Each month Cadence at Gateway recognizes Arizona leaders in the business, education, government, non-profit and faith-based community working to improve our East Valley region. This month we honor East Valley Partnership (EVP) CEO and former mayor of Gilbert, John W. Lewis. John has been a long-standing East Valley advocate and positively lifts the people and projects around him. John grew up in Mesa and then started his career and raised his family in Gilbert, while displaying a deeply felt spirit of community service— whether as a parent, businessman, mayor, or regional advocate. John earned numerous awards and facilitated noteworthy economic growth for the East Valley as the Mayor of Gilbert from 2009 to 2016, and as EVP CEO since 2016. John also serves as Adjunct Faculty professor in the Business Department at Mesa Community College. Last month, John and his wife LaCinda accepted a call from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) to serve as mission presidents in Cambodia, overseeing the missionary and service efforts of LDS young men and women in the country. This three-year volunteer assignment was not applied for nor expected from John, who planned to lead the EVP for another decade, but was accepted by the Lewis’ as an honor and privilege. John’s ability to bring people together and listen to other points of view is a hallmark of his contributions. He frequently says, “feedback is a gift,” and lives this mantra through listening to all perspectives while building consensus to move forward. Under his leadership:
- Downtown Gilbert’s ongoing revitalization efforts saw a major boost, positioning the town as a national model for redevelopment and paving the way for ongoing economic success. Important highlight: his team streamlined permitting and processes to maximize the town’s ability to capitalize on business and corporate opportunities.
- Spearheaded a health and bioscience innovation strategic focus, earning accolades from The Arizona Bio Industry Association.
- Founded Constitution Week in Gilbert in 2002 – which continues today, allowing the town’s residents of all ages – from school children, girl and boy scouts to seniors –
- Founded a Diversity Task Force for Gilbert and strengthened interfaith activities assuring all Gilbert residents’ voices can be heard and valued.
- Succeeded Roc Arnett as East Valley Partnership CEO, no easy feat as Roc had been leading the group for 13 year. In two short years, John has refocused the partnership and positioned its leaders as visionary advocates for the region at both the state and national level.
- While leading EVP, John launched the PHX East Valley Angel Investor Initiative to address capital needs with entrepreneurs and regional business leaders. Its aim to spark growth in the region’s tech industry is making a measurable impact.
- Additionally, John has expanded the Partnership’s mentoring outreach, formed a healthcare leadership council, and expanded the education council.