ago. And that’s why he takes the responsibility of giving back to the community, through volunteer work and pro bono cases, so seriously. “It seems sort of strange when people are thankful to me for giving back,” Kroeger says. “I don’t think I’ve given back but a fraction of what Tucson has given to me. It has given me a wonderful career, a wife, a community to live in — that’s so much more than what I’ve given to Tucson.” But the clients Kroeger, 37, has helped through his extensive pro bono work, and the people whose lives he has touched through his volunteer work at Big Brothers Big Sisters, might argue otherwise.



Last year, Kroeger put more than 220 hours toward helping pro bono clients who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford that kind of legal assistance. That’s more than four times the number of hours the state Bar Association suggests attorneys should put toward pro bono cases, and enough to earn Kroeger the pro bono attorney of the year award from his firm. Through the pro bono work he has had the chance to work on some big cases and gain valuable experience that he couldn’t have gotten elsewhere — last year he won a case for a U.S. citizen who had been wrongfully imprisoned for three years and was facing deportation. But the most rewarding part is using his expertise in employment and labor law to help the local businesses. Besides his usual job and taking on extra pro bono cases, Kroeger is the board chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson, and is getting married this month to Melissa Marcus, his fiancee and co worker at the firm. The two plan to become a “big couple” to one of the children in the organization.

Kroeger 16 | 2012 Up & Comers




Nathan McCann

Technology I can’t do without “My iPad. It’s changed my life.” Facebook or Twitter “Facebook.” Change for Tucson “I’d like to see it become what I know it’s capable of becoming. We’re sitting on a goldmine in terms of locale, we have a major university. We can’t seem to bring it all together to make Tucson what I think it could be.” Favorite place to unwind “Sabino Canyon.”

Nathan McCann, changing lives through education By Tara Kirkpatrick Inside Tucson Business ne of Pima County’s youngest school district superintendents, Nathan McCann found his love of education early in life. At age 11, he was helping to teach his younger brother at home. In high school, he greatly admired his U.S. history teacher, whose worldly knowledge dazzled this teenager growing up in a small Vermont town. “He was smart, he was cool, he was everything,” McCann recalls. “One of the things he taught us was the importance of questioning the actions of others and not to blindly follow leadership. I got that at a pretty young age.” McCann now leads the Altar Valley School District, a rural area that encompasses 600 square miles of Sonoran desert, mountains and scant communities. Since assuming the superintendent position in 2010, McCann has steered the two schools in the district with a professionalism and maturity that his colleagues are quick to recognize.



“He has brought an energy and enthusiasm that has helped spark the district and a needed sense of urgency that has spurred change,” says district business accountant Linda Saner. Among his accomplishments, McCann has helped re-shape the middle school experience for 5th- and 6th-grade students by changing the instructional delivery and helping to bolster achievement across the district, which earned a “B” from the Arizona Department of Education. McCann is also lauded as a strong communicator who believes in providing opportunities for all students. Indeed, he has helped usher in project-based programs for gifted and accelerated students in grades 3 through 8 and specials such as art, physical education and technology — classes that the district didn’t offer for several years, Saner says. “This is the only thing I’ve wanted to do in my life and it’s still the only thing I see myself doing,” says McCann, an avid runner whose wife is an elementary school teacher. They also After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Vermont, McCann received his doctor of education from the University of Arizona.

McCann 2012 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 17




Frederick Petersen

Technology you can’t do without “I think I could live without all technology.” Facebook or Twitter “Neither.” Change for Tucson “I think nationwide and in our state, there’s still a lot of Republican versus Democrat, conservative versus liberal – whatever title you put on it, it’s us versus them. And I think Tucson is on the cusp of transcending that and saying ‘Forget that, what’s the best for our community?’” Favorite place to unwind “My back yard. Or my garage, I have an old truck I’m working on.”

Frederick Petersen, lawyer making his way with handshakes and kept promises By Hank Stephenson Inside Tucson Business n a cutthroat industry, a nice guy stands out. Frederick Petersen, 37, came from a working class family and a small, farming town, but he has climbed his way to the top as managing partner at Mesch, Clark & Rothschild PC. Petersen didn’t become the youngest partner ever at his firm by using the shark-like tactics that often characterize the lawyers in cocktail party jokes — he did it the old fashioned way, with firm handshakes and kept promises. “I think growing up in a small community like that, there is one thing that’s important: keeping the trust of your neighbors and keeping your integrity and your word,” Petersen said. “There’s no client who is more important than my integrity, and if somebody doesn’t agree with that, they need to find a new lawyer.” Although his family didn’t always have a lot of money, they taught him the value of education, hard work and volunteering to



make your community a better place. Those are the values that he and his wife Crissi are passing on to their two young sons. Besides his long hours at Mesch, Clark & Rothschild, Petersen has found time to volunteer with Handi-Dogs, a nonprofit that helps seniors and disabled people train their own service dogs. Through his leadership in a difficult financial time, HandiDogs changed their fundraising model and received financing for their building. He also serves on the board of Southern Arizona Legal Aid Inc. (SALA), which provides a variety of free, civil legal aid to qualified low-income individuals and families. However, even with all his work in both the private and non-profit worlds, nothing comes before his family. It’s a balance he has had to learn since his younger days of 24/7 work for the firm, but one he seems to have learned well. “My responsibilities as a professional in this community aren’t just to work as hard as I can here at the firm,” he said. “I’ve got to give something back to the community, I’ve got to spend time with my family, those balances are important.”

Petersen 18 | 2012 Up & Comers




Brandon Rodgers, left, going over paperwork.

Technology I can’t do without “Smartphone.” Facebook or Twitter “Neither.” Change for Tucson “I would love the perception of Tucson’s business climate to change because sometimes it’s a battle for us to get companies to look at Tucson.” Favorite place to unwind “Working in my backyard.”

Brandon Rodgers hit the ground running and now he’s a partner By CHRISTY KRUEGER Inside Tucson Business randon Rodgers hit the ground running when Picor Commercial Real Estate Services hired him in July 2011. He hasn’t slowed down since. Rodgers credits his get-things-done reputation to being focused, disciplined and goaldriven. “I set my mind on a goal and I have the discipline to see it through,” he said. After graduating from the University of Arizona in 1998, Rodgers worked for various West Coast companies before heading back to his hometown. He gained seven years experience in commercial real estate before joining Picor, which he felt was a good fit for him because of its emphasis on industrial clients. The 36-year-old’s achievements in the industry are particularly relevant to the growth of Tucson’s economy. Through the Pima County Real Estate Research Council he’s working on the Metropolitan Tucson Land Use Study, a comprehensive report of real estate activity in the Tucson area. He helped Tucson Regional Economic


Opportunities (TREO) retain an optical instruments firm that considered relocating to Santa Barbara. With a staff that includes 50 high-paying engineering positions, it was a significant coup for our community. Another highlight in Rodgers’ portfolio is his handling of a recent well-publicized commercial transaction. “I did the 80,000-square-foot United Health Care lease. The governor came down for it,” he said. One of his most proud accomplishments is personal in nature, but tied to his career. “I set a goal for myself to be an ownership partner in at least one commercial property each year and I’ve doubled that. I own 12 commercial properties in partnership.” Rodgers’ prediction for Tucson’s future development is a continuation of the growth we’ve experienced along the northwest Interstate 10 corridor, on the southeast side and in the city center. “We’re seeing a shift in appetite among baby boomers toward urban renewal. Empty nesters have more interest in condos than in the past. Development will be around the streetcar and downtown.”


Rodgers 2012 Up & Comers | Inside Tucson Business 19

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Inside Tucson Business Up & Comers 2012  

Meet this year's honorees.

Inside Tucson Business Up & Comers 2012  

Meet this year's honorees.