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Phoenix Community Alliance Announces 2023 Center City Award Winners

by Taylor Costello
Community Phoenix Community Alliance Taylor Costello December 14, 2023

Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) is pleased to announce the recognition of Stephanie Vasquez and Heather Lennon as the 2023 recipients of the Center City Awards. The awards were presented at PCA’s annual member meeting, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to advance the quality of life and further the renaissance of Central Phoenix.

These local leaders were awarded the Center City Champion and Center City Newcomer awards, respectively, at Walter Studios in Downtown Phoenix.

As its membership diversifies, the award represents a first in the three decades since its inception: both honorees are women.

Over nearly 20 years, Stephanie Vasquez has transformed from a middle school science teacher into a recognized local entrepreneur.

She opened Fair Trade Café in 2007, becoming a Downtown Phoenix staple with a “conscientious, sustainable business” model. From ethically sourced coffee beans to opening her space as a safe space to the community, every aspect of her business experience arcs toward inclusivity.

“From the beginning, our goal was to establish a space to transcend mere commerce – a place where patrons feel a sense of belonging, where every purchase contributes to a greater purpose,” Vasquez said. “What excites me most is further growth driven by thoughtful partnerships and visionary developments.”

Heather Lennon has parlayed more than 25 years of contracting experience into a love of rehabilitating our architectural history into vibrant, adaptive reuse projects.

As the CEO of Imagine General Contracting (in partnership with Arizona Warehouse Holdings), Lennon most recently remodeled Warehouse 215 to further accentuate the building’s century-old character and double the venue’s capacity.

Lennon is focused on preserving historic buildings throughout Downtown, working collaboratively with other developers, and bringing essential services to underserved areas of the Downtown community.

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

Since 1993, the Center City Awards honor individuals who consistently lead and challenge the community to continued quality growth and development; and unfailingly support the commitment and efforts of business, government, educational, cultural, civic, and religious organizations, neighborhood groups, property owners, and individuals to revitalize Central Phoenix and its surrounding neighborhoods; and tirelessly devote their time, talent, and resources to the betterment of Central Phoenix.

In 2020, PCA reimagined the honor to present both a Champion Award and Newcomer Award yearly. The Center City Champion is an individual who continuously goes above and beyond to positively impact the Greater Downtown Phoenix community. The Center City Newcomer is an individual who is quickly growing their impact on Greater Downtown Phoenix and is a future champion for our community.

Earlier in October, PCA celebrated its 40th anniversary with four decades of activating, advocating, and building Greater Downtown Phoenix into what it is today. PCA played a significant role in developing landmark institutions contributing to the area’s resurgence.

The organization boasts a robust membership of more than 300 Members from diverse communities and disciplines, with many touchpoints for advocacy and connectivity.

“Our collaborative experiences are an extremely impactful aspect of being good stewards of the community,” said Lennon. “Through my membership, I have been granted the opportunity to meet 300 other members, neighbors, and business owners to create opportunities and services to make Downtown Phoenix a more inviting place.”

Learn more about the 2023 Center City Award Recipients:

2023 Center City Newcomer Award

Heather Lennon is the CEO of Imagine General Contracting & Development, a full-service design/build firm and Co-Managing Member of Arizona Warehouse Holdings (AWH). Both organizations work in tandem to focus on historic building restoration and adaptive-reuse. Lennon is committed to making the community an inclusive place that is accessible for everyone through her various projects that range from residential, to hospitality and more. Lennon also owns/operates Raconteuse Cigars, an event-based luxury cigar business. Lennon’s charitable donations of cigar experiences have raised over $50,000.

2023 Center City Champion Award

Stephanie Vazquez is the founder and owner of Fair Trade Café. Since 2007, Fair Trade Café has been a staple that means different things to people, from encapsulating a small business ethos essential to the Downtown community to serving as a gathering space for students, business and political leaders, and beyond. Her entrepreneurial experience has gained various accolades and recognition from countless publications and stakeholders, as well as the mentorship of future business leaders.