Governor’s Celebration

by Don Rodriguez

Heidi Jannenga (center), president and co-founder of WebPT, was winner of the Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year Award in 2018. She received her award at last year’s GCOI from Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, and Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council.

The leaders and visionaries whose body of work contribute to the growth and prosperity of Arizona’s technology sector will be in the spotlight Oct. 24 when the Arizona Technology Council, in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority, hosts the 2019 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards presented by Avnet, Inc.

Winners of individual, company, Future Innovators of the Year and Teacher of the Year awards will be honored 4 to 8:30 p.m. on at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. Third St., West Building, Third Floor.

“The honorees at GCOI represent the greatest advocates, facilitators and contributors to our education and innovation ecosystem,” says Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “As we continue to expand our portfolio of world-class technology firms and promising startups, the competition for these awards gets tougher. The companies and leaders on
this list are truly the best and brightest in Arizona, and we look forward to recognizing them.”

The evening also will include a strolling dinner and Tech Showcase before the theater-style awards program. Tickets can be purchased at

Winners of 2019 individual awards are:

  • Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year: Fletcher McCusker, CEO, UAVenture Capital, Tucson
  • Judges Award: Qwick, Scottsdale

Winners of the Outstanding Legislator awards are:

  • Outstanding Senator of the Year: Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, District 28 – Brophy McGee sponsored and secured the passage of the Association Health Plan bill, which will help the Council provide affordable, quality healthcare options to its members. Additionally, she maintained focus on helping secure additional funding and a dedicated revenue source for K-12 education.
  • Outstanding Tech Representative of the Year: Rep. Ben Toma, District 22 – Toma was one of the go-to members on tax conformity, and tax reforms for Arizona citizens following the federal tax changes. He also led the charge in updating Arizona’s statutes to take on the Wayfair issue to ensure a fair tax environment for the state’s businesses in the ever-growing digital marketplace.

Tech Ten Legislators:

  • Sen. Sean Bowie, District 18
  • Sen. David Bradley, District 10
  • Sen. Heather Carter, District 15
  • Sen. Karen Fann, District 1
  • Rep. Nancy Barto, District 15
  • Rep. Regina Cobb, District 5
  • Rep. Alma Hernández, District 3
  • Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, District 17
  • Rep. Michelle Udall, District 25
  • Rep. Jeff Weninger, District 17

Future Innovators of the Year:

  • Ella Wang, BASIS Chandler High School, Chandler
  • Emily Ignatoff, Tanque Verde High School, Tucson
  • Sky Harper, Navajo Preparatory School, Farmington, NM
  • Yutan Zhang, BASIS Scottsdale High School, Scottsdale

Teacher of the Year:

  • Katy Gazda, Red Mountain High School, Mesa.

One company within each of the following categories will be announced as the winner at GCOI:

  • Innovator of the Year, Start-Up Company: Emagine Solutions Technology, Tucson; FreeFall Aerospace, Inc., Tucson; Qwick, Scottsdale
  • Innovator of the Year, Small Company: AdviNOW Medical, Inc., Scottsdale; Prime Solutions Group, Inc., Goodyear; World View Enterprises, Inc., Tucson
  • Innovator of the Year, Large Company: AgJunction Inc., Scottsdale; Choice Hotels, Phoenix; Truyo, Chandler
  • Innovator of the Year Award – Academia: The Center for Innovation in Brain Science, The University of Arizona (UofA), Tucson; GUSTO, Chris Walker, UofA, Tucson; Dr. Louise Heckler, research lead for UofA’s lab studying highly selective Nox4 small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of fibrotic disorders, Tucson; UofA College of Medicine, Phoenix
  • Transformational Leadership Award: Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance, Scottsdale; Northwest Valley Connect, Surprise; Walbar LLC (DBA Walbar Engine Components), Chandler; Yuma Regional Medical Center, Yuma

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