Kimber Lanning and Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr. will be Valley Leadership’s 72nd Man & Woman of the Year. The pair were selected because of their commitment to Arizona and track record of impact in the community, particularly on the state’s most pressing issues.
Kimber and Warren have spent decades working to strengthen Arizona, and we’re honored to recognize their long-standing commitment to our community.
Lanning, founder of Local First Arizona, has championed small business and economic development and the local arts community. During the pandemic, she led the Local First team in its support of small businesses through rent assistance, launched new programming to support Arizona’s Black entrepreneurs and launched Feed Phoenix, hiring farms and restaurants to create meals for families impacted by COVID-19 – improving food security and keeping local farms and restaurants in business.
Stewart, senior pastor for First Institutional Baptist Church, has led efforts in Arizona to support social justice and civil rights. He led Victory First, successfully advocating to establish Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a state holiday in 1992, and he continues to advocate for racial justice in Arizona. He founded FIBCO Family Services, providing housing, food and clothing to those in need and welcoming African immigrants and refugees.
Lanning and Stewart will be recognized at a reception on Nov. 16 at the Paradise Valley Country Club and at a VL alumni event on April 21.
Kimber Lanning is founder of Local First Arizona, the statewide organization working to strengthen Arizona’s economy. Lanning is an entrepreneur, business leader and community development specialist who works to cultivate strong self-reliant communities and inspire a higher quality of life for people across Arizona. Lanning’s passions, which are seen throughout her work, include fostering cultural diversity and inclusion, economic resilience and responsible growth for Arizona. Lanning has grown Local First Arizona into a widely respected organization that is leading the nation in implementing systems and policies to ensure a level playing field for entrepreneurial endeavors of all sizes. With nearly 3,500 business members and four statewide offices, Lanning leads a team of 40 who work on a diverse array of programs ranging from healthy local food access, entrepreneurial development in underserved communities, and rural community development, each of which plays a part in building sustainable and resilient local economies.
Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr. has been senior pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church of Phoenix, Arizona, since 1977. His ministry is characterized by an unwavering commitment and spirit-filled zeal to engage in evangelism and emancipation, meeting the needs of the whole person. He is also recognized by others as “a man of conscience, commitment and dedication to the cause of moral leadership, human rights and a soldier of justice and equality.” Stewart has been cited as one of the most influential religious leaders in Arizona and the nation, and his ministry extends internationally. Dr. Stewart organized and led two broad-based coalitions – ARIZONANS FOR A MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. STATE HOLIDAY and VICTORY TOGETHER, Inc. – that campaigned for a Martin Luther King, Jr./Civil Rights Day in Arizona, which was won by a historic vote of the people in the general election on Nov. 3, 1992, after a decades-long fight.
Man of the Year was launched by the Ad Association of Arizona in 1949, followed by the launch of Woman of the Year in 1951, with the drive to honor those among us who make a difference and are the instruments of progress, goodness and service to others. The association transitioned the awards to Valley Leadership, which continues to recognize Arizonans’ long-term contributions and commitment to our community. In 2019, the Person of the Decade was launched to recognize other once-in-a-decade-leaders and ‘doers’ whose grit and determination in taking on and solving Arizona’s most pressing issues mirror Valley Leadership’s five principles of doing and commitment to cultivating leaders who work to get things done civilly.