2019 Tucson Man of the Year
By Romi Carrell Wittman
Feeling a bit jet lagged after his flight home from a trip to New Zealand, Mark Irvin was looking forward to a quiet day at the office to catch up on work. With just one appointment on the calendar – a 12:40 meeting with his good friend and colleague Ali Farhang – Irvin put his nose down and set to work.
“I thought that meeting time was strange,” Irvin said of the appointment with Farhang, a co-founder of the Farhang & Medcoff law firm. “I called his associate and asked what it was about. She rattled off a whole list of things and asked me to come to Ali’s office.”
Still thinking the meeting had to do with work, Irvin entered the fourth-floor conference room and found a room full of loved ones, colleagues and Kasey Hill, executive director of Greater Tucson Leadership. Irvin’s initial thought was the gathering might be a belated birthday celebration, though that didn’t make much sense to him.
When Hill announced that he had been named GTL 2019 Man of the Year, Irvin was floored. “To say I was shocked is an understatement,” he said. “For the first time in my life, I was speechless.”
The GTL Man of the Year award is given each year to honorees who distinguish themselves with active support of a community project, demonstrate excellence in leadership and serve as an inspiration to others.
Irvin is a leader in Tucson’s commercial real estate industry and has more than 35 years’ experience in consulting, development and brokerage. He was one of the founding partners of PICOR, then left in 1995 to form his own firm focused on office, medical and investment real estate.
Irvin’s community service is impressive, having served in various capacities for many nonprofits – including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson, Pima Community College Foundation, Rotary Club of Tucson and American Red Cross of Southern Arizona. Irvin has volunteered his time for the last 10 years to the Rio Nuevo downtown redevelopment effort. He is recognized as one of the founders of the post-season college Arizona Bowl, and for bringing professional hockey and indoor arena football teams to Tucson.
Irvin serves as an emeritus honorary commander of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, working to promote the base’s interests in the community.
Currently, he’s lending his talents to help renovate the current youth center on base and re-create what is essentially a Boys and Girls’ Club – an organization he’s supported for the past 30 years. The goal is a Youth Center of Excellence that will engage Tucson nonprofit organizations and provide a facility and space for them to help with the mission. Irvin said the redesign of the youth center is a model he hopes will serve as a blueprint for communities across the nation
Given his long list of contributions and service, many people refer to Irvin as “Mr. Tucson.” Farhang said, “It isn’t just a nickname – it’s a lifestyle for him. He’s the perfect example of what needs to be done to lead Tucson and the region forward.”
Much of Irvin’s success can be attributed to his ability to listen, bring people together and foster collaboration. “Mark provides a platform for discussion so individuals and groups can work collaboratively to problem-solve, cultivate appreciation for differing perspectives and inspire others to lead in and around Tucson,” said Timothy M. Medcoff of Farhang & Medcoff.
Farhang added, “Mark is a born leader who is all about collaboration, teamwork and doing things the right way. He’s selfless, shuns individual notoriety and always tries to shift attention to the contributions of others. Mark is an inspiration to the vast amount of good one person can bring to the world.”
Kym Adair, executive director of the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, said Irvin is dedicated to improving Tucson and the lives of its residents. “Mark has impacted this community in more ways than one person can count,” she said. “He’s an incredible example of what true leadership and humility looks like.“
Irvin said he’s humbled by this honor. “I’m better at handing out awards than receiving them,” he said. “I don’t think you do things for recognition. I grew up in a family that said you should contribute whatever you have – whether it’s time, money or influence. You must use it positively.”