The Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance, a coalition of business, education and nonprofit executives, has appointed T. Paul Thomas as its new CEO.
“I’m excited to join the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance and look forward to working with a great group of business and community leaders to continue to positively impact our community, our region and the state,” said Thomas, who is the Executive in Residence at Northern Arizona University’s W.A. Franke College of Business as well as the Chief Entrepreneur of the Business Accelerator at the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.
Thomas succeeds Michael Zervas, whose tenure included overseeing last year’s transformation of the group, formerly known as Flagstaff Forty, into a regional player on par with Greater Phoenix Leadership and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. Zervas will remain with NALA as an “Emeritus for Life” member in recognition of his service as the group’s first CEO.
Thomas has led both private and public technology-based companies around the globe for almost three decades. As a “serial entrepreneur” he raised more than $130 million in venture capital, handled the sale or acquisition of eight businesses, and been involved in multiple IPO filings. In addition to serving as the Executive in Residence, the 1983 graduate of NAU is also an assistant professor there, teaching courses in international business, entrepreneurship and management.
He also is currently the board chair of the non-profit Komaza, Inc. in Kenya, which creates sustainable economic opportunities for farmers through “microforestry” -- the planting and maintenance of small-scale, income-generating tree farms.
“Paul has the talents and abilities to lead NALA to become the leadership alliance that Flagstaff and the northern region deserves,” said NALA Chairman David Engelthaler, director of TGen North. “We have had a history of great leadership with NALA and Flagstaff Forty before that -- Paul Thomas is the natural extension of that tradition.”
NALA’s three main concerns are the economic vibrancy of the region; environmental stewardship and promoting educational excellence. The group’s initiatives for 2016 will include exploring how Northern Arizona can attract more investment capital for the region’s entrepreneurs, as well as continued engagement with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, or 4FRI, which has faced challenges in its goal of thinning and ecologically restoring about 50,000 acres a year in the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests.