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Each year, the Arizona State University Alumni Association celebrates the achievements of alumni who own or lead successful, fast-growing, innovative businesses across the globe with the Sun Devil 100 awards. This year, 29 graduates from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will be recognized at the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2020 virtual reception on Sept. 17.
“This esteemed group of leaders embody the unlimited opportunities for success that come from earning a degree from The College,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of The College. “Degrees from The College prepare people to achieve in nearly all professions, occupations and jobs across the globe. We are thrilled to recognize them and highlight the phenomenal work they do.”
The Sun Devil 100 Class of 2020 includes 100 organizations led by 127 alumni who are entrepreneurs, business owners, founders or C-suite executives. The group’s companies employ 10,204 people and represent each college at ASU and a total of 155 degrees.
Meet this year’s honorees from The College:
Owner, Bumble Bee Air Conditioning
Lisa Bayne and her husband, Jim, are owners of Bumble Bee Air Conditioning in Tempe, Arizona. Bayne formerly owned Here on the Corner, a boutique she sold in 2012 that specialized in Arizona-based brands and philanthropic fashion. She serves on the Tempe Sister Cities Selection Committee and is a volunteer with Tempe Leadership Class. Her two children, Helen and Brevik, are nondegreed alumni of ASU. Bayne is a member of the ASU Alumni Association and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from The College in 1988. She previously received the Sun Devil 100 award in 2019.
Principal attorney, The Deneau Law Firm, PLLC
Kindra Deneau is the founding and principal attorney of The Deneau Law Firm, PLLC. She handles a broad range of legal matters and lawsuits in private practice ranging from business transactions and disputes to complicated estate planning, breach of contract, fraud and more. She is a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners and is involved with ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business. She is also a member of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, the Scottsdale Bar Association, the Maricopa County Bar Association and the Arizona Technology Council. Deneau received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in Spanish and family studies from The College in 2000. She went on to earn a JD in 2005 from ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
Kathleen Duffy Ybarra
President and CEO, Duffy Group Inc.
Kathleen Duffy Ybarra founded Duffy Group Inc. in 1991, and serves as the company's president and CEO. She is a founding member of the Arizona Human Resource Executive Forum and currently serves as vice chair of the Phoenix Steering Committee for 2020 Women on Boards. In 2018, Duffy Ybarra was awarded the Athena Business Woman of the Year Award in the private sector. Duffy Ybarra graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College in 1981 and as a student was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority and involved with student government and Devils’ Advocates. Today she continues to stay involved with ASU, serving as chapter advisory board for Kappa Delta, cabinet member of the Campaign ASU 2020 Council, a member of the President’s Club and a member of the ASU Alumni Association. In addition, she was a founding member of the ASU Greek Advisory Board and a former trustee of ASU. She received Sun Devil 100 awards in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Founding partner and designated broker, E & G Real Estate Services
Ben Ellis has been the designated broker and founding partner for E & G Real Estate Services since September 2013. He was previously an associate broker at IRENT4YOU Inc. from 2011–2013. He began his real estate career in 2008 as the marketing and transaction coordinator for the real estate investment firm Marcus & Millichap. Ellis served as a volunteer project manager for the Valley Eruv Project from 2008–2013. He is a director for the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix and a member of The College Dean’s Council. He received a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College in 2008 and Sun Devil 100 awards in 2018 and 2019.
Managing partner, founder, 360 Industrial Services
Eric Ganz is a founder and managing partner at 360 Industrial Services. Established in 2013, 360 Industrial Services is an industrial/commercial construction skilled staffing firm that operates nationwide. He is actively involved in supporting Kids’ Chance of Arizona, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Phoenix Zoo. He is a member and current board member of the Entrepreneur’s Organization of Arizona. He received a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College in 2001.
Chief clinical officer, S.E.E.K Arizona
Jessie Gillam serves as chief clinical officer at S.E.E.K. Arizona, an agency that provides therapies and services to children and young adults with behavioral disabilities. In her role, she gives clinical oversight and leadership to all program operations. She has served in various leadership roles focusing on children’s mental health at Arizona’s Children Association including as vice president of statewide behavioral health. More recently she served as the chief compliance officer at Florence Crittenton. Throughout her clinical and administrative experience, she received extensive training and has vast knowledge of the effects of trauma and infant brain development. This experience and knowledge helped her to lead several operational improvements initiatives and create new programming in the children’s behavioral health system. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from The College in 2000.
Founder and CEO, Hint Inc.
Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., best known for its award-winning Hint water, the leading unsweetened flavored water, and the author of “Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters.” She has received numerous accolades, such as inclusion on Fortune’s list of Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and Forbes’ 40 Women to Watch Over 40. Goldin is a regular keynote speaker at business events and writer on business and entrepreneurial topics. She hosts the podcast "Unstoppable" with Kara Goldin where she interviews founders, entrepreneurs and other disruptors across various industries. Goldin and her company Hint launched the Hint of Entrepreneurship scholarship at ASU this year. She is a member of the Campaign ASU 2020 council and served on the ASU Alumni Association’s National Alumni Council from July 2017 to June 2020. She received a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College in 1989 and Sun Devil 100 awards in 2018 and 2019.
President and CEO, Gutierrez-Palmenberg Inc.
Andrew Gutierrez has been president and CEO of Phoenix environmental consulting firm Gutierrez-Palmenberg Inc., which operates Phoenix Internet, since 1997. Phoenix Internet, founded by Gutierrez, is a local internet service provider. Gutierrez also served as a youth mentor through New Pathways for Youth and was active in Rotary International. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from The College in 2001 and Sun Devil 100 awards in 2018 and 2019.
CEO and founder, S.E.E.K. Arizona
Jessica Irwin is the founder and CEO of S.E.E.K. Arizona. Irwin has worked in social services since 1995. She serves as president and CEO of the Foundation for Exceptional Kids, a nonprofit aimed at providing educational programs and therapeutic support to children with developmental disabilities. Previously, Irwin volunteered as a Girl Scouts leader for four years where she led a troop of special needs children. She serves on ASU’s psychology board and is a member of the Sun Devil Club and ASU Alumni Association. Irwin received bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from The College in 2003, as well as a master of education degree from ASU in 2011. This is her second year in a row being recognized with the Sun Devil 100 award.
Owner, CEO Etc.
Reagan Jackson is the owner of several Texas-based technology businesses. He has owned CEO Etc. (also is known as CEO Technologies and Computers, Electronics and Offices Etc.) since 2009. His other businesses include Crosspoint Data Centers, Nalcom Wireless Communications Inc., East Texas Broadband and CEO Security. He is also a principal of Shiftspin.com. He attended Abilene Christian University from 2000–2001 and received a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College in 2004. He received Sun Devil 100 awards in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
CEO and co-founder, KOI Education
Angel Jannasch-Pennell is the CEO and co-founder of KOI Education, an organization with a mission to deliver high-quality, evidence-based practices and services that result in positive academic, behavioral and social achievements in the education community. KOI Education was first founded as a grant project based through ASU’s Skysong Innovation Center. Jannasch-Pennell has worked as a teacher, researcher, university vice president and a board member of a local school district. Jannasch-Pennell specializes in school-wide systems change including Positive Behavior Interventions and Support. She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from The College in 1991 as well as two additional degrees from ASU — a master’s degree in special education in 1994 and a PhD in curriculum and instruction in 1996. She received Sun Devil 100 awards in 2018 and 2019.
Owner and founder, Evolve Public Relations and Marketing
Jennifer Kaplan founded Evolve Public Relations and Marketing in 2010. She was previously the director of public relations for Spark Design LLC and a co-founder and partner in PRIME 3 LLC, a Phoenix-based public relations, marketing and event planning firm, from 2005–2009. In 2017, she was named one of the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business by Arizona Business Magazine. She received a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College in 1996 and Sun Devil 100 awards in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
President, Benefits by Design Inc.
Kristine Kassel founded Benefits by Design Inc., a local, independent health insurance agency with a special focus on helping small businesses, in 1997. In addition to being an entrepreneur, Kassel serves on a number of nonprofit boards including as past chair and current pet therapy team member for Gabriel's Angels, Tempe Leadership Class XXVI, past chair of Tempe Chamber of Commerce, past chair of Arizona Small Business Association and past president of the Phoenix chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. After working for an entrepreneur for eight years and helping him build businesses from the ground up, she was inspired to start her own business. In 2013, the Tempe Chamber of Commerce named Kassel the Business Woman of the Year. She received a bachelor’s degree in family resources and human development from The College in 1991.
Joya Kizer Clarke
CEO, CASA Unlimited
Joya Kizer Clarke serves as the president and CEO of her family’s business, CASA Unlimited. Established in 1989, CASA operates airport retail stores at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, as well as in the Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles airports. She is the owner and managing member of Desert Jewel Enterprises, a retail consulting business that has been in operation since 2000. Her family established the Kizer FTD Dementia Awareness Foundation in 2014 in honor of her mother, who was diagnosed with an extreme form of dementia called frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Kizer Clarke was appointed to Rep. Ruben Gallego’s Women Advisory Council in 2015, and she is a board member for the Arizona School for the Arts. She was named one of the 40 Hispanic leaders under 40 in 2013 by Valle Del Sol. She serves on the ASU Alumni Association board of directors. She received a bachelor's degree in zoology from The College in 2004 and a Sun Devil 100 award in 2019.
Founder and CEO, Adsport, Inc.
Gary Knudson is a sports marketing executive who founded Adsport, Inc., an agency that is dedicated to helping corporations navigate team sponsorships and relationships, in 1994. Knudson strives to bring the same energy as when he played football at ASU and in the NFL to his role as CEO. He has negotiated and activated hundreds of successful sponsorship agreements for brands such as Chevron, State Farm, Visa, Alltel, Dodge, America West Airlines, Chevrolet and True Value. He received his bachelor’s degree in communication from The College in 2003.
Managing partner, LeVangie Law Group
Jeffery Long is the managing partner of the LeVangie Law Group’s offices in Sacramento, California, and Carson City, Nevada. Long specializes in representing sports and recreation facilities and teams, professional malpractice, premises liability and insurance defense claims. He is a member of the Northern California Association of Defense Counsel, the American Bar Association, and the New York, Nevada and California State Bar Associations. He was recognized as a Rising Star in California from 2012–2016, an award given to less than 2.5% of all attorneys in each state who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional development. Long received a bachelor's degree in political science from The College in 1997 and a JD from St. John’s University in 2003. This is his second year in a row receiving a Sun Devil 100 award.
Founder and CEO, U & Improved
Jodi Low founded U & Improved, a leadership training and development company, in 2008. U & Improved partners with companies and individuals to deliver “heart-based leadership” training. In 2016, Low launched the U & Improved Leadership Foundation to provide leadership training scholarships to deserving high school teenagers. She was previously the chief relationship officer for Amplify U, a company she founded that provided personal development programs. She is also the co-founder of Girlfriend University, a training and coaching firm developed to empower and educate women about strategies for creating successful businesses. As an ASU student, Low was a member of Alpha Phi sorority. She received her bachelor’s degree in interpersonal and intercultural communication from The College in 1994. This is her second year in a row receiving the Sun Devil 100 Award.
Angeles J. Maldonado
CEO, Ybarra Maldonado Law Group
Angeles Maldonado serves as the operations director for the Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, a firm that was recently recognized as one of the fastest growing law firms in the country. For the past 13 years, Maldonado has been closely involved in the immigrant rights movement in Arizona. Maldonado was an organizer for a variety of nonprofit and labor organizations such as the grassroots organization Tonatierra, the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Service Employees International Union’s Civic Participation Campaign. She has also worked for Chicanos Por La Causa, as the program director for La Union Del Pueblo Entero, a branch of the United Farm Workers of America, and for PUEBLO Center for Legal and Human Rights. She received a bachelor’s degree in justice studies from The College in 2002, as well as a master’s degree in public administration in 2005 and a PhD in education leadership and policy studies in 2013 from ASU. This is her second year in a row receiving a Sun Devil 100 award.
Owner and founder, Kaleidoscope Juice
Alexandra Maw is the owner and founder of Kaleidoscope Juice, which she founded in 2007. The company has since grown, with five retail locations throughout the Valley. She began her venture while still a student at ASU, using a juicer in her family home, then successfully selling her product at local farmers markets. Maw and Kaleidoscope Juice have been recognized with many awards including the 35 Under 35 award from the Arizona Republic and “Best of Arizona” awards from Arizona Foothills magazine. Maw received a bachelor’s degree in housing and urban development from The College in 2008.
CEO and owner, Wisdom Natural Brands
Carol May is the CEO and owner of Wisdom Natural Brands. The company has three major brands: SweetLeaf Sweetener, Wisdom of the Ancients herbal teas and SweetLeaf Organic Monk Fruit Sweetener. May has been recognized for her work with many awards including five international Stevie Awards for Women in Business, one of the Top Women in Grocery, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona in 2015, the Natural Products Industry Hall of Legends in 2016 and one of the Most Admired Leaders of Arizona in 2019. May is a member of The College Dean’s Council and partners with the Department of Psychology in developing prevention research on reducing intake of daily dietary sugars. May received a bachelor's degree in psychology from The College in 1977 and a master’s degree in counseling in 1982, as well as a master’s degree in education from Northern Arizona University. She previously won Sun Devil 100 awards in 2017 and 2019.
Frederick “Fred” Petti
Partner, Petti and Briones PLLC
Fred Petti co-founded Petti and Briones PLLC in 2011. Petti represents a variety of clients but has particular interests in tribal gaming law and white-collar criminal defense. He formerly served as assistant U.S. attorney in Arizona and Oregon, and has authored or co-authored several legal articles. He is a fellow of the Litigation Council of America and his work in white-collar criminal defense has earned him several recognitions including a listing in Best Lawyers in America and as a Southwest Super Lawyer. He also was named one of Arizona’s Finest Lawyers in 2011. Petti received a bachelor's degree in history from The College in 1980, a master's degree in history from NAU in 1982 and a JD from the University of Arizona in 1987. This is his second year in a row receiving a Sun Devil 100 award.
CEO and president, BackFit Health + Spine
Radi Rahiminejad is the CEO and president of BackFit Health + Spine. He co-founded BackFit Health + Spine in 2002, merging forces with his sister, Yasmin Rahimi. Rahiminejad has gained a reputation as one of the most sought-after and affordable doctors in Chandler, Arizona, winning many awards and recognitions for his work over the years. He uses his passion for sports rehabilitation to train and mentor his clinical and support staff, and often travels nationally to research more potential services to further improve BackFit’s level of service. He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology while pursuing a premed pathway from The College in 1996, and graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic West Campus in 2001.
Chief clinical officer, Intermountain Centers for Human Development
Jessica Reese has served as chief clinical officer for Intermountain Centers for Human Development since July 2014. She has been with the organization since 2008, first as its clinical director for children’s out of home services for three years and then its director...