ASU alum brings innovation to Phoenix community

College of Global Futures graduate encourages collaboration to bring innovative solutions to community challenges

September 13, 2023

Innovation is collaboration.

That’s what Arizona State University alum Michael Hammett learned while pursuing his Master of Science in global technology and development (GTD), and that’s how he operates in his role as chief innovation officer for the city of Phoenix. ASU alum Michael Hammett speaking to an audience in an auditorium. Arizona State University alum Michael Hammett (pictured above, speaking) recently collaborated with over 100 local entrepreneurs and innovators at the city of Phoenix's first-ever innovation challenge. Photo courtesy Michael Hammett Download Full Image

Although there are over 100 chief innovation officers for government entities around the world, Hammett is the first to hold the position for the city of Phoenix, which hosted it’s first-ever innovation challenge this year, bringing over 100 local entrepreneurs and innovators together to explore solutions to problems facing the city and its communities.

“Now, I look at everything through the GTD lens,” said Hammett, a 2015 graduate of the program offered through ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society, an academic unit of the College of Global Futures.

“The idea of co-creating with community first – the true experts – is really key. And sustainability and equity. And what are the unintended consequences? Who wins? Who pays the price? These are the questions I think about.”

His position as chief innovation officer is one that he says he would not have attained if it wasn’t for his education in the GTD program.

“It was the bridge to the chief innovation officer role because it was about equitable development and the role of technology right here in Phoenix,” he said.

Throughout all his various roles for the city, collaboration has remained a consistent theme. Hammett’s goal is to blur the lines between city departments, bring everyone together to address challenges from their own unique perspectives, and maximize the impact for residents.

“And residents are at the center of the process,” he said.

Hammett and his team are currently testing ideas that came out of the innovation challenge, which asked participants to come up with ideas to expand access to chilled drinking water in public spaces.

“It sounds easy, but if you just drop a drinking fountain into a community, it will fail,” Hammett said.

“We have collected data, completed surveys and met with other cities, but it was important to complement that with ideas from our local entrepreneurs and innovators.”

There have been many twists and turns within Hammett’s career leading up to where he is now.

Portrait of ASU alum .

Michael Hammett

After attending ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Hammett spent 15 years as a writer, producer and on-air reporter for three local Arizona stations, followed by a period of freelance work that gave him time to discover new interests.

In 2006, he joined the city of Phoenix as a public information officer for the planning and development department, and eventually spent three years handling communications for eight members of the city council, including the mayor.

It was during this time that Hammett went back to ASU to pursue a Master of Science in global technology and development.

“The more I looked into it, the more I was convinced it was right even though it had nothing to do with my city role at the time,” he said. “It offered a challenge to learn something new and expand my knowledge beyond communications and city administration.”

It was clear to Hammett while studying technology’s role in sustainable development in the Middle East and North Africa that what he was learning could be put to great use in Phoenix.

“Right now, I’m looking at carbon capture technologies to support the city’s climate action goals, digital twins to advance the strategic use of data and modeling, and the opportunities and potential issues related to AI,” he said.

In addition to his work in his current role, Hammett has made a point to remain connected with ASU. He joined the first alumni board for the School for the Future of Innovation and Society and would go on to join the College of Global Futures one as well.

“It keeps you engaged. I also talk to students at career days and encourage colleagues looking for an advanced degree to take a look at the program and the College of Global Futures.”

Matt Oxford

Assistant Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, College of Global Futures


Philanthropy to ASU fuels research, academics, opportunities in FY23

More than $379.3 million in new gifts and commitments raised

September 13, 2023

Arizona State University students, faculty, academic programs and research will benefit from the philanthropy of 107,529 individual, corporate and foundation donors.

The ASU Foundation for A New American University raised more than $379.3 million in new gifts and commitments for the ASU community during fiscal year 2023, which ended June 30. ASU charter sign on West campus Photo of ASU West campus by Charlie Leight/ASU News Download Full Image

In total, there were more than 435,000 gifts to support ASU, 92% of which were under $100.

“We’re extremely appreciative of donors’ generosity to support ASU, its people and its charter,” ASU Foundation CEO Gretchen Buhlig said. “Every gift — large or small — can change futures for ASU students, faculty and the community members who benefit from ASU research and programs.”

The ASU endowment reached $1.47 billion at the end of the fiscal year and provides continuing payments to the university for student scholarships and fellowships, academic programs and research, faculty professorships, directorships and chairs, Sun Devil Athletics and other restricted uses. The endowment posted returns of 10.1%, 9.0% and 7.6% for the trailing three-year, five-year and 10-year periods, outperforming the investments’ strategic benchmark return of 6%–7% for each of those periods.

The endowment is managed by the ASU Foundation and is comprised of more than 2,000 individual accounts that are restricted by donors to a specific use and paid out to the university on a distribution schedule.

“Beyond the strong performance, most importantly, the endowment’s payout to ASU has grown exponentially in recent years and provides a stable and reliable payout to the university that isn’t affected by donor giving trends and market conditions, which enables ASU to make long-term plans to advance its charter and grow,” Chief Investment Officer Jeff Mindlin said.

The ASU Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization that raises and manages private contributions for ASU to ensure as many people as possible have a chance at a better life through its resource-raising efforts.

Infographic with donation numbers

Student scholarships

Student scholarships remain an important passion for ASU donors. More than $39.3 million was raised to support student scholarships.

The Canon Solutions American Environmental Equity Scholarship was established in fiscal year 2023 to empower undergraduate and graduate students to lead environmental stewardship efforts and preserve the national environment.

“The best way for us to make a genuine, lasting impact is to provide for students who will one day be leading the fight for environmental safety,” said Krystal Bird, associate director of strategic partnerships at ASU. “The students who are focused on confronting environmental issues, especially those which impact marginalized communities, are those we want to award with this scholarship.”

Karen Simon, an alumna of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU and Semester at Sea program, established the Karen J. Simon ’83 Semester at Sea Scholarship that enables Thunderbird undergraduate students to spend a semester living and learning on a ship during a three-continent, multicountry voyage.

The Semester at Sea adventure, paired with her Thunderbird education, led to Simon’s passion for global business and wanderlust. She’s hoping her philanthropic investment will enable other students to benefit from similar opportunities.

“The work of higher education has never been more important to the country than it is today, and at Arizona State University much of it is supported and driven by philanthropy,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “We receive funding from multiple sources, but it is the commitment of our philanthropic donors that powers much of our ability to advance research to address global challenges and provides scholarships that expand access to education globally. It is also philanthropy that helps create faculty chairs for academic units and expand enrichment opportunities for both student and faculty.

"We are grateful beyond measure to our donors and to the work of the ASU Foundation that provides the support to make this happen."

Philanthropy for research

Donors supported research focused on the health of humans and the planet during the year.

A $15 million donation from the Dorrance family and the Dorrance Family Foundation is being combined with funding from U.S. Senator Brian Schatz’s office, the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and ASU to help preserve and restore vitality to Hawaii's coral reefs and the health of its coastlines.

Greg Asner, an ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory scientist and director of ASU’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science in Hawaii, and a team of colleagues are leading the research.

"It is our kuleanaKuleana is the Hawaiian word for responsibility. Source: PBS to protect and care for what we love, our coral reefs and the species they harbor, and all of Hawaii,” said Jacquie and Bennett Dorrance in a joint statement in June. “Success in saving our reefs relies on ‘laulima,’ many hands working together. The Dorrance family and the Dorrance Family Foundation hope this investment ignites action and vital funding, and we encourage others to join us in support of this tremendous effort. The time is now.”

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research donated more than $5 million to further ongoing Parkinson’s disease research with Jeffrey Kordower, founding director of the ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center and the Charlene and J. Orin Edson Distinguished director at the Biodesign Institute at ASU.

ASU received a $750,000 grant from Genentech and Genentech Foundation’s Health Equity and Diversity in STEM Innovation Fund to advance and support research for equitable Indigenous health and well-being.

Angela Gonzales, associate professor in the School of Social Transformation and a health solutions ambassador in the College of Health Solutions, and Nate Wade, assistant vice president of operations for ASU Health and research assistant professor in the College of Health Solutions, are co-principal investigators who will work with Native communities and a team of 30 Native and non-Native faculty.

Infographic with donation numbers

Giving to athletics

Sun Devil Athletics received $30.5 million from donors. Those gifts are earmarked for facility upgrades and student-athletes’ mental health.

An investment from Mary Massman will establish the Massman Musco Behavioral Health Center at ASU to provide mental and behavioral health support for Sun Devil athletes. The program aims to design and deliver team- or cohort-based psychoeducation, peak performance skills, preventive training and sport psychology in the student-athlete population. 

Inasmuch Foundation awarded the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication a $125,000 grant to fund investigative reporting initiatives, including the Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Investigative Journalism. The visiting professorship in spring 2023 was held by Ken Foskett, who retired from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after a 32-year career.  

In addition to receiving private support, there are about 24,000 gifts totaling $3.5 million from faculty and staff to support passions they care about.

Philanthropy for academic programs

The W. P. Carey School of Business established a new finance lab thanks to the generous support of Schwab Advisor Services, in partnership with the Charles Schwab Foundation.

The Charles Schwab Foundation Financial Access and Research Lab will provide financial access and literacy tools, experiential learning opportunities for students and information for student asset managers, some of whom manage money on behalf of ASU Foundation’s endowment through the Student Investment Management program.

Infographics courtesy ASU Outreach Hub

Michelle Stermole

Senior Director, Public Relations and Strategic Communications, ASU Enterprise Partners