June 28, 2022

Three emerging leaders from the Arizona State University community were chosen for the 2022 class of Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Awards.

Ashlee Atkins, diversity manager for ASU Enterprise Partners, Jacqueline Smith, vice president of presidential advancement for the ASU Foundation, and Adam Deguire, vice president of government affairs at in the Office of Government and Community Engagement at ASU, were among the 40 winners selected from about 350 nominations.

The employees will be recognized by the media outlet for their community leadership, professional accomplishments and personal achievements during a virtual ceremony on Aug. 4.

About the honorees:

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Ashlee Atkins

Atkins, 36, joined ASU Enterprise Partners in January 2021 to oversee design and implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, education and partnerships. ASU Enterprise Partners is a private, nonprofit organization designed to create solutions and generate resources to extend ASU’s reach and advance its charter.

She established an employee diversity dashboard that tracks the company’s employee demographics, developed strategies to diversify the organization’s workforce and assisted with an audit to ensure equity in salaries and promotions across the organization. She leads the justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) advisory committee, which implemented a diversity awareness month series and two forums to increase learning and discussion around race and ethnicity: JEDTalks and Conversations for Change. She was awarded an inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Keeping the Dream Alive Award in 2022 by the city of Chandler for helping the city move forward culturally.

“Ashlee has implemented meaningful ways for employees to learn about different cultures and find ways to work better together,” said Gina Miller, ASU Enterprise Partners chief People officer.

Atkins is one of the program managers and existing mentors for the Young Professionals CoNext mentorship and leadership program, which builds relationships between college students and young Black professionals. She serves as the president of the Greater Phoenix Urban League Young Professionals.

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Jacqueline Smith

Smith, 38, joined the ASU Foundation in January 2020, where she collaborates with philanthropic organizations and university leaders on transformational philanthropy goals. Smith began her career in 2009 at ASU as an inaugural innovation fellow, advancing her career to associate vice president and executive director of university initiatives. She designed, launched and oversaw initiatives for social embeddedness, global engagement and university transformation. Smith cultivated a partnership between ASU and the Mastercard Foundation, which began with a leadership-scholarship program for 120 underprivileged students from 20 African nations. Building off that first grant, she has helped raise $100 million from that foundation alone.

“Jacqueline is very committed to ASU and aligning organizational investors with ASU’s charter on a global scale,” ASU Foundation CEO Gretchen Buhlig said. “She’s orchestrating moonshot projects that would have a significant societal impact.”

Smith has taught ASU courses in civic leadership, cross sector collaboration, university design and higher education law. When Smith isn’t advancing higher education at ASU, she serves as a publicly elected board member for the Maricopa County Community Colleges Governing Board. She also serves on the board of SeeMore Impact Labs, where she helps the nonprofit’s leadership develop a community-focused strategy that leverages tools and courses to improve high school graduation rates and enhance college access and completion.

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Adam Deguire

Deguire, 38, was appointed vice president of government affairs at ASU in December after serving as interim vice president for six months. He oversees engagement with elected officials and policymakers at the federal, state, county, municipal and tribal levels. Deguire directs ASU’s public policy agenda, monitors political issues that could impact the university and higher education, and oversees engagement with organizations, nonprofits and community partners.

He has managed numerous successful political campaigns, including the nation’s first Latina governor in New Mexico in 2010. By age 29, he was one of the youngest chiefs of staff on Capitol Hill, managing a multimillion-dollar budget, running two offices 2,000 miles apart and leading a staff that was mostly older than him. In 2017 he earned the American Association of Political Consultants “40 under 40” rising star award for his career accomplishments.  

Deguire is an Eagle Scout and is board chairman of the Phoenix East Valley Partnership. He serves as a Big Brother mentor for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization and was a Flinn-Brown Fellow for the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership.

"Adam is committed to helping ASU serve the many communities of which we are a part,” said Jim O’Brien, senior vice president of university affairs and chief of staff to ASU President Michael Crow. “He brings a very thoughtful and steady approach to helping advance and grow ASU’s relationships with Arizona’s elected officials and civic leaders. We’re fortunate to have Adam as part of the ASU team.”

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications , ASU Enterprise Partners

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