Summing up quickly what Rick Myers, Colleen Niccum and Tom Chandler have done for the community would be difficult.

In fact, a whole evening could be spent honoring and thanking this trio, who are the recipients of this year's Greater Tucson Leadership awards for service.

And a whole evening is what's planned for the 2012 Man, Woman & Founder of the Year Awards Gala on Jan. 19 at the Casino del Sol Resort on West Valencia Road.

"People who win these awards go above and beyond the call of duty," said Suzanne McFarlin, executive director of Greater Tucson Leadership, which partners with the Tucson Metro Chamber.

Myers is the Man of the Year; Niccum is the Woman of the Year; and Chandler has received the Founder's Award for his contributions to help others over a lifetime.

Tom Chandler

A retired Tucson attorney, Tom Chandler, was the first to receive a surprise visit Monday.

Flower bouquet in hand, McFarlin was accompanied by Jean Gage, the organization's board president, as well as Governing Board member Rob Stenson.

Chandler's sister-in-law, Dee-Dee Samet, nominated him and was at his Foothills home on the pretense of taking him to breakfast at Ghinis French Cafe.

"He's done so much for Tucson and so much for Arizona, and so much of it is behind the scenes," she said. "He deserves some recognition."

Chandler, 93, deflected the praise.

"This is an outrage," he said, shaking his head. "You've got the wrong person."

Clearly not.

Chandler has spent a lifetime being a champion of the poor, women and minorities, often contributing his time, knowledge and money anonymously.

He's the co-founder of the Arizona Adopt a Classroom Project, which provided assistance to more than 2,000 teachers.

As an attorney, Chandler helped get the Central Arizona Project to Tucson and was involved in lengthy litigation on behalf of the city to purchase Citizens Utilities Water Co.

He's been a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, and was a founding member of the original Legal Aid organization.

And the list goes on.

He's a founding member of the Conquistadores, who have now raised more than $26 million for Tucson's youth sports.

Chandler, who graduated first in his law school class of 1946, has mentored lawyers and judges, and promoted excellence in the local judicial system, Samet said.

In 1999, the University of Arizona College of Law founded the Thomas Chandler Public Service Award, which provides exit scholarships to students who follow his path and pursue careers in public sector law.

And all of this, his sister-in-law said, has been accomplished with humility and a "deliciously wry sense of humor."

Rick Myers

After retiring as vice president and general manager of IBM Tucson 10 years ago, Rick Myers has spent his time volunteering, and volunteering and volunteering.

After moving many times during his career with IBM, Myers said he was excited to settle in and become part of a community.

And that's certainly what he's done.

Myers is a member of the Tucson Airport Authority and co-chaired the Citizens Committee of the Regional Transportation Authority in 2006. He is a current member and past chairman of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

He also chaired the United Way campaign in 2001 and is a past board member of Science Foundation Arizona.

His latest post is serving as chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents.

"I just couldn't think of anyone else who deserves it more," said Lisa Romero, who nominated Myers. "He's a tireless advocate for Southern Arizona."

Romero is director of marketing and communications for the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona. She's worked for, and with, Myers for years and said she finds him "a rare person, a great leader who also takes the time to help and listen."

The friends met when Myers served on the board of directors for nonprofit Critical Path Institute, where he was also the organization's chief operating officer for more than three years.

"Whether it is a business executive, university president, government official, community leader or students, their parents, or other hardworking everyday people like most of us, Rick treats everyone with the utmost respect, always returns a phone call or email, and never fails to go the extra mile to make a situation right," Romero wrote in nominating him.

Myers feels "very honored" by the recognition, and said he is fortunate to have the time to do what he loves.

"I enjoy my time doing different things in Southern Arizona and in the state," said Myers, 56. "I like to feel that I am helping to bring people together to make a difference."

Colleen Niccum


Colleen Niccum's puzzled expression changed to a laugh when she realized why the small group had gathered to meet her in the Raytheon lobby.

"This is quite unexpected," she said as she accepted the flowers. "Oh, my word. Thank you."

Niccum was nominated by Jacquelyn Jackson, the executive director of Tucson Values Teachers, a nonprofit Niccum helped found.

The organization is just one way Niccum, Raytheon's director of community and government relations, contributes her time to education, and promoting math and science.

What does Niccum do with her free time?

She's been involved with the Educational Enrichment Foundation, the Tucson Metro Chamber and the statewide organization, Expect More Arizona.

She helps link Raytheon tutors with local classrooms.

She created an internship between the UA and Tucson Values Teachers called MASTER-IP, a program that grew quickly and expanded into Chandler, helping more than 27,000 students.

She's also served on the advisory board for the University of Arizona's College of Education and was appointed by Gov. Jan Brewer to the Arizona Ready Council.

Niccum, 54, has lived in Tucson for 30 years after moving here from the Midwest to earn her master's degree in journalism at the UA.

"She just exudes leadership," Jackson said. "She's wonderful with people, very involved with the community and is deeply dedicated to education."

When Niccum heard the names of the other recipients, she shook her head, smiling. "It feels hard to imagine that I would be among these ranks. I'm honored."

On the Net

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