BizTucson Winter 2024

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SPECIAL REPORTS: Arizona Technology Council Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson Next Gen Leaders 2024 20 Rising Stars to Watch & WINTER 2024 WINTER 2024 $3.99 DISPLAY UNTIL 03/30/24



Journalist Tara Kirkpatrick wrote a compelling summary of Tucson as a “space city” as we were planning for our Winter 2024 edition.

“With the recent OSIRIS-REx mis sion’s historic landing of a hefty sample from asteroid Bennu, the global spot light is on Tucson once again as a Space City of the Southwest. The region has established a strong foundation for ga lactic success with its light ordinances, noteworthy observatories, mirror labs, rock-star scientists and private space companies both new and old. The Uni versity of Arizona’s space sciences con tributions set an economic impact that rivals a Super Bowl.”

In our report on Tucson as a “space city,” journalist Dave Perry focused on UArizona’s prominence in exploring the heavens in our report in this issue. It’s important to note that NASA recently declared that UArizona is the “crown jewel” of NASA!

Perry also takes us on a deep dive into UArizona’s many facets of innovation and discovery that include: the next phase of OSIRIS-REx − the OSIRISAPEX Mission − the new Applied Research Building, which houses the University of Arizona Space Institute, the final stage of construction for the Giant Magellan Telescope, the James Webb Telescope, the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

Kirkpatrick files a report on the private space companies in our Space City edition, which includes Raytheon, Paragon Space Corporation, Phantom Space Corporation, World View, FreeFall Aerospace, Lunasonde, Ascending Node Technologies and Airy Optics.

“Arizona is one of the great aerospace capitals of the world,” said Jim Cantrell, founder of Phantom Space Corporation. “We’ve brought people here from SpaceX, Blue Origin, McDonnell Douglas and NASA. They’ve all come to work here in Tucson, and they love it.”

Perry also files a fascinating report on Raytheon’s transformational role, with Raytheon’s Space Factory, located on its Tucson campus. “It’s a world-class space factory, a crown jewel in terms of building our sensors for our defensive weapons,” said Randy Kempton, VP of Strategic Engagement Systems at Raytheon. “I’m highly biased. What we do in the Space Factory is unbelievable. Ours is the best in the world.”

In this edition, it’s appropriate that our team filed a special report on the Arizona Technology Council, led by CEO Steven Zylstra and Southern Arizona VP Karla Morales. You’ll read about the region’s leaders in the technology and optics sectors, which includes space enterprise.

This issue also includes our 20 “Rising Stars” of the region. Our NextGen Leaders is a wonderful showcase of the emerging leaders who are shaping the future for business and actively engaging and supporting vital community endeavors in the non-profit arena.

One of our most vital community institutions is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson. Community icons like Jim Click have spearheaded the success of lifting up our city’s youth. Journalists Jay Gonzales and Tom Leyde file an inspirational special report which begins… “In the last 65 years, there’s no telling how many thousands of kids have stories to tell about the impact the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson have had on their lives. The stories can be compelling.”

Jon Volpe, now an owner and chair of the board of NOVA Home Loans, one of the leading mortgage, investment and insurance companies in the country, grew up in Tucson in a broken home and turned to the Boys & Girls Clubs for direction. He had seen his older brother go to prison but decided he wanted a different path for himself.

“I owe a lot to the Boys & Girls Clubs,” Volpe said. “I don’t think I would be where I’m at today if they weren’t there for me after school to give me the support and guidance and mentorship that I needed.”

Winter 2024 Volume 15 No. 4

Publisher & Owner Steven E. Rosenberg

Creative Director Brent G. Mathis

Contributing Editors

Jay Gonzales

Tara Kirkpatrick

Editor Emeritus Donna Kreutz

Contributing Writers

April Bourie

Rodney Campbell

Jay Gonzales

Tara Kirkpatrick

Tiffany Kjos

Christy Krueger

Contributing Photographers

Brent G. Mathis

Chris Mooney Nicci Radke


Thomas Leyde

Loni Nannini

Dave Perry

David Pittman

Steve Rivera

Valerie Vinyard

Romi Carrell Wittman

Chris Richards Megan Siquieros

BizTucson News Update (Email Newsletter) Brent G. Mathis

Tara Kirkpatrick

Contributing Technology Director Mike Serres

Contributing Project Coordinator Maricela Robles


American Advertising Federation Tucson DM-50

Metropolitan Pima Alliance

Southern Arizona Leadership Council Sun Corridor Inc.

Tucson Metro Chamber

Visit Tucson

BizTucson Magazine Issue 4 (ISSN 1947-5047 print, ISSN 2833-6739 online) is published quarterly for $16 per year by Rosenberg Media, LLC., 4729 E. Sunrise Dr., PMB 505, Tucson, AZ 85718-4534. Periodicals postage pending at Phoenix, AZ, and additional mailing offices.

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Steve Rosenberg 520.299.1005 or 520.907.1012 4 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024
Winter 2024 BizCONTENTS DEPARTMENTS BizLETTER 4 From the Publisher BizMEDICINE 30 Roche Tissue Diagnostics Test Reaches Remote Communities: Cervical Cancer Target of Local Company BizARTS 64 Tucson Desert Song Festival BizDEVELOPMENT 86 American Battery Factory Breaks Ground: Historic $1.2 Billion Investment BizBANKING 88 Alliance Bank of Arizona’s Historic New Branch BizPHILANTHROPY 90 $10 Million Gif t Launches HSLopez School of Business Analytics BizEDUCATION 92 UArizona’s $3 Billion Fuel Wonder Campaign BizHONORS 99 20 Rising Stars to Watch: Tucson’s Next Generation of Leaders BizDESIGN 134 ASID Commercial Design A BizSPORTS 140 New Site, New Look for Cologuard Classic BizEDUCATION 142 Tucson Values Teachers: Raytheon Leaders in Education Awards BizAWARDS 144 The 2023 Tech Launch Arizona I-Squared Awards 146 Society of Human Resource Management: Celebrating Innovation in Workplace 152 Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Noche de Exitos 153 Cornerstone Building Foundation Awards 154 Tucson Metro Chamber Copper Cactus WINTER 2024 VOLUME 15 NO. 4 113 50 FEATURES COVER STORY: 36 SPACE CITY OF THE SOUTHWEST 38 Celestial Clout: Stellar Companies Make Tucson a True Space City 44 Visions of Space: Tucson Astronomers Behind Design of NASA’s James Webb Telescope 46 Final Mirror Cast for UArizona’s Giant Magellan Telescope 50 Successful OSIRIS-REx Mission Makes Rock Stars of UArizona Researchers 54 OSIRIS-REx to OSIRIS APEX: Exciting Details of New Mission 56 Q & A with UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins 60 Raytheon’s Space Factory: National Asset to Protect the U.S. and its Allies ABOUT THE COVER Space City of the Southwest Creative Design by Brent G. Mathis 90 65 113 Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson 65th Anniversary SPECIAL REPORT 2024 65 YEARS FOR THE KIDS BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF TUCSON SPECIAL REPORT 2024 THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE THE VOICE AND FACE OF ARIZONA’S TECH INDUSTRY TECHNOLOGY SPECIAL REPORTS 99

Did you know?

Cervical cancer, which is caused by HPV infection in nearly all cases, is almost 100% preventable with vaccination, regular screening, early detection and treatment.

Globally, more than 342,000 women die from cervical cancer each year, with as many as 90% of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries like Perú.

Self-collection can help break down barriers to HPV screening, including lim ited access to testing, anxiety and fear over th and religious barriers that prevent some women from ever being screened.

Menesolita Fernandez Rosana Maldonado Jill German Head Roche Tissue Diagnostics,Oro Valley

Roche Test Reaches Remote Communities Cervical Cancer Target of Local Company

Rosana Maldonado steered her tiny motorboat down the expansive Perúvian Amazon River on a journey to protect herself against cervical cancer. This her and yuca farmer made the twohour trek to Comunidad El Salvador, a village of 450 residents in Perú’s Amazon rainforest, with no electricity or

Rosana was one of dozens of women who met at the village “tambo,” a traditional Incan word for gathering place, o share conversation and an opportunity to take part in a new approach to eening for an infection that causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer kills six women every day in Perú, more than any other ype of cancer. Change is desperately

“It’s important that we get tested, for our families and ourselves,” said Rosana, who heard about the screening event on her radio as she rose before the sun to tend to her family and her farm.

Innovation developed by Roche Tissue Diagnostics in Oro Valley is empowering women like Rosana, who live in of the most remote communities in the world, to collect their own vaginal samples to be tested for HPV − or human papillomavirus. Self-collection with a simple cotton swab can help

break down barriers that prevent women and people with a cervix from being screened for HPV.

Rosana is among 300,000 Perúvian women to be tested through a collaborative effort between the Perúvian Ministry of Health, government organizations, patient advocates and other groups including Roche, with HPV self-collection as the primary strategy to expand access. Through the program, Roche has trained 7,500 Perúvian healthcare workers and collaborated with the Ministry of Health to improve care for high-risk HPV-positive patients.

“Globally, hundreds of thousands of women die unnecessarily from cervical cancer because they weren’t screened in time,” said Jill German, head of Roche Tissue Diagnostics located in Oro Valley.

“It’s our responsibility to work together to create opportunities like this one in Perú, to support health systems in addressing gaps in care to defeat this highly preventable disease,” she continued. “By giving control back to women to protect their own health, we can reach more mothers, sisters, daughters and friends in some of the most remote communities of the world.”

Roche’s self-collection innovation, which was launched in countries outside of the United States in 2022, is among

the latest innovations aimed at enabling healthcare organizations to improve cervical cancer prevention.

During the 1980s, the link between HPV infection and cervical cancer was discovered, paving the way for the creation of HPV vaccines and new screening tests. Roche has added nextgeneration, biomarker-based diagnostic tools that detect high-risk HPV infections and identify precancerous changes where intervention can prevent cancer from developing.

So how can a simple cotton swab help prevent cervical cancer in a remote village along the Amazon?

As a tool in Roche’s cervical cancer testing portfolio, this long cotton swab is used by women to collect a vaginal sample. No internal examination by a physician or nurse, which can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, is required. All that is required from a healthcare provider is instruction on how to correctly collect a sample.

Midwives from the Perúvian Ministry of Health made the four-hour boat jour ney from the nearest city of Iquitos to demonstrate to Rosana and her neighbors how to privately collect their own vaginal samples on a swab in a tube.

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Following the event, the midwives loaded the vaginal samples from Rosana and others that had been placed in a collection medium ready for transportation back onto their boat to be delivered to Iquitos for diagnostic testing with the Roche HPV test. When high-risk HPV is detected, healthcare providers return to the village to provide treatment.

“Moms sometimes don’t do the exams out of fear, the shame that we previously had with Pap tests,” said Menesolita Fernandez, a community health agent in Comunidad El Salvador who talks to neighbors about the importance of screening, as well as HPV vaccines for their children.

“In this case I see it is more feasible now that it can be done privately. Women are more comfortable with this approach.”

Women in Perú have been eager to participate in self-collection. More than 80% of women in the pilot program have chosen self-collection over having a healthcare provider collect their sample. This collaboration represents a potential model for other countries grappling with similar healthcare challenges, underscoring the importance of accessibility, education and empowerment in disease prevention.

“This was my first time showing women how to take their own sample, and they were very happy, and felt so comfortable,” said Perúvian midwife Tiffany Cordova Samplini, who worked 1-on-1 with women to show them how to collect their own sample. “With selfcollection you are able to impact many more people.”

For moms like Rosana, this program isn’t just about preventing disease. It represents a stronger future for their families and a lasting change in their communities.

``It really went well for me,” Rosana said of collecting her own vaginal sample. “I feel content and happy to be able to carry the message to the other mothers so that they have these tests. It’s so important for us.”

Gabrielle Fimbres is senior communications manager for Roche Diagnostics and a former editor and writer for BizTucson.

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Tucson is on the map of the universe.

More precisely – and precision means everything in space – the universe is being mapped, probed and photographed, from Tucson.

We’re launching balloons, testing space suits, finding near-earth objects, and grabbing pieces of an asteroid. We’re receiving stunning images from a telescope one million miles away, creating mirrors for the most powerful telescope ever built, using radio waves to look beneath the Earth’s surface, and identifying what man-made objects are floating around the Earth. And the Moon.

At University of Arizona, the

celestial inquiry generates hundreds of research-funded jobs–a Super Bowl’s worth of economic enterprise ... every year, and without the high-impact collisions of a football game (in space, with a few exceptions, high-impact collisions are stridently avoided).

“It’s like having a Super Bowl every year in this community, with a tremendous ripple effect of jobs and spending to benefit our local economy,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc. “Space is truly Wildcat country.”

The private space companies here create hundreds of skilled jobs in Southern Arizona, capitalizing on the talent gener

ated every year by UArizona. At Raytheon’s Space Factory, we’re creating the defensive missiles that can halt ballistic threats.

It’s true –

Tucson is the Space City of the Southwest.

And, perhaps, beyond. Space is “hugely beneficial to the community,” said Erika Hamden, director of the UArizona Space Institute. “Each of these basic missions brings in a lot of money,” tens of millions of dollars a year. There are many “really, really good jobs that are directly related to working on those mis-

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Why here?

Mark Marley, department head and director of UArizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, spent 20 years at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. Marley learned why Silicon Valley is what it is – an ecosystem for high technology and innovation, fueled by ideas from world-class academic institutions, pushed forward by capital from investors and banks, with resulting hightech business brought to market by the private sector.

“Tucson is like that, but in the space sector,” Marley said. “We have all the pieces that feed off of each other.” Engineering.

Optical Sciences. Telescopes. Dark skies. Culture and history. Questions from NASA. Answers to those questions. And a private sector “that’s grown up to support” and in fact, maximize the thinking.

“In all of these things, we need each other,” Marley said.

UArizona and Tucson have “something unique that no other place on the earth has,” said Vishnu Reddy, a UArizona associate professor in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and leader of Space4, UArizona’s space surveillance, planetary defense, astrodynamics, machine learning and data science effort.

It’s a combination of technical know-how, an intellectual brain trust, academic facilities, and brainpower, “plus the amazing Arizona weather. There are not many places on the Earth that have 300 clear days a year.”

And, Reddy notes, greater Tucson appreciates science. It is “supportive of astronomy” through dark skies initiatives and practices. “It a culture that comes from deep within the intellectual composition of the city,” Reddy said. “There’s no other place I could possibly be than in BizSPACE
Mission Control PAGE 51 OSIRIS-REx to OSIRIS-APEX PAGE 54

Ron Sable Board Chairman

Paragon Space Development Corporation

Grant Anderson

President & CEO, Co-Founder

Paragon Space Development Corporation

Ryan Hartman President & CEO World View

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1. Paragon is a team member with Axiom Space for the NASA Exploration Extravehicular Activity (xEVAS) ser vices contract for the next generation spacesuit which may be used for Artemis missions to the Moon and the International Space Station

2. Humidity Control Subassembly (HCS), developed to ensure a greater level of uniformity and stability within the overall spacecraft environmental conditions, was been successfully tested and operated on the Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner during its first flight to the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2022

3. As par t of the Northrop Grumman team, Paragon is responsible for the design, build, test and delivery of the Environment Control & Life Support System (ECLSS), which provides a livable, safe and comfortable environment for visiting crew members at the Lunar Gateway.


4. World View stratospheric balloon launch from Page, Arizona.

World View headquarters at Spaceport Tucson in Tucson, Arizona.

Celestial Clout Stellar Companies Make Tucson a True Space City

Buoyed by ample skies and mild weather, an inclusive aerospace community and a University of Arizona pipeline of skilled aeronautical and engineering talent, Tucson is home to numerous private space companies that are fueling the next frontier.

These companies are building better space suits and life support systems, mapping and monitoring the earth, creating innovative antenna, streamlining mission communications and making space access easier and more cost-efficient, especially as space tourism gains strength.

“Space is a key part of our aerospace and defense cluster, which is one of our four targeted industries for business attraction and expansion here in Southern Arizona,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor inc. “Anchored by the strengths of the UA, our innovations in space lead the country.”

Space companies say the region is incredibly conducive to their success.

Paragon Space Development Corporation

Co-founded in 1993 by longtime aerospace entrepreneur Grant Anderson, Paragon Space Development Corporation has been on the forefront of systems designed for extreme environments in sea, land, air, and space for 30 years. The Tucson-based company has provided design, analysis and hardware on every human space program of record since 1999.

Life support in extreme environments has resonated with Anderson since his engineering studies. “Not only do you need to understand the engineering and also need to understand the biology and the chemistry,” said Anderson, who is now an esteemed speaker and industry expert on the subject. “Space is the ultimate extreme environment.”

Among recent accomplishments, Paragon is part of the team to develop the

“Arizona is one of the great aerospace capitals of the world,” said Jim Cantrell, founder of Phantom Space Corporation. “We’ve brought people here from SpaceX, Blue Origin, McDonnell Douglas and NASA. They’ve all come to work here in Tucson and they love it.”

Agreed Ryan Hartman, president and CEO of World View, “Just the businessfriendly nature of Pima County and Tucson as a’s a great place to establish your business. When you’re recruiting talent into a company...Tucson is a great aerospace city.”

“One of the smartest decisions we made was to base Paragon in Tucson,” said Grant Anderson, president and CEO of Paragon Space Development Corporation, which has been part of every human space program of record since 1999. “It was also the easiest decision to make.”

Here’s a look at several of the region’s space companies:

next-generation spacesuit that combines with its unparalleled life support systems. “We want to be in on that market,” Anderson said. “Frankly, being the only company that can build a spacesuit from the ground up from the soles of the feet to the top of the head and the communications and the life support and everything else–It’s a pretty unique capability to have.”

The company is also a partner with Northrop Grumman on the Habitation and Logistics Outpost module, or HALO–essentially a small, pressurized apartment that will orbit the moon and provide a temporary home and workplace for space crews going to and from the lunar surface.

Paragon’s groundbreaking brine processing system–which recycles astronaut pee, sweat and breath into drinkable water–is also currently on the International Space Station. “What do you have to

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Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 39 BizSPACE
Photos courtesy Paragon Space Development Corporation 5. 6. Photo taken by World View Stratollite from the stratosphere, 100,000 feet above Grand Canyon
1 3 5 4
Photos courtesy World View Jim Cantrell Founder Phantom Space Corporation
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7. An ar tist depiction of Phantom Space’s Daytona launch vehicle during stage separation.

8. A nine first stage engine cluster with an engineering model of the thrust structure that mounts on the first stage of Daytona

9. A hot test of Phantom Space’s Daytona second stage tested at Spaceport America in New Mexico

Photos courtesy Phantom Space Corporation


10.FreeFall’s patented Inflatable Antenna System, developed with the University of Arizona, was tested on a NASA high-altitude balloon flight and is now awaiting launch on the CatSat satellite.

11. FreeFall is helping to build the “lunar economy” by developing unique communications systems. This self-contained telecommunications module can be deployed on the lunar surface and relay data at high rates to satellites in lunar orbit or directly to Earth.

12. FreeFall develops innovative feed systems for efficient satellite communication, allowing rapid and accurate satellite tracking from low-cost ground stations.

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have to operate in space? You better have some water,” said Ron Sable, who relishes his position as Paragon’s board chairman because of the company’s exciting work. “We recycle water on the space station–98% plus of non-potable water becomes potable water.”

Looking ahead to 2025, Paragon will be a prime contractor on the first-ever stratospheric balloon jump from the edge of space done by a woman that’s set to break current world records. The company will provide the high-altitude spacesuit and related technical expertise for the historic jump–a feat Paragon has already succeeded in when skydiver Alan Eustace set a stratospheric record in 2014 using its pressurized suit system

World View

A leading global stratospheric exploration company, World View has an enviable record of accomplishments in the stratospheric ballooning industry. Founded in 2012, the Tucson company is also reimagining space tourism to offer an intentional earth observation experience for future travelers–100,000 feet into the stratosphere.

“We exist to inspire, create and explore new perspectives for a radically improved future,” said World View President and CEO Ryan Hartman.

That mission begins with the company’s legacy remote sensing capabilities through stratospheric ballooning, which offers freedom from the constraints of an aircraft or satellite. World View has launched more than 120 such flights so far to provide unequaled monitoring of the earth’s surface.

“When it comes to remote sensing, one of the things that differentiates us is the focus on creating unique perspectives, if you will, that provide a new insight or a new set of insights into what’s happening on the surface of the earth,” Hartman said. “And so that could be applied to commercial customers in the oil and gas industry and electric utilities and agriculture.”

World View is also looking ahead to space tourism, which will launch out of six wondrous positions on the globe, from the Grand Canyon to the Great Barrier Reef. The $50,000 experience would bring travelers first to the site for personal exploration and then culminate with a view from the stratosphere. Hartman himself plans to be on the future maiden voyage.

“What we’re talking about is a very gentle ascent to the edge of space, a very gentle descent back down to the surface of


the earth. You’re not strapping yourself to a’s just a very gentle experience,” he said.

The company is currently focused on testing and validating the safety of its vision and completing all regulatory requirements.

Phantom Space Corporation

Founded by one of the first employees of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and a true Renaissance man, Phantom Space Corporation aims to revolutionize the way we transport satellites and other assets into space. The company employs 25 people and occupies a 100,000 square-foot building in Tucson.

“Phantom Space wants to be the Henry Ford of space,” explained founder Jim Cantrell, also a noted author and race car driver. “We want to apply mass manufacturing like Henry Ford did at this time to launch vehicles and satellites, to make space more universally accessible, and also to bring the cost down and to make getting things into space more rapid.”

To achieve that, the company focuses on a three-phase business plan, building its own launch vehicle, building satellites for its customers and finally to create its own constellation of satellites for space applications.

“There’s a lot of room in the space business for innovation, because it’s been a government-controlled industry for most of my career. And now, it’s just kind of coming out of the dark ages, if you will,” Cantrell said.

Phantom is roughly a year away from the first launch of its Daytona rocket. “We’ve been very quiet for about the last four years developing it. It’s a launch vehicle that’s targeting the 1000-pound-andunder satellite class. That is the fastest growing segment of the space industry.”

The company has also secured a $300 million NASA contract for launch services as well as contracts to design and develop satellites for customers. It hopes to hire an additional 25 employees in the coming year.

FreeFall Aerospace

FreeFall Aerospace is disrupting the communications infrastructure for the New Space Economy with low-cost, lowpower antennas to support satellites. Its technology is as novel as it is cost-effective and has garnered a lot of industry attention.

“Our patented technologies and antenna designs are based on spherical ge-

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9 10 12 7


13. Ar tist’s rendering of Picacho in flight. Picacho will allow the company to test its proprietary lowfrequency antenna in space.

Image cour tesy Lunasonde

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ometry,” said Dan Geraci, the Tucson company’s new CEO. “This leads to very low-power, low-maintenance and low-cost antennas.”

Demand for tens of thousands of new antennas in the coming decade is accelerating. FreeFall’s technology is aimed squarely at this demand.

“We’re uniquely positioned to disrupt the terrestrial and space antenna marketplace,” said Geraci. “The timing is right.”

The company, co-founded by Doug Stetson and Chris Walker with seed funding from UAVenture Capital and its CEO Fletcher McCusker, was incubated out of Tech Launch Arizona. It was honored as a Startup of the Year Finalist in 2022 and Innovation Leader of the Year in 2019. Walker was named Inventor of the Year in 2018 and the company received TechConnect Defense Innovation Awards in 2017 and 2018.

FreeFall prides itself as a flexible, family-friendly employer–there are two office dogs, in fact–and a creativity juggernaut for engineers. Julie Bonner, FreeFall’s director of communications, summarized it best. “We have an environment of creativity, flexibility and innovation here.”


As self-described “mapmakers of the space age,” Lunasonde offers subsurface data about Earth from orbit. Based in a 5,000-square-foot clean room facility in the Catalina Foothills, the startup has grown from three to 12 employees and has experienced solid investment.

In November, Lunasonde launched a satellite, founder Jeremiah Pate shared

at a recent Arizona Space Business Roundtable. Called Picacho, it was built in the clean room space, and will allow the company to test its proprietary low-frequency antenna in space. The company works with sparsely used lowfrequency radio waves, and is “among the first to build the technology to operate at this frequency range,” Pate said.

Low-frequency radio wave technology “allows us to see our planet and our universe in a completely different way,” he said. The company is building a new technology around this whole spectrum. Because low frequency waves travel beneath the earth’s surface, interacting with subsurface strata up to a few kilometers deep, Lunasonde’s technology may allow “underground earth observation,” the ability to look beneath the earth’s surface for minerals such as cobalt, lithium and nickel, oil and gas, and water.

“Low frequency is an underutilized radio astronomy band, but it allows for imaging the universe at its earliest era,” Pate said. It could “image the universe back to 370,000 years after the Big Bang.”

Airy Optics

Founded in 2016 by UArizona Professor of Optical Sciences Russell Chipman, Airy Optics is a Tucson company that drives the use of polarization in optical design in innovative and accessible ways for aerospace & defense, consumer electronics, scientific instrumentation and consumer packaging.

The company and its team of optical engineers is led by President Jeremy Shockley.

Polarization used to be treated as a secondary concern by major optical

modeling and analysis tools and often not supported. Chipman, who has long focused his research on polarization issues in optical design, received a $1.2 million grant from Science Foundation Arizona to develop a polarization ray tracing program in 2009.

Called Polaris-M, the optical design and polarization analysis software program has over 500 functions. Chipman founded Airy Optics, licensing PolarisM for commercialization from UArizona and creating a team to offer engineering services for different markets.

Ascending Node Technologies

Ascending Node Technologies’ founders–Sanford Selznick, Carl Hergenrother and John Kidd–have over five decades of collective experience designing scalable and robust ground data systems to support missions ranging from orbiting Mars to exploring previously unseen asteroids.

Their experience with the OSIRISREx mission, which required data management from numerous instruments, engineering teams and science working groups in real time, spurred them to develop a system that would enable spacecraft designers and operators to work better together.

The company’s flagship product, Spaceline, is a new web-based application that creates interactive 3D visualizations of a mission right in the browser, so data can be shared for collaboration and feedback. It has been supported by several NASA Small Business Innovation Research Phase II awards.

Aerospace & Defense Review awarded Ascending Node as a “Top Space Tech Solutions Provider” in 2022.

42 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024 BizSPACE
13 Biz

Astronomers using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope combined the capabilities of the telescope’s two cameras to create a neverbefore-seen view of a star-forming region in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the NearInfrared Camera, or NIRCam, and Mid-Infrared Instrument or MIRI, this combined image reveals previously invisible areas of star birth.

Visions of Space

Tucson Astronomers Behind Concept, Design of NASA’s James Webb Telescope

Images from the James Webb Space Telescope take your breath away.

Cosmic cliffs of copper and golden mountains and valleys of gas, speckled with stars. Galactic “dinosaurs,” their light transmitted billions of years ago. Colliding stars. A jet stream along Jupiter’s equator. The supersonic outflow of a newborn star. The remains of a dying star.

The Webb, orbiting the Sun about 1 million miles from Earth, is capturing and sending never-before-seen pictures of the universe. All are screensaverworthy and all are inspiring research, by inquisitive astronomers across the globe.

No less astounded are Marcia and

George Rieke, the University of Arizona astronomers who helped create two of the four active instruments on NASA’s Webb telescope, the largest and most powerful telescope ever launched into space.

“We knew the image quality from this telescope was going to be exceptional,” said Marcia, principal investigator with the Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam. “It isn’t until you get a picture like that, with multiple colors, you say ‘oh my gosh, not only is it working better, it’s just absolutely stunning’.”

“I’m awestruck on multiple levels,” said George, the science team lead for the Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI.

“One, wow, we’ve got the technology to do that.” The other – “whoa, this is inspirational, in terms of learning about the universe.”

“Astronomy and sports are the only things that put positive things on the front pages of newspapers,” George said. “As soon as we stop learning new stuff, we’re not going to make the front page anymore.”

The Riekes, and 20 of their colleagues at UArizona’s Steward Observatory have been major participants in the Webb’s concept, creation and deployment, George said.

“I liken our role to quarterbacks on a football team,” he said. “The quar-

44 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024 BizSPACE
Clockwise from top – Carina Nebula, one of the first images captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI); A sensor array for the NIRCam instrument, designed and tested by Marcia Rieke’s research group at Steward Observatory. (Credit: Marcia Rieke); Marcia and George Rieke (Credit: Chris Richards/University of Arizona); Artist conception of the James Webb Space Telescope. (Credit: NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez)

“You wouldn’t have believed the activity around here,” Marcia said, “how many people were submitting proposals and new ideas” for its use. “It will continue to be oversubscribed by a factor of 10, year after year after year.”

“The telescope is in that much demand in the community,” George said. And the resulting research will “help rewrite all the textbooks with new discoveries.” Biz

Tucson’s Astronauts

Frank Borman – Born in Gary, Ind. and raised in Tucson. Graduated from Tucson High School and the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. Was the commander of the first space flight to orbit the moon on Apollo 8 in 1968. Borman died in 2023.

Mark Kelly – One of only two astronauts to go to the International Space Station four times. Commanded the last flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Lives in Tucson and is married to former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Kelly is a U.S. senator for Arizona.

Charles Walker – Flew three Space Shuttle missions as a payload specialist in 1984 and 1985. Also was responsible for training astronaut crews in earlier shuttle flights. Is retired and living in Tucson.

James McDivitt – Was commander of the Apollo 9 mission which was the first to take the lunar module to the moon’s orbit. Also was on Gemini 4, which orbited the earth 66 times in June 1965. McDivitt died in 2023.

Christina Birch – a UArizona graduate, Birch was selected for the 2021 NASA astronaut candidate class. She has a doctorate in biological engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is also a decorated track cyclist.

Jessica Wit tner – a UArizona graduate, Wittner was selected for the 2021 NASA astronaut candidate class. She has had a distinguished career serving on active duty as a U.S. naval aviator and test pilot.


Background Image – M31 is a spiral galaxy very similar in size and mass to our own. Image Courtesy National Optical Astronomy Observatory/Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy/National Science Foundation
Frank Borman Mark Kelly James McDivitt Charles Walker
Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 45
Christina Birch Jessica Wittner

Underneath the stands of the Arizona Wildcats Football Stadium, engineers of UArizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab manufacture the world’s largest and most lightweight telescope mirrors. At the center of the process is a giant spinning furnace, the only one of its kind.

A Cathedral of Glass Final Mirror Cast for Giant Magellan Telescope at UArizona

On Saturday, Oct. 7, the seventh and final required mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope was cast at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, under the east stands of Arizona Stadium.

It’s the 24th mirror cast overall in the lab’s 38-year history. And GMT No. 7 is a big one, both physically and historically, because it’s the last “petal” of what will be the largest, most advanced telescope ever built.

In 2030, or 2031, the Giant Magellan Telescope is slated to scan the skies from the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, at an elevation of 7,874 feet above the very dark, very dry Atacama Desert.

The GMT will “revolutionize astronomy and our view of the universe,” according to UArizona literature. It will have a resolving power four times that of the James Webb Space Telescope,

and 10 times the Hubble Space Telescope, both of which beam back neverbefore-seen images of the universe.

Its power is 50 million times that of your eye. Even when you’re wearing reading glasses.

“The telescope will make history through its future discoveries,” said Buell Jannuzi, director of Steward Observatory, head of the UArizona De-

continued on page 48 >>>

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Giant Magellan Telescope Buell T. Jannuzi Director Steward Observatory
Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, The University of Arizona PHOTOS:
Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 47


continued from page 46

partment of Astronomy, and principal investigator for the fabrication of the GMT’s primary mirror segments. “We are thrilled to be closing in on another milestone toward completion of this groundbreaking observatory.”

Jannuzi calls the mirror fabrication a “modern cathedral building” ... minus the stained glass. The GMT’s glass is perfectly crystal clear.

During the “high fire” event in early October, chunks of Japanese-manufactured optical glass (Ohara Corporation) totaling 20 tons were melted to the viscosity of cold honey, at a temperature of 2,130 degrees Fahrenheit, inside a 1-ofa-kind, 40-foot electric oven. It looks like a giant round waffle iron ... except it spins like a top, so the mirror maintains its parabolic curvature.

And it keeps spinning, 24/7, slowing over time while the mirror cools. It’ll take three months of annealing for GMT No. 7 to reach room temperature, expected on Dec. 30. Once the lid is lifted, the mirror is ground and polished, to a surface accuracy of 1-millionth of an

inch. Like the creation of any great cathedral, grinding, polishing, and testing will take years. UArizona has perfected the art.

“We produce the largest and most complex telescope mirrors in the world,” said Cathi Duncan, development and stewardship manager for UArizona’s Steward Observatory, and our enthusiastic, knowledgeable tour guide. “We know how to make large, lightweight mirrors. Nobody in the world does this.”

When finished, the mirror -- about 2 inches thick, 2 stories tall on its edge, 271/2 feet in diameter and 80% hollow -- will be taken by ship to Chile, where it’ll be placed with six other mirrors in a building yet to be constructed. By that time, institutions and private supporters will have invested $2.5 billion in it.

The GMT’s light-gathering power and image resolution should allow researchers to make new discoveries across all fields of astronomy.

“We will have a unique combination of capabilities for studying planets at high spatial and spectral resolution, both of which are key to determining

if a planet has a rocky composition like our Earth,” said Rebecca Bernstein, the telescope’s chief scientist. Researchers can learn “whether it contains liquid water, and whether its atmosphere contains the right combination of molecules to indicate the presence of life.”

Car mala “Carmie” Garzione, UArizona professor of geosciences and dean of the College of Science, witnessed the seventh mirror pour. Even as a scientist, she asks ... “how could anyone ever conceive of this? And how could we actually do it?’ Each step is a marvel, and a major accomplishment. It’s thrilling enough just seeing the process ... in creating the world’s largest mirrors.”

“The Universe Awaits,” reads a sign in the UArizona mirror laboratory, and young astronomers anxiously await, too. With 400 incoming astronomy undergraduates newly enrolled at UArizona this Fall. The students are already talking about what exoplanets they’ll study a decade from now.

“It’s being built for the next generation of astronomers,” Duncan said.

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This artist’s conception shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft extending its sampling arm as it moves in to make contact with the asteroid Bennu.

(Credits: NASA/GSFC)

To Catch an Asteroid

Successful OSIRIS-REx Mission Makes Rock Stars of UArizona Researchers

By now, the world knows.

On Sept. 24, the spacecraft at the working end of the OSIRIS-REx mission to and from the asteroid Bennu dropped a larger-than-expected bundle of otherworldly rock and particles onto the Utah desert, completing a University of Arizona-led journey of more than seven years and 4.4 billion miles.

What might get lost is this:

OSIRIS-REx’s charred capsule, carrying perhaps a half-cup of matter, floated gently beneath a parachute to touch lightly upon the Earth that Sunday morning. No skid marks, no hard knocks. Quite the soft shot, considering the speeding capsule was released from 63,000 miles – one-third the distance to the Moon – above Earth.

It fell close to an access road, no less.

“Boy, did we stick that landing,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator and UArizona regents professor of planetary sciences, “and that is pretty much what OSIRIS-REx has done consistently.”

Indeed. The mission, begun under the leadership of the late Michael Drake, director of UArizona’s sky-breaking Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, then

50 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024 BizSPACE

versity Communications); Dante Lauretta collecting science data; The sample return capsule from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is seen shortly after touching down in the Utah desert; Sample return capsule from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission transported by helicopter to the cleanroom.

(Photos: NASA/Keegan Barber)

guided by Lauretta, has consistently overcome, and overachieved.

What NASA proposed to do with Bennu – fly to it, observe it, poke it, collect material, and bring it back to Earth – “was really outlandish,” said Erika Hamden, director of the UArizona Space Institute. “There were so many different phases and components, things that have to work correctly, and

continued on page 52 >>>

Erika Hamden, director of the UArizona Space Institute, can talk the science wherever she goes.

Hamden, associate professor in the Department of Astronomy and an assistant astronomer at UArizona’s foundational Steward Observatory, was at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. not long ago.

Her mission in D.C. -- to make sure “people know what we’re doing, and that they have the University of Arizona at the top of their minds when they’re thinking about initiatives, and missions they’d like to select.”

A NASA mission, the Pandora project, is about to become the first managed from inside the dedicated mission control center at UArizona’s new Applied Research Building, or ARB. Pandora intends to deploy an Ear th-orbiting telescope to understand the atmospheric contents of “exoplanets,” planets circling distant stars, and the behavior of those host stars.

The project is coming to UArizona because “we have a really good facility and a really good price,” Hamden said. And, she adds, “the Space Institute, and the University of Arizona, are good at all space.”

In her role, Hamden is “helping to streamline the space mission proposal process, making sure we can bring space missions of various scales to the University of Arizona,” said Carmala “Carmie” Garzione, dean of the College of Science.

The UArizona Space Institute serves as an umbrella organization to facilitate the work of UArizona’s space-oriented researchers. It also operates the ARB, UArizona’s new, world-class test and integration

center for satellites, spacecraft, and other tools of space.

The $85 million, 89,000-square-foot ARB provides “capabilities interesting to us, and to industry, too,” said Elliott Cheu, Ph.D., interim senior VP of research and innovation and associate VP for university research institutes.

Downstairs from the mission control center, researchers can replicate outer space’s extreme cold and pressure conditions by using the 40-ton thermal vacuum chamber, “the largest of its kind at a university.” It was purchased on eBay, Cheu said, smiling.

Or they can test high-altitude stratospheric balloons and nanosatellites known as CubeSats, build those toaster-sized CubeSats in a dedicated laboratory, test deep-space antennae in an echo- and bounce-free anechoic chamber, or use an imaging technology laboratory that positions UArizona as a world-leading supplier of advanced scientific imaging sensors for visible, ultraviolet and X-ray light detection.

There’s plenty more, and more to come.

The ARB wants to bring in a “shaker table,” about 20-by-20 feet, so inquirers can “put your device on it, and simulate the conditions of lift-off,” Cheu said. “It would be the largest in the state of Arizona. There is a lot of interest from industry on that.”

UArizona wants to fill the ARB. Cheu knows early guests must say nice things.

“Success breeds success,” he said. “We want to have people have a good experience when they utilize these things. We want them to say, ‘it’s really easy to work with the University of Arizona’.”

Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 51

continued from page 51

unrelated to the previous thing that had to work correctly.

“It shows the confidence NASA has in the University of Arizona,” Hamden said. Based on its long history with UArizona, NASA knew “we will perform our role to the highest quality possible.” And it did.

“We are world class,” said Carmala “Carmie “Garzione, dean of the UArizona College of Science. She ticked off current UArizona missions now in the news – OSIRISREx, its subsequent OSIRIS-APEX, the James Webb Space Telescope, the Giant Magellan Telescope – as examples. “I would argue the breadth of our influence is unparalleled, in terms of the broad range of space-related research and development. We are the best.”

“OSIRIS-REx is many things,” said UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins, who was in Utah for this touchdown off the gridiron. “Amazing science and engineering, exploration of our solar system, a beginning of decades of scientific discovery, and, for all of us, a reminder of what the University of Arizona community can do when we dream big.”

NASA’s first asteroid sample retrieval, with a total price tag of $1.16 billion, is an “astonishing achievement,” Robbins continued. “It’s been the work of many here at the University of Arizona and at our partner organizations.”

And it demonstrates -- “Space is truly Wildcat Country,” Robbins said.

A Sample That Runneth Over

NASA and UArizona hoped OSIRIS-REx could collect 60 grams of asteroid material.

When the capsule was first opened at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, investigators were thrilled to find bonus asteroid material covering the outside of its collector head, lid, and base. They removed 70.3 grams of Bennu, about 2.5 ounces, beyond what’s inside the sealed container. When its contents are revealed – and in late October scientists were struggling to get it open -- the total sample might exceed 130 grams of dust and rocks. As much as 70% of it is going to be stashed in Houston, for research years from now.

“We’re very excited about the volume of material we have,” Lauretta said. And, he nearly exclaimed, “we’re thrilled with the results.”

Initial studies of the 4.5-billion-year-old asteroid sample show evidence of water and high-carbon content, which together could indicate the building blocks of life on Earth may be found within.

A 4.7% carbon figure is “on the high end for carbonaceous materials” in comparison with other studied meteorites, said Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “It’s what we were hoping for, and we’re delighted to explore that over the course of the next two years, and the next decade.”

Now begins “a new era of exploration .... the era of sample science,” said Makenzie Lystrup, director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

“There is still so much science to come,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “Science like we’ve never seen before.” That inquiry will be conducted by as many as 200 scientists worldwide, exploring the origins of the OSIRIS-

52 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024 BizSPACE

REx sample with powerful tools, some of them created and housed on the UArizona campus.

“Ancient secrets” may be locked within, Lauretta said. When they are revealed, scientists may glean “profound insights into the origins of our solar system. It’s “just the tip of the cosmic iceberg.”

UArizona Assistant Professor Pierre Haenecour, with the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, is one of those cosmic iceberg researchers. He has a quote from Victor Hugo’s 1862 classic Les Miserables on his Curriculum Vitae. It reads:

“Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the grander view?”

An Emotional Landing

No particles from Bennu were spilled on the Utah desert that September Sunday. Tears, and emotions, poured forth.

“Today caps the end of an almost 20-year adventure for me,” Lauretta said. In February 2004, representatives from Lockheed Martin came to Tucson and said “they were thinking up an asteroid sample return mission, and they wanted UofA to take the scientific leadership role.

“It seemed like magic,” Lauretta recalled. “... They said, ‘Pick an asteroid, Dante,’ and we’ll bring samples back to the Earth for you to study in your laboratory.”

Drake was the original principal investigator of OSIRISREx before his death in 2011. Lauretta led the mission when the spacecraft was launched Sept. 8, 2016. It was guided to Bennu on Dec. 3, 2018. The search for a safe samplecollection site began in 2019 and concluded with the sample gathering Oct. 20, 2020. The return trip home began on May 10, 2021.

The journey’s end was nerve-wracking and emotional, said Garzione, who also was in Utah that day.

“There were hundreds of people there who have played a significant role in this mission,” she said. “All of them were on the edge of their seats, making sure this last step gets accomplished smoothly. The tension, the anxiety, the excitement were palpable.”

When it touched down, “you can’t imagine all these people releasing their anxiety” in an eruption of cheers and tears, Garzione said. “You felt decades of anticipation suddenly released at that moment.”

“As soon as I heard ‘main chute,’ that’s when I just emotionally let it go,” Lauretta said. “Tears were streaming down my eyes, and I thought, ‘That’s the only thing I needed to hear.’ From this point on, we know what to do, we’re home, we’re safe, we did it.”

The World Again Watches Tucson

How much interest is there in OSIRIS-REx and its bite of Bennu? Consider that an Oct. 11 media call run by NASA from Houston drew journalists from England, Canada, Qatar, Russia, Ireland and the U.S.

The world knows about OSIRIS-REx. The mission was “an incredible success,” Garzione said.

NASA agreed.

“A major shout-out to this incredible team,” NASA’s Nicky Fox, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, told the media. “There was nothing about OSIRIS-REx that was too big. It’s been an incredible, incredible job. On behalf of NASA, thank you, OSIRISREx.”


Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 53

OSIRIS-APEX pursues asteroid Apophis during its exceptionally close flyby of Earth on April 13, 2029.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab


New Mission Helmed by Former Student of UArizona’s Dante Lauretta

In 2005, Dani Mendoza DellaGiustina was a second-year physics student at the University of Arizona when she enrolled in a class about asteroids taught by then assistant professor Dante Lauretta.

“We were both just getting started,” DellaGiustina remembers.

Lauretta, who would become principal investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu and back, sparked DellaGiustina’s “foray into studying asteroids.” Soon, she was working on OSIRIS-REx. Then, after earning master’s and doctorate degrees, she became a UArizona associate professor, returned to the OSIRIS-REx team, and eventually became the mission’s deputy principal investigator.

Now, DellaGiustina, 37, is leading the spacecraft’s nearly

$200 million, NASA-funded “bonus” trip to the near-Earth asteroid Apophis. She is the principal investigator of OSIRISAPophis EXplorer, or OSIRIS-APEX. The next frontier.

With the firing of redirecting thrusters, the spacecraft’s journey toward Apophis began 20 minutes after it dropped its bundle of Bennu above the Utah desert on Sept. 24. In early 2029, after millions of miles and two trips around the sun, the spacecraft should approach the 1,100-foot-wide asteroid.

On April 13, 2029, Apophis is expected to approach within 20,000 miles of Earth, 1/10th the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Apophis may be visible to the naked eye as a streaking light in the night sky.

OSIRIS-APEX will be right there with it. For 18 months, scientists will learn all they can about this rocky, metallic ob-

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Dani Mendoza DellaGiustina Photo: Chris Richards OSIRIS-APEX – NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

ject, using cameras, laser beams, highly technical spectral instruments and, maybe, fire the spacecraft’s thrusters just above Apophis’ surface to stir up dust and rock and reveal more about its makeup.

It’s far from lost on DellaGiustina that her own journey began as a student, led her to the No. 2 position on a mission to harvest asteroid material, and now places her at the helm of an adventure humanity has never been.

“I am an example of how this pipeline can work,” she said.

UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins said OSIRIS-APEX will “continue to demonstrate to the world – especially students who want to study what lies beyond our planet – that the University of Arizona is a leader in space sciences.”

“OSIRIS-APEX is a manifestation of a core objective of our mission to enable the next generation of leadership in space exploration,” Lauretta said. “She is strongly committed to bringing the future generations along with her on that team. I couldn’t be prouder of Dani and the APEX team.”

DellaGiustina’s rise to principal investigator is “not surprising, given how amazing our college is at training students,” said Carmala “Carmie” Garzione, dean of the College of Science at UArizona. Faculty, “especially in physics, earth and space sciences, are eager to work with undergraduates.”

For DellaGiustina, it’s very important that students “really feel like they are in touch with, and a part of, the incredible work that we’re doing,” and that they understand “the big implications this work has.”

She spends long hours in many meetings, where she learns, then communicates with others. Her OSIRIS-REx experience taught her “how to run an integrated team” on an incredibly complicated mission, with skilled, focused, subject-matter experts managing advanced technology aboard a very complex machine.

“We want to make sure everyone feels valued, that their voices are heard, that when we make big decisions, we make them collectively,” she said. The goal is “to come together and pull some pretty incredible things off, given our wildly different levels of expertise.”

Apophis, discovered in 2004 by scientists observing from Kitt Peak, is an “infamous” asteroid, DellaGiustina said, making it an ideal choice for study. Initially, scientists believed Apophis had a chance to strike the Earth relatively soon. Further observation and tracking now show Earth is safe from the asteroid for at least 100 years.

The fact OSIRIS-APEX is even feasible “is the mark of the incredible success of OSIRIS-REx,” Garzione said. It is truly remarkable the spacecraft has “enough fuel to spare for a second mission. It’s two missions for a little tiny bit more than the price of one.”

DellaGiustina spends “a lot of time thinking about these little asteroids, and what they mean, and about our place in the solar system,” she said. “A lot of my mental bandwidth is off planet.”

That thinking takes place at UArizona, where her curiosity about asteroids was ignited in a classroom nearly 20 years ago.

Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 55

Q&A with UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins

What does the OSIRIS-REx mission do for UArizona? For greater Tucson?

OSIRIS-REx and other space sciences efforts at the University of Arizona are great points of hands-on learning for our students. Many of our undergraduates worked on OSIRIS-REx, getting to do real-world science, engineering, and other experience with important im pact on the success of the mission. The mission also has allowed the university to sustain the infrastructure and expertise built up over years of leadership in space exploration.

Missions like these also create job opportunities for our engi neers, researchers, analysts and more, right here in Southern Arizona. This is all on top of the incredible discoveries they gener ate, which is good for our greater Tucson region: what we learn from these missions will shape our future and benefit everyone. Why was it important for you to be in the Utah desert when the sample arrived?

made it all work has been a tremendous honor and it is an important part of my job.

Being able to be there in the Utah desert when it arrived was something I would not have missed for all the world. It was a once-in-the-lifetime opportu-

When I joined the university, the spacecraft was well into its journey, and the team had been working on the project for years even before the launch. It was one of the first things I heard about when I came here, and I have been eagerly tracking the progress of OSIRISREx ever since. Showing my support for the mission and the incredible team that

How did that experience compare to other highlights of your presidency? To a basketball or football moment? To the first College of Veterinary Medicine commencement?

In every triumphant moment of the University of Arizona, I tend to think this is the best moment of my time here. Every championship we win, ev-

ery commencement, every lifechanging discovery we make, I am always thinking this is the highlight that makes it all worth it. And I honestly feel that I am right every single time because each of these moments is the fruition of years of work from incredibly talented and dedicated people. There are so many amazing things our University of Arizona community accomplishes every y because of the people here, and my job is to support them and the amazing work they do. We are always pushing the boundaries and redefining excellence, and I am constantly wondering how we are going to top this, but then

We heard a previous interview where you express e size of the Bennu sample. You thought it would be like “parading around with the Stanley Cup.” How do we parade it?

How do we capitalize

I always like to joke about how I am not a rocket scientist, which is one of the reasons why I was picturing something of that scale. But I did not realize how much could be done with a relatively small amount. The sample they retrieved is going to fuel decades of scientific discovery. And we have already surpassed our sample collection goal of 60 grams.

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PHOTO: COURTESY THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA President Robbins applauding the landing of OSIRIS-REx in the Utah desert
Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 57

continued from page 56

As for parading, we have celebrated the mission—with events in Houston, Texas, and in Washington D. C. There also was a wonderful event in Downtown Tucson with Dante and the team and local leaders. But you also will see us continue to tell the story of this mission and all that it will enable for years. Our scientists and their peers from around the world will learn so much from that sample. While this feels like the final moments for a plan that’s been years in the making, Dante reminds me this really is just the beginning, which is why we have launched the Arizona Astrobiology Center with Dante at the helm. We will all be eagerly following the news for what we discover from the asteroid sample, as well as tracking the progress of OSIRIS-APEX, with the university’s Dani DellaGiustina as principal investigator. So, more to come!

What should our readers know about UArizona and its prominence in space? What should they do to ensure its future?

I think the first thing our business and community leaders need to know is that the OSIRIS-REx mission is not a fluke or a one-time thing. The University of Arizona has a very long tradition of excellence in leading in the field of space sciences and space exploration, and that tradition is only going to grow and expand in the future. We recently announced the Arizona Astrobiology Center, with OSIRISREx P.I. Dante Lauretta as center director. It will serve as a hub of scientific collaboration and public engagement. The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab has begun work on the final mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope, which will be the largest telescope when it is completed – and we are a founding partner.

Of course, there is the university’s leadership roles in the James Webb Space Telescope, which has captivated the world, and last year we celebrated the grand opening of our new Mission Integration Lab, which accommodates balloon-borne astronomy, filling an important niche between ground-based observatories and space telescopes. These are just some of the stories, and I could go on, but the point is that beyond the things we all hear about there are many more scientists, engineers, and their teams – including students – working on world-leading projects right here, and we are continuing to invest because this is a point of pride and a point of excellence.

Our business and community partners are essential in seeing these kinds of programs thrive, and as long as they are engaging with the university, finding ways to partner with the incredible people and programs that are happening here, and providing hands-on learning opportunities for our students, the University of Arizona’s prominence in the space sciences will continue to expand.

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Raytheon’s A National Asset to Protect the U.S. and its Allies

At its Space Systems Operations facility – the Space Factory – in Tucson, Raytheon produces interceptor technologies that eliminate attacking shortand medium-range ballistic missiles in space.

How hard is it to strike a missile?

“The analogy we use is it’s like hitting a bullet with a bullet,” said Randy Kempton, VP of strategic engagement systems. “They’re going so fast in space.” Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 hits its target with “the force of a 10-ton truck traveling about 600 mph.”

Life-protecting precision is essential for the SM-3, a critical component of the U.S.’ missile defense capabilities. Its exactitude comes in part from an optical sensor, “the key in hitting these incoming ballistic missiles,” Kempton said. The ability to identify the specific target, and to “pick it out” in space, is “the secret sauce, so to speak.”

Optics, sensors and interceptors are created in the 49,000-square-foot Space Factory, one of the cleanest buildings in the world with a team of 270 people.

The very sensitive optics of the interceptor must be built in a sterile chamber in the cleanest possible environment so that, when the kill vehicle enters the blackness of space, it can distinguish its target from all distractions,” said Dana Michaud, director of Raytheon’s Space Systems Operations.

“Any little particle on our sensor can be picked up and confused for the target,” Kempton said. “We don’t want any particles at all on the sensors. It has to be super, super clean, given the space environment.”

The Space Factory houses dozens of clean rooms equipped with spacesimulating technologies to support production and testing of complex space

hardware. Factory cleaning crews work around the clock, thoroughly scrubbing all surfaces and floors. Air within a room can be completely exchanged every 27 seconds. It can be cleaned to 10 microns or less of particulate per cubic foot per air. To compare, a human hair is 70 microns wide.

“That’s significantly cleaner than most operating rooms or various levels of semiconductor plants,” Michaud said. Operators are fully covered headto-toe “like an astronaut” during phases of the factory’s space simulating processes.

“It’s a world-class space factory,” Kempton said, “a crown jewel in terms of building our sensors for our defensive weapons. I’m highly biased. What we do in the Space Factory is unbelievable. Ours is the best in the world.”

The Department of Defense agrees.

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Space Factory

“It’s a world-class space factory, a crown jewel in terms of building our sensors for our defensive weapons. What we do in the Space Factory is unbelievable.”
– Randy Kempton, VP of Strategic Engagement Systems, Raytheon

In visits to the Space Factory, DOD personnel have identified it as a national asset to protect the U.S. and its allies.

Along with cleanliness, Michaud attributes Raytheon’s intercepting capability to patented technologies and manufacturing processes, and to the “deep well of expertise and experience among its technicians and engineers.”

“We have all the talent to build sensors in Tucson,” Kempton said. And those people have the workspace and the technology to excel.

Since expanding The Space Factory in 2015, Raytheon has invested more than $40 million to modernize its manufacturing capability. It has increased use of robotics, added super-cold cryogenic chambers for space-simulated testing, and enhanced its clean micro-environment capabilities. Further, Raytheon has added a first-of-its-kind, 3-axis shock and vibration system, which cre-

ates space flight frequencies for testing without disrupting the product’s configuration.

“We are absolutely always looking to invest and figure out what we need to do to keep up with technology,” Kempton said. “Always.”

Raytheon invests in people, too. Kempton points to Raytheon’s “great partnership” with the University of Arizona. It “starts at the top,” he said.

Raytheon President Wes Kremer and UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins speak regularly. Raytheon works directly with UArizona engineering, exchanging information, offering mentorships and “tons of internships,” participating in a curriculum advisory board, and funding internal research and development projects.

“Typically, we hire about 150 UofA graduates a year,” Kempton said. “The internships provide a huge pool of peo-

ple we bring in full time.”

He recently returned from a “huge test,” during which Raytheon’s interceptors simultaneously struck two simulated ballistic missile targets. Standard Missile-3 has more than 35 successful exoatmospheric intercepts, he noted, “which is highly, highly impressive.”

The advances, and the testing, must continue, for many reasons. “Our adversaries are always making adjustments to their side of the equation,” Kempton said, “and we’re always adjusting our side.”

“Unfortunately, when you look at world events, and the threats, there is a long future for The Space Factory, for sure,” he said. “Nobody wants conflict in the world. We want to deter. It’s all about having capabilities to deter conflict.”

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Tucson Desert Song Festival

Renowned World Vocalists Perform Across Community

The 12th annual Tucson Desert Song Festival will bring the majesty of the world’s most dynamic vocalists here to Celebrate Song! from Jan. 14-Feb. 15, and Mar. 2-Apr. 9.

“We are thrilled to present the 2024 festival to the community,” said TDSF Board President Jeannette Segel. “Together with our partners, we have brought together a stellar list of artists from the world’s most important stages.”

Added Festival Coordinator George Hanson: “The festival’s mission is to enable Tucson’s most important arts organizations to bring the world’s greatest singers to Tucson, raising the Old Pueblo’s profile internationally as a cultural destination.”

A look at some of this year’s participants:

Tenor Michael Fabiano

With recent appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera and the Vienna State Opera, where he made his debut as Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca, Fabiano brings a world premiere to the recital stage.

American Soprano

Nicole Cabell

Winner of the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and universally acclaimed for her velvety timbre and finely nuanced interpretations, Cabell will perform with TDSF Partner True Concord Voices and Orchestra.

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee

Hailed by The New York Times as “an international star in the bel canto repertory.” TDSF partner Tucson Jazz Festival brings Cécile McLorin Salvant to Centennial Hall for an evening of invention and excitement.

Ot her highlights include:

•In cooperation with TDSF, Tucson Symphony Orchestra brings four shining vocal stars to the stage for Verdi’s Requiem.

•A world premiere commission by the TDSF Wesley Green Compos er Project of a new song cycle, “Quiet Poems,” by renowned composer Jimmy Lopez Bellido in collaboration with poet Nilo Cruz.


Jan. 14–Feb. 15 & Mar. 2–Apr. 9, 2024

For tickets and more information:

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Arizona Technology Council

The Voice and Face of Arizona’s Tech Industry

On its website, Arizona Technology Council is defined as “Arizona’s premier networking and trade association for science and technology companies.”

Steven G. Zylstra, the council’s president and CEO, explains it a little differently: “We really are the voice and the face of the technology industry in Arizona.”

Carol Stewart, VP of Tech Parks Arizona at The University of Arizona, offers another definition of the organization and its importance. “The Arizona Technology Council serves as the catalyst propelling business forward, providing industry insights, invaluable resources, and unparalleled growth opportunities. Together, we advance technology to the leading edge, fostering groundbreaking inventions that make a colossal impact on the world stage.”

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continued on page 70 >>> BizTECHNOLOGY

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The council lives up to all these descriptions by offering its members more than 100 networking and educational events each year as well as a variety of valuable benefits. In addition, the organization works with public policy leaders in the state and federal government to further the interests of the technology industry’s many businesses, which range from small startups to large national and international corporate firms.

It also works in schools to promote and advocate for STEM programs to develop the next generation of technology employees and innovators. The council’s programs are managed out of two offices—one in Phoenix and one in Tucson called the Southern Arizona Regional Office.

Much of the impressive work is done through the council’s 13 standing committees, staffed by council members who address every aspect of the technology industry. More than 750 companies are members of the council, ranging in size from early-stage startups to larger corporations.

“Approximately 80% of our membership consists of small businesses that have less than 50 employees,” said Karla Morales, VP of the Southern Arizona Regional Office. The other 20% are companies well-known to Arizonans, including Raytheon, Intel and Honeywell. The benefits the council offers are very valuable to all members, especially the smaller businesses.

Member benefits include discounts for business services from various preferred partners, access to a health care and 401(k) plan for member employees, a technology jobs board and a tuition reduction plan at the UArizona, which is open to member employees and their children. Publications and podcasts produced by the council help keep its membership informed on industry trends and public policy, and the organization also plans 100 to 150 networking and educational events each year.

Politically, the council is also very active, with the goal of supporting public policies friendly to the technology industry. Its Public Policy Committee creates a Public Policy Guide each year that includes issues important to the technology sector. Topics can range from workforce development and education to diversity, equity and inclusion to taxation and financial technology.

The Public Policy Committee works to inform and educate state politicians about issues that impact the technology and manufacturing sectors. “Members of this committee develop a relationship with legislators from the moment they take office to help them understand why certain policies are important and how they impact the technology sector,” explained Morales. The council also hires lobbyists that work on behalf of the council, and Zylstra often writes opinion pieces on politically driven issues to communicate to the members and public about policies that affect the technology industry.

“A lot of our greatest achievements have been at the state Legislature,” he said.

No matter the company’s size, workforce development is always an important issue. The council helps develop highquality, tech-literate employees through its Foundation the

continued on page 72 >>>

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Premier Partnership

Arizona Technology Council, Arizona Commerce Authority Boost Technology Innovators Together

The Arizona Technology Council works very closely with the Arizona Commerce Authority on several initiatives that have resulted in strengthening the technology sector in the state.

“It’s a very strategic relationship between the two organizations,” said Steven G. Zylstra, council president and CEO. “The Arizona Commerce Authority is involved in attracting and growing companies in our state, and we help those in the technology industry here innovate and grow.”

“The ACA’s role is to continue to advance the state’s economy and job growth,” said Sandra Watson, ACA president and CEO. “We work with the Arizona Technology Council to grow business in emerging technology areas such as aerospace, renewable energy and cybersecurity, and we are focusing more heavily on artificial intelligence. The area we partner the most with AZTC focuses on growing Arizona-based technology businesses, bringing together thought leaders in the industry and advocating for policies that create economic growth in the technology sector.”

According to Karla Morales, VP of the council’s Southern Arizona Regional Office, the ACA supports or promotes 60% of AZTC’s more than 100 yearly events. One of these is the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation, which recognizes innovators and technology leaders who are making a difference across the state.

“ This year is the 20th anniversary of this celebration,” Watson said. “It is an incredible opportunity to showcase how innovators are at the forefront of new technologies in our state, and we hope to partner with AZTC for another 20 years on this celebration.”

Another important partnership between the two is the SciTech Institute, which includes the Chief Science Officer program and the Arizona SciTech Festival, a statewide celebration of STEM that brings academia together with more than 800 industry, arts, civic and community organizations to promote interest and success in STEM fields.

The festival is the third largest in the nation and includes over 2,000 expos, workshops, conversations, exhibits, and tours held in more than 80 diverse neighborhoods in the state.

“Talent is our No. 1 driver of growth,” Watson said. “We are very focused on meeting the needs of the tech industry now and in the future. I believe this joint effort has really transformed Arizona’s STEM talent, and it’s incredibly important and vital to supporting the future growth of the industry.”

and unparalleled growth opportunities.”

The University of Arizona

continued from page 70

SciTech Institute, a collaboration of the council, Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Science Center, Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University, and UArizona. This foundation attracts grants, resources and support from in- and out-ofstate organizations to create STEM programs for Arizona’s students.

SciTech’s Chief Science Officer program provides leadership training and allows students to plan STEM engagement opportunities for their peers. The program also engages technology companies to network and mentor the CSOs to help prepare them for careers in a technology field. “CSOs are taught how to advocate for the student voices in the community,” said Morales. “They also receive training and even compete on a local, state, national and international level. This helps them to be prepared for college and for work beyond that.”

In the future, Zylstra would like to see the organization increase its membership to 1,000 companies as technology and manufacturing grows in Arizona.

“We’ll continue to change our offerings as the market conditions change to provide the appropriate support necessary for our member companies,” he said. “We exist for one reason: to help our members succeed in what they do.”

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Biz Biz
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Inclusive Committees, 100-Plus Events

Invigorate State Tech

Tucson has proven to be a hospitable host for a key statewide organization that helps boost Arizona’s multibilliondollar technology industry, with nearly 500 people attending one of its biggest event, the Southern Arizona Tech and Business Expo.

And that’s only the starting point.

In July, the Arizona Technology Council held another of its major gatherings—the Aerospace, Aviation, Defense and Manufacturing Confer ence—for the first time at The Uni versity of Arizona, with grand results: more than 200 people attended.

“We had a record turnout. Because of that, we will do that again in Tucson,” said Steven G. Zylstra, council president and CEO.

Another of the technology council’s biggest efforts, the MedTech Conference, will be coming to Tucson for the first time in 2024. “There’s something about events. After you do them for a while and they start feeling like the last one you went to, you have to change them up. So, changing the venue changes everything,” Zylstra said.

The council, which celebrated its 20th year anniversary in 2022, includes more than 750 companies, government agencies, nonprofit groups, technolo-

Industry Council and its staff exist to break down barriers, help educate and inform and help people connect.”
– Steven G. Zylstra President & CEO Arizona Technology Council

gy-focused vendors and educational institutions. It features 13 committees: two regional ambassador groups and 11 others that focus on specific sectors ranging from artificial intelligence to workforce development and education.

In turn, the committees, supported by council directors of events and operations Jamie Neilson in Tucson and Darryle Emerson in Phoenix, organize more than 100 gatherings every year, with onsite events equally split between Tucson and Phoenix.

“Southern Arizona is buzzing with excitement as its economy experiences a major boost, thanks to the collaboration between local organizations and leaders,” said Karla Morales, VP of the council’s Southern Arizona Regional Office. “Together they’re sparking a fantastic transformation in the region. What’s cool about this growth is how it embraces eco-friendly practices and rich cultural experiences. It’s drawing in a diverse group of people who want to live sustainably and enjoy an intellectually stimulating environment.”

Attendance at events varies, depending on the type, style, location and focus, Morales said. The council’s After5 Mixers have an average of 75 to 100 attendees while its webinar-style Tech

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Speakers series draws an average of 50.

“The Arizona Technology Council and its staff exist to break down barriers, help educate and inform, and help people connect,” Zylstra said. Toward that end, the council encourages everyone, not just members, to attend. The Tech and Business Expo at the Tucson Convention Center proved a success in that way: “Probably 40 to 50% of the people there were non-members coming to the events to see if they want to be members,” he said.

The committees are inclusive, too.

“Eligibility for committee membership is open to all our members, regardless of their roles or levels within (an) organization,” Morales said. “Employees have the flexibility to choose and join committees based on their interests and expertise … All of AZTC’s member companies are encouraged to promote employee committee participation.”

Each council committee meets bimonthly, monthly or quarterly, with the opportunity for members to show up remotely.

“The virtual component provides statewide accessibility for any and all committees. Some are location-focused while others are statewide. The Tech Inclusion Forum focuses on addressing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) issues and initiatives in Phoenix while Women in the Workforce is specifically focused in Southern Arizona,” Morales said.

Committee membership helps peers, experts and influencers expand their professional networks; sharpen leadership, teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills; and enhance their professional development, Morales said.

That’s a big deal for an industry that has more than 213,000 jobs in Arizona.

2022 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation: Steven Zylstra, and Karla Morales with a representative from Sylvan Source, our 2022 Innovator of the Year Small Company

“Active committee involvement can elevate members’ profiles within the technology community, potentially opening doors to new opportunities,” she said. “Ultimately, committee membership is a two-way street. Members contribute their time, expertise and energy and in return they gain a wealth of experiences, knowledge and connections that can significantly enrich their professional lives.”

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Optics Valley Team Photo Steven Zylstra, Michael Patterson, Saida Florexil and Aakriti Gupta of Imanyco, 2022 Innovator of the Year Startup Company and Sandra Watson, President & CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority

Power Players

Arizona Technology Council’s Members Are Tops in Industry, Training

Members of the Arizona Technology Council are perhaps the greatest ambassadors of its success as the premier trade association advancing technology synergy across the state.

From The University of Arizona and Pima Community College to kingpin companies such as Raytheon and Caterpillar with a strong regional presence, these members trust the council for events and pro-technology advocacy that offer connection and collaboration, foster relationships to propel the technology industry forward and catalyze innovation for global impact.

“At Tech Parks Arizona, we recognize the immense value of being a member of the Arizona Tech Council,” said Carol Stewart, VP of UArizona’s Tech Parks

Arizona. “Through the council, we join forces with like-minded innovators and technology-focused business leaders, creating a robust tech ecosystem that has elevated Arizona to a preferred global innovation hub.

Ian Roark, PCC’s vice chancellor of workforce development and innovation, said of the council: “Part of our mission is to meet the workforce development needs of business and industry here. It’s just a great organization for connecting with lots of companies at one time. It helps us get better connected to employers we may not otherwise have the opportunity to work with.”

A look at some of the members of the Arizona Technology Council:

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With sales and revenues of $59.4 billion (2022), Caterpillar Inc. is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, off-highway diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. In 2016, the company chose Southern Arizona for its Surface, Mining & Technology Division headquarters, bringing an estimated $600 million impact and 600 new jobs to the region and strengthening its footprint here, which was already home to its 6,500-acre Tucson Proving Ground.

Edmund Optics

A premier provider of optical and imaging components, Edmund Optics chose Tucson in 2021 for its Advanced Design and Assembly Facility–its second location in Arizona. Its state-ofthe-art facility covering more than 21,000 square feet supports advanced design efforts and high-volume manufacturing services, including cleanroom assembly and incoming inspection with numerous testing capabilities such as modulation transfer function, stray light, thermal cycle, shock and vibration. Edmund Optics CEO Robert Edmund said the move would “allow Edmund Optics to build a larger collaborative partnership with Arizona Optics Initiative and the Arizona Technology Council. It solidifies our commitment to Tucson and AZTC Optics Valley initiatives.”


With its beautiful new hub in Downtown Tucson, Hexagon’s Mining Division employs 140 people. The company solves surface and underground challenges with proven technologies for planning, operations and safety. Hexagon Mining helps to connect all parts of a mine with technologies that make sense of data in real time. Earlier this year, this division received the EcoVadis gold sustainability rating, putting the global leader in mining technology for planning, operations and safety in the top third percentile of those assessed.


IBM Tucson employs 2,000 people and develops all of IBM’s storage products. The facility includes employees from its Systems and Technology Group, Software Group, and Global Services. IBM Tucson is home to one of two IBM TotalStorage briefing centers in the Americas, and IBM is the managing operator for the site’s UA Tech Park.

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Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 77 Calline Sanchez IBM VP TLS Offerings & Service Planning, AZ & NM State Executive

continued from page 77

Leonardo Electronics

Leonardo Electronics—which provides defense, security, medical and industrial products—built a $100-million, stateof-the-art semiconductor laser manufacturing facility on 13 acres at Innovation Park in Oro Valley in 2021. The one-story, 120,000-square-foot building includes manufacturing, assembly, testing, research and development, administrative and office space. Leonardo’s approximately 170 jobs comprise engineering, production, quality control, IT, HR, marketing, business development, purchasing and finance.

Pima Community College

Consistently named one of the top college employers in Arizona, Pima Community College is dedicated to producing a skilled workforce for the region’s industries. With a full-time enrollment of 6,238 and part-time enrollment of 23,762, the school has focused on creating Centers of Excellence and over the past five years has welcomed an Advanced Manufacturing Building, an Automotive and Technology Center and an expanded Aviation Technology Center.


The region’s top private employer with 13,000 workers, Raytheon, an RTX business, produces a broad portfolio of advanced technologies, including air and missile defense systems, precision weapons, radars, and command and control systems. With a legacy of more than 70 years here, the company’s economic impact in Arizona tops $2.6 billion. As President and CEO Wes Kremer told BizTucson in 2022, “We’ve created a hub of technology right here in our backyard of Tucson.” During the Council’s 20th annual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation in 2023, Kremer was awarded the People’s Choice AccountabilIT Lifetime Achievement Award.

University of Arizona Office of Research, Innovation & Impact

Overseeing an ambitious engine that includes Tech Parks Arizona, Tech Launch Arizona and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, UArizona’s Office of Research, Innovation & Impact helms more than $824 million in research activity. UA Tech Park recently celebrated 25 years of success and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation marked 20 years here, with an annual economic output of $35.3 million.

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Wes Kremer Raytheon President & CEO PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS
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Applied Energetics

BlackBar Engineering

Delivers advanced laser and photonics systems incorporating fiberbased, ultrashort pulse technology for commercial and national security markets.

Darling Geomatics

Specializes in autonomous vehicles, tactical tools and equipment, and offers solutions in engineering design, systems integration, rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing, and testing and analysis.

Delta Development

Leader in designing and manufacturing cooling and heating systems for extreme environments to help the military, first responders and medical applications.

Award-winning company that provides drone and ground-based mapping and surveying, 3D laser scanning, 3D modeling and thermography.

4D Technology

Develops metrology products to assure the quality of telescope projects both on land and in space with NASA being an early customer.

Freefall Aerospace

Founded in 2016 as a University of Arizona spin-off, the company develops antenna technology for space and land applications to fill critical gaps in communications infrastructure.

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Good Optics

Arizona Technology Council’s Largest Committee Also Among its Brightest

The world’s oldest optics cluster, Optics Valley, was founded right here in Arizona more than 30 years ago. Today, its reach spans the globe.

Started as an independent organization, Optics Valley is now the Arizona Technology Council’s biggest committee, with more than 100 members.

“The committee fosters innovation, research and development in the field of optics and photonics, bringing together industry, academia and research institutions to collaborate on cutting-edge technologies, promote economic growth and create a hub for the optics industry,” said

Karla Morales, VP of the council’s Southern Arizona Regional Office.

Its ef forts over the past five years have been fueled by funding from the Small Business Administration Regional Innovation Cluster, which led to a workforce development initiative that resulted in the resurrection of an optics technician training program at Pima Community College. Optics Valley also has strong relationships with many University of Arizona endeavors, including the BIO5 Institute, Tech Launch Arizona and the Wyant College of Optical Sciences.

Also notably, the group is a founding member of the Global Photonics Alliance, made up of more than 50 optics clusters. “This greatly aids our international presence and the export business of our member companies,” said Optics Valley committee chair John Dennis, president of Strategy1.

And AZTC’s Optics Valley’s flagship program, Arizona Photonics Days, has been expanded to three days featuring presentations, company pitches and networking oppor tunities, with more than 200 local and international participants. The seventh annual event will be held Jan. 24-26 at the UA Tech Park.

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continued from page 80

IR Labs

Designs and produces more than 4,500 infrared detection and cryogenic systems for global clients in scientific research, astronomy and industry since 1967.


Space Development Corporation

A company on the forefront of systems designed for extreme environments in sea, land, air and space, assisting every human space program of record since 1999.

Rincon Research

Founded in 1983, the company conceives, analyzes, designs and implements software solutions for numerous government projects and agencies.


American Battery Factory Breaks Ground Historic $1.2 Billion Investment

A groundbreaking is exactly what it implies. It’s the first step in the construction of a new building or sometimes the building of a new company.

When American Battery Factory broke ground on its new Tucson headquarters in October, local business, government and economic development leaders expressed hope that it’s a giant leap toward a whole new industry in Southern Arizona that will accelerate the growth of the clean energy economy nationwide.

“Today’s groundbreaking is further proof that when ABF announced its historic $1.2 billion investment last December, they joined a rapidly growing list of battery expansions happening in Arizona,” Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs said at the groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 26. “Since 2021, we’ve had nine battery announcements in the state, including three right here in southern Arizona.

“Not only does American Battery Factory’s new 2-million-square-foot

gigafactory represent a massive investment and hundreds of high-paying jobs for Arizonans, this transformational investment will accelerate the growth of the clean energy sector in our state and across the country.”

ABF, founded in Utah, announced in December 2022 that it was going to headquarter in Tucson with the billiondollar “gigafactory” that will be located on 267 acres of Pima County-owned land at the Aerospace Research Campus south of Tucson International Air-

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From Left – Heath Vescovi-Chiordi, Director, Pima County Economic Development; Allison Grigg, VP Business Development, Arizona Commerce Authority; Joe Snell, President & CEO, Sun Corridor Inc.; Tucson Mayor Regina Romero; ABF President John Kem; Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs; Jim Ge, Chair & CEO, American Battery Factory; Shaun Stirland, Chief Marketing Officer, American Battery Factory; Adelita Grijalva, Chair, Pima County Board of Supervisors; Pima County Supervisor Matt Heinz. PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY

port and adjacent to Raytheon Missiles & Defense. The company estimates the facility will have a $3.1 billion impact on the economy.

Construction of the facility will be a modular approach which will speed up construction. The first phase of construction to include the company’s headquarters, a research and development center and the initial factory module is expected to be completed by 2025. Using cutting-edge construction technology, the building will greatly limit waste at the site, will be airtight, and will ensure the protection of the battery cells during production, ABF said in a news release.

The first phase of the project, which will have a 3-gigawatt production line, is expected to generate 300 jobs. The company said it expects to ramp up to more than 1,000 jobs in operations, production, research and development, automation, robotics and its executives.

ABF President John Kem said an important aspect of the initial phase is that it will include a facility where technolo-

gies that are being developed in labs can be brought to the factory to determine if they can translate into a manufacturing process.

“The reality is sometimes it works in a test tube but it doesn’t work in manufacturing,” Kem said. “We’re going to have a facility that allows us to take what someone has invented and go, ‘How do you practically produce something with it, bigger than the lab?’ This is the start of that and we’re excited to be part of it.”

Kem, a retired U.S. Army major general, said it’s time for advanced battery and storage technology to be developed in the United States. It’s an emerging industry as the use of electric vehicles and solar expands creating a need for battery and storage technology.

“It has the opportunity and the potential to be transformative in many ways,” Kem said at the groundbreaking. “We’re all very familiar with the last decade in the evolution of electric vehicles, solar panels, a mix of all related efforts. Many use the term ‘green revolution.’

“While U.S. firms have played a part, it hasn’t been a big enough part. In many cases, a lot of the work has been done overseas with just some of the final assembly done in the U.S. Unfortunately, that’s just the nature of how it’s been. This is an opportunity to change that.”

Joe Snell, president & CEO of Sun Corridor Inc., the region’s economic development arm, said it was a no-brainer for the region to go after ABF when the opportunity arose. Project partners included Gov. Hobbs, the Arizona Commerce Authority, Sun Corridor Inc., Pima County, City of Tucson, Pima Community College and Tucson Electric Power.

“Back then it took us about a microsecond to understand that we wanted, that we needed to be the home of this cutting-edge gigafactory,” Snell said. “We can see where things are going across the globe. We were aware of how competitive the process was, and we knew we needed to earn it.”

Above center and right, renderings of the ABF gigafactory. Steve Odenkirk
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Managing Director – Southern Region

Alliance Bank’s Creative Reuse Murphey-Keith Building Restored, Modernized for New Branch

Alliance Bank of Arizona recently closed its oldest bank branch in the state to move to a new location that comes with its own history.

The new branch in the MurpheyKeith Building at 4445 N. Campbell Ave. is one of the area’s more charming structures with its brick masonry walls, large windows, solid wooden doors, beamed ceilings and fireplaces. It was built in 1928 by two legendary Tucsonans, architect Josias Joesler and visionary builder John Murphey.

Joesler is one of the most renowned architects in Tucson history, while Murphey is widely considered the most influential person in shaping the development of the Catalina Foothills.

Bor n in Switzerland, Joesler studied architecture, engineering and history before working as an architect throughout Europe, traveling the world, and continuing his work in Los Angeles. It was there where Murphey learned of Joesler and convinced him to come to Tucson and work with him and his business partner, Leo Keith.

Mur phey and Joesler reportedly partnered on more than 400 buildings in Tucson. In 1928, they worked on 56 of those jobs and one of them was the Murphey-Keith Building.

The building actually no longer sits on the spot where it was built. In the early 1980s, the building was lifted and moved north from its original setting to make room for the road widening at River Road and Campbell Avenue.

Today, the building is owned by Town West, which provides a mix of real estate, investment, development and

property management services throughout Southern Arizona.

Town West purchased the property from the Robert C. Murphey Trust in 2020. In 2021, shortly after Town West agreed to lease the building to Alliance Bank, Town West began the renovation that added 1,000 square feet to the building, increasing its size to nearly 4,000 square feet.

Alliance Bank moved into the building in October 2022. Town West handled the leasehold improvements and incor porated those costs into the lease.

“Town West did a great job disassembling many parts of the structure and putting it back together in expanding the building,” said Steve Odenkirk, managing director of the bank’s southern region. “Everyone involved in the renovation had the concept that we were to do everything possible to keep the building in its original state. The project provides a creative reuse of the building.”

Toby Horvath, president of Town West, said the outside of the building “looks like it always has, and we made restorations where they were needed. On the inside we modernized to create functional state-of-the-art banking office space. It came out nicely.”

Mike Sarikas, trustee of the Robert C. Murphey Trust, was pleased with the renovation. “It’s an old building and I’m glad they preserved it,” he said.

There are 10 Alliance Bank branches in Arizona, two of which are in Tucson. The second Tucson branch is at 200 S. Craycroft Road.

Alliance Bank of Arizona, headquar-

tered in Phoenix, is the largest locally headquartered bank in the state, but that’s only the beginning of explaining the resources this regional bank system possesses. Alliance Bank of Arizona is a division of Western Alliance Bank, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Alliance Bancorporation, which has more than $70 billion in assets.

“Think of Western Alliance Bancorporation as a parent organization that oversees not only Alliance Bank of Arizona, but also Torrey Pines Bank (San Diego), Bridge Bank (San Jose), Bank of Nevada (Las Vegas), First Independent Bank (Reno), and other divisions,” said Odenkirk.

Western Alliance Bank has 56 offices in Arizona, California and Nevada. Western Alliance Bank is a member of the New York Stock Exchange and is listed as WAL. The board chair of Western Alliance Bancorporation is Bruce Beach, a founder and senior advisor of BeachFleischman PLLC and a longtime Tucson business and community leader.

“Alliance Bank of Arizona’s roots run deep in Tucson, just like mine,” Beach said. “Since joining the board in 2005, I’ve witnessed first-hand its unwavering dedication to supporting local businesses and community organizations throughout Southern Arizona.”

Western Alliance has gathered many accolades. In 2023, Bank Director, a private company that acts as a research and fiduciary resource for bank executives, ranked Western Alliance No. 1 among banks with assets over $50 billion.

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1 2 3 5 4
1. University of Arizona Tech Park at the Bridges; 2. Humberto S. Lopez; 3. Patricia and Bruce Bartlett 4. Terry J. Lundgren; 5. John-Paul Roczniak, Dr. Fayez K. Ghishan, Marianne Cracchiolo Mago and Dr. Robert C. Robbins

A Wondrous Effort

UArizona Heralds Gifts Toward $3 Billion Fuel Wonder Campaign

The University of Arizona shined a spotlight on its ambitious $3 billion Fuel Wonder fundraising campaign on Nov.3 by announcing more than $118 million in gifts toward the effort.

At the Bear Down Building, the heart of the school’s Student Success District, school officials announced that the campaign has raised $2,040,735,512–roughly 70% of the goal, with the campaign’s public phase to commence.

“There are so many exciting things to report about this campaign,” said UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. “This is going to be absolutely transformational for the university,” he said of the school’s largest fundraising effort to date.

The campaign launched Jan. 1, 2017, when Robbins became university president. He quickly initiated a strategic planning process to guide UArizona’s future.

“I want to thank so many people who have made this possible,” he said. “We’re already two-thirds to our target with over $2 billion already raised. ... The people who love this university, whether they went to the University of Arizona or not, are giving because they believe in this place, and they want to invest in the future of our students, our staff and faculty and the infrastructure to do the research that needs to be done.”

Successes to date include the naming

of three colleges: the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, the W.A. Franke Honors College and the R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy.

Three capital projects have moved forward thanks to donor investment: the Student Success District, the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine and the William M. “Bill” Clements Golf Center. Also, a significant contribution from the Steele Foundation, led by Marianne Cracchiolo Mago, marked the first philanthropic support for the Center for Advanced Molecular and Immunological Therapies.

The generosity of alumni and friends has also resulted in the six highest endowment giving years in the university’s history. A six-year total of $423.7 million accounts for 35% of the total endowment under management as of June 30. The university’s endowment is valued at $1.2 billion, and gifts to it support the donors’ chosen priority areas in perpetuity.

Moderating the event was Alex Flanagan (Class of 1993), who has worked for ESPN, Fox Sports, NFL Network and NBC Sports.

Co-chairing Fuel Wonder are Terry Lundgren (Class of 1975), retired chairman and CEO of Macy’s Inc., and Marianne-Cracchiolo Mago (Class of 1993), president and CEO of the Steele Foundation.

“I took on this role to give back to a campus that really did change my family’s life,” Mago said.

Her father, Daniel Cracchiolo, who died in 2022, graduated from the UArizona with a law degree. He went on to found the Steele Foundation, whose goal is to improve the lives of children in Arizona through education.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to honor our foundation. I’m really honored to be here,” Mago said.

To honor her father, the Steele Foundation has made a $10 million grant to create the Daniel Cracchiolo Institute for Pediatric Autoimmune Disease Research at the University.

After the institute is established in Tucson, a second institute will open in Phoenix at the Center for Advanced Molecular and Immunological Therapies. “After COVID, especially, it’s perfect timing for us and we are really thrilled,” Mago said.

“I wanted to be a small part of this vision that Bobby (Robbins) had to bring this university and its students and faculty to the next level,” added Lundgren.

Macy’s, he said, has hired hundreds of UArizona students. “It’s a good place to come to find people who are interested in our industry.” The company is supporting a collaboration between the Eller College of Management and the

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Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing and has launched a retail innovation lab.

“Hopefully we’ll find some insights that we can share with retailers about what drives purchasing behavior of 20-year-olds. ...” Lundgren said. “With investments through the Fuel Wonder campaign, we hope to educate our students and expose them to business leaders ... and ultimately prepare them for an exciting career.”

“Every gift we have received since Jan. 1, 2017, is part of Fuel Wonder,” said JP Roczniak, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Foundation, in a news release. “You can see from the gifts we are announcing the range of causes that are meaningful to our alumni and friends. ... The ongoing charitable support of annual donors has a huge impact on campus programs as well.”

“I will remind everyone,” Robbins added, “that we still have $1 billion to go (to hit the campaign goal). “Seeing what has already been done it’s going to inspire others because they want to be part of a winning team. ... I would love to hit the $4 billion mark,” he said.

A list of philanthropic donations to the Fuel Wonder campaign:

Fueling the Wildcat Journey Scholarships and student success, part of the Wildcat Journey pillar of the university’s strategic plan, are among the campaign’s top priorities. New gifts totaling $27.35 million were announced at the launch.

•Patricia and Bruce Bartlett, former educators and longtime university supporters, are among the most generous donors to the university, including multiple commitments during the Fuel Wonder campaign. A recent $2.5 million gift to the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center has endowed the center’s executive director position and will further the work of Bar tlett Labs — a multidisciplinary research initiative.

•The Baird Foundation has donated $5.7 million to create the Baird Scholars Fund. The foundation has supported University of Arizona students for decades, giving over $15 million

cumulatively. These scholarships are granted to six outstanding students from Arizona high schools, supporting them throughout their four-year academic journey. The university hopes to grow the impact of the Baird Scholars Fund through annual fundraising toward this endowment.

•Jim and Vicki Click, longtime supporters and champions of the UArizona Adaptive Athletics Program, have committed a $6.5 million gift, adding to their previous investments in the program. This gift will allow the program to recruit elite athletes well into the future.

“This is going to be absolutely transformational for the university.”
– Dr. Robert C. Robbins President University of Arizona

•John Lee Compton has committed $3.2 million to benefit students in the W.A. Franke Honors College. The gift from Compton, a biotech industry executive, will establish the Compton Lab of Discover y and Innovation, Endowed Compton Chair for Creative Intelligence and Innovation, and the Compton Fund for Exploration. A longtime volunteer who has worked with many honors students on their research projects, Compton is an advocate for creative inquiry and aims to create a safety net for students who want to take informed risks with their projects.

•John and Adrienne Mars have given to benefit both students and research at the university. A $2 million gift to the College of Science supports scholarships and exploration of research, majors and careers for first-year students. They have long been involved with the College of Science.

•A Wildcat family that asked not to be named has contributed $7.45 million for two student-centered efforts. A total of $1.5 million will support Destination Arizona — a university initiative designed to warmly welcome all new students to campus before classes begin while fostering inclusivity and a sense of community among Wildcats. A gift of $5.95 million supports Arizona Athletics, specifically aiding the 5980 Fund and C.A.T.S. Academics.

Fueling knowledge discovery and teaching

Students want to learn from the best in the field and be part of a university at the forefront of research across disciplines. Funding for endowed faculty positions that help recruitment and retention efforts are a key campaign priority. Gifts totaling $36.5 million were announced.

•Alumni Michael and Sheri Hummel, both Class of 1982, have committed $5 million to benefit the Cancer Engineering Initiative, a program being jointly implemented at the College of Engineering and the University of Arizona Cancer Center. The initiative aims to create humanlike cancer models and growth environments to help improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Their gift also supports gynecological cancer research at the College of Medicine — Tucson.

•Humberto and Czarina Lopez have contributed $18 million across multiple university causes during the Fuel Wonder campaign. Humberto Lopez is a member of the Eller College of Management Class of 1969. The Lopezes’ most recent gifts, including $9 million to the Eller College to name the HS Lopez School of Business Analytics, will enhance business analytics education through faculty and research endowments, and a program endowment. They also committed $8 million to the College of Medicine — Tucson, with one of their gifts establishing the Iovanna C. Lopez Endowed Deanship, named in honor of their daughter.

•In addition to their support of students at the College of Science, John and

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Adrienne Mars have designated another $2 million gift to benefit agrivoltaics research at Biosphere 2. Agrivoltaics is the concept of co-locating agriculture with solar panels as a potential solution to challenges around food, energy and water.

•The Waverley Street Foundation, which aims to advance climate solutions grounded in the day-to-day lives of people and communities, has made a $2 million gift for the Indigenous Resilience Center, housed under the university’s Research, Innovation & Impact office and headed by professor Karletta Chief (who is Diné, or Navajo).

•A Wildcat family wishing to remain anonymous has committed $6 million to the Eller College of Management and its Department of Finance. The gift creates three endowed chairs. An additional $500,000 supports the Eller Partnerships office.

•A $4 million gift from a couple wishing to give anonymously established an endowed prize for an Endowed Postdoctoral Research Associate in Climate Change and Human Resiliency, awarded through the university’s Research, Innovation & Impact office. The funding will support multiple postdoctoral researchers over the coming years, each serving in their position for two years.

Fueling communit y

Arizona Public Media, an editorially independent, not-forprofit service of the University of Arizona, recently announced a capital campaign for the Paul and Alice Baker Center for Public Media at the University of Arizona Tech Park at The Bridges. AZPM announced that $54.8 million has been raised or pledged for the building project, which will break ground in February 2024. AZPM has $10.2 million left to raise to reach its $65 million goal.

With the new, donor-financed building, Southern Arizona will finally have a state-of-the-art public media home, replacing the current cramped and technologically outdated studios located in the basement of the Modern Languages building on the UArizona campus. The new facility is designed as a public square, a convening place for public debates, presentations, screenings and events for generations to come.

Other gifts and commitments, totaling $30.3 million, include support from:

•Paul and Alice Baker

•Mona Kreaden and Paul Lipton

•The George Mason Green and Lois C. Green Foundation

•The Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation

•Ellen Kaye

The total raised also includes $24.5 million in realized estate gifts that were designated for AZPM. “These gifts make up the literal foundation of a building that will ensure the future of public media in Tucson for generations to come,” said Jack Gibson, CEO of AZPM. “We look forward to recognizing these gifts in a place of honor in the new building.”

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Czarina & Humberto Lopez

Honoring His Roots $10 Million Gift to Launch HSLopez School of Business Analytics

After spending a lifetime working hard and smart, Humberto S. Lopez calls it a “responsibility” to pay back his gratitude to those who helped him along the way.

One of the many longtime beneficiaries has been the University of Arizona, Lopez’s alma mater, where he just added $10 million to his impressive list of donations to help create the new HSLopez School of Business Analytics at the Eller College of Management.

Lopez and his wife, Czarina, have a long history of philanthropy in the community. Humberto says he’s had many to thank along the way.

At the age of 12, he began supporting his family after his father passed away, and thanks to his perseverance, he was able to attend Cochise College then UArizona. There, he received an accounting degree from the School of Business and Public Administration, now known as the Eller College of Management.

“The School of Accounting was very well known, and I got job offers from all the companies I talked to,” Lopez stated. “I elected to go with Deloitte and I became a real estate expert.”

In the 1970s, he established HSL Properties, which has since acquired, owned, operated and developed properties in multiple states and formed more than 100 limited partnerships and limited liability companies. Shortly after, he and Czarina began their long history of gifting UArizona.

“We at Eller and the entire University of Arizona Wildcat family are indebted to Bert and Czarina,” said Karthik Kannan, dean and Halle Chair in Leadership at Eller. “We are grateful for their generous donations of both time and money that allow us to further develop tools and resources for our Eller students.”

Lopez said he feels strongly about the importance of analytics in the business world. “For example,” he said, “when we build apartments, we look at what areas we’re covering, vacancies, crime reports, demographics. In the computer age, we can gather lots of information. A graduate with a degree in analytics is in high demand. Students with a major or minor at Eller will be able to get highpaying jobs.”

Through the years, Lopez has supported a variety of on-campus endeavors. “I’ve been involved with the university since I graduated. I was chairman of the (Sarver) Heart Center for 10 years, I did fundraising for the athletic department, I was on the board of advisors for the accounting department at Eller.”

The UArizona Alumni Association honored him with the 2020-2021 Alumnus of the Year award for the Eller College of Management. He also created the Endowed Chair for Excellence in Cardiovascular Research at the Sarver Center in the College of Medicine. Its first recipient was Carol Gregorio, who is co-director of Sarver Heart Center

and chair of the Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine.

“The Lopezes just really want to make a difference and I’m not going to disappoint them. It’s such an honor,” Gregorio said upon receiving the news of her selection in 2021.

Humberto and Czarina have a close connection to Sarver Heart Center as Czarina has been a patient there since receiving a kidney and heart transplant at another medical center.

The couple’s philanthropic interests extend beyond UArizona. Close to their hearts is the Center of Opportunity, which they created in 2018 after purchasing a Tucson hotel and converting it into a homeless shelter.

“I consider this my baby,” Lopez said. “We’re transforming homelessness and addiction. We teach them to interview, and Pima Community College is training them for vocations. My goal is to take the concept throughout the country, into other cities and states, and to get other philanthropists involved.”

Lopez said he never forgets his beginnings and the support he’s had since early on. He says he will spend his remaining days giving back to the community.

“I’m giving everything away that my wife and I have,” he said. “We have had a very good life, and we have excess. We have the responsibility to give back. We can’t take it with us, and the money will do great things.”

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Tucson’s Next Generation of Leaders

BizTucson is proud to announce the list of 2024 Next Gen Leaders — 20 Rising Stars to Watch. This group of leaders and visionaries includes businessbuilders, changemakers, community creators and problem solvers who are working toward a prosperous future for Tucson and Southern Arizona.

Using 21st century skills, technology and innovation, they seek to build a region where current and future generations can thrive.

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2024 Tucson’s Next Generation of Leaders





Diana Charbonneau has built a career out of giving back. The Tucson na tive began volunteering while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sociology from George Washington University in Washington D.C. and she hasn’t stopped. Since 2010, Charbonneau has volunteered with more than 30 local nonprof its.

Her career trajectory spanned manufacturing/sales, finance, and nonprofit development before transitioning to Corporate Learning Facilitator for Tuc son Electric Power. She credits mentorship through Tucson Metro Chamber’s Emerging Leaders with helping her attain critical leadership and public speak ing skills.

“It set me on a path to do what I love: Leadership and development trainings that help people become the best versions of themselves and the best leaders for their teams,” she said. “I give them tools to elevate themselves.”

Charbonneau is a recipient of the 2023 GTL Community Impact Award and a 2017 Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 40 Under 40 Honoree. She is a board member for 100+ Women Who Care Tucson and past president of American Association of University Women Tucson.



A first-generation college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UArizona, Alexis Chavez leads the Alexis Chavez Real Estate Team with Realty Executives Arizona Territory. Her Southwestern roots—she grew up on the U.S./Mexico border and is fluent in English and Spanish—help elevate her insight into the regional housing market.

Her team has received the 100% Club Award for sales; the Executive Club Award for the Top 10% Agents at Realty Executives Arizona; and many more.

“There are no short cuts in any career,” Chavez said. “My business is founded on hard work, good relationships, trust and honesty.”

Her community service echoes those values. She has held numerous offic es and board positions with El Rio Vecinos during the last seven years and helped to raise more than $850,000 for El Rio Health.

“I want to give back to Tucson in the best way that I can, and the Vecinos and real estate go hand-in-hand: Both help people to live healthy, happy, produc tive lives.”








As VP of Land for KB Home in Tucson, Andrew Gasparro oversees identification, negotiation, acquisition, planning, and development of residential communities.

The Tucson native holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and regional development from UArizona and began his career with Rio Nuevo. He supervised acquisition and development of more than $1 billion in master-planned communities for Pulte Homes and later, KB Home in Tucson, Phoenix and Pinal County.

Gasparro is vice chair for SAHBA Tucson, serves on Tucson Metro Chamber’s Emerging Leaders Council, and is a board member and Big Brother for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona.

“There are many things that make Tucson great: the Catalina and Rincon Mountains against the backdrop of blue skies; the designation as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy; the Tucson Rodeo and Tucson Gem & Mineral Show; the historic churches and tribal lands,” he said. “None of those mean anything without the people. They make the community and are the key reason I returned to my hometown after 10 years away.”

As Senior VP of Strategy for Sun Corridor Inc., Susan Hyatt Dumon leads strategic efforts around competitiveness to drive economic development here.

Dumon has nearly 20 years of experience in economic development at state, regional, and local levels, assisting companies that have created more than 25,000 jobs and invested nearly $2 billion in capital in Arizona.

She previously worked in economic development for the City of Phoenix and the Arizona Commerce Authority. A graduate of DePauw University, Dumon holds an MPA from Baruch College, City University of New York. She is an alumna of the National Urban Fellows Program, a national public and nonprofit sector leadership program.

Dumon serves on the board of Pima Foundation and the Southern Arizona Workforce Leadership Advisory Council.

“Greater Tucson and the Southern Arizona region hit a sweet spot of being big enough to offer a large talent pool to draw from, but not so large that it is difficult to navigate and connect within the community,” she said. “We often say that we are ‘The Goldilocks’ of cities.”

2024 Tucson’s
Next Generation of Leaders

2024 Tucson’s Next Generation of Leaders



Tucson native Lee McLaughlin brings a background as an artist and designer with more than a decade of destination marketing experience to his role as VP of marketing for Visit Tucson.

McLaughlin served Visit Tucson as its senior graphic designer, creative director and senior director of marketing before becoming VP in 2019. He uses a brand-centric approach to position Tucson as a premier travel destination, on par with cities such as Phoenix, Scottsdale, Palm Springs, and Santa Fe.

His team has raised Tucson’s profile as a food capital, an outdoor mecca, and a cycling destination–putting the city on the map as a must-visit locale for millions of travelers from around the globe.

“ Tucson has come onto the radar in the past decade as a hidden gem,” McLaughlin said. “It is receiving recognition for amazing amenities for visitors and as a great place to live: Everything from general quality of life as a big city with a college-town feel and incredible weather to the distinctive culture, heritage and natural surroundings—along with logistical factors such as the favorable cost of living relative to many places in California and the West Coast.”

Wesley P. Mehl is dedicated to building a better Arizona through quality de velopment, community involvement and respect for the environment.

As VP of Cottonwood Properties, the Tucson native has extensive experience in developing residential and commercial real estate projects, resorts and master-planned communities such as La Paloma and Dove Mountain.

Mehl, who holds a bachelor’s degree from UArizona and a J.D. from Pep perdine University, consults for the Arizona State Land Department on proj ects aimed at enhancing economic development potential. These include the 2,000-acre H2K industrial zoning bank at Houghton and Interstate 10 and conceptual master planning for 35,000 acres of state land near Vail.

He served as deputy commissioner of the Arizona State Land Department from 2015 to 2019. Prior to that, he was VP and general counsel for Town West Realty, Inc., and worked in private legal practice.

The father of three has also served on the Urban Land Institute Advisory Board and was Honorary Commander at Luke Air Force Base from 2016 to 2018.

2024 Tucson’s Next Generation of Leaders
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RISING STARS STARS 20 2024 Tucson’s Next Generation of Leaders
Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 109

2024 Tucson’s Next Generation of Leaders




Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 111




Tucson’s Next Generation of Leaders




for the

65 Years Kids

A History of Tucson’s Best Working Together

In the last 65 years, there’s no telling how many thousands of kids have stories to tell about the impact the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson have had on their lives.

The stories can be compelling.

Jon Volpe was a local kid from a broken home who sought guidance and security from the Boys & Girls Clubs. He was his own after school with a loving but single mom who worked nights “to make ends meet.” He saw his older brother go to prison several times. He knew the same path was there for him to follow. Instead, he took another.

To this day, he credits his success as a college and professional athlete, as a graduate of Stanford University, and as a prominent Tucson businessman to the opportunities the clubs gave him as a youth.

olpe is currently owner and chair of the board of NOVA Home Loans, one of the leading mortgage, investment and insurance companies in the country.

“I owe a lot to the Boys & Girls Clubs,” Volpe said. “I don’t think I would be where I’m at today if they weren’t there for me after school to give me the support and guidance and mentorship that I needed.”

Likewise, University of Arizona basketball hero Sean Elliott was a “club kid” who spent his time after school and in the summer with his two brothers at the Steve Daru Clubhouse at 1375 N. El Rio Dr., next to the El Rio Golf Course.

“My mom took all three of us there because she and my dad worked all the time,” Elliott said, saying he spent “countless hours” at the club. “They needed to

make sure that we had a place we could go where it was safe, and where we weren’t out in the streets and getting in trouble.

“The biggest thing is it just kept us active. I loved all the activities there. I loved to build models and I loved to play chess. I believe I learned how to play chess at the Boys & Girls Club, and I played a lot of checkers.”

Who’s Who of Supporters

Volpe, Elliott and thousands of other local kids have been the beneficiaries of an organization that, for decades, has attracted support from a veritable who’s who of the Tucson business and philanthropic community.

Longtime Tucson auto dealer Jim Click became a supporter when his friends and business partners convinced him to get involved. In the early 1980s, Click, through his uncle, Holmes Tuttle, linked up with the organization’s western region manager who told him the Tucson clubs were having some financial trouble. Click said he jumped right in, gave the local clubs a $50,000 loan through a local bank he owned with some partners, and started fundraising.

Click’s influence was such that President Ronald Reagan came to Tucson to dedicate the club named after Holmes Tuttle at 2585 E. 36th St.

“The first fundraiser I got involved in, we gave away a (Ford) Thunderbird,” Click recalled. He helped arrange an event at the Old Spaghetti Company where the drawing was held. Funds raised that night paid back the loan with some leftover for the clubs. Click said the suc-

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cess of that event led to more support from the community.

“We met at the Skyline Country Club and one of the board members spoke to us about the importance of the Boys & Girls Clubs and how they changed her life and gave her a place to go after school,” Click said. “That group all joined the board and we agreed we would do everything we could to put the Boys & Girls Clubs back on sound financial footing.”

For the kids

Over the years, the list of supporters with long resumes in business and philanthropy in Tucson has grown to include Laurie Wetterschneider, Mark Irvin, Humberto Lopez, Todd Bisbocci, the Alan and Jan Levin Family, who were the 2023 Click for Kids Award honorees, and so many others who continue their support as board members, advisors and donors.

Their expertise in their own businesses and careers has been the catalyst for the many unique events and fundraisers supporting the organization through the years. Elliott, who now lives in San Antonio, Tex., supported the clubs for several years by putting his name on the annual Steak & Burger Dinner which is the annual awards event. Click has been a master auctioneer at events over the years in which he doesn’t take no for an answer.

The late and legendary Lute Olson became a supporter of the clubs when he arrived in Tucson in 1983 to coach the University of Arizona basketball team. His name, with his wife Kelly’s,

“I don’t think I would be where I’m at today if they weren’t there for me after school to give me the support and guidance and mentorship that I needed.”
– Jon Volpe Chairman & Owner NOVA Home Loans

helms the Party with a Purpose, an annual, invitation-only fundraiser held in November.

Lopez, a prominent developer and philanthropist, said attending Boys & Girls Clubs breakfasts where Olson, Click and other prominent Tucsonans were showing their support is how he got involved and has stayed so for 40 years.

“Jim Click was always there, and he was always very good at getting you involved and making sure you’ve made a sizable contribution,” Lopez said of those breakfasts in the 1980s.

Wetterschneider and Irvin joined the cause about the same time in 1990, coming from different directions with the same objective, to help kids who need help, mentoring and role models. Both remain active with the organization.

Wetterschneider arrived in Tucson as a teenager, graduated from UArizona and ultimately dove into a career in radio and television. That led her to making community work a lifelong passion.

“I’m probably unusual in that I absolutely love asking for money,” Wetterschneider said. “For me, after having spent my career selling radio advertising, having the opportunity to do something on behalf of children in our community was just the most wonderful satisfying feeling to watch generations

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of Tucson’s youth grow up and thrive thanks to Boys & Girls Clubs.”

Wetterschneider has been on the board of directors since 1990. When she was introduced to the Boys & Girls Clubs she said didn’t know much more than they helped kids.

“I knew they served a lot of children. I thought of it as a sports facility,” she said. “I didn’t realize the educational component that goes with it that is very strong.”

Clubs within the Clubs

Similarly, Irvin, a commercial real estate broker, was attracted to the clubs more than 30 years ago by the idea of helping kids. Irvin has been one of the drivers of downtown revitalization as a member of the Rio Nuevo board of directors.

He arrived in Tucson in 1986 and took some time to establish his business before diving

into community work. When it came time to pick a cause, Boys & Girls Clubs was an easy choice, he said.

One of Irvin’s many ideas to help the clubs has been to develop incentive programs for fundraising, such as the Five Figure Club for board members who raise more than $10,000 in a year. That led to the formation of a Six Figure Club. Irvin said he also helped develop the Rookie of the Year award on the board.

“What’s cool about it is it’s something that I think never was on the board’s radar screen,” Irvin said of the fundraising awards.

Lopez said of the clubs: “I love what they’re doing. They’ve been around for a long time and unless you’re doing something right, you’re not going to survive as many years as they’ve been around. It works and that’s why people like myself help out and contribute.”



Email or visit our website for more information www.

– Homework Help

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For more information email or visit our website.

February 2024

Cholla Foundation Golf Tournament

March 2024

Swing for the Kids Pickleball Edition

June 2024

Youth of the Year Celebration

October 2024

HeArtWorks Art Show

November 2024

Party with a Purpose



October 2024 – Halloween

November 2024 – Thanksgiving

December 2024 – Kohl’s Shopping Spree

December 2024 – Holiday Parties

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For the Club Kids Donating from the Heart

It’s a seemingly simple question to ask the many donors who contribute the thousands of dollars that have added up to millions for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson − why?

While there are many answers, they come with a common thread from both longtime donors and new ones. It’s usually from the heart.

“All you have to do is walk into a Boys & Girls Club and you realize how important this is,” said Dr. Bill Neubauer, a substantial donor and a local surgeon with over 50 years in medicine. “You see a lot of happy kids.”

Some have old connections to the clubs, like Dale and Julie Butcher who supported the clubs in Greeley, Colo., before moving to Tucson where they’ve been supporters as well. Julie has been a board member, board president, and served a stint as interim CEO.

A substitute teacher in an earlier life, Julie said she had an affinity for helping kids when the Butchers landed in Tuc son. She was looking for a cause where she could make a difference, having also been a lifelong fundraiser before she got here.

It’s become more than a cause, she said.

“It’s become my second family, not only with the amazing club kids, but also with the board, the staff, everyone,” she said. “What we provide for kids, it’s just great to be a part of that and to be able to help serve so many children in our community.”

Along with giving their money, the many prominent donors are active in finding ways to raise money and also the best ways to use it.

Julie Butcher and longtime donor and supporter Laurie Wetterschneider helped start the Party with a Purpose that bears the name of Lute and Kelly Olson in the title. It’s an invitation-only dinner and auction that raised $50,000

in its first year and pulled in $1 million the past two years with Jim Click and Edmund Marquez working the auction together.

As director of the Connie Hillman Foundation, Larry Adamson uses the foundation to challenge the Boys & Girls Clubs to seek new donors the foundation will match at $1 for every $2 they raise.

“What we’re trying to do is, not only do they get the Hillman Foundation money, but the challenge makes it easier for them to raise money, to go to their supporters and say, ‘We have this challenge would you help us out?’ ” Adamson said. “It’s typically for a major project or major activity.” He estimates the Hillman Foundation has donated about $700,000, meaning that $2.1 million has been raised through the foundation’s challenge.

Louise and Dale Henderson also had a connection to the Boys & Girls Clubs. Their twin daughters, now 40, learned to swim at the clubs in Sarasota, Fla., and went on to swim in college, Louise said.

Dale is a University of Arizona graduate, which helped lead the Hendersons back to Tucson in 2013 and eventually put their support behind the Boys & Girls Clubs here. They decided on the organization the new-fashioned way, through internet research.

“We started looking at different organizations, online through philanthropic websites, etc. We kept coming back to the Boys and Girls Clubs,” Louise said. After a meeting with the director at the time, the Hendersons made a five-year financial commitment, then started giving their time as well.

“It was so much fun,” Louise said. “We met with high school kids plus some eighth graders. The club director would pick some kids that he thought would enjoy it.”

Last summer, Arizona Women’s Basketball Coach Adia Barnes announced he launch of the Adia Barnes Academy of Sports and Leadership at the ys & Girls Clubs, which will provide teaching and mentoring for young girls. Nike is also a partner.

Barnes started the funding for the program with a $100,000 donation. She and her players will work directly with the girls in the academy.

“To just be able to collaborate with Nike and the Boys and Girls Clubs to create something special for girls is much-needed and long overdue,” Barnes said at a media event for the academy. “I envision creating future stars and leaders. It’s not all about basketball. It’s about flourishing in every single area.”

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Working Boards Make the Clubs Run

Prominent Community Members Commit to the Kids

At 65, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson is at an age when people look to retire. That’s nowhere in the plans for the nonprofit organization. It’s moving quickly into the future.

Making that forward motion happen is the job of the board of directors, which includes some 60 members. The board is composed of three parts: the day-to-day working board, the senior board and the emeritus board.

“It’s a big number for the board that’s for sure,” said Denise Watters, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson.

Each of the three parts plays an important role in serving Tucson-area youth, ages 7 to 17. The board oversees the operation of six clubhouses.

“The board has depth of experience,” said Board President Mitch Sigsworth. “There are a lot of people. It’s amazing how generous people are.”

Sigsworth came to Tucson from San Diego in 2015 to run Cox Media. Cox Media, he said, is a national sponsor of Boys & Girls Clubs. It has donated all the technology to the clubs so they have high-speed internet. The company asked Sigsworth to fill a spot on the Tucson board.

“I saw its value − to help young people,” Sigsworth said.

The board meets monthly and has mixers every quarter. It hosts a number of events each year including the Cholla Foundation Golf Tournament, Swing for the Kids, the Lute & Kelly Olson Party with a Purpose and its largest event, the Youth of the Year awards

banquet held each June at Casino del Sol.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson is constantly recruiting new members. A potential member is sponsored by a current member, and the potential members are approved by the board.

“We try to fill specific (board) needs with representatives from different industries and community partners,” said Joe Gulotta, a retired assistant Tucson

“We’re working very hard to have a diverse board that has the time and talent to support the mission.”
– Joe Gulotta Board Member Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson

Fire chief and president-elect of the board.

For instance, the Tucson police chief serves on the board, as does the Pima County sheriff. There also are representatives from the University of Arizona and Tucson Electric Power.

“We’re working very hard to have a diverse board that has the time and talent to support the mission,,” Gulotta said.

Governance and fundraising are the main board focuses, said board member Tom Robertson. Robertson retired in Tucson in 1991 after serving 20 years in the Air Force and attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel.

“Historically, we try to have engaged and interesting and influential people on the board,” Robertson said. His wife Cindy became a board member in 1992. Robertson joined the board in 2008 and is a past president.

In 2010, Cindy started Heartworks, an art program for Boys & Girls Clubs members. “It’s really fantastic and unique,” Robertson said. In 2020, she received an award from the clubs for her efforts.

Susan Gray, president & CEO of UNS Energy Corp. the parent of Tucson Electric Power, became a board member and remains involved because it affords kids opportunities and experiences that were more available to her as a youth than they are to kids at the clubs.

“I lived a life in which there

continued on page 126 >>>

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From left – Julie Trujillo, Director of Clubhouse Operations; Jose Quijada, Director of Facilities; Tola Barker, Human Resource Business Partner; Denise Watters, Chief Executive Officer, Adam Begody,Chief Development & Marketing Officer Kids from left – Ezra (red shirt, smiling); Micah (purple shirt w/ glasses); Treyce (red shirt , no smile); Jai (blue shirt glasses); Liam (grey shirt blue jeans); Abel (eyes closed); Michael PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

continued from page 124

were no limits to what I thought I could achieve. We know not every child has that experience,” Gray said.

“The Clubs help position young people to accomplish great things by inspiring a vision of what’s possible whether that’s going to college or learning a skilled trade. We want them to see the potential that exists and then provide the confidence and support to help them get there.”

A good board requires good team members. No one knows that more

than Joan Bonvincini, a retired women’s basketball coach at the University of Arizona, Long Beach State and Seattle University. She has been a board member for 17 years and currently serves as the board secretary.

“You need good players,” Bonvicini said. “It’s about getting good people and it’s the same thing on the board.

“Our board people are of high character and people who believe in the mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs and are utilizing their talents,” Bonvicini said.

Bonvicini was a Boys & Girls Clubs

member growing up in Connecticut. She learned to swim at the clubs and attended summer camp.

This year marks Jana Westerbeke’s 20th year as a board member. She is the co-owner of Gadabout Salon Spas in Tucson with her husband Frank. Her mother Pamela McNair Wingate, Gadabout’s founder, inspired her to connect with the Boys & Girls Clubs.

“She always loved the Boys & Girls Clubs because it works to create the next generation of leaders,” Westerbeke said. “I love every minute of it.”

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Five years ago, Westerbeke and her mother received the Click for Kids Award, the highest award of thanks the group bestows on individuals or businesses annually. Westerbeke thinks the present board remains solid and is doing well.

“Today, I think we’re in a really good place with Denise (Watters),” she said. “She really walks the talk.”

Watters was named CEO in 2022 after serving as interim CEO in 2021. Originally from Washington, D.C., Watters moved to Tucson in 2018.

She has a background in organizational leadership, strategic planning, growth strategy and philanthropy. She has been an executive at national and international companies, including a Fortune 50 company, a law firm, a public relations firm, a financial consulting fir m and small, medium and large government contractors.

its importance to continue the impact the clubs have on community youth.

Clubs were open a full day during the pandemic because Banner Health wanted a place for children of first responders and essential workers to go.

“The board was very focused during COVID on keeping the clubs open and available, a testament to the hard work and dedication of our former CEO, Debbie Wagner,” Watters said, noting

As for new board members, Watters said, “We look for prominent people committed to the mission and who know how to fundraise. I’m always looking for people and meeting (potential) members. I think we are always recruiting,” she said.

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A Vision for Growth New Funding, New Ideas Mean More Impact

Underserved youth in Southern Arizona will continue to have more opportunities to grow and prosper through the long-term vision of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson.

The organization, which is celebrating its 65th year, has plans to add several more clubhouses, acquiring more federal and state grants and adding programs, including a technology learning and workforce readiness center. CEO Denise Watters attributes the continued success and growth in large part to her staff.

“At the Club level, our staff play a pivotal role in providing mentorship, guidance and a positive environment fostering the personal and academic development of the youth we serve,” said Watters. “On the admin side, our strategic planning and support through federal, state and private grants ensure the effective implementation of programs, contributing to the organization’s overarching mission to empower young individuals.”

National partnerships through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America supports club operations which helps take the pressure off local fundraising, Watters said.

“We have gotten some good help from larger, national partners,” she said, citing NASCAR, Panda Express, TacoBocci, UPS, Cox, Comcast and New York Life. “We are getting some great national attention working with teens for workforce readiness.”

Watters said the clubs are looking to partner with Pima Community College so teens can earn college credits during their junior and senior years in high school which will help them easily enter work certificate programs the college offers.

“Hopefully, with partnerships at each

center, those students will be able to accomplish some base level skills that can transfer to certificates and programs at the college, and they can move on to jobs,” said Marcy Euler, president & CEO of the Pima Foundation.

“We have really opened kids’ eyes because of the mentoring and leadership and passion that is in the clubhouses,” Watters added. “We want to help kids realize their dreams.”

Work is continuing on making the Holmes Tuttle Clubhouse on 36th Street a teen tech and workforce readiness center. It’s expected to be completed by fall 2024, Watters said.

The organization also is working with corporations on programs that will help prepare club kids for jobs and getting

“The bottom line is clubs in area neighborhoods do whatever it takes to help kids have a great future.”
– Jim Clark President & CEO Boys & Girls Clubs of America

staff on board for the readiness center.

Watters said the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson has worked with law enforcement and the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona to determine where the next four future clubhouses should be established. One will be in the Amphitheater and Flowing Wells area, and is expected to be operational in about three years.

“Thanks to our partnership with local law enforcement, we know there are roughly 40,000 kids in Tucson who fall within the 7-17 age range that we still haven’t reached,” Watters said. “Our six clubhouse locations are situated in some of the more dangerous communities in our city, but we’re also talking to Tucson Unified School District about opening in schools that are vacant, which includes the possibility of a club on the east side.

“The needs of our youth keep growing so we are always looking for new donors, partners, and fundraising opportunities to make sure the needs of our youth are met year after year.”

TUSD also is stepping up to help the clubs. Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo has pledged $30,000 in auxiliary funds to pay the annual club dues of district students who attend clubhouses and can’t afford the fee. The dues are $20 per school year. Even though there’s a fee to join the clubs, no one is turned away.

“I see a future of expansion under CEO Watters,” Trujillo said. “Having clubhouses focus more on digital literacy and workforce preparedness, I think, is a visionary strategy on the part of Ms. Watters.”

The Tucson clubs’ anniversary has caught the attention of Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

continued on page 130 >>>

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PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS Denise Watters –CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, pictured with Club Kids at the Frank & Edith Morton Clubhouse

“We’re excited to participate in the celebration of the 65th anniversary of Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson,” Clark said. “The clubs are an anchor in every community that we serve.”

This year, Boys & Girls Clubs of America opened its 5,000th club in Elgin, Ill.

“For many young people, this is their home away from home and a home for some,” Clark said. “When kids have an experience in Boys & Girls Clubs, they get more physical education and good

things happen. They’re more likely to graduate from high school and more likely to go on to college.”

“The bottom line is clubs in area neighborhoods do whatever it takes to help kids have a great future,” Clark said. “We work to do whatever it takes to do what every kid needs.”

The future for Boys & Girls Clubs, Clark said, is bright thanks to their programs and the caring adults that work with kids.

Todd Bisbocci, owner of TacoBocci, which operates local Taco Bells, has been a board member for seven years and is a Boys & Girls Clubs alum. He said it’s impossible to overstate the impact clubs have had on Tucson youth.

“The Boys & Girls Clubs have been an integral part of my life and are a big part of the person I am today,” he said. “The youth we serve are future leaders and the hope is that our work changes the lives of kids who need us most.”

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2023 ASID Arizona South Commercial Award Winners



Designer: Esthela Celaya, Allied ASID

Photographer: Kurt Munger




Designer: Eva Murzaite, ASID

Brandy Holden, Allied ASID

Azucena Maldonado, Allied ASID

Photographer: Taylor Thoenes


Designer: Esthela Celaya, Allied ASID

Photographer: Kurt Munger


UNDER 5,000 SF


Designer: Eva Murzaite, ASID

Brandy Holden, Allied ASID

Azucena Maldonado, Allied ASID

Photographer: Lupita Ramirez (Solaris Photography)



Lori Carroll, ASID

Taylor Peterson, Allied ASID

Photographer: Jon Mancuso

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6 Trends to Know About in Manufacturing Technology

Manufacturers in a variety of sectors are turning to innovations in technology to improve operations and drive performance.

As the manufacturing industry faces challenges including inflationary pressures, skilled worker shortages, and supply chain disruption, companies are increasingly looking to leverage innova-

tions in manufacturing technology in order to thrive and grow. Embracing technological advancements and inventive new techniques can help businesses improve their productivity, efficiency, and flexibility.

Here are six trends in manufacturing technology that are transforming the industry:

1. Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is transforming traditional manufacturing models by streamlining prototyping and accelerating production. 3D printing constructs objects layer by layer from digital blueprints, using a variety of materials, including

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plastic, metal, and ceramics. It enables design flexibility, customization, and complexity and is being put to use in a number of industries, including aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and consumer goods. While the adoption of 3D printing techniques is on the rise, some businesses may still encounter challenges with the technology, including the ability to scale production effectively and consistency in material quality to achieve a uniform result each time.

2. Robotics and Automation

Robotics and automation have reshaped the manufacturing landscape, bringing efficiency and precision to manufacturing processes. These technologies involve the use of robots and automated systems to perform complex or labor-intensive tasks with minimal human intervention.

Industries ranging from automotive to electronics have embraced robotics and automation to enhance productivity, reduce labor costs, and improve product quality. These systems offer measurable benefit in managing repetitive tasks, which can ensure consistent results and free up employees’ time to focus on other tasks.

3. Digital Twins

Digital twins, which are a virtual representation of physical objects or processes that bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds, are revolutionizing how products are designed, produced, and maintained. In manufacturing, digital twins allow for realtime simulations, performance predictions, and optimization.

The automotive and aerospace industries utilize digital twins to streamline product development by virtually testing prototypes before physical production. These virtual replicas enhance efficiency, enabling proactive maintenance by predicting equipment failures and optimizing operational processes. The technology empowers manufacturers to make informed decisions, reduce downtime, and optimize resources.

4. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has reshaped the manufacturing landscape by interconnecting devices,

sensors, and machinery, facilitating data exchange and analysis in real time. This networked ecosystem enhances efficiency, productivity, and decision-making across various industries.

In manufacturing, IIoT enables predictive maintenance, where sensors monitor equipment conditions and alert for maintenance before failures occur. This minimizes downtime and reduces costs by allowing remedial maintenance to be performed ahead of a much larger, more costly incident occurring.

Industries such as automotive, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods are leveraging IIoT to create interconnected “smart factories,” which offer agility, flexibility, and data-driven insights for continuous process improvement.

5. Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality (AR) has revolutionized manufacturing assembly processes and training initiatives by overlaying digital information onto the physical world. AR in manufacturing enables remote assistance, allowing experts to guide on-site workers through intricate procedures in real time, which can help reduce errors and enhance overall productivity.

Industries like aerospace and electronics employ AR to simplify complex assembly tasks. Workers wearing ARequipped devices see digital annotations, animations, and measurements superimposed on their work area, aiding in precise component placement and connections.

6. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have become integral to modern manufacturing. ERP solutions centralize data and processes related to production, inventory, and finance, which fosters efficiency and informed decision-making.

In manufacturing, ERP optimizes supply chains by providing real-time insights into inventory levels, demand fluctuations, and production schedules. Manufacturers gain visibility across the production lifecycle, from sourcing materials to final product delivery. ERP’s data-driven approach enables strategic planning, resource allocation, and pre-

dictive analytics, enhancing overall performance and profitability.

Making the Most of Manufacturing Technology

Innovative manufacturing technologies can empower companies to more efficiently deliver high-quality products, and embracing these advancements may be essential for businesses to thrive in an increasingly competitive and dynamic marketplace. However, knowing what steps to take to invest in the technology may be daunting for some businesses, which is where turning to an advisor with deep industry knowledge can help.

PNC Equipment Finance can facilitate the lease or purchase of advanced technology and help take the complexity out of capital expenditures.

Tucson and Southern Arizona

For more information, reach out to Elie Asúnsolo, group manager for PNC Commercial Banking in Tucson and Southern Arizona, at or visit

PNC is a registered mark of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. © 2023 The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 139
Elie Asúnsolo Senior Vice President
PNC Commercial Banking

La Paloma Country Club

New Site, New Look for Cologuard Classic La Paloma Country Club Hosts for First Time

The PGA Tour Champions Cologuard Classic presented by Exact Sciences will have a new venue, new attitude and new look for the 2024 event.

All involved can’t wait.

La Paloma Country Club will be the eighth site for a PGA event in Tucson’s long golf history, joining El Rio Golf Course, Omni Tucson National, Randolph North, 49ers Country Club, Starr Pass, The Gallery and the Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain as host sites.

“We’re excited to be part of Tucson golf and to be part of its future,” said Rob DeMore, executive VP of Troon Privé, which manages the La Paloma property. “La Paloma has never been showcased like this, especially on a national or international level, so we’re excited. We’re excited to showcase Tucson

because Tucson is a special place.”

They’ll showcase the Jack Nicklausdesigned course, built in 1984, in a week of festivities from March 3-10. The $2.2 million, 54-hole PGA Tour Champions tournament runs March 8-10.

Since officially becoming the new site for the PGA Tour Champions event in the spring, Tucson Conquistadores officials have put in the work to make it special. There have been ongoing renovations in preparation for the big event, DeMore said. La Paloma can be remembered for being in the popular golf movie, “Tin Cup,” a portion of which was filmed there.

“My initial impressions (of La Paloma) were certainly eye-opening,” said Geoff Hill, who is completing his first

full year as the Conquistadores’ executive director. “We have an opportunity to host our globally recognized event at one of the best clubs in Arizona. Our team started planning immediately after the 2023 championship and focused on many of the operational components. There is certainly an exciting buzz in Tucson about the 2024 championship within our community that many people are looking forward to.

“The entire La Paloma team and their membership have been extremely supportive since Day 1 as well. They have an incredible team from both the country club and Westin (hotel) side that are working hard to ensure we showcase the event and their property and community to the fullest.”

An additional feature is that it’s closer

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“Being more centrally located in Tucson will allow even more fans the opportunity to attend the event and enjoy these experiences.”
– Geoff Hill, Executive Director, Tucson Conquistadores

to the city – in the heart of the Catalina Foothills – where great views at all angles will be visible.

“Being more centrally located in Tucson will allow even more fans the opportunity to attend the event and enjoy these experiences,” Hill said. “When I worked at the PGA Tour, I had the opportunity to host, plan and operate three specific tournaments at venues that had never hosted PGA Tour events prior to the Tour arriving. It does take additional planning and communication focus, although I feel that we have put ourselves in an excellent position to succeed.”

What the move truly offers is stability as Cologuard and La Paloma have entered into a four-year agreement.

“Yes,” said Joe Hinkle, tournament

chair for the Tucson Conquistadores, who run the tournament. “Stability for our future, stability for our title sponsor and stability for the Conquistadores.” Cologuard became the event sponsor in 2018. The Champions Tour event had been played at Omni Tucson National since 2015.

The new venue does create a feeling of a new event after years at Tucson National. But everyone involved is excited for the move.

“There is certainly pressure involved in generating success in the sports and entertainment business, particularly at a new venue,” Hill said. “However, this is where my team and I excel. Our team and the Tucson Conquistadores have several years of experience in hosting some of the best championships in

golf at many golf courses. We strive to provide memorable experiences to our fans, participants, and give back to the community at the same time.”

Being closer to the city may help draw more attendance.

“I’m optimistic about that,” Hill said. “With the move to a new venue and renewing Exact Sciences through 2027, it feels like a Year 1 event, that tends to gain a great deal of traction in the marketplace.”

One change will be the popular concert, which will move off-site and to a different day: from a Saturday to a Friday and at Rillito Race Track. At press time, the artists for the concert had not been finalized.

Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 141 Biz
Cologuard Classic 2019 2022 Champion Miguel Angel Jimenez with the Tucson Conquistadores David Toms 2023 Champion

Tucson Values Teachers Honors Educators

Garry Brav Honored for Legacy of Support

When it comes to recognizing the best of the teachers in Southern Arizona, the community is fortunate to have a local organization that does just that.

Tucson Values Teachers is a partnership of business leaders, educators and individuals whose goal is to raise awareness of Arizona’s teacher work-

force shortage and provide programs that support them. As research shows, a qualified teacher in the classroom is the most critical factor in student success, which in turn creates a more productive workforce.

To help celebrate our teachers each year, Tucson Values Teachers presents

its Stand Up 4 Teachers ceremony recognizing four local teachers with the Raytheon Leaders in Education Award. The 2023 event was held Nov. 16 at Westin La Paloma Resort. Selected educators have achieved outstanding classroom performance, demonstrated leadership in their schools and communities

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PHOTOS BY MEGAN SIQUIEROS Leah Rosthenhausler Jillian Powers Thomas Edelbrock Bridget Montoya

and are also known for supporting their peers. Each winner received $2,500, and their schools received a matching gift.

“They are some of the best of the best from right here in Pima County,” said Andy Heinemann, CEO of Tucson Values Teachers. “It is our hope to not only celebrate these incredible teachers, but to also inspire our Southern Arizona community to celebrate the great work that is being done by educators throughout this region.”

In addition to the teacher awards, Garry Brav, founder and former CEO of BFL Construction, received the Spirit of Education Award.

The award was established by Southern Arizona Leadership Council and Tucson’s business community in 2011 to recognize Raytheon’s contributions to local education and support of TVT. Since then, TVT has presented the award annually to local businesses, organizations and individuals who have significantly impacted education. Past recipients include Jim Click Automotive Team, Sundt Construction, Tucson Electric Power, Cox Communications, Thomas R. Brown Foundation, Pima Federal Credit Union, Freeport McMoran, Gen. Ron Shoopman, Helios Education Foundation and Raytheon Missiles and Defense.

Heinemann said Brav was an obvious

choice for the 2023 Spirit of Education Award.

“Garry has been instrumental in supporting JTED (Joint Technical Education District) across the region by finding creative ways to build the needed facilities to support this program and has always supported Tucson Values Teachers,” Heinemann said.

Brav is modest about the recognition, but speaks passionately about JTED. “I was surprised,” he said. “I think there are other people who actually teach who contribute more than I do. My connection is that I’ve built a lot of schools, but the JTED experience is different. JTED’s effort is so clearly focused on where it needs to be – creating career opportunities for students.”

JTED Superintendent Kathy Prather knows Brav well as they’ve worked together over the years building facilities.

“The relationship goes back to his creative ideas about funding a privatepublic partnership to create buildings without going to a bond,” she said. “He found a way to pay off the new building in seven to eight years using his operational experience of building with the mindset of community collaboration.”

Brav said JTED is special because the students are offered so many options for study. “They find something that interests them; it stimulates their curiosity to learn. The kids are very focused and

mature about learning, and it encouraged me to see how I could get the concept to grow.”

Prather gratefully cheers for Brav − in his everyday work and in his TVT award. “Garry has been an advocate for us. He embodies the spirit of education, he takes an active part in public education, so this award is very fitting for him.”



Leah Rosthenhausler

Valley View Early Learning Center, Catalina Foothills School District

Grades Kindergarten-5

Jillian Powers

Grade 2, Douglas Elementary, Flowing Wells Unified School District

Grades 6-8

Thomas Edelbrock

Grades 6-8 band, Cross Middle School, Amphitheater Public Schools

Grades 9-12

Bridget Montoya

Mathematics and CTE, Flowing Wells High School, Flowing Wells Unified School District

Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 143
Terresa Tauzin, Garry Brav and Andy Heinemann PHOTO BY NICCI RADKE

Tech Launch

ketplace. It has launched more than 135 startups. In the past seven years, those startups have raised over $700 million.


Inventor of the Year

Dr. Floyd “Ski” Chilton, Director, Center for Precision Nutrition and Wellness

As a professor of nutritional sciences, Chilton holds nine U.S. patents and nine foreign patents. His inventions have driven several startup companies. They include the public company Pilot Therapeutic.

Chilton’s innovations also have served as the basis for anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory programs at a major pharmaceutical firm.

He founded or co-founded four startup companies and a nonprofit. Chilton has produced more than 150 publications and has written five bestselling books. His global inventions with nonprofit groups have brought medical and food assistance to tens of thousands of people.

Startup of the Year BG Networks

The company was founded to commercialize cybersecurity inventions from UArizona. In the past year, BG Networks released its second product, AnCyr (Anomaly Detection of Cyber Resilience). It is a host-based software anomaly detection technology based on UArizona research.

The invention team includes the UArizona College of Engineering; Roman Lysecky, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering; Jerzy Rozenblit, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering; Nadir Carreon, former graduate student researcher; and Johannes Sametinger, professor at Johannes Kepler University Linz – JKU in Austria.

Student Inventor of the Year

Ashlesha Patil, Graduate Student, Wyant College of Optical Sciences

Patil developed a computer game that teaches measurement-based quantum computation by using tangrams − puzzles where users have to fit together flat polygons. Patil said the game is helpful to learners on many levels, from middle school through researchers.

Campus Collaboration

UArizona Marketing and Brand Management

The award honors a person or entity within the UArizona whose contributions to commercialization have had great impact. In partnership with Marketing and Brand management, TLA developed strategy for a partner logo program concept, allowing licensees of

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1. 4. 3. 2. 1 2 3

Arizona I-Squared Awards

contributions have generated maximum success for UArizona inventions and startups. Arizona Technology Council

tribution and dedication to UArizona commercialization and improving the local and regional innovation ecosys

#MadeitHappen Award Science of Sport

This award is a special honor TLA gives to highlight and acknowledge special achievements made by an individual or company.

Science of Sport is a nonprofit startup and the brainchild of Ricardo Valerdi, UArizona distinguished outreach professor and department head of systems and industrial engineering. The organization provides programs for elementary and middle school students to improve academic performance.

Science of Sport’s goal is to translate sports knowledge to appreciation, understanding and passion for the science of mathematics. It does this through after-school programs, curricular development, field trips, school visits and sideline chats, STEM showcased, summer camps and teacher workshops.

4 5 6

SHRM-GT 2023 Awards

Celebrating Innovation in the Workplace

The Society for Human Resource Management of Greater Tucson presented its annual Celebrating Innovation in the Workplace Awards Nov. 7 at the El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort.

Awards were presented in several categories, including a new award for Emerging HR Professional.

Founded in the 1940s as the Tucson Personnel Club, SHRM-GT was created to meet the professional needs of personnel administrators in Southern Arizona. In 1971, it expanded and be-


Small Company Winner

Tierra Antigua Hope Foundation

came affiliated with the American Society for Personnel Administration.

In 1983, the name was changed to the Tucson Personnel Association and it 1989, it officially became the Society for Human Resource Management of Greater Tucson.

SHRM-GT serves as an HR resource for employment trends, best practices and innovative ideas. The chapter advises the Tucson community on relevant and emerging employment initiatives at the local, state and national levels. It is committed to developing HR leaders

“Winning this award is a phenomenal representation of giving back to our community,” said Kim Clifton, Tierra’s co-founder. “I’m without words. We are so honored and blessed to be recognized with such an amazing group of individuals who continue to give back to our industry, our community and those that we serve.”

Medium Company Winner

Hughes Federal Credit Union

“This award means so much to Hughes Federal Credit Union, and it’s a reflection of what we do out in the community: voluntarism, sponsorships and donations,” said Irlanda Cuevas-Leyva, Hughes membership and community engagement manager. “We are so proud to be part of Tucson, and we’re so proud to serve our members in the community.”

Large Company Winner

OneAZ Credit Union

“What the award means is that we work for a company that is very dedicated semi-annually to providing grants as well as a foundation that does legacy awards throughout our communities, throughout the whole state of Arizona,” said OneAZ branch manager Cindy Hanson. “So, it’s an honor to be offered the award and it just encourages us to go back out and continue the good works.”


Small Company Winner

Pima County Workforce Investment Board

“The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Award means a lot to the Pima County Workforce Investment Board and our ability to do disability awareness training to local employers who ... hire more people with disabilities in the workplace,” said board member Mary Fleck.

through mentoring, continuing education, networking and volunteer opportunities.

“I was excited we added a new category, Emerging HR Professional,” said Allison Lombard, a SHRM-GT board member who serves on the awards committee. “That was a longtime coming and that was great to add to our categories.”

This year’s winners “stretched across the whole spectrum,” Lombard said. “We had quite a variety of finalists, which is always exciting.”

Medium Company Winner

Children’s Clinics for Rehabilitative Services

“We’re incredibly honored and proud to receive this award, and this is a big win for all of our staff who have made increasing diversity, equity and access part of our culture,” said Gemma Thomas, chief administrative officer for the clinics. “We work really hard to make the organization feel safe and welcoming to everyone, and we’re really proud of that.”


Medium Company Winner

Town of Oro Valley

“We’re excited to see where this journey takes us next,” said Sara Newlin, Oro Valley continuous improvement analyst. “By connecting employees with Lean Six Sigma training and tools, we’re able to help create a culture of continuous improvement at the Town of Oro Valley. And through the OV Park Performance program, every employee is empowered to share their process improvement ideas, take ownership of those processes and affect positive change within their department that then directly impacts the success of the town as a whole.”

Large Company Winner MHC Healthcare

“MHC Healthcare serves individuals no matter their ability to pay,” said Cheryl Lord-Hernandez, director of organizational management. “We serve the entire community; we grow the entire community and we have the same philosophy for our staff. And we are excited to bring happiness and enjoyment ... to the rest.”

continued on page 149>>>

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Society for Human Resource Management – Greater Tucson
1 2 3 5 8 6 9 4 7 Celebrating Innovation in the Workplace Award Winners 10 11 12
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continued from page 146


Selena Quintanilla

Continuing Education Coordinator, Earn to Learn

“This award means a lot for the work that I’ve been doing,” Quintanilla said. “This is my first career so I’m very proud to have been an Earn to Learn alumni and to have come full circle and be here with them. ... They have impacted my life.”


Small Company Winner

Tohono Chul Park

“It’s amazing winning this award on behalf of our community at Tohono Chul Park, and all of my friends who have supported me along the way,” said Frank Vidal, Tohono’s philanthropy manager. “It’s easy to succeed in that community when you have so many strong people around you and supporting all of your efforts. And it’s even easier when your job is to highlight all of the amazing people and organizations in our community.”

Medium Company Winner

Children’s Clinics Rehabilitative Services

“Thank you so much for the award,” said Shahed Shidoosh Posey, the clinics’ human resources director. “I’m absolutely humbled and couldn’t really have been here without the support of all of the direct and indirect team members that have the privilege of being a part of Children’s Clinics.”

Large Company Winner

City of Tucson, HR Employee Development

“This is an amazing award that represents the work City of Tucson employees do day in and day out,” said Diane Sotelo, human resources manager for learning and development. “Leadership employee engagement and employee development is part of our community and a part of everything that we do.”


Tiffany Halterman

Certification Director, Northwest Exterminating “I’m very honored to receive the award of Volunteer of the Year,” said Halterman. “Certification has been a passion of mine for many years and I’ve been running the committee for the last three years. I’m very honored to be involved with SHRM in the City of Tucson.”

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2023 IMPACT Awards

Southern Arizona’s Public Relations Society of America Honors Top Professionals

Members of the Southern Arizona chapter of the Public Relations Society of America gathered at Hexagon in Downtown Tucson this fall to salute their best at the 2023 IMPACT Awards for Excellence in Public Relations.

Linda Welter, founder of Caliber Group, received the year’s top honors with the Career Impact Award.

KOLD’s Dan Marries was recognized as the 2023 Media Person of the Year,

and Marielle Babb of NüPOINT Mar keting and Shawnee Wright of Integrat ed Axis Technology Group were honored as the 2023 Rookies of the Year. The PR Professional of the Year award went to Kathleen Brown, APR, principal of Brown + Associates.

The Gordley Group received the Best in Show Award with the two highestscoring submissions for its 2022 Holiday Card and its work to educate and en-

marketing and communications professionals for the work they do each year across the region. This year’s submissions were judged and scored by the PRSA Tri-Cities chapter in Kingsport, Tenn. Honorees represent the highest standards in programs and projects that successfully incorporate research, planning, execution and evaluation.

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BizAWARDS 2023

Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards

The Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of the 2023 Noche de Exitos & Bi-National Awards at its Nov. 3 gala.

The annual event was held at the Casino del Sol Resort & Spa.

“This event is incredibly special to us as we recognize those who are creating meaningful impact in our region,” said THCC President and CEO Rob Elias and Board Chair Karla Bernal Morales, in a joint statement. “And it is with great pleasure that we celebrate and honor these amazing people.”


Hispanic Businessman of the Year: Don Guerra, Barrio Bread

Hispanic Businesswomen of the Year:

Isabel Montaño, Erica Franco, Sandra Franco, La Estrella Bakery

Corporation of the Year: TMC Health

Small/Medium Business of the Year:

Buendia Breakfast & Lunch Café

Legacy Business of the Year: El Casino Ballroom

Legacy Award: U.S. Congressman Raúl Grijalva

Public Servant Award: U.S. Congressman Juan Ciscomani

Estrella Award: Ali Farhang, Farhang & Medcoff

TMC Health

El Casino Ballroom Fred Martinez & Gil Federico U.S. Congressman Juan Ciscomani U.S. Congressman Raúl Grijalva Ali Farhang Buendia Breakfast & Lunch Café Patricia Valle Don Guerra Isabel Montaño, Erica Franco, Sandra Franco PHOTOS: COURTESY TUCSON HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE


Cornerstone Building Foundation Honors 2023 Dream Team

Cornerstone Building Foundation Honors 2023 Dream Team

The Cornerstone Building Foundation held its 29th annual Awards Dinner and Scholarship Presentation on November 14, 2023, at Desert Diamond Casino in Tucson.

Members of the leading construction related trade and professional organizations in southern Arizona are invited to nominate the best industry partners for the prestigious annual awards, which celebrate workmanship, skill, responsibility, and integrity in the building development industry. Nominations

Subcontractor of the Year

J. B. Steel

Dan Elmer and Rick Schmidt

Professional Service of the Year

Shirley’s Plan Service

Chris Fields

Supplier of the Year

Southwest Gas

Efrem Ruiz and Matt Minder

such as quality of craftsmanship and consistency of service(s) to clients, contributions to the community, quality of design and documentation, responsiveness to schedule and budget, proficiency in financial management, emphasis on teamwork and collabo[1]ration, backup of warranties and activity in respective trade or professional association.

A selection committee composed of members of the participating organizations and past award recipients review the nominations and vote for the award recipients.

Contractor of the Year –

Greater then $2 Million Lloyd Construction Company, Inc.

Brad Lloyd and Bill Lloyd

Contractor of the Year –

Less then $2 Million

Epstein Construction, LLC

Mike Epstein

Founded in 1994 by Robert Hershberger, then Dean of the University of Arizona College of Architecture, Cornerstone Building Foundation brings all the players of the construction industry together to create an exchange of ideas, provide a forum for educational opportunities and strengthen industry working relationships.

Participating organizations include: Arizona Builders Alliance, ACEC Arizona, AIA Southern Arizona, CSI Tucson, National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)


Design Consultant of the Year

KC Mechanical Engineering

Ken Cawthorne and Robert Kunkel

Architect of the Year  BWS Architects

Chris Pinkerton, Robin Shambach and Frank Slingerland

Owner of the Year

Vail Unified School District

Jerry Wood


Jerry Wyatt Community Service Award

Mark Riggi, Millwork by Design

Shirley Dail Service Award

Angie Ziegler, General Air Control

CBF Charities Appreciation Award

Ed Marley, AIA, Swaim Associates, Ltd. President, 2009-2023

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2023 Copper Cactus Awards

The Tucson Metro Chamber, led by President and CEO Michael Guymon, held its annual Copper Cactus Awards on Sept. 22 at the Casino Del Sol Resort, presented by Wells Fargo Bank.

The awards celebrate the accomplishments of Southern Arizona’s businesses and organizations.

“The Copper Cactus Awards are a great way to celebrate the hard work and dedication of our local businesses and organizations,” said Guymon. “The winners of this year’s awards are the best of the best and we are proud to recognize these exceptional business achievements for the past 26 years.”

The Shirley Wilka Perseverance Award


- Ben’s Bells $2 Million+ - Higher Ground

154 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024 BizAWARDS
Gibson and InterOcean Capital Best Places to Work 3 to 50 Employees Community Investment Corporation 51 to 300 Employees PVB Fabrications
Small Business Leader of the Year
Stitch FactoryErica Yngve
Drug Testing / Oschmann Employee Screening Services
Development Team Inc.
Fierce Media
Nextrio, LLC - Cathryn Murrow
Tucson Electric Power Social Impact
Up to $2 Million Revenue
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