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, 28 graduates from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences were recognized at the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2021 virtual reception.
“The Sun Devil 100 Class of 2021 recipients from The College show us that anything is possible with a liberal arts degree from ASU,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of The College. “These individuals are trailblazers, leaders and pioneers building a better future around the globe through their outstanding work. We commend them for this tremendous achievement.”
The Class of 2021 features 100 organizations represented by 133 ASU alumni who are individual business owners or work at large corporations from over two dozen industries. The organizations that make up this year’s class have a combined total revenue of $6.67 billion for the last year, employ more than 8,400 people and have locations in 11 states.
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 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. She previously received the Sun Devil 100 award in 2019 and 2020.
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. She previously received the Sun Devil 100 award in 2020.
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, 2019 and 2020.
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, 2019 and 2020.
Owner, financial adviser, The Feldman Agency
Wendy Feldman is a financial adviser and third-generation New York Life agent who became an agent in 1986. Since then she has owned and operated her own firm, The Feldman Agency. She specializes in personal, business, estate and retirement planning, as well as insurance and investments planning. She has served in various capacities on the Queen Creek Town Council as council member, vice mayor and mayor. In her roles with Queen Creek she instituted several programs that aimed to build community and forge networks between people of different backgrounds. In addition, she has served as chair of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority, the Maricopa Association of Governments and the Queen Creek Cultural Foundation. She has also served on the boards of the East Valley Jewish Day School, the Sun Lakes Jewish Congregation and the Arizona Investment Council. On a state level she served on the Arizona Power Authority. She currently serves as past-president of the New York Life Agent’s Advisory Council. Feldman received a master’s degree in organizational communication from The College in 1984.
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. He previously received the Sun Devil 100 award in 2020.
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. She previously received the Sun Devil 100 award in 2020.
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, 2019 and 2020.
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, 2019 and 2020.
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 children with disabilities. 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. She previously received the Sun Devil 100 award in 2019 and 2020.
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 schoolwide 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, 2019 and 2020.
President, Point in Time Studios
Rami Kalla founded the video production company Point in Time Studios over 19 years ago. Over the years, Point in Time Studios has expanded globally to provide video, 3D and VR/AR content to companies around the world. Some of his clients include Ford, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and PetSmart. He has served on a number of local school and industry boards including the Art Institute Phoenix, the Peoria Unified School District, president of the Arizona Production Association as well as the Accelerator Entrepreneurs Organization. He received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from The College in 1999.
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, 2019 and 2020.
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. She previously received a Sun Devil 100 award in 2020.
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 and 2020.
Chief communications officer, Steve LeVine Entertainment and Public Relations
Jamie LeVine is a second-generation Arizona native and the chief communications officer of Steve LeVine Entertainment and Public Relations, where she oversees the agency’s strategic communications. She began her career with the Phoenix Suns where she managed the public relations and community relations efforts for the team, executives and ownership. In 2011, she joined her husband, Steve, in his growing entrepreneurial venture as the owner of Steve LeVine Entertainment and Public Relations. Their company is now one of the top entertainment agencies in the Valley, winning numerous awards for their work in event planning, coordination and production, talent booking and management, marketing and promotions, new media and design. She received a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College in 2001.
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 third 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 third 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 third year in a row receiving a Sun Devil 100 award.
Vice president of central program operations, Catholic Charities Community Services
CarrieLynn Mascaro is the vice president of central program operations for Catholic Charities Community Services in Phoenix. She currently oversees all of the programs functioning out of central Arizona including the veterans’ programs, the domestic violence programs, early childhood education programs, refugee and immigration programs, foster care and adoption programs, counseling programs, diversion programs and family support programs. She serves as a board member for Catholic Healthcare Integration Network for Dignity Health and the local Emergency Food and Shelter Program. In addition, she is a peer reviewer for the National Council on Accreditation and a licensed member of the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The College in 1997 and a master’s degree in counseling from Northern Arizona University in 2004.
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 third 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 pre-med pathway from The College in 1996, and graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic West Campus in 2001. This is his second year in a row receiving a Sun Devil 100 award.
CEO, Child Crisis Arizona
Torrie Taj has more than 28 years of experience in nonprofit leadership and philanthropy. As CEO at Child Crisis Arizona, she provides support and leadership to her team to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect, creating safe kids and strong families. She started her career as a volunteer in 1991 and worked her way up, overseeing a variety of human-service programs and departments before being recruited to lead Child Crisis Arizona in 2015. She serves on the board of directors for the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters and is also a faculty associate at ASU. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The College in 1991.
Founder and owner, World Motors LLC
Tyler Thompson is the founder and owner of World Motors LLC, a Tempe-based automobile dealership specializing in Mercedes Benz vehicles. He founded the company in 1998, during his freshman year at ASU. His company is a 10-time recipient of the Wells Fargo Auto Dealer Platinum Award for business ethics and sales achievements. He frequently mentors budding entrepreneurs in business growth strategies and serves on the Bank of America Auto Dealer advisory board. He received a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College in 2002 and this is his third year in a row receiving a Sun Devil 100 award.
Owner, SCM Timm Enterprises dba Knife & Fork Media Group
Susan Timm founded SCM Timm Enterprises, a firm specializing in providing marketing, public relations and strategic communications with an emphasis on restaurants, gourmet products and the food and beverage industry, in 2010. 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 2007–2009. At 27 years old, 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 a bachelor’s degree in political science from The College in 2000 and a Sun Devil 100 award in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Vice president of development and marketing, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona
Jessica Whitney has been with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona since 2008, where she directs and oversees all fundraising, marketing and outreach activities. Before becoming a team member at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, she worked as a corporate event planner. In 2017, she was named one of Phoenix Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 and she has served as the president elect and diversity chair for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She received a bachelor’s degree in communication from The College in 2004.
Co-owner, The Coaches Group LLC
Chase Williams is the co-owner of The Coaches Group, a North Carolina-based firm that operates the Institute for Speech and Debate (ISD). ISD holds speech and debate summer camps in North Carolina, Florida and online for youth from across the country and the world. Each summer, Williams serves as a co-director of all ISD locations. In August 2018, he was named a teacher and grades 6–12 director of speech and debate at Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan. He previously served as the speech and debate specialist and a teacher at 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 former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. 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 The College in 2011 and this is his third year in a row receiving a Sun Devil 100 award.
Ray Ybarra Maldonado
Co-owner and attorney, Ybarra Maldonado Law Group
Ray Ybarra Maldonado is the co-owner and an attorney at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group. His work focuses primarily on immigration, criminal defense, civil rights and personal injury law. He has been very active in promoting immigrants’ rights. He co-wrote and co-produced “Rights on the Line: Vigilantes at the Border,” a documentary 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. He received a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from The College in 2002 and a JD from Stanford University in 2007. This is his third year in a row receiving a Sun Devil 100 award.