Friends of Small Business Advisory Board

Arizona Friends of Small Business Advisory Board (Friends) is a statewide board of recognized business leaders that advises the AZSBDC Network. Founded in 1996, Friends works with the AZSBDC to increase the scope and effectiveness of the assistance that it provides to current and prospective business owners.

The Friends Advisory Board meets quarterly and includes up to 25 Arizona small business champions — accomplished business executives, administrators and government officials who support, train and educate small business owners. Members volunteer for two-year appointments. Many accept invitations to extend their tenure. Legislative, municipal and private-sector leaders often attend Friends meetings to be briefed on small business issues and concerns.

The U.S. Small Business Administration honored Friends at its 1998 National Vision 2000 Conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The AZSBDC has also presented Friends as a model of excellence at national SBDC conferences.

The Friends of Small Business Advisory Board celebrated its 15th anniversary in November 2011 with a reception at Tempe Center for the Arts. Current, former and founding Board members were on hand to receive recognition for their leadership and support of Arizona small business.

The Friends Mission

  • Evaluate the Network’s services and strategies for improvement that will better help Arizona’s small businesses start, grow, prosper and build legacies;
  • Increase awareness of the AZSBDC Network and its importance by educating private and public constituencies on the Network’s economic impact in the communities that it serves;
  • Work to secure funding and resources that meet the needs of a growing, entrepreneurial state; and
  • Celebrate AZSBDC achievements that inspire excellence.


Joseph DeanJoseph Dean, Chairman
Owner, Dean Enterprises

Joe Dean is the Owner of Dean Enterprises and serves as Chairman of the Friends of Small Business Advisory Council (Friends). A native Arizonan, Joe worked more than 33 years for the phone company before retiring and accepting an appointment with the Arizona Department of Commerce to start the Small Business Connection, Arizona’s first small business assistance program. That ‘temporary’ assignment lasted 12 years, during which time Joe also served as the state’s Small Business Advocate under two governors and as Arizona’s Economic Development Director. He is a tireless community volunteer and small business advocate.

Clara EngelClara Engel
Retired Banking and Community Development Professional

Clara is a former Vice President of Community Development at U.S. Bank with extensive banking, community development and small business financing expertise. A long-time advocate of minority and disadvantaged small business owners, Clara also led programs which reached out to under-served markets at Wells Fargo and First Interstate banks and for Maricopa County. She has been involved with the AZSBDC since the 1980′s and is a charter member of FOSB.

Donna Davis
President & CEO of DIR Group, Inc.

Donna Davis is the President and CEO of DIR Group, Inc., a privately held management consulting practice. Previously, Davis was the President and CEO for the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA) championing the needs and issues of entrepreneurs and small business owners on the federal and state levels. Donna also serves on the board of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the National Small Business Association and Women Impacting Public Policy. She is a past President of the National Association of Women Business Owners and an Athena award winner.

Kristine Kassel
Owner, Benefits By Design

Kristine Kassel is the owner of Benefits by Design, Inc. an Insurance Brokerage Company that represents carriers for diversified lines including health, dental, life, long term care and disability insurance. A leader in the community, Kristine serves as President of the NAWBO Phoenix Board, Vice Chair of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce Board, and as Vice Chair of the Gabriel’s Angels Board.  She is also a Past President of the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA). A graduate of APS’s AAAME academy, Kristine has won the NAWBO President Choice Award twice and was named NAWBO Business Owner of the Year in 2011.   

John Adam KowalskiJohn Adam Kowalski
President & CEO, Pivot Productions, Inc.

John Adam is the President & CEO of Pivot Productions, Inc. He is extensively involved in the business community and currently serves as the President of SCORE for the Arizona District, overseeing chapters in Greater Phoenix, Southern Arizona and Northern Arizona. John Adam is also a past Chairman of the Arizona Small Business Association, which is Arizona’s second largest trade association, and the founder of the Arizona Growth Foundation, which seeks to expand Arizona’s capital base.

Tracy MarkieTracy Markie
President & Owner, Engenuity Systems

Tracy Markie is the owner and founder of Engenuity Systems, a leading provider of energy management systems that represents over 20,000 products from more than 100 manufacturers worldwide. An industry expert with more than 25 years of experience in the electronics and control systems fields, Tracy is also an author and a nationally recognized presenter. His résumé includes technical and managerial positions at Intel Corporation, National Semiconductor, United Technologies, Norden Systems and Tronix Corporation.

Tracy serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of LonMark® International, a worldwide trade organization, and as Chairman of the Board of Directors for LonMark Americas, an affiliated U.S.-based non-profit organization that he helped found. He is very active in the business community and gives back through service, mentoring and volunteer work.

Rick Murray
CEO, Arizona Small Business Association

Rick Murray is CEO of ASBA. From television news reporter to urgent care center developer, Rick has a wide and varied background that includes entrepreneurial endeavors and non-profit association executive.  As CEO of the 11,000 member ASBA, Rick has seen tremendous success by using the same formula he had always used; developing relationships with businesses for mutual success and surrounding himself with a team of people believing in a common goal.  Rick is also well-versed in HIPAA compliance issues and healthcare related businesses. 

Tracy MarkieSally Odette
Senior Economic Development Consultant, Arizona Public Service Company (APS)

Sally is a Certified Economic Developer with 25 years of community and economic development experience, working mainly with rural Arizona communities. She joined the Community and Economic Development team at APS, the largest utility in the State of Arizona, as a Senior Economic Development Consultant. Sally manages the Community Initiatives program, which includes Focused Future I & II, an economic and community development planning process, Arizona and the Business Retention and Expansion (B3) program. She is also a talented strategic planning facilitator. Prior to joining APS. Sally served as Program Manager of the Rural Economic Development Initiative program at the Arizona Department of Commerce.

Richard QuirozRichard ‘Rick’ Quiroz
Co-Owner, Perma-Finish, Inc.

A native Arizonan, Rick has been co-owner of a successful small business, Perma-Finish, Inc., since 1997. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix and an alumnus of the APS Academy for the Advancement of Minority Enterprises (AAAME).  Rick is also an accomplished mariachi trumpet player who has traveled the globe with several touring groups.


Joy StaveleyJoy Staveley
Co-owner/President/Chief Operating Officer
Canyoneers, Inc. and Kaibab Camper Village, L.L.C.

Joy has been a small business owner since 1978. She and her husband, Gaylord, operate a Whitewater Rafting business in Flagstaff and an RV park and campground near Jacob Lake, AZ. She served a 12- year term on the Board of the Arizona State Compensation fund and was appointed by Senator Jon Kyl as the State’s Environmental Chair for the White House Conference on Small Business. An active community volunteer and an Athena award winner, Joy currently serves on the Guardian Advisory Board of the National Federation of Independent Business and as its Northern Arizona Chair and on the Daily Sun Editorial Advisory Board.



Robert BlaneyRobert Blaney
District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

Bob is District Director of the SBA for the State of Arizona.  His varied experience includes work as a deputy sheriff with the Erie County Sheriff’s Department in New York, as vice-president of an insurance brokerage and as the administrative assistant to Congressman Jack Kemp.  Bob joined the SBA as a regional public affairs officer in 1989 with responsibility for New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  He went on to serve (separately) as a District Director in Las Vegas, Nevada and Lubbock, Texas, and as a Deputy District Director in New Jersey, California and Puerto Rico.   He served as District Director of the New Mexico District Office before taking over the leadership of the Arizona District Office in 1998.

Dr. Maria Harper-MarinickDr. Maria Harper-Marinick
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Maricopa County Community Colleges, Division of Academic and Student Affairs

Maria Harper-Marinick, Ph.D., is the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for the Maricopa Community College District in Arizona, comprised of 10 colleges and 2 skills centers that serve over 260,000 students annually.  As the chief academic and student officer for the Maricopa system, Dr. Harper-Marinick provides oversight for curriculum; academic research and assessment; university relations, transfer, and articulation; grants development and management; international education; faculty professional growth and development; high school to college pathways and outreach programs; and workforce development.  Other areas of responsibility for the Maricopa system include institutional effectiveness and small business development. As Executive Vice Chancellor, Dr. Harper-Marinick also works closely with the Chancellor to define and implement and assign resources to the District’s strategic plan; work with the colleges to enhance and support student success; and build the stature and recognition of the District and its Colleges locally, nationally, and internationally.

Janice WashingtonJanice Washington, CPA
State Director, AZSBDC Network

Janice is State Director of the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network (AZSBDC). Her background features more than 30 years of business experience working with large corporations and small businesses. A successful entrepreneur in her own right, Janice was Principal of her own accounting and  financial consulting firm for more than 21 years. Prior to starting her firm, Janice held various analytical, administrative, and management positions at Honeywell Information Systems and Intel Corporation. She also served as an adjunct professor at Western International University. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Small Business Association and is a member of the Arizona State Board of Tax Appeals, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants.

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