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Scottsdale's 20 Most Influential

Allison Mitchell | October 13, 2020 | People Feature

This October we honor the local luminaries leading the charge in our community. From arts and education advocates to innovators finding solutions to current challenges, these formidable forces drive change, pushing Scottsdale forward for the greater good.

Michael Phelps

He’s the most decorated Olympian of all time, winning an astounding 28 medals—23 of which are gold—and setting a jaw-dropping 39 world records. Yes, Michael Phelps is truly the greatest swimmer the world has ever seen. Lucky for us, the superhuman calls Paradise Valley home, where he resides with wife Nicole and their three sons—Boomer, 4, Beckett, 2, and Maverick, 1. In 2008, Phelps established the Michael Phelps Foundation (michaelphelpsfoundation.‌org) to continue to advance the sport of swimming for athletes of all ages with an emphasis on water safety, wellness and the pursuit of dreams. Today, he’s an advocate for mental health as a spokesperson for therapy app Talkspace and continues to inspire the next generation of Olympic hopefuls and their peers.

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Tom Hatten

In an effort to support fellow business owners, Mountainside Fitness (mountainsidefitness.com) CEO and founder Tom Hatten went to bat this summer to stand up for the right to safely and considerately do business during COVID-19.

How would you describe your mission?

I believe people, businesses and communities grow together through action. My father always said, ‘If you want to do something, do it. If you want to pretend to do something, talk about it.’ I have always hoped as an Arizona homegrown company that Mountainside Fitness could give back through organizational support, participation and donations to our community. It’s been one of my greatest joys over these past 30 years to be able to help in some way.

How are you giving back to your community? My main goal has been to serve on charity boards, including the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association and Make-A-Wish Arizona. Our donations now total over $500,000 in giving back to these incredible organizations, including a recent $100,000 donation to the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Grant Crone

Principal, MMPR Marketing, mmprmarketing.com

"At MMPR Marketing, we leverage technology and relationships to shine a spotlight on projects, companies and people that mean the most to us and our community. From improving the educational opportunities for underserved kids as a member of the Vista College Preparatory board of directors to supporting Arizona-based charities and nonprofits, such as The Joy Bus, Devour Phoenix, Scottsdale League for the Arts and the American Liver Foundation, much of our work centers around bringing people together."

Rachel Sacco

President & CEO, Experience Scottsdale, experiencescottsdale.com

"Experience Scottsdale’s mission is to enhance the local community by promoting the Scottsdale area as a luxury destination for meetings, events and leisure travel. This is a tough time for our industry, but tourism is truly resilient. Over my 40 years in tourism, I have seen the industry bounce back from so many challenges, from terrorism attacks to natural disasters to political controversies. Now, more than ever, the world needs kindness, patience, hope and forgiveness."

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Sam Kathryn Campana

An activist, public speaker and author, Sam Kathryn Campana is the former Scottsdale mayor; chairman emeritus of the Arizonans for Cultural Development; and the founder of the Scottsdale Foundation for the Handicapped, Scottsdale Western Art Associates and Scottsdale Leadership, for which she was a Drinkwater Award recipient. Twelve years with the National Audubon Society followed, through which she launched Audubon Arizona. How’s that for a résumé?

How would you describe your mission? My adult life has been about advocating for the arts, artists and arts organizations plus conservation and the environment. I care deeply about Arizona’s quality of life. That mission meant getting involved in public policy making at the local, state and national level. Along the way, I always tried to uplift women. My mezzanine staff at Scottsdale City Hall was almost all female, as was our hardworking Audubon Arizona team.

What does the world need more of now? We need to be outdoors more. Exposure to nature, the science of nature, the glory of nature is critically important and largely missing. I’ve enjoyed working on the McDowell Sonoran Preserve—as mayor identifying millions of dollars for acquisition, becoming a steward and introducing the community to the gem we have here for posterity. Oh yes, and we need love, sweet love.

Jamie Hormel

When it comes to Arizona landmarks, the storied Wrigley Mansion (wrigleymansion.com) in Phoenix is one of the most famous and beloved. Purchased in 1992 by the late meatpacking heir Geordie Hormel and his wife, Jamie, the Wrigley Mansion stands today as a place of celebration and fine dining. As owner, Jamie is leading the historic building into its next era, ensuring generations to come can enjoy the destination, which was originally constructed by chewing gum personality William Wrigley Jr. in 1932. A 50th anniversary gift to his beloved wife, Ada, it’s fitting that many weddings and special occasions take place inside its hallowed walls. James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross oversees the Geordie’s Restaurant and Lounge while CEO and sommelier Paola Embry commands the wine program, most notably highlighted at Jamie’s Wine Bar.

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Jennifer McCabe

Toasting the second anniversary of her appointment as director and chief curator of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA, smoca.org), Jennifer McCabe is relentless in her passion to bring the best of the art world to her local community. “I believe art has the power to engage our imaginations, challenge our perceptions and inspire change. It’s my mission to support artists in doing this critical work,” says the alum of San Francisco’s New Langton Arts and Museum of Craft and Folk Art. “Through my work at SMoCA, I strive to engage the local artistic community. When we support the artists and the art they produce, we demonstrate how much we value creativity.”

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Jason Rose

Is there anything this multihyphenate talent can’t do? Jason Rose is the president and co-founder of Rose+Moser+Allyn Public and Online Relations (rosemoserallynpr.com); producer of Americano! The Musical (americanothemusical.‌com); and co-founder of The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships (thepoloparty.com), set this year for Nov. 7. Here, the mogul sounds off.

How would you describe your mission? To be a creative and innovative advocate for companies and causes when it comes to public relations and affairs, crisis communications, elections and events. While we’ve been privileged to represent some 500 clients statewide since inception in 1996, it’s been particularly cool to do a lot of this work in Scottsdale, where I grew up, went to school and have my office.

What’s your latest win? I am very proud that just before the onset of the pandemic we helped bring the Scottsdale community together to help achieve landslide voter approval for roughly $300 million in new infrastructure projects throughout the city. It hasn’t been done in two decades and will help provide many new projects throughout the city for decades to come.

What’s next? Our successful Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships will soon be announcing an agreement with Work To Ride to launch a new polo event in Philadelphia in 2021. Work To Ride is the first all-African American high school polo championship team in American history that has been featured on HBO, 60 Minutes and ESPN. It is a wonderful charity that helps underprivileged youth discover a better life through equestrian activities.

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CP Drewett

Drive through Scottsdale’s upscale neighborhoods and you’re sure to spot the astounding work of architect extraordinaire CP Drewett of Drewett Works (drewettworks.‌com). “My mission is to steward the people I come in contact with. I seek to serve others, whether it’s connecting people, friendship, a listening ear or even a broad shoulder. Vocationally, my stewardship begins with stewarding my clients through budgets, expectations, the land and their emotions,” says Drewett. “We offer a passionate design process from start to finish.” Giving back is also top of mind. “I hope I’m helping our community by transforming the built landscape, and by educating my clients; by challenging trade partners to seek new heights, explore new opportunities and stretch the limits of the creation and delivery of design,” he adds. 2020 has also shifted his personal perspective, an outlook he hopes to share with others: “My 2020 motto was going to be focus... and instead it became faith.”

Ann Siner

Fashionhounds flock to Ann Siner’s designer consignment stores—My Sister’s Closet (mysisterscloset.com), Well Suited (shopwellsuited.‌com) and San Diego’s My Sister’s Attic (mysistersattic.com)—to score curated finds at a fraction of the cost. But it’s Siner’s extensive philanthropic work that shows giving back is truly what’s in style. “Through My Sisters’ Charities (mysisterscharities.org), my personal mission is to accomplish three major goals—end the euthanasia of unwanted dogs and cats; protect wildlife in peril; and help women heal from abusive relationships,” explains the entrepreneur. Additionally, the altruist currently serves on the boards for the Phoenix Art Museum and the Arizona Humane Society, where she personally pledged $1 million for the organization’s new shelter and hospital that will break ground in 2021. “AHS’ new facility will replace a 60-year-old shelter in the Sunnyslope area and help save the lives of many homeless and abused dogs and cats,” she notes. Her message is a simple but important one: “Get involved. Don’t wait until you retire or have more time. Get involved with what you love today.”

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Julie Xander

Attend a well-heeled event in Scottsdale and you’re bound to see go-getter Julie Xander interviewing the socialite set while livestreaming on her well-followed social media accounts. A mother of three, the mogul is the beauty and brains behind the ever-growing Lifestyle Jules brand (lifestylejules.com). More than 130,000 fans soak up her Instagram feed to learn about the latest in fashion, beauty, health and wellness, while locals can get facetime with the phenom as she teaches fitness classes throughout the Valley. Whether she’s promoting her own products—don’t miss her vibrant workoutwear—or serving as an ambassador for others, Xander makes doing it all look effortless (and oh-so-chic).

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Alice Cooper

Never one to shy away from the limelight, Phoenix native Alice Cooper rocks the local philanthropy scene as much as he does the stage. His organization, Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock (alicecoopersolidrock.com), helps teens throughout the Phoenix region through the gift of the arts, giving them a stable and safe place to celebrate their talents at the Solid Rock Teen Center, which will expand into the Mesa region in the coming months. “We are fulfilling a vision we’ve had for several years... to provide teens with a central place to learn, have fun and explore their creativity in a fun and supportive environment,” says the three-time Grammy nominee. “The Rock is the first of many teen centers in Arizona and, ultimately, around the country.”

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Gerd Wuestemann

“My mission is to produce and present world-class performing and visual arts experiences in a beautiful, 20-acre campus setting; to engage a diverse group of participants of all ages through lifelong learning and expression; and to be an inclusive hub of creativity and beautification through public art and arts festivals for all,” declares Gerd Wuestemann. As president and CEO of Scottsdale Arts (scottsdalearts.org), Wuestemann and his 170 staffers produce a whopping 550-plus art experiences annually. “The arts are a part of Scottsdale’s DNA, an integral part of its beauty. By reconnecting our community through uplifting arts experiences, we help them to recover. Art and culture are significant economic drivers in Scottsdale, engines that support tourism, small businesses and our local artists and creative drivers.”

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Hank Arens

“My silver lining this year has been recognizing what and who are most important in my life and really focusing on those things and people,” says Hank Arens, owner and principal designer of Hank Arens Designs (hankarensdesigns.‌com), which has studios in both Scottsdale and Flagstaff. “My mission is to work as a team with client, architect and builder to design, plan, build and construct homes that reflect our clients’ lifestyle that are inviting with beautiful interiors.” When he’s not creating stunning surroundings, the altruist is assisting JDRF Arizona (jdrf.org/arizona) in its fight against Type-1 diabetes. On Nov. 14, Arens will serve as gala chair emeritus, alongside co-chairs Kelly Springs Kelley and Juliaette Lamond Chamberlain, at this year’s JDRF Arizona Promise Ball Reimagined. In total, Arens has helped raise millions for JDRF Arizona, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Human Rights Campaign, among others, over the course of more than 20 years. “Opening our eyes and recognizing those around us and their needs is vital right now,” he says. “Together, we can make a difference.”

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Jesse Thompson

Jesse Thompson, area director of sales and marketing for Hotel Valley Ho (hotelvalleyho.com) and Mountain Shadows Resort (mountainshadows.com), has a personal stake in his philanthropy work.

What is your mission? My personal mission is to be a good father and husband, focusing my efforts on improving the life quality of my epileptic son, Tyler, through ongoing fundraising initiatives. I serve as the vice chair on the board for the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona (epilepsyaz.org) and advocate in Washington, D.C., along with local healthcare providers to improve care, repeal step therapy, and bring new treatments to light.

How are you helping your community? Most of my efforts are focused on the Epilepsy Foundation for personal reasons, but I have made some great connections with many other charitable organizations, such as the Starry Foundation, Make-A-Wish Arizona and the Valleywise Health Foundation. When applicable, I try to leverage our hotel properties to assist with sponsorships and/or donations to in turn receive recognition for being locally owned businesses and supporters of community needs and projects.

What does the world need more of now? Reasons to travel and new ways to socialize. The coronavirus has made many people realize how important it is to have certain freedoms and how those may have been taken for granted.

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Renee & Bob Parsons

Billionaire Bob Parsons, of GoDaddy and Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG, pxg.‌com) fame, in tandem with his wife, Renee, have dedicated their time and efforts toward sharing their wealth with others through The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation (tbrpf.org). As members of Bill and Melinda Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge initiative, the pair have also committed to giving at least half of their fortunes to charity. In 2019 alone, their foundation gave 46 grants, totaling more than $26 million.

Tell us about your foundation.
BP: We provide critical funding to nonprofit partners that transform the lives of the most vulnerable populations. We focus on homelessness, health, education, youth, military families and veterans to further the promise of the American dream.

What do you hope the world learns from these challenging times? RP: 2020 has become a moment in history we will never forget. We are in the midst of a global pandemic and social unrest. For me, this has reinforced the importance of philanthropy and the power of togetherness. I hope the world will find renewed value in both.

What has been your silver lining this year? BP: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been significant. However, I believe that we will come out of this stronger as individuals, as a community and as a nation. As for right now, it’s been great to see how a number of the organizations supported by The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation have stepped up and been a beacon of hope for the communities they serve.

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Sam Fox

As founder and CEO of Fox Restaurant Concepts (foxrc.‌com), Sam Fox is utilizing his beloved restaurants to nourish his community in more ways than one. Listen in.

My mission is to bring people and big ideas together. Whether it’s over food or a new restaurant experience, nothing means more to me than real connection.

We strive to make sure each of our restaurants is truly ingrained in the local communities we serve. As part of our commitment, we host benefit nights at all of our restaurants for local charities and schools to give back and support them with our time and our culinary talent. During the worst of COVID-19, we had to pivot and take care of our people. We started an employee fund to help our Fox family in need. We surpassed our original goal of $500,000 and raised over $1 million to support our furloughed employees.

Oscar De las salas

As the project manager of business development and client relationships at renowned architecture firm Gensler, Oscar De las salas (whatwouldoscardo.‌com) is lauded for his work as an interior designer and the keen eye he brings to every project he tackles. But it’s the additional hats he wears—as a fashion producer, style critic, writer, creative director and philanthropist—that have this man about town constantly turning heads. “My main passion lies with my beloved world of arts,” says the advocate, who chaired the annual Scottsdale Arts Gala and SmoCA 20th anniversary celebration last December, for which he’s served as an advisory board member for more than a decade. Board positions with the Friends of Phoenix Public Art, where he’s leading a forthcoming citywide awareness campaign, and with the Southwest Shakespeare Company are also part of his very busy schedule. “My mission is simple but broad,” he says. “I try to use my given talents to make this place in the desert one of which we can all be proud.”

McKenna Wesley

With more than 1 million followers (and growing), McKenna Wesley is the stunning face behind The Bubbly Blonde (thebubblyblonde.life), a lifestyle blog that covers the local’s love for fitness, health, beauty, fashion, travel and more. “As the Bubbly Blonde, kindness, joy and looking for the good in others are the basis of my belief system,” says the philanthropist, who has served on the committee for the American Heart Association’s Phoenix Heart Ball for more than six years. “When we are kind and respectful to those around us, the ongoing impact can be quite powerful.”

Larry Fitzgerald

While famed wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (larryfitzgerald.com) has made a star-studded impact on the Arizona Cardinals for 17 seasons now, it’s the work he’s doing off the field that’s equally inspiring. Toasting its 15th anniversary, The Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund aids youth in their academic endeavors, including reading proficiency and access to top technology, and rallies behind breast cancer survivors and their fight against the disease. The fund has provided more than $600,000 in grants to various organizations and annually gives back to the Plano Development Center, a facility founded by the football star’s late grandfather Dr. Robert Johnson, which provides vision care to children in need. He’s a past recipient of The Foundation for Blind Children’s Visionary Award; hosts the annual Fitz Supper Club fundraising dinner; and this year, became a minority owner of the Phoenix Suns, further proving his love for the state he proudly plays for. Touchdown, indeed.



Photography by: Phelps photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images; McCabe photo by Scott Foust; Rose by Whitney B. Photography; Drewett by Kitchen Sink Studios; Xander by Andrew Millet; Cooper by Corlouer/DAPR via ZUMA Press; Wuestemann by Chris Loomis; Arens by Tony Marinella; Parsons by Yam Worldwide; Fox by Mark Lipczynski; all other photos courtesy of brands