Photographed on-site at Quantum Helicopters, QuantumHelicopters.com
Long-time Chandler resident and business Tudor Melville, along with his wife Susie, started a ministry in 2009, Hope4Life, that helps families in Chandler, the Philippines, and Mexico.
In 2014, they visited the Rocky Point prison to see a falsely accused Pastor that had helped feed the Mexican homeless, and were touched by the needs of the inmates—necessities like toilet paper, blankets, and shoes. Driven by the need to help, supplies and food were regularly taken and a church built for the 500 inmates crammed into a space meant for 150. By giving the inmates hope and dignity, lives have been changed, and today Rocky Point Prison serves as a model the entire country. Weekly trips to Mexico continue to be made to feed the homeless, orphans, and inmates.
During COVID, “We were blessed to receive over seven million pounds of food from the Farmers to Family program. We have had volunteers at our Chandler home every Wednesday to help distribute this food. I post on Facebook to my 50,000 followers that food is ready for pickup, and over 150 cars will pull up at the house and we distribute 400-500 boxes per week.”
It’s been an honor to serve the folks here in Chandler and the East Valley. We are blessed to be a blessing.”
Co-Founder & Partner, Highnoon
Drawn to entrepreneurship, Ken Bonham jumped at the chance to start a company when approached by his business partner when he was just 26. He has spent his career in the marketing industry, co-founding Lucid Agency in 2006, and most recently, launching Highnoon, a full-service marketing and consulting agency.
“Providing meaningful and well-paying jobs to my colleagues at Highnoon, and watching them grow personally and professionally, is very rewarding.”
Bonham is also no stranger to serving the local community. He currently sits on the board of the Maricopa Community College Foundation as well as the Better Business Bureau; is a member of the Suns Charities 88, and was a previous board member for the Arizona Coyotes Foundation. Additionally, his company recently launched a nonprofit named Highnoon Cares.
“I have spent a majority of my time in Arizona living in Chandler. Personally, I don’t think there is a better place to live in the Valley of the Sun.”
Even though he has no children, he enjoys the success of the local high school athletics in the Chandler School District.
Board of Directors, SEAPC
Born in Taiwan and growing up in Brazil, Steve Chang realized at an early age that people need lifesaving medical devices all over the world. He came to Arizona State University in 1992 to study bioengineering, as he had a goal to see people in developing countries have the same medical devices as those here in the United States. In his current role with W.L. Gore & Associates, he travels extensively in the Asia Pacific (he speaks six languages), leading a team of over 90 people to do just that.
“Availability of lifesaving devices should not be determined by where you live. In this role, I am passionate about seeing people inspired to do great things for the society. I am training, coaching, and leading a new generation of leaders that can work cross-culturally and have a have a heart to serve others.”
Chang also loves to empower communities. He serves on the board of directors for South East Asia Prayer Center (SEAPC), a nonprofit foundation that focuses on education, healthcare, economics, and parenting in less-developed countries. He leads different projects and platforms, which include helping orphaned and abandoned children in Cambodia and other Asia countries who are otherwise prone to human trafficking.
“I take teams from all walks of life on mission trips where they help orphans and abandoned children fulfill their potential so they are less likely to be trafficked.”
Attorney, Gallagher & Kennedy
You can always find Shannon Clark working very hard for others. Whether it is for family, friends, clients, or organizations, he always tries to give 110%.
A current board member of ICAN, Clark spreads the word about their good work to anyone who will listen, and does much-needed fundraising.
He has also served on the boards ofArizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the 100 Club of Arizona. You will also find him regularly organizing food packing sessions with Feed My Starving Children, and frequently coordinating the community service activities at the law practice where he works.
“I didn’t expect to fall in love with Chandler when I moved here in 1999, but I did. I enjoy the way the community has grown, and the initiatives to re-invest in the community. I love that Chandler has maintained its character and sense of community despite rapid growth. It is a fantastic place to raise a family. Great schools, great people, great resources….”
What is something most people don’t know about him?
“I married the girl standing next to me in my kindergarten class photograph.”
Principal, Willis Junior High School
Having spent more than 20 years in in junior high school, Jeff Delp feels the relationships he builds with students is the most rewarding aspect of his work.
“I am amazed at how much I have learned from my students. I get daily reminders to be grateful, to laugh, not to take things too seriously, and to treat others with dignity and respect. Even though I am seeing an increase in gray hair each year, working with kids keeps me young.”
Working in education every year, he faces new opportunities and challenges.
“Recovering from the pandemic, my focus is firmly on supporting my students, staff, and families to provide a sense of stability and normalcy. We need to meet the needs of the whole child (academic, social, and emotional). I want our students to have access to exceptional educational and enrichment opportunities, and I am focused on clearing obstacles and seeking resources to ensure this happens. We are overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers who made donations, assisted with food box preparations, and volunteered to distribute supplies to families in need. Chandler is a large community with the heart and compassion of a small town.”
Tom Escobedo was looking to make a difference in his community after retirement, so he became an ICAN volunteer. He quickly noticed the garden beds there were empty and neglected. An avid gardener, he worked with the kids to bring the garden to life.
They till the beds, plant the seeds, water regularly, and pull any weeds that dare to grow in the much-loved beds.
“To celebrate the harvest, the garden club enjoys multiple salad days with vegetables they’ve grown.” They learn patience and enjoy eating the produce and learning what the earth can do for them.
To better manage the garden program, Escobedo took it upon himself to become a master gardener, and invites other master gardeners to come in and work with the kids. He also works patiently with youth who are struggling behaviorally. His gentle approach and the soothing energy of the garden have been of genuine benefit.
Escobedo is also very committed to the Chandler Historical Society, serving on its board for several years.
What is something people may not know about him?
“My grown children have never seen me without a beard!”
“As a child, I thought police officers were superheroes. Our house was burglarized, and the officers took time to make a positive impression on me and my family. That has stuck with me ever since.”
In his 34 years of law enforcement, Shawn Hancock views every contact as an opportunity to positively impact someone’s life and gain support for law enforcement.
“As a police officer, we may not always realize the impact we had on someone’s situation or life. The smile on a child’s face, or the sigh of relief when you show up to a distress call, is worth it all.”
Hancock also has served on ICAN’s board for six years. As chair during the early months of the pandemic, his leadership helped navigate many tough decisions ensuring the youth and their families continued receiving the services they needed. Juggling all these challenges was particularly difficult as he was also facing extreme challenges in his day job.
Hancock is an active supporter of the Chandler Compadres and their fundraising efforts in Chandler.
What is something people may not know about him?
“I have always had an affinity for cooking. Once I retire, I am definitely going to culinary school!”
Director of Community Education, CUSD
Those who know Steve Hewitt say he has a passion for people and youth. Not only in his job, but in his service to our community. Hewitt has served on many community boards over the last few years, including ICAN, AZCEND, Chandler Horizon Rotary, AZCEA (Arizona Community Education Association), and Chandler Education Foundation. He always brings his knowledge, his willingness to think outside-the-box, and his strong desire to make this community better than he found it.
In his CUSD role at the onset of the pandemic, Hewitt and his team recognized the need of our essential workers to have a safe place for their children so they could continue to work. Emergency Essential Workers Care was established to provide full day care opportunities for children birth-12 years old for doctors, nurses, fireman, police, and any other worker who was not able to work from home.
Just prior to the pandemic, Hewitt started an LLC, ABW Consulting, to be able to continue to give back to the community by working with nonprofits on their events, organizational and operational structures, bylaws, staff evaluations, and customer service needs.
“I want to be able to give back to communities and organizations the way they have given me a purpose in life.”
Pankaj “PJ” Likhmania
Co-Founder/CEO, Interbiz Consulting & Rovicare
At 21, PJ Likhmania moved to Arizona from India to attend Arizona State University. Finding himself homesick, overwhelmed, and suffering from culture shock, he formed the Indian Student Association to galvanize over 300 South East Asian students.
“This newfound sense of community with my peers inspired me and taught me that resources to help others come in many forms, not just money.”
Likhmania serves as a mentor, coach, and advisor for many entrepreneurs working with the ASU Venture Devils, Chandler Innovations Incubator, ASU College of Entrepreneurship, and Arizona Tech Investors. He is also active in the India Association of Phoenix, Southeast Asian Society, Indo-American Cultural and Religious Foundation, and New Pathways For Youth. He was recently appointed to IT Committee for the City of Chandler.
“Every time I develop a new product or service, I think about the impact that solution will have on someone’s quality of life. I find the work I do with the youth in my community enriching. These children are the leaders of the future. We all benefit when we provide access to better education, sports, and mentoring. Children with these advantages grow up to become better citizens.”
If it is possible to have any spare time, Likhmania’s passion for the sport of cricket led him to organize the local cricket league and host tournaments.
Likhmania tries to live by a Sanskrit phrase found in Hindu text which means “’the world is one family.’
“This resonates with me now more than ever.”
Mel Mesias was nominated for his endless volunteer work at local schools and his service to the community coaching youth sports. But, what caught our attention through the interview process was his desire to tell his unconventional story.
“Let me say that never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be doing what I am doing today.
My wife, Lisa, and I were both engineering professionals with successful careers when our son, Mason, was born. We had always agreed that when we had children, there would be a parent present in our home. Lucky me, it was my wife that wanted to stay on the professional career path and my whole life suddenly changed! “My new job became a stay-at-home dad and part-time real estate agent. The transition was not easy. Being from Asian descent and living in the early 2000s, stay-at-home fathers were not the norm. We struggled as a family early on. Finding our roles and learning our limitations was difficult and stressful. We soon realized that in order for us to create balance, we had to work as a team. It was hard work prioritizing family first, but we have not regretted it one bit. I am grateful that I am able to watch my sons grow, volunteer, coach, and mentor other kids. I hope I can inspire others to be a part of the ‘village’ to help raise our next generation.”
Ernest Lee “Junior” Spivey
Professional MLB Player
Ever since he was 4 years old, all Junior Spivey wanted to do is become a professional athlete. He went to college on a basketball scholarship before walking on a baseball tryout, only to find himself drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1996. He was a World Series Champion in 2001, and an MLB All-Star in 2002.
Spivey was a representative at 2018 MLB Draft for the Diamondbacks. He currently instructs and manages with MLB/USA Baseball/MLBPA’s Dream Series, Breakthrough Series, and Hank Aaron Invitational (formerly known as Elite Development Invitational). Today, he is the Diversity & Incentives Coordinator for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Spivey started the Spivey Stars Baseball Club in 2004, which produced several MLB players. He’s been coaching in the youth space since 2010, and continues teaching the game that he loves. In 2014, he started the Living Your Dream Foundation, a leadership and mentorship organization.
“I have an opportunity to impact and inspire young men from all over the country and help them reach their goals and dreams, especially kids of color who aren’t given the same opportunities as other children. One of the most rewarding experiences ever.”
A Chandler firefighter for more than 13 years, Carlos Vargas embodies the values and dedication needed to be an asset to his department and community. As described by his nominator, “His actions and character shows that he truly cares about Chandler Fire’s success. He has used his talents and expertise to help develop those around him as well as taken opportunities to develop himself as a Company Officer. Carlos has proven himself to be a man of integrity, commitment, and talent. He has performed at an exceptional level, with humility and honor. “
Vargas credits his inspiration to his dad, an L.A. firefighter, and his humility to both of his parents, who he describes as patient and good listeners. His family is his foundation, and they share in his dedication to the community through their work fighting hunger and homelessness, and by volunteering with the I-HELP program, organizing meals for those members of our community experiencing homelessness.
His words to live by?
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Something you may not know about Vargas?
“I really enjoy the visuals of abstract art.”
This father of five boys and grandfather of another, Scott Veach is making a difference every single day. He finds great satisfaction in knowing he has contributed positively to the lives of others, in small and large ways, even though his profession is experiencing extreme challenges.
“Policing is a deeply human profession. Deep down, whether they ever verbalize it or not, law enforcement officers are driven by a single desire, to help people. I am no different. I am hard-wired for service. Serving my community and my officers is an honor and a responsibility I welcome.”
Veach believes trust is the cornerstone of all relationships, and feels the citizens of Chandler expect a high level of service from the men and women of the Chandler Police Department. If those expectations are met with acts of integrity and professionalism on every call, every day, the community will know they can count on them.
“We are all presented with opportunities, every single day, to make a difference; to demonstrate kindness and compassion toward others. These opportunities are everywhere if we pay attention and seize those moments. You never know how the smallest effort can have a lasting and meaningful effect on someone else.”
Kiran Vedantam owns multiple businesses in Chandler, and is impacting the community by mentoring and sharing opportunities with today’s youth through these many ventures.
Vedantam feels this newest generation is extremely resourceful, and has the potential to solve problems much quicker with the technology at hand.
“It is our responsibility as entrepreneurs to pass on the torch to the upcoming generation of tomorrow’s leaders. It does not matter how much ‘I know.’ What matters is how much am I able to help others get where they want to be with what ‘I know.’
Vedantam involves his employees in giving back to the community by organizing hundreds of fundraising events for local schools, organizations, and charities.
What is something people may not know about him?
“I gained a psychotic aversion to buying any new clothes for myself after I saw a documentary about landfills. I have been able to manage my wardrobe with what I had and bare essentials since 2012. The challenge to be seen is how long I can fit into what I have!”
Principal, Chandler Early College
Shawn Mitchell leads by example to encourage his students to be involved in community service through projects and events hosted by the city of Chandler, Chandler Men of Action, and other nonprofits. He also serves on the board of Chandler Boys and Girls Clubs and East Valley Alliance of Black School Educators.
Mitchell also formed the nonprofit Chandler4Change to promote diversity in our community.
Mitchell is described as someone who likes to work in the shadows and is very humble. He has worked in education his entire adult life.
“I believe the work of servant/civic leadership was instilled in me at a young age from my time in Church. My grandparents were pastors, so helping the lower socio-economic populations was common.”
Something people may not know about Mitchell?
“I learned to play the drums, by ear, at age 6. I decided to pick this back up after 20-plus years. Little rusty, yet it’s a good outlet and brings the joy of ‘jamming’ again.”