Press release

Leaders in Science and Technology Honored at the Arizona Technology Council’s 2019 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation

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The Arizona Technology Council, in conjunction with the Arizona Commerce Authority, today announced the winners of the 2019 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation (GCOI) Awards. This marks the 16th year of this prestigious gala attended by more than 850 of Arizona’s top leaders in business, technology and government. Winners were celebrated on stage during the awards ceremony at the event.

“The Governor’s Celebration of Innovation is an annual showcase of our state’s incredible leadership in science and technology,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “Arizona’s forward-thinking Legislature, along with our leading universities, startup community and outstanding pool of STEM talent make our state a national force for innovation. I congratulate all of our 2019 award winners for their consistent dedication to advancing our business and technology ecosystem.”

“The 2019 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation winners and honorees truly exemplify Arizona’s pioneering spirit, and their accomplishments demonstrate why Arizona has earned a reputation as a global tech hub,” said Sandra Watson, president & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “We’re grateful for their many contributions and we congratulate them on this well-deserved recognition!”

The winners in their respective categories are:

Company Award Winners

Benchmark Academia Award Winner: Louise Hecker, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Individual/Company Award Winners

Legislative Award Winners

  • Senator of the Year: Kate Brophy McGee
  • Representative of the Year: Ben Toma

Tech 10 Award Winners

  • Sen. Karen Fann, District 1
  • Sen. David Bradley, District 10
  • Sen. Heather Carter, District 15
  • Sen. Sean Bowie, District 18
  • Rep. Alma Hernández, District 3
  • Rep. Regina Cobb, District 5
  • Rep. Nancy Barto, District 15
  • Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, District 17
  • Rep. Jeff Weninger, District 17
  • Rep. Michelle Udall, District 25

Future Innovator Awards

Future Innovator Honorable Mentions

Teacher of the Year Award: Katy Gazda, Red Mountain High School, Mesa

Teacher Honorable Mention: Oguz Guvenc, Sonoran Science Academy, Gilbert

Winners and finalists were evaluated and chosen by a selection committee of experts independent of the Council that included:

  • James Goulka, Arizona Tech Investors
  • Dave Higgins, Benchmark
  • Doug Hockstad, Tech Launch Arizona
  • Eric Miller, PADT
  • Mary O’Reilly, Ph.D., CEM, Flinn Foundation
  • Chuck Vermillion, AccountabilIT
  • David Lee, MSS Business Transformation Advisory

About the Arizona Technology Council

The Arizona Technology Council is Arizona’s premier trade association for science and technology companies. Recognized as having a diverse professional business community, Council members work towards furthering the advancement of technology in Arizona through leadership, education, legislation and social action. The Council offers numerous events, educational forums and business conferences that bring together leaders, managers, employees and visionaries to make an impact on the technology industry. These interactions contribute to the Council’s culture of growing member businesses and transforming technology in Arizona. To become a member or to learn more about the Arizona Technology Council, please visit

About the Arizona Commerce Authority

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) is the state’s leading economic development organization with a streamlined mission to grow and strengthen Arizona’s economy. The ACA uses a three-pronged approach to advance the overall economy: attract, expand, create – attract out-of-state companies to establish operations in Arizona; work with existing companies to expand their business in Arizona and beyond; and help entrepreneurs create new Arizona businesses in targeted industries. For more information, please visit and follow the ACA on Twitter at @azcommerce.