Arizona Digital Free Press - Logo

Shoeleather Journalism in the Digital Age

Shoeleather Journalism
in the Digital Age

Arizona legislators recognized as ‘Champions of Innovation’ by local business collective

Photo of Champions of Innovation at the Arizona Capitol
Above are winners of the inaugural Arizona Champions of Innovation Awards: Rep. Marcelino Quiñonez; Sen. Christine Marsh; Sen. T.J. Shope; and Rep. Justin Willmeth, who are with ASU leaders at the annual ASU Day at the Capitol, April 10, 2023. (Photo Courtesy Charlie Leight at ASU News/
Champions of Innovation awards salute moving the economic needle forward
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

The Partnership for Economic Innovation, a collective of business and community leaders is announcing the winners of its inaugural Arizona Champions of Innovation Awards.

Arizona Sen. Christine Marsh; Sen. T.J. Shope; Arizona Rep. Justin Willmeth; and Rep. Marcelino Quiñonez were recognized for their outstanding leadership and contributions to promoting innovation and strategic economic growth in Arizona, according to a press release.

“Each legislator that we are recognizing this year has made a significant impact on the lives of Arizonans, and we are proud to honor them with this award,” said John Graham, chairman and CEO of Sunbelt Holdings and president of the Board for the Partnership for Economic Innovation. “We hope that their achievements will inspire others to follow in their footsteps and work towards creating a more innovative and prosperous Arizona.”

Winners of the AZ Champions of Innovation Awards were selected by a committee of PEI board members based on the criteria that each awardee demonstrated an understanding of Arizona’s innovation economy, representatives of the effort say. In addition award criteria includes:

  • showcased their commitment to growing innovation in Arizona;
  • championed support for building world-class education institutions in Arizona; and
  • demonstrated leadership for driving industry-led solutions that address challenges faced by Arizona businesses.

Champions of Innovation awards salutes moving the economic needle forward

Through applied research, researchers and startups that want to validate and commercialize emerging technologies can more quickly get their innovative products to market and begin impacting lives.

“These legislators’ support of an innovation friendly environment and budget priorities is setting Arizona up for success that will make a significant impact on our quality of life for years to come,” said Wes Gullett, director of operations for the WearTech and Blockchain Applied Research Centers. “Their shared value of improving the economy through local Arizona businesses will create an ecosystem that supports the development of new ideas and technologies and helps entrepreneurs turn their visions into realities.”

The Partnership for Economic Innovation’s board of directors consists of some of the state’s most prominent business and policy leaders, including:

  • Mr. Graham, president and CEO of Sunbelt Holdings;
  • Chris Camacho, president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic Council;
  • Chris Zaharis, executive VP of Empire Southwest;
  • Neil Giuliano, president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership;
  • Brad Jannenga, founder and executive chairman of Chassi;
  • Darcy Renfro, vice chancellor, community, government relations, and economic development, Maricopa County Community College District;
  • Paul Luna, president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation;
  • Grace O’Sullivan, VP corporate engagement and strategic partnerships, Arizona State University; and
  • David Rousseau, president of Salt River Project.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category Sponsor

Learn About the Author

Category Sponsor


Newsletter Sign Up

Scottsdale Daily Beat - Logo

Could we interest you in Local News That Matters? How about Enterprise Business Reporting & Free Press Philanthropy?

Captain No Eyes Display AD 1
Mountain Shadows 2
Buckles & Bangels


Paradise Valley