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Meet the 2009 Leaders of the Year

Welcome to Arizona Capitol Times third annual edition of Leaders of the Year in Public Policy.

This awards program was created in 2007 to recognize the contributions of policy professionals across the state. It is a salute to those who advance public policy by implementing and championing creative strategies to positively impact the state and the lives of Arizonans, without regard to partisanship or political affiliation.

Over the summer, nominations for the awards were solicited from our readership and members of the business and Capitol communities. Recipients were chosen by an impartial panel of business and community leaders along with a prior Leaders of the Year honoree. They were evaluated based on their accomplishments, contributions and leadership during the past year.

The categories were arts and humanities, business, education, environment, government, health care, legislative, public safety, social services, technology, transportation and volunteerism. Awards are also presented for lifetime achievement, unsung hero and the new category of policy development.

Below you’ll learn more about the individuals chosen and how they have provided exemplary leadership in public policy.

We hope you will join us for a luncheon to celebrate this year’s slate of honorees on Tuesday, September 29, at the Wyndham Phoenix.

Arts & Humanities
Rep. Michele Reagan
Position: Arizona State Representative, District 8
Family: Husband, David; one step-daughter
Education: BA, communications, Illinois State University

Winner of the Arizona Capitol Times Arts & Humanities award, Rep. Michele Reagan knows the value of art, not only as a personal investment but as a benefit to the community at large and especially to schools. The Scottsdale Republican says she has been seduced by the excitement the arts generate in her district, which stretches east to Fountain Hills.

“That’s what makes a community unique,” she says. “I wasn’t passionate about the arts until I was elected. I started meeting folks and going to events. That’s true representation, if you ask me.”

Her nominator says Reagan “often talks about the value of arts education, field trips, art teachers and working artists in K-12 public, private and charter schools.” What’s more, she understands and articulates the positive effect arts education has in Arizona classrooms.

“She speaks with her fellow elected officials as needed to help promote support for the arts and culture in Arizona,” her nominator says.

In addition to looking out for the best interests of the arts at the Legislature, Reagan is a big fan of the art walks in downtown Scottsdale, and she and her husband have purchased a number of what she describes as “interesting pieces of art.” They look good in her home and they hold their value, she says.

Regarding public funding of the arts, Reagan says, “We know in bad budget times when we’re trying to decide between letting prisoners out and funding the arts, it’s a pretty easy decision. You don’t let prisoners out. We need to make a commitment to remember the arts in good years. We can’t always do that in bad years.”

Reagan rejects suggestions from some who refer to the arts as “that froufrou thing you do in Scottsdale.” “It’s not,” she says. “I tell people two things. One, it’s an incredible educational tool. A lot of money from the ArtShare endowment fund goes into the schools, and that’s especially important because arts are some of the first things to be cut in schools. And second, I always think of art as a historical tool. It’s a way to see how past civilizations lived.”

Jason Bagley
Position: Government Affairs Manager, Intel Corporation
Family: Wife, Janna; two children
Education: BS, political science and history, University of Utah; master’s degree, business, University of Phoenix

Jason Bagley’s career as a public affairs specialist has covered the gamut of professional environments, from a stint as an announcer with a radio station in Salt Lake City to work as a public affairs officer with the U.S. Army.

He now serves as spokesman for one of the world’s best-known and influential corporations, Intel.

Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, does not mince words when describing the breadth of Bagley’s influence. “He stands out as one of the best public relations professionals in the state,” Hamer says. “His professionalism and integrity are unsurpassed.”

The scope of Bagley’s public influence is impressive, as his efforts in otherwise disparate enterprises have yielded huge results that have positively impacted the state, in tax policy, education and other areas, says Hamer.

Bagley was involved, for instance, in efforts to pass legislation that increased the state’s research and development tax credit. “This has already been an effective tool in bringing billions of dollars in new investment to our state,” Hamer says.

He also played a role in increasing high school graduation requirements for Arizona in math and science.

Bagley, who manages government affairs for Intel’s second-largest global site, along with its Innovation in Education initiative, says working with the technology giant infuses his passion for promoting American excellence, beginning with its young people.

“We need to be able to continue to grow a citizenry that is technically literate and able to solve the problems of tomorrow,” says Bagley. “Clearly, education is our future. That’s why we advocated strongly for increased graduation requirements. If we don’t, we’re closing the door on our future.”

Bagley, who serves as vice chair of public affairs with the Arizona Chamber, has done much to educate members of the media, the Legislature and the public on the importance of attracting, retaining and growing businesses that will diversify the economy and provide quality jobs.

Educating the public and creating consensus have always been Bagley’s professional tendencies, whether with the military, a radio station or with one of the most influential companies on the planet. For him, bringing parties together on common ground is simply in the best interest of Arizona business, and in the interest of Arizona’s young leaders of tomorrow.

Project Citizen
(Administered by Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education)

Project Citizen is a valuable educational program for middle and secondary school students, promoting competent participation in government and whetting the appetite of youth for an interest in public policy issues.

“It gets the children, at an early age, interested in the process,” says Lara Slifko of the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education, which runs the program. “Project Citizen is the only program of its kind in Arizona, addressing a critical gap of civic knowledge through an exciting and easily-integrated curriculum.”

Students participating in the program learn to look at issues in public policy and search for solutions to problems that they wish to address. Classes of seventh- and eighth-grade students research a problem develop their own policy and create a political action plan. Participants then present a portfolio of their project in a public hearing showcase before a panel of community members. At the annual National Showcase, Arizona students repeatedly outperform other states by earning scores of “superior” for their public policy proposals. Many of these proposals have been initiated in Arizona’s communities.

In 2001, Gov. Jane Hull approved the Arizona Safe Haven Program, following work by Project Citizen Students in Scottsdale. Project Citizen students in Tucson developed an anti-bullying policy that was signed into law by Gov. Janet Napolitano in 2005. Locally, Project Citizen students have created crosswalks, reduced speeds in school zones, and advocated for reduced use of plastic bags.

Project Citizen has impacted more than 10,000 students in Arizona since 1996, when the Arizona Legislature asked the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education to pilot the program. The program is a model for leadership in education, encouraging students to grow and participate in shaping the world in which they live. “It’s my favorite out of all the projects we do,” says Slifko. “By engaging students, Project Citizen introduces a new generation of young people to the idea that participation in the government can be an exciting, rewarding process.”

Patrick J. Cunningham
Position: Deputy Director, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Family: Wife, Mary Ellen; two daughters
Education: BA, cum laude, University of Michigan, 1976; law degree, Arizona State University, 1979

Patrick Cunningham is being lauded as an effective advocate for environmental concerns across the state. But the scope of his public policy influence goes back over many projects and environmental campaigns, through times of political transition and budget uncertainty. Through it all, say those who have worked with him and who applaud his efforts, he has been a strong and consistent protector of the Arizona landscape, as well as a leader, a motivator and a quick wit under pressure.

Cunningham is the longest serving deputy director in the history of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and prior to his tenure with the agency he worked for a number of years with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, where he served as chief counsel for the Environmental Enforcement Section and the Criminal Division.

His enforcement resume stretches even further back, however.

Before joining the AG’s office, Cunningham served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force in Arizona, and as a captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

Department Director Benjamin Grumbles says he cannot speak highly enough of Cunningham’s commitment to the agency, the environment and the citizens of the state.

“I’ve been amazed by his knowledge and skill managing people and programs over the years,” says Grumbles. “He is in full command of the intimate knowledge of programs and policies, works extremely hard and is the consummate professional.”

For his part, Cunningham says he is “shocked, very happy and pleased” to be acknowledged as a Leader of the Year.

His multi-tiered background reveals broad experience and a record of accomplishment across the enforcement and protective landscape.

During his tenure with the Department of Environmental Quality, for instance, Cunningham worked to streamline the process of cleaning up petroleum spills from leaking underground storage tanks. He also assisted in implementing the ongoing Route 66 initiative, aimed at clearing contamination along Arizona’s historic highway, and leading to enhanced development along the most famous of American roadways.

Frank Fairbanks
Position: Phoenix City Manager
Family: Wife, Ruth; five children and 10 grandchildren
Education: M.B.A., magna cum laude, Anderson School of Management; BS, finance, Loyola University of Los Angeles

Since becoming city manager in 1990, Frank Fairbanks has successfully maintained city services as Phoenix has grown by nearly 100 square miles and 600,000 residents. His office carries an 88 percent customer satisfaction rate in the most recent community attitude survey. In the current recession he has been an advocate for government efficiency, leading Phoenix through extensive and unprecedented budget and staffing cuts. He is proud that his office was able to make these cuts without cutting the most “necessary government services.”

Fairbanks epitomizes the word leadership. As city manager he continues to build and nurture relationships with other leaders at all levels of government, in business and in the community. At the same time, he maintains communication with elected officials and employees in the city, helping him work toward increased government efficiency, quality service, innovation, responsible urban development and community participation.

A quality leader, Fairbanks is eager to pass the buck when it comes to credit. He says that the key to Phoenix’s success is “our outstanding employees.”

He is appreciative of the recognition, because it reflects well on the people who work with him. “What’s important is the organization,” Fairbanks says. “Part of being head of an organization is that you get too much credit or too much blame. I am proud of the accomplishments of this organization.

His leadership has been recognized over the past two decades. In 1993, Fairbanks was named Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine. In 2005, he received the National Public Service Award, the highest award given for public service by the National Academy of Public Administration.

Fairbanks cites the budget cuts as one of his office’s most significant accomplishments. Another is the implementation of the light rail system. He is proud of the work his office has done with the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. Lastly, and perhaps most rewarding to him, is his body of work within the local Phoenix community.

Health Care
Tom Kelly
Position: President and Chief Executive Officer, Schaller Anderson
Family: Wife, Cathy; two children, Tom and Maria
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Wesleyan; master’s degree, accounting, New York University

Tom Kelly has been called “the driving force in Arizona health care issues,” a statement that is backed up by this year’s selection as Leader of the Year in Health Care. As president and CEO at Schaller Anderson, a Medicaid management company, Kelly is committed to the company’s mission of managing the health care of the most medically vulnerable and improving the community in which he lives and works.

Kelly brings more than 30 years of experience in leadership positions to the table, along with a creativity that helps him to encourage his team to find new ways to better serve the Medicaid plans his company owns and operates. Kelly is most proud of the work of his business, of “inheriting and managing Schaller Anderson, one of the best Medicaid management companies.”

Members of Congress, governors, mayors and other public leaders often ask Kelly for insight and guidance on health care and business issues. He advocates nationally for meaningful health care reform, and participates in efforts to improve the Valley and the state. He is an active participant in his work on the Inaugural Board of Directors of The Discovery Triangle, an effort to spur city and community collaboration in sustainable urban development in the Valley.

The person who nominated Kelly says he is “an innovative leader who really cares about the community.” Kelly chooses to live in the downtown area, as he is also committed to redevelopment there. His community service is shown not just by the boards he serves on, but by the commitment of time and money to them. He is active on the boards of AZ Health-e Connection, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, the Arizona Theatre Company, in addition to The Discovery Triangle.

For the past three years, Schaller Anderson has donated money to the city of Phoenix effort to provide smoke alarms to residents who cannot afford them.

The issue of health care and the desire to do good things for the community motivate him. “Health care is a basic human need that is so unevenly distributed,” he says. “We ought to be doing more things to make it less so.”

Rep. Ray Barnes
Position: Arizona State Representative, District 7
Family: Wife, Paula; one daughter
Education: Northrup Institute of Technology

One word comes to mind regarding Rep. Ray Barnes – independence.

That’s how Barnes’ nominator sees the northeast Phoenix Republican. Barnes, winner of the Arizona Capitol Times Legislative award, describes himself as a conservative whose creed is: “If it’s moral, ethical and legal, I’ll go along with it, even though I may not particularly believe in it.”

Barnes’ nominator says, “As a lobbyist you hear different people talk about legislators and how consistent they are in dealing with issues. Everybody will tell you he’s a good listener, he works really hard, and has a healthy level of cynicism about what he’s being told. That’s really a good trait for a lawmaker – not to completely believe everything that they’re hearing. He goes back and studies and comes to his own conclusions. I don’t think anybody can accuse him of leaning dramatically in one direction or the other.”

The lawmaker volunteers his personal assessment: “Like anything in life, going too strong one way or the other is generally wrong.” Barnes’ cynicism apparently comes from years as owner of a detective agency. Though he no longer holds a license, to avoid possible conflicts of interest on legislation, Barnes says his experience as a private investigator helps as a legislator. “The basic principle is the same,” he says. “Follow the money. Where the money goes, there’s where you will find the problems.”

A liberal columnist once referred to Barnes as a frumpy ex-gumshoe.

Now he heads a group informally known as the frumps, focusing on environmental issues relating to the petroleum, mining and construction industries. Included among the frumps are environmental attorneys, a representative of the Department of Environmental Quality and one senator. When the Legislature is in session, the group meets every Thursday. The rest of the time, mostly social gatherings are held monthly.

“We have a fairly cohesive group,” Barnes says. “We analyze good or bad things in bills. It’s amazing how we can solve problems without legislation. Whatever we discuss at the meeting stays at the meeting.”

If somebody in the group causes problems, Barnes says, “It’s goodbye, you’re a former frump.”

Policy Development
Goldwater Institute

The person nominating the Goldwater Institute for a Leader of the Year award notes that the well-renowned think tank promotes a conservative agenda without apology, but also that the institute inspires not only Republican-leaning organizations across the country, but liberal groups as well.

“The Goldwater Institute is recognized as the top think tank in Arizona,” says the nominator. “And, many argue, across the United States.”

Darcy Olsen, president and CEO of the Goldwater Institute, traces the group’s strength of conviction to its namesake, the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, and to the fact that it fearlessly promotes its agenda while maintaining a respectful approach with those who would argue against its policies.

“No one is going to agree 100 percent of the time,” she says. “But being honest and charitable and open-minded in discussion ultimately brings everyone closer to consensus.”

Consensus certainly exists as to the influence of the organization.

Founded in 1988, the organization describes itself is as an independent, nonpartisan research and educational organization dedicated to the study of public policy in Arizona. It promotes ideals cherished by Barry Goldwater encompassing individual rights and limits on government power.

The institute’s list of causes is broad in scope, and includes a focus on reforming Arizona’s educational system, preventing encroachment upon Arizona by the federal government and promoting tax cuts and state spending reductions.

And while the think tank’s reputation as a leading conservative voice extends beyond Arizona’s borders, its willingness to confront entrenched interests is well known, as well.

“Whether it’s education, environmental issues or policy issues, you don’t have a legislator, either Republican or Democrat, who is eager to go toe-to-toe with Goldwater,” says the nominator. “They drive a lot of public policy, and whether people agree or not, they are always in the mix, at the forefront. This makes them very effective.”

Olsen says the institute derives much of its fighting spirit and creative drive from the hardscrabble history of the Grand Canyon State.

“Arizona has long been a pioneering state,” she says. “The Goldwater Institute is building on that history and developing solutions – for instance, in the areas of educational choice and tax reform. We’re happy that we have been able to serve as a model to other states.”

Public Safety
Roger Vanderpool
Position: Director, Arizona Department of Public Safety
Family: Spouse, Valerie; one son Chris and one grandson
Education: Attended Indiana University; graduate of FBI National Academy, FBI National Executive Institute, University of Arizona Project Central, and Southwest Command College

Leadership during these unprecedented budget times takes on a new meaning for Roger Vanderpool, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. A life-long law enforcement officer, Vanderpool says he is truly honored to receive the Arizona Capitol Times leadership award for Public Safety and wasn’t aware that his staff had submitted his name for consideration.

Indeed, DPS employees think highly of the director. His nominator says: “While other law enforcement leaders share the spotlight, Director Vanderpool quietly works with diverse groups to tackle a wide variety of public safety issues. His leadership was particularly impressive during the 2009 regular legislative session, as DPS dealt with budget difficulties, transitions in state leadership, and several critical statewide issues, such as immigration enforcement, photo enforcement and crime lab funding.”

Vanderpool feels the budget dilemma will be around for awhile. “It truly tests leaders,” he says. “Anyone can lead in good times. I’m very loyal to employees of public safety, and the last thing I ever want to do is have to lay folks off. It’s one thing to let people go for willful misconduct, but the majority of the men and women who work for DPS are generally the main breadwinner in a family. That (laying off an employee) affects not just one person, it affects a family. I will do everything possible to keep jobs of folks who are working today. It’s a new test of leadership every day.”

A successful leader needs to think in terms of servant leadership, Vanderpool says. “It’s understanding that our business is a people business,” he says. “We deal with people, both internal and external customers. Take seriously the responsibilities given to you, but don’t take yourself seriously, don’t let the ego drive the person.” Vanderpool’s law enforcement career began as an MP in the Army when he was 19. Later he was a city police officer in Indiana, a DPS officer, sheriff of Pinal County and now DPS director. When he joined the Army, he says, “I didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do – be a clerk or a cook. Being a cop would be kind fun to do, so that’s what I did.”

Social Services
Kris Jacober
Position: Founder and President, Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents
Family: Husband, Joe; three children
Education: BA, journalism, University of Michigan, 1978

In every sense of the word, the volunteers at the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents live what they preach. The association, founded in 2003, is run by volunteers who not only serve those helping the state’s most vulnerable children, but who are also adoptive and foster parents themselves.

Kris Jacober, founder and president of the organization, says the goal of the group is to be a resource for parents performing a vitally important function.

“Our mission really is to provide a unified voice for the state’s foster and adoptive parents,” she says. “It’s to advocate for the things that our foster and adoptive parents tell us they need to take care of the children in the care of the state.”

To accomplish this goal, the association works to connect foster families with each other, and with federal and state resources available to them.

For instance, the organization’s Town Hall series provides license renewal training, supplies adoptive parents with tax tips and offers grief and loss counseling for foster families. An annual Blue Ribbon event in May brings together more than 500 foster and adoptive families, Child Protective Services workers and licensing agents, to enhance the service provided to the nearly 10,000 children in the state foster care system.

Jacober is a longtime advocate for foster and adoptive children. She previously was the editor of Arizona Statewide, a newsletter for foster families, and serves as the communications specialist for Arizona’s Children Association.

Perhaps more important, Jacober, her husband Joe, and their three children have been a licensed foster family for more than seven years.

Thus, she knows intimately the needs of the families that the organization works to protect, particularly in times when budget resources have become scarce.

“These times are tough financially for everybody,” Jacober says. “Our priorities are the vulnerable children who don’t have any other voice.”

Cox Communications

Cox Communications is well known as a leader in the telecommunications field. But the company’s policy reach extends far beyond its position as one of the largest cable entertainment and broadband service providers in the country.

In fact, Cox has been recognized for years as a policy leader in the community, dedicated to bringing together Arizona government and its citizens.

As part of the firm’s commitment to public service, it has designated significant resources to ensuring that Arizonans are better informed, educated and savvy to the workings of government. In 2007, for instance, Cox introduced the Arizona Capitol Television Channel, linking legislators to constituents and providing cable viewers with an inside look at the workings of the government. Channel 123 on the cable dial provides coverage of state Senate and House committee hearings, floor action on bills and legislator press conferences.

The company’s Legislative Broadcast Staff also produces programming covering Arizona history, and the history-makers in government. And in 2003, Cox, in partnership with Intel, created the POWER network, providing the public with free wireless Internet access at the Capitol.

The goal, according to State Treasurer Dean Martin, is to enhance communication between citizens and their representatives, while allowing the public to remain connected to homes and offices. Arizona was the first to wire its Capitol for public access, and has become a model for legislatures across the country.

The company’s “Inside Arizona” spots, which began airing in 2002, represented another effort to enhance dialogue between leaders and constituents. The segments provide information about Arizona history, consumer issues such as identity theft, and nonprofit groups supporting youth and education.

“It’s very important to give back and support the organizations and programs in the community,” says Ivan Johnson, vice president of community relations and televideo for Cox in Arizona. “These are the values that we have at Cox – to give back, help and try to engage in positive ways.”

Cox pioneered another educational effort in 2007, when it began showcasing Arizona high schoolers in a “Jeopardy” style academic competition, filmed in a Phoenix studio and broadcast across the community.

On “Brainstorm,” students race for their buzzers to answer questions about the Russian Revolution, solve anagrams and complete math puzzles. The company also honors students, coaches and educational leaders in “Everyday Heroes” segments, produced by Cox in conjunction with the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA). Through its ongoing commitment to education, service and innovation, Cox has emerged as an enduring community leader, as well.

Phil Gordon
Position: Mayor of Phoenix
Family: Three sons, one daughter
Education: BA, education, University of Arizona; law degree, cum laude, Arizona State University

If you’re going to be a mover and a shaker in the community, spearheading major programs in the people-moving field of transportation is one way to achieve that status.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, winner of the Arizona Capitol Times leadership award for Transportation, compares the city’s network of mass transit, streets and highways to the arteries in a human body.

“Whether it’s light rail, buses, streets or highways, they’re like your arteries, the life line of your body,” Gordon says. “If they become clogged, you’re in trouble. We’ve seen what happens when those arteries get clogged in other cities. The central city of Phoenix is the heart of this Valley.”

What’s more, transportation projects are good for the economy because they create great paying jobs, important jobs of all types – blue collar, white collar and green collar jobs, the mayor says.

A nominator for Gordon says the mayor has the ability to focus on what he thinks is best for the city of Phoenix. Gordon pushed hard for light rail, despite criticism and opposition. The result, a nominator says, is that multitudes use the system every day, taking traffic off the city’s streets and adding to the mobility of urban transit. “That was a major step for the city of Phoenix,” a nominator says.

Gordon’s leadership was also cited for the construction of a rental car facility just outside Sky Harbor International Airport, a project that is a convenience for airport users and reduces traffic congestion. “This mayor realizes that transportation is vital to any urban setting, and the more efficient it is, the better off your citizens and your community are going to be,” a nominator says.

Once the economy improves, Gordon says expansion of the light rail system will get under way in several directions. He is especially proud of an automated train system under construction at the airport that will move the public to and around the airport effortlessly, and will eliminate the need for 100 shuttle buses.

Unsung Hero
Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Rhodes
Position: Founder of Prefab of Arizona, now A New Leaf Foundation
First President of A New Leaf Foundation
Family: Husband, former Congressman John Rhodes, deceased; four children; daughter, Elizabeth, and sons Tom, Jay and Scott
Education: Graduated from Baker University in Baldwin, Kan.

Betty Rhodes has dedicated more than 50 years of behind-the-scenes leadership in service to the communities in which she lives. Rhodes worked tirelessly in support of her children and her husband, the late Congressman John Rhodes, who received a majority of the limelight.

During her 30 years in Washington D.C., Betty Rhodes was active in the Congressional Club and served on its board. She was president of the International Neighbors Club, the 83rd Congress Club, and the Chevy Chase Circle of the Florence Crittenton Society.

“She was a perfect and devoted wife and mother,” says her daughter, Elizabeth. “We were raised by both of our parents to understand that public service was an honor and one that we all shared. It should be very obvious from her bio that she has the capabilities to have succeeded at any career she chose. Instead, she chose to raise us, be a partner with my Dad in his career, and work hard as a volunteer.”

As for that biography, Rhodes was the founder and first president of A New Leaf Foundation, formerly Prefab of AZ. The foundation offers treatment for children, and operates shelters for the homeless and victims of domestic violence. She volunteers at Friendship Village Health Center. She served on the board of United Bank and the Cactus Pines Girl Scout Council. In her years before moving to the District of Columbia, she was president of the Junior Women’s Club and the Mesa Republican Women.

In college, Rhodes was homecoming queen, president of the Honor Society of Alpha Psi Omega and president of her sorority, Delta Delta Delta.

The person who nominated Rhodes, says, “Betty quietly worked behind the scenes because she wanted to work on behalf of the people of the state. I can’t think of anyone more deserving for this award.”

Volunteerism (posthumous)
Kerry Martin
Position: Worked to prevent child drowning, promoted water safety and financial literacy
Family: Martin is survived by her husband of 13 years, Dean; father,
Edward; aunt, Phyllis; sister, Tracy; brother, John; a niece and two nephews
Education: Political science and Spanish degrees from Arizona State University, (valedictorian) 1996

Kerry Martin’s commitment to volunteerism started when she was working as a bank teller while attending Arizona State University, says state Treasurer Dean Martin of his late wife. Kerry, who died on Memorial Day after childbirth, was awarded the Arizona Capitol Times leadership award for Volunteerism posthumously. Her newborn also died.

“Kerry always wanted to do things to help others and never would take credit herself,” Dean says. “She was never one to sit still when she saw something she didn’t like, whether it was a political campaign, water safety or financial literacy.”

As a bank teller, she encountered customers who weren’t really poor but couldn’t balance their checkbook. Kerry helped them as much as possible. Later she put together a financial literacy program and taught the class in community centers. She partnered with Habitat for Humanity, which wouldn’t give people possession of a home until they had some knowledge of credit scores, credit cards, debt and the importance of paying bills on time.

The volunteer effort she probably was most proud of, says Dean, was a financial literacy program at Luke Air Force Base that was a factor in strengthening military defense. Dean explains that young enlisted men right out of high school were running up huge debts that jeopardized their security clearance. If the mechanics couldn’t work on the planes, pilots couldn’t get sufficient training flying them, and their deployment overseas would be delayed.

As state treasurer, Dean was asked to testify before a congressional committee on the program that Kerry had put together. “That was one of her proudest moments,” Dean says. “She did all the work, but she didn’t want any of the credit.”

Kerry was also involved in kids programs. She took an interest in water safety, and raised money so poor youngsters who couldn’t even afford the 50-cent admission fee to get into a city pool were able to swim in safety.

A person who nominated Kerry for the award says: “She was one of the smartest people I ever met, and she used her intelligence to help others. She was one of those selfless people who reached out to help others. It was unfortunate that the good Lord needed her more than we did, but she made it a point to give back while she was here.”

Lifetime Achievement (posthumous)
“A.J.” Jack Pfister
Position: General Manager, Salt River Project. Partner, Jennings, Strauss & Salmon
Family: Pfister is survived by his wife of 52 years, Patricia; daughter, Suzanne and son, Scott
Education: Engineering and law degrees from the University of Arizona

Jack Pfister spent his life improving the community around him and the state through his actions, his leadership and his various contributions to community organizations. He played a significant role in shaping Arizona’s public policy during the past 40 years, spearheading projects and policy initiatives in both the public and the private sectors. Thanks to his involved and influential leadership, Arizonans will continue to benefit into the future from the fruit of his vision.

Pfister was partner at law firm Jennings, Strauss & Salmon, and served as general manager of the Salt River Project. In the 1990s, Pfister taught at Arizona State University and served as the school’s vice president of institutional advancement.

His accomplishments were numerous. He filled countless roles in the creation and implementation of policies and institutions that shape the state today. He orchestrated the settlement of water rights between the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, seven Valley cities and three irrigation districts. He played a major role in the Central Arizona Project. In the 1980s and 1990s he helped lead efforts related to land conservation and state trust lands. He also led the charge to recognize and make official the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Pfister was quite active in other organizations in the community as well. He served on boards of the YMCA, the Arizona Board of Regents, the Arizona Town Hall, the Flinn Foundation, the Arizona Humanities Council and, most recently, the Center for Arizona’s Future.

“Jack Pfister was unassuming, intelligent and respected by all,” says Kurt Davis of FirstStrategic Communications & Public Affairs in Phoenix. “He had an extraordinary ability to bring people together from all different backgrounds to find effective, long-lasting solutions to public policy issues.”

On news of his passing in July, Gov. Jan Brewer said Pfister “led the Salt River Project, and indeed every civic group and organization on which he served, with quiet skill and uncommon wisdom.”

Leaders luncheon keynote speaker Marshall Trimble

2008 Leaders: Where are they now?


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