Leadership West announces award finalists | News

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Leadership West has announced the finalists for awards recognizing the region’s outstanding community leaders in business, civic and nonprofit areas as well as the Leadership West alumnus of the year. The winners will be announced at its annual awards banquet in June.

The banquet, which brings together 500 prestigious West Valley leaders who have graduated from the program and the public, is dubbed Portraits of Leadership: A Night at the Museum. The event includes the Class XXIV induction ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 8, at the Wigwam Resort, 300 Wigwam Boulevard, Litchfield Park.

“Leadership West is pleased to recognize the success and achievements of a powerful group of leaders who make a difference in the West Valley,” said event co-chairwoman Cathy Mireles.

The awards and finalists this year include:

Business Leader of the Year:

Shawn Bradford, vice president, corporate services, at EPCOR; board president for Leadership West. Bradford involves EPCOR staff and provides resources to support Luke Days, March of the Fallen, a local food pantry and more.

Mike Godbehere, president, GCON Inc. He serves on the boards for Advanced Technology Group, Success School and Leadership West, served as honorary commander for Luke Air Force Base, and established a STEAM construction curriculum for Pendergast Elementary School District.

Thom Gyder, president, Wilhelm Automotive. He actively supports Westside Food Bank, Cave Creek Museum, International Rotary, Luke Air Force Base, American Cancer Society, local schools and Peoria downtown revitalization.

Civic Leader of the Year:

Rep. Diego Espinoza, leader of the Hispanic caucus, owner of a successful Tolleson business, active in philanthropic community efforts.

Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord serves on MAG Regional Council and Transportation Policy Committee, WESTMARC Executive Board and Board of Directors and the League of Arizona Cities and Towns Executive Committee and Policy Committees.

Dr. Kristi Sandvik, superintendent of the Buckeye Elementary School District, serves on community and educational boards, provides media commentary on education, and led a First Things First Family Resource Center.

Nonprofit Leader of the Year:

Elizabeth Canchola, freelance photographer, LizMoon Photography. She is the PTSA president in the Avondale Elementary School District, involved with the Avondale-Goodyear Educational Foundation. She established AESD Puzzle Room in Avondale and a flex workspace for STEM and CTE clubs at Desert Edge High School, and is active with the Arizona Service Project.

Sintra Hoffman, president and CEO of WESTMARC. She established annual WESTMARC Healthcare Innovation Summit to create a West Valley Workforce Development Implementation Strategy, serves on Grand Canyon University Honors Board, Career Connector board and ASU’s Community Board, and served as Luke Air Force Base honorary commander.

Tom Loegering, founder of Golf Program in Schools providing golf instruction on more than 20 West Valley campuses.

Leadership West Alumnus

of the Year:

Gina Godbehere, Class XXII, criminal defense attorney, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office; a driving force behind the Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life annual conference for students to prevent youth suicide.

Janice Simpson, Class XX, grants administrator, city of Avondale; active member of the city of Avondale committee for All-American City Awards; co-chairwoman of the Leadership West Alumni Association.

Cheryl Street, Class XVII, marketing coordinator, DAE; board member of Leadership West and WHAM, past board member of West Valley Arts Council and Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Leadership West Awards have been presented annually since 2015.

Tickets for the event are available at leadershipwest.org or by calling 623-498-0828. Cost varies for Leadership West Alumni Association members depending on membership level and is $65 for nonmembers. Event sponsors include My Office Business Suites and EPCOR. There are more sponsorship opportunities available.

Leadership West provides a rigorous nine-month program that allows participants to explore in depth the various issues regarding the region that includes 15 communities and more than 1 million people. The program features monthly issue days exploring single topics with information presented by industry leaders. Participants in each class represent some of the best leaders in the West Valley who already are making a difference. Leadership West Alumni continue their engagement in the organization and throughout the region. 

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