Sarah E. Suggs | President and CEO

Sarah E. Suggs is a third-generation Arizonan whose 25-year career has taken her to the east coast and west.  She served as Senior Vice President of Marketing for Phoenix-based Pivotal Group, a private equity and real estate investment firm, and as Executive Director of The National Women’s Hall of Fame in New York, which recognizes and celebrates the achievements of extraordinary American women.  

A community volunteer since the age of 12, Ms. Suggs has held several leadership positions including Phoenix Heart Ball Chairman, Arizona Science Center Gala Chairman, Women’s Board of the Barrow Neurological Foundation, a Founder of Phoenix Children’s Hospital Leadership Circle and Past President of Charter 100, whose purpose is to recognize outstanding women in the community and provide a forum for their interaction. Honorary members include former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Arizona Governors Rose Mofford, Jane Dee Hull and Janet Napolitano.

Heather Schader | Vice President, Operations

Deborah De Respino | Director of Philanthropy


Sandra Day O'Connor Institute Board of Directors


Founder and Advisor

Sandra Day O'Connor

Board Officers

Peter Hayes, Chairman of the Board
Peter Hayes is the Associate General Manager of Public Affairs for the Salt River Project. Hayes directed SRP’s congressional and federal relations in Washington, D.C. for six years beginning in 1985, before returning to Arizona to assume responsibility for the utility’s federal, state and local government relations. Prior to joining SRP, Hayes worked on Capitol Hill for the U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader, John J. Rhodes from Arizona’s First Congressional District. During the Reagan administration, Hayes worked as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of Interior, and then served as Deputy Director of Congressional Liaison in the Office of the Secretary, under both Secretaries William Clark and Donald Hodel.

In 1992, Hayes served as Chief of Staff to Arizona Governor, Fife Symington. Hayes graduated from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and completed the program for senior managers in government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Hayes, 56, is the father of three sons. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Arizona Science Center, and the Board of Directors of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. He is a past member of the Arizona State University Barrett Honors College Dean’s Advisory Board, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and a commissioner on the Arizona Commission on the Arts.


Gay Firestone Wray, Vice Chair

Gay Firestone Wray was a leader in the establishment of O'Connor House, initially helping to relocate the original adobe home, and has supported its many projects and programs over the years. She is a philanthropist with a long history in leadership roles, including the Smithsonian National Board, as well as other notable philanthropic organizations. Gay is President of the Roger S. Firestone Foundation, an advisory trustee of the Phoenix Country Day School, a life member of the Barrows Neurological Institute, and a member of Hospice of the Valley. She is a former director of Bank of America, Arizona, and her past philanthropic associations have included the Phoenix Zoo Auxiliary, Charter 100, Senator's Cup, Valley Shakespeare Theatre, and Christ Church Memorial Garden.

Richard Silverman, Secretary

Richard Silverman, Of Counsel, Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PLC, began his career with SRP in 1966 as an attorney and, over the years, held various legal and managerial roles, including Associate General Manager of Law and Administrative Services. In 1994, Silverman was named General Manager of SRP. His many accomplishments include the 2011 President's Award, J.D. Power & Associates; 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, the Agri-Business Council of Arizona; 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, Most Admired Executives, Phoenix Business Journal; and the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Individual Award, Greater Phoenix Urban League.

Silverman is a well-recognized and respected professional in the energy industry, in Arizona and on a national level. He is past Chair of the board of directors for the Electric Power Research Institute; past Chair and former steering committee member of the Large Public Power Council; and former executive committee member of the board of directors for the American Public Power Association. Silverman is active in a number of community organizations, including Greater Phoenix Leadership, the University of Arizona Foundation and the Translational Genomics Research Institute. He serves as Chair of the Governor's Arizona Medical Education Oversight Task Force and is a member of the Governor's Arizona Centennial Commission and Centennial Foundation.

He earned both his J.D. and B.S. in Business from the University of Arizona. Silverman currently resides in Phoenix with his wife Susan.

John Evancevich, Treasurer

John is presently an Audit Projects Manager at Salt River Project (SRP). He has been with SRP for 24 years, the last 16 years of which managing SRP’s Contractual and Joint Ownership audits. His diverse audit work experience has included contractual, financial, and information technology auditing. John earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona and his MBA from Arizona State University. John is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, and Certified Information Systems Auditor.

John’s professional and civic activities have included officer positions with the Information Systems Audit & Control Association and his own homeowners’ association as well as chairperson of the CPE Committee for the Arizona State Board of Accountancy. He currently is a Board member and Treasurer for the O’Connor House, and the President of the Phoenix Chapter for the Institute of Internal Auditors.


Richard L. Boals

Richard L. Boals, Immediate Past Board Chairman
As president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Richard L. Boals provides his strategic vision and expertise to the state's leading health insurer. Boals joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona in 1971 and has served in a variety of capacities, seeing the company through numerous years of stability and success. Prior to his appointment to chief executive officer in April 2003, Boals served as president and chief operating officer. Boals received his bachelor's degree in accounting from Arizona State University and an associate's degree from Phoenix College. Boals served four years in the United States Air Force before beginning his career at Blue Cross Blue Shield of AZ.


Board of Directors

Tracy Bame
Tracy Bame is President of the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation, the primary philanthropic arm of the company.  Ms. Bame also has responsibility for providing strategic direction and oversight for the company’s social development programs in the Americas.  The Freeport-McMoRan Foundation provides grants for programs that promote education, economic development, environment, and health and wellness, with the goal of facilitating community sustainability.


Deborah Bateman

Deborah Bateman is National Bank of Arizona’s Executive Vice President, Director of Wealth Strategies and serves on the bank’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors. In her role, Deborah oversees the delivery of products and services for the bank’s High Net Worth individuals, and is responsible for the NBAZ Private Bank, NBAZ Wealth Management, and Executive Banking.

Bateman is also responsible for several of the bank’s key departments including; Nonprofit Banking and the Women’s Financial Group. Deborah has more than 35 years of banking experience. She holds an associate’s degree from Mesa Community College and is a graduate of Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington in Seattle.

An active member of the community, Deborah is currently an Arizona Skills Standard Commissioner for the Arizona State Department of Education and a board member of Homeward Bound, FreshStart and ChildsHelp. In addition, she is a member of Charter 100, Women President’s Organization, Central Phoenix Women, Social Venture Partners, ASU’s Women and Philanthropy, Arizona 5 Arts Council and the Heart Ball 100. She has served as Chair/Co-Chair of the 2011 Arizona Foundation for Women – Sandra Day O’Connor Luncheon, the 2011 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation – The Promise Ball, as well as the 2009 and 2010 Arthritis Foundation – Oscar Night America.


Nikal Conti

Nikal Conti is the founder and owner of PHX Architecture, a residential and commercial architecture and design firm that does business throughout the West. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a Minor in Development Economics, from Southern Polytechnic State University, Marietta, Georgia, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She received the American Institute of Architect’s National Henry Adams School Gold Medal. Her nonprofit engagement includes the Desert Botanical Garden and ASU Women & Philanthropy.


Harold C. Dorenbecher

Harold C. Dorenbecher is Senior Vice President and Managing Executive of the Phoenix office of Northern Trust Bank, N.A.
Harold has more than 30 years experience with personal trust, probate and employee benefits business. Prior to joining Northern Trust Bank, he was with First Interstate Bank and responsible for employee benefit administration and marketing for their southwest region.

Harold received a B.S. degree from the University of Arizona and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is CTFA certified from the American Bankers Association.

Harold currently serves as a trustee for All Saints Episcopal Day School, a board member of the Phoenix Boys Choir, a member of the Scottsdale Rotary Club, Central Arizona Estate Planners, Arizona Grantmakers Forum and the All Saints Episcopal Church Vestry. He is also a Valley Leadership alumni, Class IX.





Shelley A. Duane
Shelley A. Duane
Shelley A. Duane has a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology and Counseling. Shelley is a current board member of the Barrow Neurological Institute and past board member of Arizona Breast Health. She was the clinical director of the Intensive Psychotherapy Center which is part of the Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry. Previous community volunteer activities include the Phoenix Symphony and the Arizona Opera.

Philip L. Francis

Philip L. Francis began his career in 1971 rising to president and chief executive officer of Shaw’s Supermarkets (1991–98). Francis was president and CEO of PetSmart Inc., from 1998 until he was appointed executive chairman in June 2009 until his retirement in 2012. Phil is an active supporter of Arizona State University and a member of the board of trustees. In 2003 he received the Executive of the Year award from Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business Dean’s Council of 100. Phil serves on the Greater Phoenix Leadership Board of Directors and was Chairman 2009-2011.


Leonard S. Gaby

Leonard Gaby served as Chief Executive Officer of Sleep America for 13 years after co-founding the company with his wife, Debbie. In 2004, Len co-founded Sleep America Charities Foundation, which provides assistance, support, and other resources to deserving Arizona charities and organizations in need. Gaby received his BS and MBA degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo.


Dr. Rufus Glasper
Rufus Glasper, Ph.D., is the President and CEO of The League for Innovation in the Community College. Most recently he served as the Chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges, one of the nation’s largest multi-college community college systems. He served as Chancellor from 2003-2016 and previously held District leadership positions for more than two decades. As Chancellor, Dr. Glasper oversaw all educational and administrative operations of the 10-college District, known commonly as the Maricopa Community Colleges. He provided leadership in matters of system wide strategic planning, bringing all ten colleges and many learning centers into alignment with common goals and methodologies.

Chevy Humphrey

Chevy Humphrey is the President and CEO of the Arizona Science Center, a position she has held since 2006. Before joining the Science Center, Chevy served as the director of development for The Phoenix Symphony and held similar positions at the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin Performing Arts Center and The Houston Symphony. At the Arizona Science Center, Chevy oversees the $12 million operation of the 164,000-square-foot facility with more than 330 employees and volunteers.


Doug Hunt
Mr. Hunt joined Holladay Properties in 1988 and is a senior partner of the nine partner privately held commercial real estate development firm. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and attended the Medill Graduate School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He also served in the US Army as a Military Intelligence specialist. Prior to joining The Holladay Group, he owned his own business. From 1977 until 1996, Mr. Hunt served as a member of the Indiana State Senate, where he was a member of the Finance Committee and specialized in tax and economic development policy and in services for the elderly.

At Holladay, Mr. Hunt has been responsible for the creation of the AmeriPlex business parks in Indianapolis and Portage, Indiana and Merrillville, IN (Chicago market). AmeriPlex in Indianapolis is the largest mixed use business park in the Midwest. It required nearly five years of planning, public-private infrastructure negotiations, zoning, and land acquisition to create this unique project adjacent to the Indianapolis Airport, Interstates 70 and 465, and what has grown into Federal Express’s Second National Hub. Mr. Hunt is Holladay’s lead partner on the development of large-scale business parks. He has been instrumental in the series of partnerships with Purdue Research Foundation since the inception of the first such joint venture in 2005. He has taken a particular interest in architectural and landscape design aspects of Holladay’s developments.

Mr. Hunt retains an active interest in civic affairs. He served on the board of Our Lady of Peace Hospital in South Bend. He has a special interest in the arts, as a member of the Northern Indiana Partnership for the Arts, Friends of the Snite Museum of the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Hunt is a member of the Sorin Society of Notre Dame and the Notre Dame Club of Tucson. He and his wife, Marlene, are members of the University of Arizona Medici Society. Also a student of history, Mr. Hunt served as a Trustee of the Indiana State Museum. Mr. Hunt has been honored by two separate Indiana Governors, one of each political persuasion, with the designation of “Sagamore of the Wabash,” Indiana’s most important honor to its citizens.



Rick Jones

Rick Jones is the Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Companies (formerly SCF Arizona). Jones holds a Master's in Business Administration from Arizona State University's Executive MBA Program. He is completing his terms as the president of the Arizona Insurance Council, and the executive committee of the East Valley Partnership. Rick Jones is a member of the ASU W.P Carey School of Business Dean’s Council.


Francis Najafi

Francis Najafi is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pivotal Group, a thirty year old investment firm located in Phoenix, Arizona, with experience in private equity investments and all major real estate product types.

Mr. Najafi completed his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering at Arizona State University (ASU), followed by two Masters Degrees from Thunderbird – The School of Global Management and the University of Southern California (USC).While a Ph.D. candidate in International Political Economy at USC, he began his entrepreneurial activities.

                                     Mr. Najafi served on the Board of Directors of Network Solutions, NxSystems and      Western Alliance Bancorporation.Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of EastWest Institute, is a member of Urban Land Institute (ULI), and serves as Governor of the ULI Foundation. Mr. Najafi is also active in the World President’s Organization (WPO) and Chief Executive’s Organization (CEO).

Locally, Mr. Najafi is a member of the Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL), a Trustee of Thunderbird – The          School of Global Management, and a Foundation Board member of Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).He is a member of the President’s Club at ASU and serves on ASU’s Business School, Dean’s Council.

Frederick M. Pakis

Frederick M. Pakis retired at a relatively early age from JDA Software, Inc., the international company he co-founded in the 1980s. Subsequently, he established The Pakis Family Foundation in 1996 through the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF). Fred serves on the ACF Board of Directors and Investment Committee, and sponsors ACF’s suite of corporate services through the Pakis Center for Business Philanthropy. Fred also serves on the Phoenix Symphony Board of Directors and on the Board of Advisors for the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.


Mi-Ai Parrish

Mi-Ai Parrish is President and Publisher of Republic Media which includes the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. Mi-Ai previously served as President and Publisher of The Kansas City Star Media Company and Idaho Statesman. Mi-Ai is a two-time Pulitzer Prize juror, a longtime member of the Asian American Journalists Association, and was named one of the 100 Most Important Minority Journalists of the Last Century. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2013.


Michael R. Rooney
Mike Rooney graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from   University of Missouri and thereafter, spent four and one-half years in the Air Force and was discharged at the rank of Captain. Mike graduated from the Arizona State University College of Law with academic honors and was a member of the Law Review. Since law school graduation, Mike has practiced with the law firm of Sacks Tierney P.A. in Scottsdale.

Mike is a past President of the Grand Canyon Council of the Boy Scouts of America; a James E. West Fellow; a recipient of the Silver Beaver award, the Silver Antelope award, and primarily because of his work with the homeless community in Arizona, was awarded the Distinguished Eagle award. Mike was appointed by an Arizona governor to a four-year term on what is currently the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. This board regulates the private trade and technical school industry in Arizona. For two years, Mike was the Board's chairman.

Jim Rose

Jim Rose is the General Manager of the JW Marriott Camelback Inn. Mr. Rose has been with Marriott since 1968 when he started as a front desk associate at the O’Hare Marriott in Chicago when Marriott had a total of seven hotels.

Mr. Rose was named ‘General Manager of the Year’ by Marriott International in 2005, during his tenure at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa. Before arriving in Las Vegas, Rose was Marriott’s area general manager for the Scottsdale region, overseeing 10 properties, including the Scottsdale Marriott Suites and Mountain Shadows Marriott Resort. He has also served as resident manager at the Maui Marriott and director of                                        marketing for the Los Angeles Airport Marriott and Chicago Marriott O’Hare.


Steve Savage

Stephen M. Savage

Steve Savage is a partner of the Ballard Spahr law office in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Savage, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School, is a business/real estate transactional lawyer. For 20 consecutive years, Mr. Savage has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America. He is an Emeritus Board member and past Chair of the Arizona Science Center, a Board member of the Verde Vaqueros, and past President of the Maricopa County Mounted Sheriff's Posse.




Lisa Urias
In international marketing and communications, Lisa Urias founded Urias Communications in 2003 to address an underserved need for strategic advertising and PR with a uniquely multicultural focus. Now a local and national award-winning advertising, and public relations agency, Urias Communications specializes in the multicultural markets of the U.S. Southwest, with concentration on the burgeoning Hispanic market. During her time in international marketing, Lisa served as partner with Alesco Consultores, a Mexican energy consulting agency whose managing partner was the former Mexican Undersecretary of Energy and Director General of the Comisión Federal de Electricidad. She also spent nine years at Salt River Project (SRP) in Phoenix as the Director of International Markets in the Strategic Planning division and as the Director of International Affairs in the Public and Communications division. In these capacities she developed strategic plans and marketed SRP to more than 70 nations for energy services and water technology transfer programs, also serving as the liaison to U.S. and foreign government agencies such as U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, USAID, the Secretería de Energía de México and the World Bank.


Lisa has received numerous awards from across the U.S. and from several Mexican trade organizations for her contribution to high-level international projects. She was a gubernatorial appointee in 1997 to the Executive Committee of the Arizona-Mexico Commission and to the Governor’s Latino Advisory Council in 2008. Lisa serves on several boards including the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Latino Research Enterprise (ALRE) and Saint Luke’s Health Initiatives (SLHI) Foundation, and she is an inaugural fellow to the prestigious Flinn-Brown 2011 Arizona Civic Leadership Academy. She is the recipient of the 2012 Phoenix Business Journal, “Most Admired CEOs” award, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 2010 Business Woman of the Year Award, the 2011 Al Brooke’s Community Service award from the Anti-Defamation League the Valle del Sol Raul Yzaguirre Community Service Award. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in Political Philosophy from Arizona State University.


Kari Yatkowski
Kari Yatkowski has 20+ years as a strategic leader with a unique dual perspective of the corporate arena that is combined with extensive collaboration in the non-profit sector. In 2003, Kari founded and has managed Haven Charitable Foundation, a private family foundation that provides vital resources, time and leadership aimed at helping non-profit agencies make lasting changes. In January of 2012 Kari launched Corporate Citizen, LLC which provides companies with strategies that guide businesses through every facet of corporate responsibility initiatives; from planning and implementation to stakeholder engagement and sustainability reporting.


In addition to her responsibilities as CEO of Haven Charitable Foundation and Corporate Citizen, Kari has worked with more than 100 non-profits and has held numerous leadership roles that impacted fundraising efforts—grossing over 50 million dollars. Most recently, Kari was named Co-Chairman of the capital campaign for Banner MD Anderson and chaired the Phoenix Suns Charities annual fundraising gala. She is also immediate past Chairman of the Board of Homeward Bound, founding chairman of A Derby Affair and title sponsor of Give a Child a Chance. Kari has been involved with Phoenix Children's Hospital, Halle Heart Children's Museum, Heart Ball, Arizona Women's Board, Valley Leadership Class 31, ASU Women in Philanthropy and O'Connor House. Kari is a graduate of the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU with a degree in Supply Chain Management. She is married to Paul and has three sons, Griffin, and twin boys, Tate and Tyler.


Kathleen Zeider
Ms. Zeider was a banker for over 35 years. Most of her career was spent in the Midwest and on the East Coast and included an assignment in Paris, France. She focused on international banking including foreign exchange trading and structured finance. Before moving to Phoenix in 1996 she ran the Chicago Office of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and then founded the Midwest/West Coast regional office of Bank Brussels Lambert. After moving to Arizona from Chicago, Ms. Zeider spent several years as a consultant and as the Executive Director of the state’s Commerce and Economic Development Commission and Fund before returning to banking as President, Compass Bank, Payson/White Mountain Region. Prior to retiring from banking in 2011, she served as a Senior Vice President of Legacy Bank, a small private bank in north Scottsdale.

She graduated from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Political Science and attended John Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University. Ms. Zeider is a member of the Scottsdale Healthcare, Thompson Peak Hospital Community Leadership Council. She has previously served as a director of Arizona MultiBank and has been a member of the Water Infrastructure Financing Authority and Arizona Venture Capital Conference.

Advisory Board

Joseph P. Anderson

Ambassador Barbara Barrett

Alan Day

Bert A. Getz

Lucia Fakonas Howard

Kim Sterling-Heflin