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Local Changemakers: Phoenix Community Alliance Announces Center City Award Winners

by Fara Illich
Community Featured Music & Events Fara Illich December 10, 2020

One of the goals of Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) is to convene the most talented government, community and business leaders. It is through this convergence that great work is possible, according to Mo Stein, principal at HKS Architects and former PCA chair.

“The investment we need in downtown is not just financial, it’s personal,” he said. “There needs to be a lot of lifting to make it work, both big and small, and we’re all in it together.”

At this year’s PCA Center City Awards, two outstanding individuals will be recognized for their personal contributions in advancing the quality of life for all residents within the center city, and furthering downtown’s renaissance.

Since 1993, honorees include politicians, business owners, educators, and other city changemakers. The Center City Awards were reimagined in 2020 to present both a Champion Award and Newcomer Award yearly.

Dr. Sheila Harris, the 2020 Center City Champion, has assisted in the development of affordable housing for over 30 years. As co-chair of PCA’s Social and Housing Advancement (SHA) Committee, she is actively working to promote community partnerships and facilitate the creation of viable and integrated options that break the cycle of homelessness.

“Most likely, there is always going to be people in our community experiencing homelessness,” she said. “But we can provide additional opportunities and ways so there are fewer people experiencing homelessness, and for shorter periods of time. Our focus needs to be on what we can collectively do, and be very comprehensive in our approach, and understand that everyone deserves a place to call home.”

The first-ever Center City Newcomer award goes to Dominic Papa, the vice president of Smart State Initiatives at the Arizona Commerce Authority, and a pioneer in the intersection of technology and local government.

“Collaboration will be the next competitive advantage post-Covid, and in this new digital economy, there’s no better place than Phoenix,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s going to be hyper-connected, hyper-innovative — really a family-friendly, sustainable and resilient place to live, and I’m excited for what it will be.”

Each in their own way, both Sheila Harris and Dominic Papa are working to enhance downtown’s social fabric, and build a brighter future for the entire Phoenix community.

“The 2020 Center City Award winners were chosen not only for their professional dedication to Phoenix, but their personal vision for what it can become,” said Diane Haller, current PCA chair.

The Center City Awards will be presented virtually on Dec. 17 at PCA’s Annual Meeting, where both honorees will receive a hand-made, artist-designed award by renowned local sculptor Joan Waters. Register for the event on PCA’s website.


Learn more about the Center City Awards, designed by Joan Waters:

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