2023 was a series of milestones for Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA)

This year, anniversaries and significant inflection points helped propel our organization forward.

The year kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Republic Services Garden at Margaret T. Hance Park during Super Bowl festivities. It concluded with recognizing Stephanie Vasquez and Heather Lennon as the 2023 recipients of the Center City Awards, the first time both honorees are women.

In between, PCA celebrated its 40th Anniversary.

Join us as we explore what made these achievements (and others) worth celebrating.

Hance Park is an Epicenter of Super Bowl LVII Festivities

In late January, Super Bowl festivities arrived Downtown. While State Farm Stadium in Glendale served as the actual site of the game, Downtown Phoenix was the surrogate for Super Bowl-related activities. During Super Bowl Week, more than 300,000 event attendees visited Downtown, with much of the programming happening at Margaret T. Hance Park.

City of Phoenix officials, Republic Services, and community leaders celebrated the unveiling of the Republic Services Garden at Margaret T. Hance Park Wednesday in Downtown Phoenix. (Photo: Taylor Costello)

Hance Park has become a hot spot for activity. At the start of February, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the new Republic Services Garden, part of a greater fundraising effort led by PCA to revitalize the park.

The east side transformed into the Super Bowl Experience at Hance Park, a free outdoor festival and the first official Super Bowl Watch Party sanctioned by the NFL.

For our organization, the activations advanced our efforts to make Hance Park the next great city park — a welcoming and inclusive gathering place for the region.

Welcome Brandon Ramsey, Membership Services Director

In April, PCA was delighted to welcome Brandon Ramsey as our Membership Services Director. Since he started, we have had a full-time team member dedicated to effectively addressing the needs of membership engagement and retention.

Advocacy and connectivity drive value to our Members, and Brandon has creatively approached how to deliver additional value with participation.

Some of the new creative programming includes a spin on Membership Mingles, Member (Re)Orientations, and a Small Business Empowerment Workshop presented by Decision Point Financial and USI Insurance.

The Member (Re)Orientation allows new and veteran Members to meet staff and learn about the organization’s daily operations. The events are hosted during lunchtime at rotating Member venues with a food and beverage Member, such as Walter Studios or Huss Brewing, providing samples from their menu. A robust Membership Engagement Committee of 20 Members assist him in coordinating these events.

With every interaction, he leverages Member connectivity. The end goal of every meeting is for it to result in strategic collaborations between Members.

At a Membership Mingle at Walter Studios, Phoenix Center for the Arts set up a blank canvas and paint to allow Members to contribute to the painting, pictured Wednesday, September 20. (Photo by Taylor Costello)

These results will continue to play out into the New Year as Brandon encourages Members to curate experiences at their venues where future mingle events will occur. A sample of 2024 mingles include complimentary tequila tasting at BARCOA, with tours of Xico and live music from The Clarendon Hotel’s rooftop.

This is only a small dose of the creative thinking he brings daily as a valued team member of PCA’s “small but mighty team.”

Celebrating 40 Years of Impact

In August 2023, our 40th anniversary celebration began with the debut of a modified logo created by Member LaneTerralever with the tagline “40 Years of Impact.”

Our anniversary was officially recognized by “A Celebration of 40 Years” event on the 11th Floor of One Arizona Center with sweeping city views. Arizona Center is the site of not only the first major commercial development Downtown but also one of our organization’s first successful initiatives.

Board Chair Diane Haller led a toast at sunset with PCA Members, leadership, and dignitaries. Throughout the space, vinyl wraps by Thomas Printworks hinted at our mission statement: to “activate, advocate, and build.”

Devney Majerle, Downtown Phoenix Inc.’s President and CEO, and Diane Haller, Phoenix Community Alliance’s Board Chair, raise their glass in a Champagne toast at One Arizona Center, pictured Thursday, October 5, 2023. (Photo by Zee Peralta)

It was a night to reminisce on past and present accomplishments and an act to motivate another four decades of impact for all who attended.

For a recap from that night, scroll through photography by Zee Peralta here and watch the video by Bake Media here.

PCA Hits 300 Members

Throughout the year, the organization slowly crept up to 300 Members. PCA’s dedicated, full-time staff made this goal a tangible reality.

When Devney Majerle joined PCA as Executive Director in April 2016, she doubled our membership within two years, adding 78 new Members in her first year.

The spirit to bring in new businesses, non-profits, and private professionals has continued as the PCA team grows.

Over the summer, PCA finally hit that long-anticipated goal. Now more than ever, our organization is “Member-driven and staff-supported.”

As PCA increases its geographic reach with groups around the Capitol Mall and Midtown neighborhoods, we expect our direction to be influenced by these additional voices.

A Member wine-tasting event at GenuWine was also a successful connectivity opportunity. Participants exchanged numbers, and plans were set outside the matchmaking of PCA. (Photo by Brandon Ramsey)

The General Obligation (GO) Bond Becomes Reality

For the first time since 2006, a General Obligation (GO) Bond Election went before voters.

For PCA, the 2023 Special Bond Election presented an important advocacy priority. The bond election supported $500 million in projects, including approximately $53 million in Downtown Phoenix and another $143 million in non-site specific projects.

In one section of the GO Bond, improvements to local Downtown art and culture infrastructure included finding a new permanent home for Valley Youth Theatre, upgrades at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, and renovations to bring the Phoenix Center for the Arts theater to an industry standard.

These represent only a sample of municipal improvements to drive future growth and development Downtown and citywide.

Ultimately, voters approved the passage of the bond with 60% approval (or higher) for each of the four questions. And throughout the next few years, we’ll see the election results manifest in the public realm as Downtown continues to evolve.

A Year of Acknowledging PCA’s Past & Present Leaders

In November 2022, the inaugural entry of “PCA City-Shapers” about our Board Chair Diane Haller was published on the Downtown Phoenix Inc. site.

Almost every month this year, we have recorded our history, initiatives, and values that have propelled PCA through four decades of existence (and beyond). Subsequent entries highlighted the beginnings of our organization, starting with Arizona Center, the Human Services Campus, how the future land of the Phoenix Bioscience Core (PBC) was gathered, and much more.

Past Chair Marty Shultz has been involved with Phoenix Community Alliance when it was only a concept created by Keith Turley, then the President and Chairman of Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) (Photo by Taylor Costello)

Each of these City-Shaper entries share a consistent theme: all of the ideas generated are incubated within the infrastructure of PCA.

Each entry begins to fill in the gaps of knowledge that existed only as shared stories between leaders. In the months ahead, we aim to record future PCA matchmaking involved with the start of the Warehouse District Council and other placemaking stories.

The Center City Awards Make History

2023 Center City Award Recipients, Heather Lennon and Stephanie Vasquez. (Photo: Taylor Costello)

On December 14, we proudly announced Stephanie Vasquez of Fair Trade Cafe and Heather Lennon of Imagine General Contracting and Development & Arizona Warehouse Holdings as this year’s Center City Award recipients.

At the end of our annual member meeting at Walter Studios, these local leaders were awarded the Center City Champion and Center City Newcomer awards.

The award represented a first in the three decades since its inception: both honorees were women.

Read the announcement here to learn about the 2023 Center City Award Winners and their ongoing contributions to our community.

The Phoenix Community Alliance team poses for a photo during “A Celebration of 40 Years” event at One Arizona Center, pictured Thursday, October 5, 2023. (Photo by Zee Peralta)

Phoenix Community Alliance was built on a foundation of industry professionals who all shared the same goal: to use their expertise to benefit the Greater Downtown Phoenix community.

We want to become more visible on the advocacy and membership front as those goals continue to be achieved. And we’ll know if we’re succeeding if you hear more about us over time.

To all 68 new Members who have recently been brought into the fold, we’re just getting started. In the meantime, we invite you to explore which of our advocacy Committees will make you feel like an “insider about your own city.” We’ll see you in 2024!

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