By Romi Carrell Wittman –
2017 Greater Tucson Leadership Alumni Excellence Award
That’s how many miles Damion Alexander estimates he’s ridden over the past decade. Cycling is a big part of his life, yet community collaboration and connection are his true passions. It’s also the reason he will receive the first Greater Tucson Leadership Alumni Excellence Award.
“GTL has graduated some exceptional community leaders over the course of its 38-year history,” said Kasey Hill, GTL’s executive director. “The Alumni Excellence Award is a way to acknowledge the positive impact these graduates have had on Tucson and Southern Arizona.”
Wendi Lucas, adviser with Horizon Lines, nominated Alexander for the award. “He’s been involved in Tucson for over 30 years,” she said. “He’s a Realtor, but he’s not just looking to sell homes. He takes time with new homebuyers, especially those new to Tucson, to determine their interests and strengths and connect them to community. He really is a community connector focused on collaboration. Damion’s mindset is if you can get everyone at table, you will find solutions that will benefit all,” she said. “He brings that attitude to everything and builds up our entire community.”
Alexander grew up in Telluride, Colorado, when it was a small town of just 600. “What you learn growing up in small-town America is an appreciation and a necessity to work with different people,” he said. “You also get to see that even if you completely disagree with someone on many topics, you still have far more in common than different. You don’t have the option of finding your little niche and living in isolation.”
This experience shaped Alexander’s outlook and instilled in him a strong belief that everyone brings something positive to the table. He’s applied this approach to some pretty ambitious projects, most recently creating a plan for the Tucson Origins Park near downtown.
The park will be located at the foot of Sentinel Peak, or “A” Mountain, south of Mercado San Agustin and the future Caterpillar regional office and will feature the Convento, a Hohokam Village, the Carrillo House, wildlife corridor, 25-acres of open space with native plants, walking and jogging paths, a bike park with six venues, three used in the Olympics, a Velodrome, BMX, and a mountain bike skills park. It will be on Tucson’s 140-mile multiuse trail, The Loop.
Alexander feels the park will be boon to Tucson. Even though the bond to finance a velodrome failed to pass in 2015, he continues working to build support for the project because he feels the financial investment would reap major returns, attracting new businesses and talent.
Alexander knows that garnering support from all stakeholders won’t be easy. “We’re connecting with people who don’t agree, but we are building understanding that if we work together, our ultimate goals can be achieved,” he said.
Alexander has volunteered at a variety of organizations – Look! Save a Life, the Arizona Bicycle Center, El Grupo Youth Cycling, Tu Nidito, and the Tucson Association of Realtors’ government affairs committee, to name a few. In 2011, he was named one of the Arizona Daily Star’s 40 Under 40. He currently serves in the appointed position of Pima County Parks and Recreation commissioner. He also is an avid photographer and a fixture at local cycling events.
Despite his intense schedule, Alexander said, “I have not missed an El Tour de Tucson since I rode my first one. I try and ride every day. Frequently, I commute to my Long Realty Office on The Loop. I feel The Loop is the best infrastructure project Pima County has created. Even on days when I don’t ride, I frequently will go out for a lunch walk.”
Lucas said Alexander deserves the GTL award for one simple reason: “He spends more time, professionally and personally, giving to the Greater Tucson area – creating a legacy of volunteerism and sustainability within our community – than any other full-time working professional with an active family I have met.”
Alexander said he seeks to build up others so that the community will see positive change for years to come. “It’s not enough for me to bring about change in our community today. My ultimate goal is to create new leaders who will continue to impact change long after I’m gone.”
Alexander will be honored at the GTL Man, Woman and Founder Awards Gala on Feb. 3 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. GTL’s Hill said, “We want to celebrate the tremendous contributions of our alumni and, by doing so, share story of our organization’s success and the collective impact GTL has had on the community at large.”