Best Of Our Valley 2014 Feature – Most Interesting People in Phoenix

You voted for more than 4,000 nominees in nearly 400 categories (equaling 1.5 million-plus views at AZFoothills.com). Now, it is time to get to know your Best of Our Valley 2014 winners. From your favorite restaurants and resorts to your choice schools and shops, Arizona Foothills Magazine presents Best of Our Valley 2014.

From fashion and food to education and philanthropy, the Valley is brimming with movers and shakers and inspiring individuals making an impact on these industries and many more. Here are a few of your favorite local figures.

jerry-colangelo

MOST INFLUENTIAL MAN IN THE VALLEY – JERRY COLANGELO

The biggest name in Valley sports—scratch that, one of the biggest names in sports, period—Jerry Colangelo is the chairman and partner of USA Basketball. He has lived in the Valley since the 1960’s and, in his time here, Colangelo has accomplished a World Series win; being elected to the 2004 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame; and winning a gold medal with USA Basketball in both 2008 and 2012 (to name just a few successes). Though his impact on the sports world in the Valley and beyond is palpable, he hopes to leave an even more impactful overall lasting impression: “Leaving a lasting contribution to make our community a better place for everyone is the ultimate,” he says.

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MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMAN IN THE VALLEY – GINGER CLAYTON

Though her award-winning company, Elontec, has become the leading provider of office furniture, relocation services and cabling installations in recent years, it is the company’s— and Clayton’s—involvement in the community and in giving back that is truly most impressive. “We are involved with a lot of different community service because we love it, and we love connecting people to these opportunities. I feel strongly that community service isn’t something that we should do or need to do, that is it simply the way life is.” This doting wife, mother and grandmother recently started the Diaper Bank of Central Arizona with the intention of helping agencies meet the ever-present need for diapers in our community.

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FAVORITE COUPLE IN THE VALLEY – ARIC AND DUGUÉ ZION 

ARIC AND DUGUÉ ZION are not only partners in life (that all began with a chance meeting at a mall in Atlanta), they are also partners in business, as the founders of Zion & Zion. The couple has been married for more than 16 years; together for 19. In their time together, the Zions have traveled to 32 countries, even taking a three-week trip to Europe less than two months after meeting. And the key to a successful marriage such as theirs? “Laughter, hard work, remembering what really counts and not taking ourselves too seriously ever.”

matt-carter

TOP CHEF AND MOST INFLUENTIAL IN VALLEY FOOD – MATT CARTER 

FOR BEING ONE OF THE BEST CHEFS in the Valley, Matt Carter is awfully humble when it comes to what has made him so successful: “I love food. I love to work. I think I’ve got about .005 percent of talent, so without the other two I’d be digging ditches.” Though he is behind three of Scottsdale’s most beloved and revered restaurants—The Mission, Zinc Bistro and The House Brasserie—we certainly haven’t seen the last of Carter’s culinary prowess. “I have many plans,” he says. “Top-secret plans.”

richard-york

MOST FASHIONABLE OVER 30: MEN – RICHARD YORK 

THE DESIGNATED BROKER AND DIRECTOR OF SALES for Scottsdale’s Sierra Reserve, Richard York’s work uniform usually consists of Hugo Boss, J. Hilburn custom shirts, cashmere sweaters and Ferragamo or Prada shoes. “And if it is over 70 degrees, I never wear socks,” he says. Outside of the office, you’ll catch a casual York in a black V-neck (he owns about 20 of them), jeans and Converse sneakers, illustrating his key to dressing well: “Quality. Simplicity. Great fit.”

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MOST FASHIONABLE OVER 30: WOMEN – ALISON JOHNSON

AS THE HEAD OF SPARKLING Events by Alison Johnson, a local event-planning business, Johnson might be behind the scenes but, when it comes to fashion, she is at the forefront. She adores fun and colorful dresses—paired with sparkly heels, of course. “My favorite [dresses] are classy yet sexy with the elegance you would expect to find on Betty Draper,” she says. Whether in a dress or in jeans (her casual-outfit staple), Johnson says she always strives to look classy. “The key to dressing well is dressing appropriately for the occasion. This means having a variety of foundational pieces that can be combined and dressed up or down to achieve the look you want.” 

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MOST FASHIONABLE UNDER 30: MEN – GABRIELE BERTACCINI 

WHETHER IT’S HIS FORMAL WEAR or his chef’s coat, Gabriele Bertaccini of iL Tocco Food prefers Italian. (Yes, even his chef ’s coat is custom made in Italy.) Bertaccini cites Zegna, Brioni, MSGM and Canali among his favorite designers, though he loves a pair of all- American classic Levi’s, too. Bertaccini is a firm believer that dressing well doesn’t mean having to spend a lot of dough; he is also a lover of mixing and matching. “I am a big fan of what we call a spezzato in Italian, which means a mix-matched. You see a lot of men in Milan and Florence who wear different and sometimes crazy color combinations, and it really adds a lot of character to the whole look and to the person who wears it.”

 michael-crowe

MOST INFLUENTIAL IN VALLEY EDUCATION: COLLEGE – MICHAEL CROW 

SINCE 2002, MICHAEL CROW has seen countless students achieve their degrees and make an impact on our community under his inspirational leadership as the president of Arizona State University. “There are two things I find most rewarding. The first is helping to advance the national conversation regarding the importance and value of higher education. The second is seeing our students, who have worked so hard through their academic careers, graduate. They are the future, and to know I have had even a small part in helping them grow and discover themselves as individuals is the most rewarding.”

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MOST INFLUENTIAL IN VALLEY EDUCATION: HIGH SCHOOL – SISTER JOAN FITZGERALD, BMV 

IN 1962, SISTER JOAN FITZGERALD, BMV, joined Xavier College Preparatory as a Spanish teacher. Twelve years later, she became the principal. Among many accomplishments, one of the most recent highpoints of Sister Fitzgerald’s career was traveling to Washington D.C. in November to accept the U.S. Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School accolade on behalf of Xavier. “[The award] was a tremendous highlight because it honored our faculty, students and parents as well,” she says. It was the third time in school history that it received this distinctive honor.

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MOST INFLUENTIAL IN VALLEY NONPROFIT – BRANDI HUNT 

THOUGH SHE RECENTLY LEF T HER POST at the American Cancer Society, Brandi Hunt is still one of the Valley’s leaders in nonprofit involvement. “I have spent my entire life volunteering for nonprofits, causes and fundraisers. In addition to giving time, talents and efforts to the causes that are near and dear to my heart, these experiences have changed my life for the better.” Hunt is actively involved with the Junior League of Phoenix, the American Cancer Society, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Valley Leadership and the Association of a Junior Leagues International.

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KING OF MEDIA AND MARKETING GURU – TED ANDERSON

FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS, Ted Anderson of Anderson Advertising & Public Relations has made an impact on the advertising and marketing industries. Even though he is a busy dad of two young twin boys, Anderson is always willing to make time
for every client and employee. His long list of high-profile clients includes Mayo Clinic, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Desert Schools Federal Credit Union and Hamra Jewelers, among other notable names.

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BEST MALE PR REP – GRANT CRONE

A GO-TO GUY FOR PR REPRESENTATION for many Valley restaurants, health professionals, real estate companies and more, Grant Crone counts the likes of Scottsdale Culinary Festival, Upward Projects, Kitchell, J&G Steakhouse, Crudo and Village Health Clubs as clients. “The stewardship of effectively managing the message for entrepreneurs and leading brands is what makes me get up every day to move the ball forward,” he says. A graduate of Brophy College Preparatory and Fordham University, Crone has been with MMPR Marketing for nearly six years.

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BEST FEMALE PR REP – SHELBY TUTTLE

FROM MGM RESORT’S CityCenter to the Professional Bull Riders, the diversity of Shelby Tuttle’s past and present clients is as expansive as her talent. Tuttle, of Anderson Advertising & Public Relations, first got her professional start in Las Vegas. “When I started out, I was in Las Vegas and got to work on clients that were really exciting to me and that facet hooked me a little on its own. As I’ve progressed, seeing the ability that I have to make an actual difference for a client’s business is what keeps me engaged.”

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BEST MATCHMAKER IN THE VALLEY – ROSEANN HIGGINS 

ROSEANN HIGGINS, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER of Especially Selective (formally known as SPIES Single Professional Introductions for the Especially Selective), started her matchmaking company in 1994. “My matchmaking success stories started during my Navy assignment at Panama City Beach, Fla., in the 80’s when I introduced a handsome Navy diving officer and a newscaster girlfriend, and they got married. They remain happily married and have four grown children.” Since childhood, Higgins has had a knack for truly understanding people and appreciating their nuances, which has attributed to her success in the matchmaking field.

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MOST ELIGIBLE FEMALE OVER 25 – CYNTHIA SASSI 

GET TO KNOW Cynthia Sassi, founder of FabulousArizona.com and Sassi Media, LLC and enthusiast of exercise, marathons and dogs.

AFM: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A MATE?

CS: I am looking for someone who has the passion and drive I have, in work, love and life.

AFM: WHAT CAN YOU OFFER A MATE?

CS: I am an extremely caring and giving person with lots of love to give. My mate would feel supported, cared for and loved.

AFM: FAVORITE DATE SPOT IN THE VALLEY?

CS: Sassi Restaurant (not just because it is my last name!). The ambience is great, and I love North Scottsdale. 

 

MOST ELIGIBLE MALE OVER 25 – ROBERT CARLSON III 

GET TO KNOW Robert Carlson III, owner of Carlson Creek Vineyard and outdoorsman and travel addict.

AFM: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A MATE?

RC: I am looking for a woman who is kind, confident, driven and knows what she wants out of life and is not afraid of pursuing it. Someone who challenges me to be better

in all aspects of my life. A woman who I can admire more each and every day.

AFM: WHAT CAN YOU OFFER A MATE?

RC: Other than unlimited wine? I can offer my affection, my attention and never a dull moment. There is always something to do, places to travel, and experiences to be had.

AFM: FAVORITE DATE SPOT IN THE VALLEY?

RC: A good lunch time at Pizzeria Bianco. A couple of pies and Mexican Coca-Colas. Nice place to relax for an hour on a Saturday and get to know each other.

eddie-matney

OLD FAITHFUL IN FOOD – EDDIE MATNEY

A BELOVED STAPLE OF THE VALLEY dining scene since the 1980’s when he opened Steamers, Eddie Matney is known for his larger-than-life personality and, of course, his kitchen know-how. At his Old Town restaurant, Eddie’s House, the chef with the curls dishes up top-notch comfort foods in a familial setting.

joe-arpaio

MOST INFLUENTIAL IN VALLEY POLITICS – SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO 

HEAD OF THE NATION’S THIRD-LARGEST SHERIFF’S OFFICE, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has more than five decades of law enforcement experience, from his U.S. Drug Enforcement days when he fought drug trafficking from the hills of Turkey to the back roads of Mexico and now 20 years as sheriff of this growing metropolis. Though his tough policies have received some criticism (pink underwear, anyone?), there is no debating that Phoenix’s own Arpaio is “America’s Toughest Sheriff.”

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FAVORITE SUNS DANCER – Madison Murray 

MADISON MURRAY has made a profession out of her passion of 15 years: dancing. Murray is currently in her second season as a Suns dancer, which she calls “one of the best jobs ever.” Though learning choreography and being out on the court on game day are huge parts of her role, being a Suns dancer also means plenty of appearances and fun meet- and-greets.

BEST ABS – DJ Jen Jones

SPINNING FOR two hours straight during her nights as Maya Day + Nightclub’s DJ are bound to shed a few calories, as is the case for Jen Jones. (Plus, Jones says spinning at summer pool parties is great motivation for staying fit.) For the ultimate ab-blasting workout, Jones turns to P90X Ab Ripper, and she is a fan of lifting weights and hiking with her two pooches.

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BEST INSTAGRAM FEED – Janelle Paige, @janelleeepaige

Student, YouTube guru and fashion and beauty blogger Followers: 19,000-plus

AFM: WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO TAKE PICTURES OF?

JP: On my Instagram, I take pictures of myself to show my followers my “outfit of the day” or how I am styling my hair and make- up. I also take pictures of my day-to-day adventures and experiences to share
with my followers a little about my life.

AFM: WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO TAKE PICTURES?

JP: I have always had a passion for taking pictures and creating beauty through photos and everyday life. I like to share with my followers my love for fashion,
food, inspirational quotes and life.

 

BEST PINTEREST BOARD – Guy Downes, DeepSpaceMKTG 

Founder of Deep Space Marketing Followers: 1,200-plus

AFM: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BOARD?

GD: My boards are an eclectic mix of my passion for social media and WordPress Web Design alongside my personal obsessions which seem to be dominated by “Breaking Bad” and all things Vespa.

AFM: WHEN DID YOU JOIN PINTEREST AND WHY?

GD: I joined Pinterest in 2011 to explore what seemed like a game- changing way to promote online content for Deep Space Marketing and our clients. I soon realized it is one of the most addictive social platforms out there and is now in my top social networks.

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TOP CELEBRITY TWEETER – JOHNJAY VAN ES, @JOHNJAYVANES 

DJ with the Johnjay & Rich morning radio show Followers: 300,000-plus

AFM: WHEN DID YOU JOIN TWITTER AND WHY?

JV: I think I joined Twitter in 2009 because @richberra said it was the new thing. I told him he was bonkers! He said I would become addicted—and I did! But, hey, I won Top Celebrity Tweeter twice so it worked out OK, this cute little addiction!

AFM: WHAT DO YOU TWEET ABOUT?

JV: Everything! My kids, my wife, the people I work with, what I’m doing at any moment—yes, even going potty.

AFM: WHAT IS THE MOST UNUSUAL THING YOU HAVE TWEETED ABOUT?

JV: I was live tweeting from my mother’s death bed and then from her funeral. It was very emo- tional. I was crying and tweeting. People talk to me about that all the time.

molly

TOP DOG – MOLLY

This summer, AZFoothills.com was flooded with entries for the Dog Days of Summer contest. But the pooch who stole voters’ hearts? A sweet 16-year-old Pomeranian/Yorkie mix named Molly Scholtens. Though Molly sadly passed away in December, she will be remembered by her mom, Karen, and dad, Dwight, for her love of car and bike rides and trips to classic car shows.

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BEST TWEETER: FEMALE – Tammy McLeod, @T_McLeod 

Vice President and Chief Customer Officer of APS Followers: 3,000-plus

AFM: WHEN DID YOU JOIN TWITTER AND WHY?

TM: I joined Twitter six or seven years ago. I joined because I like to be on the front end of new technology.

AFM: WHY DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE SUCH A LARGE FOLLOWING?

TM: I think my following is mainly attributed to the fact that I am also a blogger.

@wordpress creates a close-knit community around their platform through their camps.

AFM: WHAT DO YOU TWEET ABOUT?

TM: I tweet about whatever inspires me: work, the community, my kids, food.

AFM: WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE TWEETER?

TM: I love to read the tweets of Jeff Moriarty, @jmoriarty. He’s local, and he’s engaged in our community.

 

BEST TWEETER: MALE – Stephen Fairley, @stephenfairley 

Founder and CEO of The Rainmaker Institute Followers: 45,000-plus

AFM: WHEN DID YOU JOIN TWITTER AND WHY?

SF: I initially joined Twitter because a lot of my friends and colleagues were talking about it. I wanted to see what all the excitement was about. Later on, I discovered it was a great way to connect with potential referral sources and leads. After having used it for a long time, I have now found it to be a powerful tool to build a massive platform for lead generation and content distribution.

AFM: WHAT DO YOU TWEET ABOUT?

SF: As the founder and CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company specializing in lead generation and lead conversion for small- to mid-size law firms, I primarily tweet about topics such as legal marketing, business development strategies, how to use social media to connect with clients, blogging, SEO and leadership development.

AFM: WHY DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE SUCH A LARGE FOLLOWING?

SF: We work hard to produce high-quality content that is of interest to our target market— partners and owners of law firms. The reward is they recommend us to their friends and colleagues. I also do a lot of speaking in the legal community which I’m sure helps with my followers.

 

Story by Melissa Larsen 

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