Meet this year’s Sun Devil 100 honorees from The College


May 3, 2019

Each year, the Arizona State University Alumni Association selects and honors leaders of organizations from around the world who demonstrate innovation, growth and entrepreneurial spirit. Twenty graduates of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences were recognized at the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2019 reception this year, an increase from last year’s 11 inductees.

“We are proud to honor this group of talented business leaders who showcase the unlimited opportunities for success that come from a liberal arts and sciences degree,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of The College. Sun Devil 100 awards Twenty graduates of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences were inducted into the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2019. Download Full Image

Meet this year’s honorees from The College:

Lisa C. Bayne

Owner, Bumble Bee Air Conditioning

Lisa Bayne and her husband, Jim, are owners of Bumble Bee Air Conditioning in Tempe. Bayne is the former owner of Here on the Corner, a boutique she sold in 2012 that specialized in Arizona-based brands and philanthropic fashion such as TOMS. She serves on the Tempe Sister Cities Selection Committee and is a volunteer with Tempe Leadership Class. Her two children, Helen and Brevik, are non-degreed 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.

Molly D. Castelazo

Chief content strategist, Castelazo Content

Molly Castelazo serves as chief content strategist at Castelazo Content, a Phoenix-based marketing firm she established in 2008. Castelazo served as vice president of communications for the American Marketing Association’s Phoenix chapter from 2013-14. She previously was an economic analyst and writer for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. She is a volunteer teacher with Junior Achievement of Arizona, and co-chair of the Arizona Technology Council’s workforce development and education committee. Castelazo has been an adjunct professor at ASU. A Barrett honors student, she received dual bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science from ASU in 2002.

Scott Cooper

CEO and co-founder, MEJDI Tours

Scott Cooper co-founded MEJDI Tours in 2009. The company provides groups and individuals with customized itineraries for travel to locations worldwide. Cooper describes himself as a “serial social entrepreneur currently working on changing the world through travel!” Prior to launching MEJDI, he served as co-executive director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, a position he held for almost seven years. He previously worked as a personal banker at JPMorgan Chase from 2004-07. He also has worked for the U.S. Institute of Peace on a project focused on evaluating peace-building programs in conflict zones. He received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. Cooper received a bachelor’s degree in political science from ASU in 2003. He received a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University in 2010.

Ben Ellis

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 previously was an associate broker at IRENT4YOU Inc. from 2011-13. 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 2008-13. He is a director for the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix and a member of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council. He received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. Ellis received a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2008 from The College.

Kathleen Duffy Ybarra

President and CEO, Duffy Group Inc.

Kathleen Duffy Ybarra has served as the president and CEO of Duffy Group Inc. since she founded the recruitment firm in 1991. Prior to starting her own business, she was the director of research for Tirocchi-Wright Inc., another recruiting firm, from 1983-90. Previously, she was president of the National Charity League Moon Valley chapter. 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, an organization whose mission is to increase the percentage of qualified women on public boards. In 2018, Duffy Ybarra was awarded the Athena Business Woman of the Year Award in the private sector. She is a cabinet member of the Campaign ASU 2020 Council. As an ASU student, she was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority, on whose chapter advisory board she now serves. She also was involved with student government and Devil’s Advocates while attending ASU. She was a founding member of the ASU Greek Advisory Board. Duffy Ybarra is a former trustee of ASU, a member of the President’s Club and a member and past chair of the ASU Alumni Association. She established the Duffy Ybarra Family Scholarship at ASU. She was a Sun Devil 100 Award recipient in 2018 and received a bachelor’s degree in communication from ASU in 1981.

Eric Flottmann

Chief operating officer, Higher Ed Growth

Eric Flottmann has been the chief operating officer for Higher Ed Growth since 2007. Higher Ed Growth provides services ranging from lead generation and management to consulting and web design to higher education institutions. Flottmann also serves as the chief technology officer for Green Nurture, a firm that helps companies incorporate sustainability into their operations, and is the co-founder of MobileLeads.com. He previously served as the sales manager for Yardcrew.com. He received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. Flottmann received a bachelor’s degree in communication from ASU in 2001. He received an MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2007.

Kara Goldin

Founder and CEO, Hint Inc.

Kara Goldin founded Hint Inc., best known as a manufacturer of fruit-flavored waters, in 2005. The company grew out of Goldin’s search for an alternative to the carbonated beverages that she blamed for causing her to gain weight. Goldin served as the vice president for electronic commerce and shopping at AOL from 1994-2001 and previously held sales positions at CNN and Time magazine. She has received numerous accolades including 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. In 2016, she launched The Kara Network, an online digital resource and mentoring platform for aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Goldin is a member of the Campaign ASU 2020 council and the Alumni Council. She received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. She received a bachelor’s degree in communication from ASU in 1989.

Andrew Gutierrez

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 an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. Gutierrez received a bachelor’s degree in economics from ASU in 2011.

Jessica L. Irwin

CEO and founder, S.E.E.K. Arizona

Jessica Irwin is the founder and CEO of S.E.E.K. Arizona, an agency that provides therapies and services to children and young adults with behavioral disabilities. S.E.E.K. Arizona is accredited by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, a recognition that is given to firms with the highest level of quality service and accountability to its customers. 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 the psychology board at ASU and is a member of the Sun Devil Club and ASU Alumni Association. Irwin received a master of education degree and bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from ASU in 2011 and 2003.

Charles Reagan Jackson

Owner, CEO Etc.

Reagan Jackson is the owner of several Texas-based technology businesses. He has owned CEO Etc., which 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 also is a principal of Shiftspin.com. He received ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 awards in 2016 and 2018. Jackson received a bachelor’s degree in communication from ASU in 2004. He was previously a student at Abilene Christian University from 2000-01. 

Jennifer Kaplan

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. She was a co-founder and partner in PRIME 3 LLC, a Phoenix-based public relations, marketing and event planning firm, from 2005-09. That firm merged with another in 2010. In 2017, she was named by Arizona Business Magazine as one of the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business. She received ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 awards in 2016 and 2018. Kaplan received a bachelor’s degree in communication from ASU in 1996.

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. She started her career in 1998 working part time for the airport food-service company HMSHost and continued working there full time until joining her family firm in 2001 as a store manager. She and other family members 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. Kizer Clarke received a bachelor's degree in zoology from ASU in 2004.  

Jeffery C. Long

Attorney, LeVangie Law Group

Jeffery Long is an attorney for the LeVangie Law Group in Sacramento, California. Long specializes in professional malpractice, premises liability and insurance law. Prior to joining the LeVangie Law Group, he was an attorney for Hewitt and Prout, an insurance attorney in Hollywood, California. 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 2012-16, an award given to accomplished 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 ASU in 1997 and a JD from St. John’s University in 2003.

Jodette “Jodie” Low

Founder and CEO, U & Improved LLC

Jodie Low founded U & Improved, a leadership development and training company, in 2009. The company works with both small and large companies and individuals to deliver “heart-based leadership” training. In 2016, she launched the U & Improved Foundation to provide leadership training to teenagers. Low was previously the chief relationship officer for Amplify U, another provider of training programs. She was 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 a bachelor's degree in communication from ASU in 1994.

Carol May

Chair and CEO, United American Industries dba Wisdom Natural Brands

Carol May has served as president of Wisdom Natural Brands since January 2012; she became its CEO in April 2017, a month after the death of her husband, James May. She previously served as the company’s senior executive vice president and the executive assistant to the president. Wisdom Natural Brands was founded by James May, who helped popularize the natural sweetener stevia in the United States. May was working as a marriage and family therapist when she and her husband decided to launch their company, which began in their garage. In 2015, she was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona by AZ Business Magazine. May received a Master of Counseling and a bachelor's degree in psychology from ASU in 1982 and 1977. She also received a master’s degree in education from Northern Arizona University and participated in an executive education program on marketing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Frederick “Fred” Petti

Partner, Petti and Briones PLLC

Fred Petti co-founded Petti and Briones PLLC in 2011. Petti represents all types of clients but he has particular interests in tribal gaming law and white-collar criminal defense. A former assistant U.S. attorney in both Arizona and Oregon, Petti has authored or co-authored several legal articles and received numerous accolades. He is a fellow of the Litigation Council of America. His work in white-collar criminal defense has earned him a listing in Best Lawyers in America and being named 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 ASU in 1980, a master's degree in history from NAU in 1982 and a JD from the University of Arizona in 1987.

Jessica Reese

Chief clinical officer, Intermountain Centers for Human Development

Jessica Reese has been 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 of behavior interventions. Before joining Intermountain Centers, Reese was the director of behavior consulting services for H.O.P.E. Group LLC from 2001-08. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Grand Canyon University. Reese received a bachelor's degree in political science and a bachelor's degree in sociology from ASU in 2003 and 2004. Reese received a master of education in special education with a board certified behavior analyst certification from Northern Arizona University.

Susan “Susie” Timm

Owner, SCM Timm Enterprises dba Knife & Fork Media Group

Susie Timm founded SCM Timm Enterprises in 2010. The firm specializes in providing marketing, public relations and strategic communications with an emphasis on restaurants, gourmet products and the food and beverage industry. She started her career in the food service industry in 2009 when she co-founded Foodies Like Us, a business that hosted culinary events for home cooks. Previously, she had a successful banking career, serving as community bank president for UMB Bank from 2007-09. Only 27 at the time, she was the youngest bank president in Arizona. Before joining UMB, she worked at JPMorgan Chase, rising to vice president of business banking before leaving the firm. She was named to the Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and Women Leaders in Business lists. As an ASU student, she served as chair of the ASU College Republicans. She received an ASU Alumni Association Sun Devil 100 award in 2018. She received a bachelor's degree, cum laude, in political science from ASU in 2000.

Johnathan Chase Williams

Co-owner, The Coaches Group LLC

Chase Williams is the co-owner of The Coaches Group, a North Carolina firm that operates the Institute for Speech and Debate (ISD). The ISD holds speech and debate summer camps in both North Carolina and Florida for youth from across the country. Williams also serves as a senior faculty member and co-director at the camps. In August 2018, he was named a teacher and head debate coach at the Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan. He previously served as a speech and debate specialist at the Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio. Before becoming an educator, Williams was a political operative and consultant who worked on the campaigns of several Arizona Democratic politicians, including on former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s 2011 mayoral race. Chase served as an Arizona delegate to the Democratic National Convention during the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign. He received a bachelor's degree in political science from ASU in 2011.

Ray Ybarra Maldonado

Co-owner and attorney, Ybarra Maldonado Law Group

Ray Ybarra Maldonado is an attorney and human rights activist. He focuses his work primarily on immigration, criminal defense, civil rights and personal injury law. Maldonado has been very active in promoting immigrants’ rights. He co-wrote and co-produced a documentary titled "Rights on the Line: Vigilantes at the Border," which was about the Minuteman movement on the U.S.-Mexico border. He is frequently quoted in the media regarding immigration issues and has given lectures on immigration, vigilantism and the militarization of the border at a number of universities. Maldonado played baseball at Cochise Community College. He received a bachelor's degree in religious studies from ASU in 2002. He received a JD from Stanford University in 2007.

Husband, father of two and ASU Online student proves you can earn your degree at any age


May 3, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Kevin Keenan began his college career in 1997 pursuing his passion for music and sports radio. As it often does, life stepped in between Keenan and his college degree, and he put his plans on hold to focus on working full time. Download Full Image

A few years after Keenan began working full time, his sister, who was also in college, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Keenan recalls that it was her fierce determination to graduate, despite her diagnosis, that later motivated him to go back to school and complete his degree.

After many setbacks, Keenan knew he wanted to give his family of four a better life. He and his wife discussed Keenan’s desire to go back to school and agreed that Arizona State University would be the best choice to pursue a degree, the online Bachelor of Science in communication. As a dedicated father and husband, Keenan is grateful for the flexibility ASU Online provided so he didn’t have to miss out on some of his favorite dad activities, including his son’s sporting events.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: My “aha” moment came a long time ago. I started attending college back in 1997, and I wanted to be on-air talent for a radio station. I’ve always loved music and sports radio. In 2000, I dropped out of college while working full time.

A few years passed and my younger sister was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She ended up beating it, finished college and got her degree which has, and always will be, a huge motivating factor for me to finish my degree. I work for a family owned industrial supply company and they provide 100% college tuition. Put those two together and I have the makings of me finally getting my degree.

I started to do my research about what schools to apply to. Having two young, active boys puts a damper on things and missing home time, so I started looking at universities that offered the flexibility of obtaining a degree online. After all the research, I ultimately chose ASU.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I learned at ASU that no matter where you are in life, you can always go back to school! It has not been easy by any means. Being a 41-year-old husband and dad with a full-time job has enough stressful moments. But the way the classes are structured at ASU is fantastic because you still have the flexibility to work on assignments and study, but there is also the structure of the classes and keeping you on track. The best of both worlds!

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: The professors that taught me the most important lessons were Dr. Lauren Fletcher and Professor Brandon Ferderer. Both professors were nothing short of fantastic.

I took COM 207 a couple of years ago and didn’t understand any of the assignments and ended up having to drop the class. It was the lowest point of college for me. Last fall, I was about to embark on taking COM 207 again, so I emailed Professor Ferderer a few weeks before class started and kept in constant contact with him the entire seven and a half weeks which made me feel confident and prepared from beginning to end.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: My best piece of advice is to never quit. I’m 41 and I’ll be walking the stage a day after my 42nd birthday. It just goes to show you’re never too old or too young to finish. Having a college degree is so important nowadays.  

Q: As an online student, what was your favorite spot to study or to just think about life?

A: My favorite spot to study was the kitchen table because living in the Midwest and having the weather that we have doesn’t offer me the flexibility to sit outside all the time!

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I put a lot of pressure on myself to excel in my classes and now that my sons are both in sports, I can finally enjoy watching them play sports and not worry about homework I must finish. I will continue working at my current company where I have been for the past 13 years. It’s always nice to have that degree from Arizona State University in my back pocket though!

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would put that money toward helping our men and women that have served in the military. These people serve our country and deserve more than what they are getting as far as help and services when they make it home. To volunteer yourself to serve your country is one of the bravest things you could do.

Carrie Peterson

Media Relations Manager, EdPlus at Arizona State University

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