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Leaders & Legends 2018

At this year’s Leaders & Legends Celebration, our 9th, we were thrilled to honor a true Leader and Legend, Richard C. Adkerson, Vice Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Freeport-McMoRan, Inc. for his continuous support of education in Arizona, and around the world.  “In the natural resources workforce alone, the state is facing the loss of a significant number of experienced workers who will retire in the next decade, creating an even wider skills gap in an already limited labor pool.  We must work together to meet the state goal to increase higher education attainment to 60%, or lose out on the full spectrum of economic opportunity our state will have moving forward.”

Mr. Adkerson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, and a Master of Business Administration, from Mississippi State University. In 2010, he also received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Mississippi State, and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

Prior to joining Freeport-McMoRan, he was Partner and Managing Director in Arthur Andersen & Co. where he headed the Firm’s Worldwide Oil and Gas Industry Practice.  From 1976 to 1978, he was a Professional Accounting Fellow with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Adkerson got the opportunity to meet Joley Hamilton, a College Success Arizona Scholar, from Morenci, Arizona, who’s studying Supply Chain Management at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.  Joley’s college career has been supported and funded through Carstens Family Funds.

Every year, we strive to present an informative and inspirational program, featuring our honorees, and having our amazing scholars share their stories, both in the audience and as speakers.  Judging from the initial feedback this year, we may have set a new standard.  Allison Rodriguez’s discussion with our students, Shayla and Joley, was truly inspiring.

Shayla is a College Success Arizona Scholar, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work from Arizona State University.  Shayla’s scholarship was funded by Arizona GEAR UP.

To start the day off, Nick Ciletti let us know how College Success Arizona has been working since 2005, to change the educational landscape in Arizona from his perspective.

As you heard, we are continually working to improve the future of Arizona and it’s economy by increasing the number of Arizonans with postsecondary credentials, whether that’s from a technical school, community college, or university.  We know that a highly educated and skilled workforce will attract more business and high paying jobs, pumping additional dollars into the Arizona economy, while also reducing the demand for social services.

It was wonderful to hear the story of our STAR Award winner Dolores Ramirez, of the Phoenix Union High School District.

There are literally thousands of educational professionals across Arizona working toward improving our students’ educational outcomes.  Each year, during the Leaders & Legends Celebration, College Success Arizona recognizes a college access professional who demonstrates an extraordinary level of personal commitment and leadership in helping Arizona students achieve their postsecondary education goals. Started in 2015, the Star Award recognizes individuals that go above and beyond to help students, particularly those that are low-income, first-generation, gain access to higher education.

Past recipients of the Star Award have been:

  • 2015 – Eugene Begay from TRiO – Northern Arizona University Talent Search
  • 2016 – David J. Rodriguez Martinez, from Tucson’s Metropolitan Education Commission
  • 2017 – Zulema Fragoso, from the Nogales Unified School District

This year, College Success Arizona recognized Dolores Ramirez, of the Phoenix Union High School District, as the recipient of the 2018 College Success Arizona Star Award.

The introduction of this year’s winner was also something special.  Staphany Ramirez, a Success Adviser at College Success Arizona, was a student of Dolores Ramirez, when she was in high school, before going on to Arizona State University, and says it’s because of teachers like Ms. Ramirez, that she was able to go on to college and earn her degree.

Dolores’ continuous dedication to student success helps to strengthen our state by providing the tools to develop an educated workforce.  She is a native Arizonan, educator, mother and advocate of postsecondary education. She is committed to opening the door to higher education for both students and their parents.

And, one last area not to be forgotten, our event sponsors.  These are the organizations that support us and help make Leaders & Legends successful year after year.

This year’s supporters were:

Senior Level Sponsors

  • Carstens Family Funds
  • Caterpillar
  • Empire Charitable Foundation
  • Freeport−McMoRan, Inc.
  • Helios Eduction Foundation

Junior Level Sponsors

  • Phoenix Business Journal
  • Salt River Project

Sophomore Level Sponsors

  • Alliance Bank of Arizona
  • Arizona Science Center
  • CopperPoint Insurance Companies
  • Deloitte
  • Ernst & Young LLP
  • Primavera Technical Learning Center
  • Sundt Construction, Inc.
  • University of Arizona

Freshman Level Sponsors

  • Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Arizona Public Service
  • Arizona State University / ASU Foundation
  • Be A Leader Foundation
  • Center for the Future of Arizona
  • Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A.
  • GradGuard
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Hensley Beverage Company
  • Keller Electrical Industries, Inc.
  • Rich and Beth Nickel
  • Northern Arizona University
  • The Policy Center at WestEd

Door Prize Sponsors

  • Arizona Biltmore
  • Arizona Science Center
  • Phoenix Suns Charities
  • Tarbell’s / Tarbell’s Tavern


If you’d like to relive some of the memories from this year’s event, here are just a few candids for you to look at

If you enjoyed the luncheon and would like to be part of the solution, please consider supporting College Success Arizona’s programs that are making a difference across Arizona, from Kayenta to Yuma, and from Kingman to Douglas.  You can contribute by clicking on  the donate button at the top of this page;  you can send a check to our office; or, if you’d like to have a separate conversation on how you can become more involved, please call our offices or e-mail Loreal Scott, College Success Arizona’s Executive Assistant.

Thank you again for supporting the 2018 Annual Leaders & Legends Celebration, I hope you’ll attend next year’s event, which will be our biggest and best for our 10th celebration, on  Tuesday, October 15th, with a special honoree and program!  In fact, you can get a head start by reserving your table now, to ensure your place, asnext year’s event is sure to sell out too.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 602.636.1850.

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