By Romi Carrell Wittman –
2015 Tucson Man of the Year – Fletcher McCusker
“It’s the kind of thing that if they’d asked me, I probably would have said no,” joked Fletcher McCusker, Greater Tucson Leadership’s 2015 Man of the Year. “It was humbling … I see it more as a recognition of the downtown village that I’ve come to be a part of.”
A Tucson native and successful entrepreneur, McCusker has long been an advocate for the city, in particular the revitalization of Tucson’s downtown.
Gabriela Cervantes, of AGM Container Controls, was McCusker’s mentee in the mentorship program of the Tucson Metro Chamber’s Emerging Leaders Council. She nominated him for the award.
“Mr. McCusker has done so much for Tucson and is such a business success story that people forget about his humble beginnings,” she said. “He came from nothing and did so much with the opportunities that he was presented with. To me, that’s the real story about Mr. McCusker; that’s what I find most inspirational.”
A graduate of the University of Arizona, McCusker founded Providence Service Corporation, a national leader in health-risk assessment and workforce development, and located its headquarters in Tucson’s downtown. He has since gone on to found and serve as CEO of Sinfonía HealthCare and its affiliate operations: Sinfonía Rx, Assurance HealthCare and Assurance Health & Wellness.
McCusker gives generously of his time and resources to several local organizations and nonprofits, including Rio Nuevo, UA Eller College of Management, Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation, Tucson Metro Chamber, Arizona Theatre Company, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson Museum of Art, YMCA of Southern Arizona, Sun Corridor (formerly TREO) and the Downtown Partnership.
But it’s arguably his contribution to the revitalization of downtown for which he’s most well-known. He is co-founder of 2nd Saturdays, the popular event in which downtown businesses stay open late to welcome residents. Live music, food and street vendors add to the fun and eclectic atmosphere.
Appointed by the state legislature, he is also chairman of the Rio Nuevo board, a project that was initially plagued with controversy. Under his leadership, the Rio Nuevo project is now recognized nationally for transforming Tucson’s downtown.
Mark Irvin, of Mark Irvin Commercial Real Estate Services, worked extensively with McCusker on the Rio Nuevo project. “To be blunt, if were not for him, I would have stepped away from Rio Nuevo a long time ago,” he said. “He has been a rainmaker, and this community is damn lucky to have him in our midst.”
McCusker is a committed advocate for Tucson and has made a point of locating his multimillion dollar businesses in Tucson’s downtown. He also helped establish the National Institute of Civil Discourse and worked to have the future January 8 Memorial located downtown. This “skin in the game” approach has inspired other businesses to follow his lead and locate their businesses in the city’s center. The economic benefits from this are immeasurable.
“He does not get paid for his efforts in our downtown and our community,” Irvin said. “Leadership takes guts, courage and vision. Fletcher has all of these things and more.”
Cervantes said McCusker’s efforts help to make Tucson an appealing place to live for both current and prospective residents. A vital downtown helps attract new businesses and retain talent, two key ingredients necessary for Tucson to thrive both now and in the future.
“When I was paired with him as part of the Emerging Leaders Council’s mentorship program, I was incredibly astounded with Mr. McCusker as a person,” she said. “He has truly come from humble beginnings, overcome great personal loss at a young age, and aimed to serve others as his life’s purpose. As someone who comes from a similar background, I thought, ‘If he can make it, I can make it.’ ”
McCusker is quick to deflect the praise and give it to others. “It’s a group of passionate people who are local. When Rio Nuevo failed, we engaged ourselves into revitalizing downtown. It’s been a real pleasure to be involved with it. It’s more about ‘we’ than anything I may or may not have done personally. It’s the whole region that celebrates our success downtown.”
Reflecting on the award, McCusker said, “My grandfather came to Tucson in 1930 to lay sidewalks downtown as part of the Works Progress Administration. For his grandson to be recognized two generations later is really an honor for me.”