By Romi Carrell Wittman
Since its founding in 1997, SALC has grown from a membership of seven local business leaders to more than 140 members who represent an incredible diversity of thought, sectors and vision for Southern Arizona.
Over the past 25 years, SALC has become a respected and trusted voice on public policy through the lens of business at the local and state levels. This sterling reputation would not have been possible without the contributions of its members, each of whom is a distinguished leader in their own right.
Si Schorr was one of SALC’s seven founding members. A resident of Tucson since moving here in 1957, Schorr worked as an attorney in his ‘day job’ and devoted himself to numerous civic roles in his spare time, including service on the Governor’s Economic Planning and Development Advisory Board, Chair of the Tucson Pima County Commission on Improved Government Management, the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Commission and the Tucson Airport Authority.
Schorr was instrumental in the formation of SALC and provided a significant voice for many years on its board of directors. “We grew slowly, but surely,” he said. “We understood as we evolved that we needed broader, more diverse representation and that our mission needed to expand beyond immediate business issues. We realized that we needed an increasingly expansive view of community betterment.”
Now retired, Schorr remains very active at SALC as co-chair of its Governance Focus Area.
Melanie Rice joined SALC last year. Rice serves as VP of the Southern Arizona Division for Southwest Gas, an organization that has long contributed its voice and expertise to SALC. Rice joined Southwest Gas in 2008 and has held a variety of positions with increasing responsibility.
A resident of Tucson for the past 23 years, Rice is familiar with the issues affecting both the economy and quality of life in the region. She respects SALC and the work of the organization. “SALC’s biggest strength is the collaborative, bipartisan approach that it employs on all sectors and sizes of the region’s business community,” she said. “Seeking and leveraging different perspectives from across [SALC’s] organization results in better solutions.”
While Rice is new to SALC, Southwest Gas has long been an active supporter. Rice takes the SALC reins from Southwest Gas’s Julie Williams, who served as SALC’s Board Chair before being promoted to Southwest Gas’s chief operating officer and relocating to the company’s headquarters in Las Vegas.
As she takes on this new role, Rice said she looks forward to working in the key areas of education and infrastructure. “With my engineering background, I’m pretty passionate about quality infrastructure and energy systems that are appropriately sized for current needs, but flexible enough to accommodate future needs sustainably and efficiently,” she said. “We need creative solutions that foresee future challenges without an adverse economic impact to our communities.”
Rice looks forward to getting involved in the issues affecting the region. “SALC’s goals align well with our company’s, and I look forward to the opportunity,” she said.
Schorr added, “[SALC’s] goal is never to tell people what to do but to convene and partner with others working in the same venue. We believe that through cumulative effort and collaboration we can get things done.”
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