The Groundswell Capital Tucson Changemakers Grant application phase has concluded. In the next phase, our Grant Review Committee will meet to make final selections for our local small business awardees.
The Groundswell Capital Tucson Changemakers Grant application phase has concluded with over 500 submissions, 78% of which were from underrepresented businesses in our community. Groundswell Capital dedicated over 500 hours of support for applicants during the application phase. Now, the exciting part begins: reviewing the applications and making final selections.
We are happy to introduce and give a huge heartfelt thanks to our Grant Review Committee, pictured below. Their dedication and thoughtful consideration are invaluable to Tucson's small business community.
Meet the Committee
Karla Bernal Morales
Karla Bernal Morales is the Vice President of the Arizona Technology Council, overseeing Southern Arizona operations with a focus on membership management, event support, and government and community relations. With over 25 years of experience in education, nonprofits, and government, Karla previously directed the Office of Multicultural Advancement at the University of Arizona, facilitating relationships between diversity councils and local communities to advance equity and inclusion efforts on campus, and supported the University’s government and community relations in southern Arizona.
Karla spent 17 years with the State of Arizona’s Division of Benefits and Medical Eligibility, assisting families in accessing state and federally funded assistance. At United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, she raised over eight million dollars for community programs in education, financial stability, and health.
Currently, Karla serves on various community boards, including UA Tech Parks; Campus Research Corporation, Pima County Workforce Investment Board, Earn to Learn, College of Engineering Dean’s Council, Tucson Airport Authority, Charter 100, and chairs the Board for the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She holds a Bachelor of Science in education with a minor in bilingual studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Eller College of Management.
Andre T. Whittington
Andre T. Whittington, is a distinguished U.S. Army veteran and currently serves as the Executive Director of Growth Partners Arizona (GPAz). Under Andre's stewardship, GPAz has expanded its influence as a statewide CDFI partner that is committed to supporting historically underserved communities. His leadership is characterized by a commitment to service, collaboration, and the cultivation of strategic partnerships, all aimed at stimulating economic growth and fostering a more inclusive future for Arizona.
Ashley Stewart is a commercial insurance and risk management advisor focused on the Tucson real estate and human services sectors. A 2011 University of Arizona economics graduate, Ashley serves on the board of Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona and CREW Tucson.
One of Tucson’s 40 under 40 in 2022, Stewart has frequently volunteered with youth-related causes, serving for a time on the board of El Rio Vecinos, a group of young professionals that hosts an annual block party that, over the years, has raised more than $725,000 to support the El Rio Community Health Center. At Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ashley chaired its Diamonds Jubilee Gala in September 2023, which raised $209,518 for youth mentorship in Southern Arizona. On the professional front, Ashley serves on the board of directors of CREW Tucson and received the organization’s President’s Award in 2021. CREW’s mission is to strengthen and expand diversity, equity, and inclusion of women in the real estate industry.
She also is a member of the Tucson Metro Chamber’s Emerging Leaders Council, a young professionals group helping to accelerate the growth of Tucson’s business climate.
Damilola is a product leader with 6+ years of product management experience at Amazon and Whole Foods Market, where she has led zero-to-launch deliveries of multiple large-scale consumer and enterprise applications. Prior, she was a management consultant with experience in financial services, international development, and public policy at KPMG, TechnoServe, and UKAID.
Damilola holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School, and a BSc in Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University.
Damilola is also a writer and culture critic with essays, fiction, and poetry published in Catapult, Brittle Paper, The Bangalore Review, and elsewhere. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from Hedgebrook, Monson Arts, and the Writers’ League of Texas. You can read her work at https://damilolaonwah.com/work.
Kevin Quinlan P.E.
Kevin is an entrepreneur and Principal in the built environment and building design industries with a 17-year track record of success in quality on project design, engineering execution, and quality assurance. He currently serves as a President of Mintropy, which provides mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection consulting engineering services across various market sectors and industries. Kevin is a registered professional engineer, and provides professional engineering services nationwide. Additionally, he serves as a board member of Immerman Angels, a non-profit organization that provides guidance and resources with an emphasis on one-on-one support for cancer fighters and caregivers.
Lance Jones is the Pima Community College Director of Philanthropy and brings decades of experience in government relations, business development, and entrepreneurship. Prior to his work in the nonprofit sector, Lance was a scholarship athlete at University of Arizona who utilized his BS in Political Science and later an MBA from University of Phoenix in technology for AOL, Apple, Google and Simply Bit where he specialized in grant writing. He successfully built strong business relationships and generated revenue as an entrepreneur, commercial real estate developer, and an executive producer in the film industry.
Lance is passionate about raising awareness, growing educational opportunities and advancements for Pima County College Foundation. He has served on various boards such as CODAC, Tohono Chul Park, and Tucson Velodrome. Lance is currently an honorary Commander at David Monthan Air Force Base.
Trevor A. Ledbetter
Trevor is the Senior Director of the University of Arizona Office of Sustainability and provides strategic leadership for, and direction of, the University's sustainability goals and initiatives. He believes the Office should advance the use of campus as a living laboratory and model for experiential education, equipping students to meet global challenges, while also working closely with campus operational units to drive forward the institutionalization of sustainability across the University.
Trevor has directly led and supported efforts that have reduced the University’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30% since 2019. He has also significantly expanded the conversations around sustainability and climate as the Co-Chair for the University of Arizona’s first-ever Sustainability & Climate Action Plan, which will create a roadmap to climate neutrality across the University’s global footprint by 2040 while also setting ambitious goals in water, teaching and learning outcomes, purchasing, and more.
Trevor serves as a member of the Tucson Young Professional’s Advisory Committee and is a voting member of the Environmental Services Advisory Committee for the City of Tucson. He has also served on Mayor Regina Romero's Climate Action Advisory Council, which supported the development of the City of Tucson’s Climate Action & Adaptation Plan.
Frank Vidal is the Founder of Tucson Thrive and hosts a free and virtual networking event every Tuesday at 6pm. Their unique event is the perfect opportunity for working professionals in Tucson to connect and grow, both personally and professionally. Their aim is to foster a supportive community where individuals can come together to share experiences, insights, and encouragement. Their event is structured in two engaging parts: small breakout rooms of four people and a live interview with someone from our Tucson community. Whether you're looking to expand your professional network or seeking a supportive community for personal growth, Tucson Thrive's networking event is the ideal place to be. www.tucsonthrive.org