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ASU community leaders honored with Phoenix Business Journal 40 Under 40 awards


Logo reading "40 under 40"

Image courtesy Phoenix Business Journal

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August 02, 2023

Three rising leaders from the Arizona State University community have been chosen for the 2023 class of Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 awards.

The three Sun Devil awardees, who were among 40 winners chosen from more than 300 nominations, are:

• Kyle Siegal, senior vice president and chief patent counsel for Skysong Innovations.

• Scott Nelson, senior associate athletic director and vice president of fundraising for Sun Devil Athletics with the ASU Foundation.

• Jeff Kunowski, associate director of innovation programs for the ASU’s Global Sport Institute and J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute.

The employees will be recognized by the media outlet for their community leadership, professional accomplishments and personal achievements during an in-person awards ceremony on Aug. 3.

About the honorees:

Portrait of

Kyle Siegal

Kyle Siegal, 38, joined Skysong Innovations, the nonprofit technology transfer organization for ASU, six years ago and oversees a team that protects ASU innovations, negotiates technology licensing deals and helps entrepreneurs advance new technology companies in the Valley.

His team helped ASU rank in the top 10 among U.S. universities granted U.S. patents in 2022 for the fifth consecutive year.

For the past five years, Siegal has served as a volunteer leader and mentor for the Association of University Technology Managers, receiving a volunteer service award in 2020. He is helping secure long-term food resources for West Thunderbird Community Care Center, which runs After the Bell, a low-cost after-school program. In recent years, he began volunteering at Future Stars AZ’s annual Hands On STEM Fair, which provides hands-on educational activities for youth.

“Kyle is integral in helping translate ASU's intellectual products and research into real-world impact,” Skysong Innovations CEO Augie Cheng said. “He is an invaluable asset to our team, to the university's researchers, and to the local economic and innovation ecosystem.”

 poses for a headshot wearing a gray blzer and plaid dress shirt

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson, 39 at the time of nomination, oversees athletic fundraising and fundraisers for cultural affairs, educational outreach and student services. Scott also serves as the senior associate athletic director and executive director of Sun Devil Club.

During his ASU career, he and his team have closed $179 million in gifts and commitments, including Sun Devil Stadium Community Union 365, Papago Golf Course upgrades, establishment of Mullett Arena and endowed athletic scholarships.

Nelson has served on the sports business advisory board at W. P. Carey School of Business since 2018 where he assists with program and curriculum updates, mentorship programs, career development, and alumni outreach and engagement.

He serves as an advocate and member of the Arizona Alliance for Golf, which provides leadership, stewardship and support to the local golf industry.

“Scott has been a wonderful asset to athletics fundraising and an advocate for ASU,” ASU Foundation CEO Gretchen Buhlig said. “Under his leadership, we have been able to raise money for mental health, nutrition, Title IX, support for all 26 sports and much more.”

Skysong Innovations and ASU Foundation are business units of ASU Enterprise Partners, a private, nonprofit parent company designed to create solutions and generate resources to extend ASU’s reach and advance its charter.

 poses for a headshot outside wearing a blue suit and white dress shirt

Jeff Kunowski

Jeff Kunowski, 34 at the time of the nomination, works directly with ventures looking to bring sport-related ventures to market. He oversees all sport-specific venture development and funding programs, manages the Global Sport Institute's external innovation partnerships, and mentors student and professional athletes as they pursue entrepreneurial endeavors.

In addition to his work at ASU, Jeff leads sport-specific strategy efforts for R/GA Ventures — the venture capital arm of R/GA, a global ad agency based in New York.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative studies from the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences in 2011, and started his first company, Illumin8 Outdoor Media, as a student after receiving a $10,000 grant from the Edson Entrepreneur Initiative. He was named Arizona’s 2014 Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration Arizona District Office.

Kunowski returned to ASU in 2016 to mentor other startups and later proposed and built the sports innovation program within the Global Sport Institute and J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute. He has provided nearly $400,000 in grant funding to early-stage entrepreneurs.

“Jeff gives us a strategic advantage. He has developed relationships and established partnerships globally that consistently put ASU in spaces where there are no other universities,” Global Sport Institute Director Scott Brooks said. “In addition to advancing ASU’s commitment to innovation in sport, Jeff leads (the institute's) business development and is a sought-after subject matter expert.”

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