GCU recognizes local business leaders with Colangelo Servant Leadership Awards

Grand Canyon University hosted its inaugural Colangelo Servant Leadership Awards breakfast Tuesday, in partnership with Freeport-McMoRan, honoring four community members for outstanding service, leadership and entrepreneurism.

Named after Jerry Colangelo, a prominent businessman and philanthropist in the state, the awards celebrated the ideals that Colangelo has practiced throughout his career. As the owner of the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks, Colangelo helped build two of the state’s most popular franchises to a combined valuation of almost $2.8 billion. 

“We want to highlight business and elevate humanity through servant leadership, which is the most important tenet of the four tenets of conscious capitalism,” said Randy Gibb, dean of GCU’s Colangelo College of Business. “Mr. Colangelo embodies what it means to be a servant leader: service before self, humility, stewardship, and love and care for your team. And our four recipients today also embody all those traits.”

GCU President Brian Mueller emphasized the importance of highlighting the countless Arizona residents that create new jobs and opportunities. He said awards like this help recognize exceptional leaders and their daily efforts to improve Arizona and provide “new prosperity.”

These are the 2019 Colangelo Servant Leadership Award recipients:

  • David Kimmerle, CEO of Sanderson Ford car dealership
  • Linda Little, president of iHeartMedia Phoenix
  • Mike Ingram, founder of land and development business El Dorado Holdings, Inc.
  • Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority

“To me, that [award] is at my core in terms of who I am,” Little told Chamber Business News after the ceremony. “That means more than achieving huge financial success because it’s all about how you can serve others and lead. I’ve always been a collaborator, I’ve never been the kind of leader that gets in the front of the room and says, ‘It’s my way or the highway.’ I’ve always been that person that says, ‘Hey, I have a good idea, but if you had a better one, let’s do that.’ I love one-on-one coaching; I love understanding what somebody wants to do.”

Watson explained that leadership is about the effort of many to advance a common goal. She cited state leaders in their efforts to grow Arizona’s economy, including Gov. Doug Ducey, GCU’s Mueller and Watson’s own team at the Arizona Commerce Authority.

“Servant leadership is about the efforts of many to advance a common goal,” Watson said. “In addition to Jerry, I’ve had the great privilege of working with so many servant leaders to make Arizona the best place to live and do business… job creation, salaries and capital investment are on the rise, and we continue to advance our state’s competitive global position.”

Mueller also highlighted the importance of a free market system in Arizona, including its role in shaping GCU and its surrounding neighborhood. Because of public markets and their willingness to invest, he noted, GCU has created over 11,000 jobs, both on campus and through new businesses. Additionally, home values in the neighborhood have jumped by roughly 302 percent in the past five years. 

“The economy’s on fire — the things that Gov. Ducey has done, the Arizona Commerce Authority, with their leadership,” Mueller told Chamber Business News after the ceremony. “But we have trouble getting the news out, so this was one attempt to say, ‘Let’s talk about the great things that are happening; let’s talk about the great people that are making those things happen, and let’s put Arizona out as one of the best places to live’ — because it is! — and not just because of our weather, but because of what’s going on in the state.”

Ben Norman

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