The Arizona Capitol Times hosted its 4th annual Leaders of the Year awards ceremony Sept. 28, acknowledging the achievements of leaders in public policy for 2010.
More than 300 people attended the event at the Wyndham Hotel in Phoenix to honor 17 leaders who were selected for their contributions to Arizona’s public policy in areas of transportation, government transparency, technology, economic development, arts, business, education, volunteerism, unsung hero and lifetime achievement.
Gov. Jan Brewer gave the opening remarks and congratulated the award winners for their unique contributions to the state and their communities.
“One of Arizona’s greatest strengths is our supply of men and women who know how to lead with personal initiative, ingenuity and sacrifice,” she said.
Award recipients were chosen by a panel of advisers that includes a former Leader of the Year award winner and two public-policy professionals from the Capitol community, said Ginger Lamb, vice president of the Arizona Capitol Times. Together they voted on nominations to decide the honorees that demonstrated leadership in a particular field of public policy.
Aaron Brown, former CNN correspondent and teacher at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, gave the keynote address commending the honorees for their public advocacy and encouraging the audience to follow in their footsteps.
“The people we honor today have done that, they have reached for something great in their lives, and I think we should join them,” he said.
Brown said the award winners provided examples of how to unite communities for progress despite what he characterized as a widening divide between the government and its people.
“They (residents) see politics as something that will make their lives better; they believe fairly or not that you (government) see it as a zero-sum game,” he said. “The disconnect between the government and those who do the governing has never been greater.”
Sen. Frank Antenori, a Tucson Republican who received an award for his commitment to government transparency, said it’s especially important to award the people who aren’t in the public eye. People who work behind the scenes deserve a moment of recognition, he said.
Among the award recipients were leaders such as Cheryl Lombard, governmental relations director for the Nature Conservancy’s Arizona chapter, who won the award for her work to preserve Arizona’s natural environment. Lombard said she thinks she was chosen for her ability to bring people together and promote economic activity while preserving natural resources.
“It’s a great honor, it’s a thrill to be recognized by the other lobbying community leaders of the state,” she said.
Rep. Jack Brown received the lifetime achievement award for his 36 years of service at the Arizona Legislature. He also won the award given each year to the top Leader of the Year.
Brown said he was surprised, but pleased with the awards. He said they reflect his political philosophy of avoiding partisanship and working with both sides of the aisle.
“We can come out of this with great blessings if we just work together,” Brown said.
Click here to read profiles of all the honorees.