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Joy Rich bestowed lifetime achievement award at 2023 Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards in Tucson

photo of Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards
The Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards are an annual effort to recognize the important work accomplished by dedicated, nonelected public servants in Arizona. (File Photos/
Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards recognizes civic service in Arizona
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Center for the Future of Arizona is announcing the recipients of the 2023 Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards.

The awards, which were presented during the Arizona City and County Management Association Summer Conference at Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson earlier this month, are an annual effort to recognize the important work accomplished by dedicated, nonelected public servants across the Grand Canyon State.

These leaders, event organizers contend, have demonstrated knowledge, skills and commitment to addressing Arizona’s long-term issues and the personal leadership capacity to make Arizona a better place for future generations.

Joy Rich, retired Maricopa County manager, is the recipient of the lifetime achievement award, which recognizes extraordinary public servants who have spent much of their careers supporting Arizona communities.

After three decades in public service and six in the Maricopa County manager role, Ms. Rich retired in April 2023. She spent her entire career improving Arizona communities through a commitment to public service.

She started at the city of Phoenix in 1988 and has held a series of leadership roles, notable in 2012 she became deputy Maricopa County manager, and in 2016 became the first woman to hold the county manager role, leading Maricopa County through years of explosive growth, political and legal challenges, technology advances, a global pandemic, and rapidly shifting workplace trends.

Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards recognizes civic service in Arizona

Sherri Collins, executive director of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing, is the recipient of the civic leader award, which recognizes extraordinary public servants who have spent much of their careers supporting Arizona communities.

In her role since 1998, serving under both Democrat and Republic governors, Ms. Collins acts as ACDHH’s chief executive officer by advocating, strengthening and implementing state policies affecting deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind individuals and their relationship to the public, industry, healthcare and educational opportunities.

Ms. Collins says she is committed to ensuring that ACDHH is a vocal advocate for communication access, support services and community empowerment throughout the state.

Mark McCall, manager of Maricopa County Correctional Health Services Education and Quality Management, is the recipient of the community builder award for large county, which recognizes public servants in cities and towns who advance community pride and connection.

Mr. McCall has been a public servant his entire life. His journey began as a public-school educator before transitioning to Arizona State University’s Teachers College as the director of professional development. He also worked as a cross-district field specialist in partnership with the education service agency across Maricopa County and, in 2015, served as the deputy associate superintendent for Educator Excellence in the Arizona Department of Education. In April 2023, Mr. McCall took up a new role in Maricopa County’s Correctional Health Services as the education and quality management manager.

Stephen J. Pauken, city manager for Bisbee, is the recipient of the Community Builder Award for Small City.

Mr. Pauken has worked as the city manager for the city of Bisbee three times, first from 2006 to 2014 – leaving to take on the city manager role in Winslow – before returning to the role in 2019 and then again in 2021. He advocates for Bisbee at the federal, state and county levels while entertaining new business prospects and residents.

Among his most recent achievements was turning a budget deficit into a $535,000 surplus, with a surplus of $1 million expected by the close of 2023. He also worked tirelessly to bond out Bisbee’s Public Safety Retirement debt of $21 million and increased Bisbee’s main economic generator – tourism – while starting a citywide workforce housing program for city, school and healthcare employees.

Stephanie Zamora, associate to the city manager for the city of Scottsdale, is the recipient of the emerging leader award, which recognizes early-stage public servants committed to improving civic health and community connections for their constituents.

Ms. Zamora is an early-stage public service employee committed to the overall civic health and community connection of the constituents she serves while bringing innovation, energy and compassion to their position and serving as a role model for others.

“CFA is honored to present the Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards as an essential part of advancing The Arizona We Want,” says Dr. Sybil Francis, chair, president and CEO of Center for the Future of Arizona.

“While highly visible elected officials set policy direction and make important decisions, our nonelected public servants and the roles they fill are not as easily observed yet vital to the quality of life in Arizona. We applaud the 2023 award recipients for their dedication, professionalism and expertise in solving public problems and improving our communities.”

The Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards, named after the community outreach director whose life was taken in a mass shooting in 2011 at a “Congress on Your Corner” event for Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is a cooperative effort between CFA, the Zimmerman family, and ACMA highlighting the contributions nonelected public servants make to the communities they serve.

Public servants who were eligible for the awards include those who are employed by cities and towns, counties, special districts, agencies of the executive and legislative branches of state government, tribal governments, and personal staff working for members of Arizona’s congressional delegation.

All award nominees were judged on their qualities and achievements related to:

  • How they have changed the way government works to serve the public interest.
  • Their ability to take risks and inspire others.
  • Their impact on connecting Arizonans to civic leaders.
  • Improving the health of their community.
  • New ideas to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and enhance the delivery of public services.
  • Legacy contributions of lasting significance.

Of Note: This year’s independent volunteer selection committee asked to determine the 2023 recipients included:

Amanda Aguirre, Former State Senator and Regional Council for Border Health President and CEO; Evelyn Casuga, Central Arizona College Governing Board Member; Rachel Aja, Cox Communications Southwest Region Government Affairs Director; Lisa Atkins, Former Arizona State Land Commissioner; Mignonne Hollis, ED, Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation Executive Director; Steve Peru, Coconino County Manager; Marilyn Rodriguez, Creosote Partners Partner; Paul Senseman, Policy Development Group Principal; and Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez, AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute, Inc. CEO. Previous Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards recipient James Jayne, Former Local Government Manager, and Gabe Zimmerman’s parents also took an active part in the process.

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