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FTF State Board Vice Chair honored as business champion for early education

Steve Lynn, Awarded the 2024 Business Champion for Early Education Award at the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona Women United Business Breakfast in Tucson

First Things First State Board Vice Chair Steve Lynn recently received the 2024 Business Champion for Early Education Award at the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona Women United Business Breakfast in Tucson. 

The award recognizes a person from the business community who has significantly contributed to the quality and access of early childhood education in Tucson and southern Arizona. 

Corie McGrath, vice president regional sales leader of PNC Bank presented Lynn with the award Feb. 15 at the breakfast with about 700 attendees. She described Lynn as an early education advocate for decades. 

“He is personally committed to helping more children in the state access early learning and has used his sphere of influence to bring others along,” McGrath said.

He “has made a significant impact on early childhood, not only locally, but for children across the state, as well. Locally, he is a founding contributor to the Pima Early Education Program, or PEEPs. This program has helped more than 1,000 children gain access to early childhood education in Pima County. Lynn was instrumental in helping develop a funding strategy for this groundbreaking local investment. This multijurisdictional effort is changing young lives and helping break the cycle of poverty right now in Pima County.”

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She spoke of Lynn’s “strong professional background as a communications specialist and has used his expertise to advocate for our children and in turn to the future economic health of our community.

He has consistently served as a bridge between the business community and children’s advocacy groups to harness their combined influence into a single force to advance early learning.”

Lynn, who was an inaugural member of the FTF State Board from 2007-2015 and recently returned for a second stint on the board, is currently retired. 

He spent most of his career in various business leadership positions, most notably as the Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at both UniSource Energy Corporation and Tucson Electric Power Company from 2000-2015, and from 1984-2000 as CEO and owner-partner at Nordensson Lynn & Associates, Inc., one of Arizona’s leading marketing communications firms based in Tucson.

Lynn thanked the United Way for the award and shared a story of a presentation he attended as a member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. The presenter, a state economic leader, talked about the economic future of southern Arizona.

“One of the things they said, is that between 2030 and 2050 the jobs that that will be created in this community, if we are to be economically vital, outnumber the number of children that we currently have or are projected to have in the community,” Lynn said.

“That means we cannot afford to lose one child between now and then to take those jobs and become part of a vital community that we want our future to be. So every child in the state, particularly, every child in Tucson and Pima County, needs to have the kind of head start in early childhood quality education so that they read at third grade, do math by fifth grade, graduate 12th grade and go on to either get a certification or post-secondary education at a community college or university. Every single child.”

He also appealed to the business leaders in the room. 

“If you ever thought about getting engaged in the community, this is the subject that I implore you to put on the top of the list,” Lynn said.

“You cannot invest better or more in the future of this community unless you invest in our next generation. Why would you invest in early childhood education? It’s because it’s where our future is and it’s the only future we’ve got. Putting money in this endeavor will ensure that the future of this community and all of our communities is the best it can be.”

Lynn is a University of Arizona graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in communications. In 2007, the University of Arizona Alumni Association presented him with the Distinguished Citizen Award.

In 2009, he received a Doctor of Letters degree from the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Education.

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