40 Under 40 honorees are devoted to doing more than work at a job

2012-12-14T00:00:00Z 2013-01-17T20:59:01Z 40 Under 40 honorees are devoted to doing more than work at a jobCarli Brosseau Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 14, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The message to Tucson's young leaders at Thursday's 40 Under 40 awards ceremony was clear: It's not just what you do on the job that matters, but also what you do off the clock.

No punching out and flipping on the TV. In both realms, leaders should be - and, in this case, are - excellent.

Forty of Tucson's most promising young leaders were honored Thursday morning at a breakfast sponsored by the Arizona Daily Star and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

From more than 300 applications, the annual 40 Under 40 recipients were named. Some were as young as 18, others nearing 40. All serve Tucson beyond what what's expected of them, and the breakfast marked the moment that expectations were raised further.

"They expect you to continue. You can't stop here. You are the future," said Lt. Col. Jennifer Short, the event's keynote speaker.

Short is no slouch herself. She quickly rose through the Air Force ranks to become commander of the 358th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base earlier this year.

She encouraged young leaders to remember that they didn't accomplish what they so far have alone.

The man and woman of the year took her cue.

The man of the year, Micah Mortensen, the 37-year-old principal of Desert Sky Middle School, immediately thanked his parents, his co-workers and his mentors.

The woman of the year, Melissa Marcus, 32, an attorney with Snell & Wilmer LLP, thanked her firm and her family.

Both received a standing ovation.

But perhaps the loudest round of applause went to the mentor of the year, Melissa Vito, the vice president for student affairs at the University of Arizona, who was nominated by two 40 under 40 awardees.

Part of what makes Vito such a great mentor in the eyes of her employees is her ability to provide individualized guidance and to encourage her employees to have a full life as an active member of the community.

The man and woman of the year's leadership demonstrates that commitment to community.

After a stint in the corporate life, Mortensen decided he wanted to more directly serve his hometown of Vail.

He earned his teaching certificate and began as a social studies teacher in 2003. He soon went back for a master's degree and was hired as Desert Sky's principal five years later.

Under Mortensen's leadership, Vail's Desert Sky Middle School received an A+ ranking despite serving a neighborhood hard hit by the foreclosure crisis.

The woman of the year advocates for prisoner rights and children affected by serious medical conditions or the death of a loved one.

Marcus has been on the board of Tu Nidito for five years and regularly provides pro bono legal representation to people who would otherwise have none. She has represented a U.S. citizen improperly detained and threatened with deportation and an inmate who was not being treated for his hepatitis C.

At Snell & Wilmer, she is a product liability and commercial litigation attorney.

Snell & Wilmer, Pima Community College and Univision were additional event sponsors.

Contact reporter Carli Brosseau at cbrosseau@azstarnet.com or 573-4197. On Twitter @carlibrosseau.

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