Chair – Arizona Corporation Commission
By Tara Kirkpatrick
In state matters of corporate, energy and public policy, Lea Márquez Peterson often finds herself the lone voice from Southern Arizona.
The region couldn’t be better served.
The chairwoman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, former president of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, former U.S. congressional candidate, mother of two and business owner is an icon of public service to the community where she was raised. The number of organizations she has served over the years is eclipsed only by the number of miles she drives across the state each week.
“We need to see more of Southern Arizona in statewide decisions,” Peterson said. “I really try to encourage others to participate, so our perspective is heard.”
The product of an entrepreneurial family, Peterson grew up watching her grandparents run a successful tortilla factory and a turquoise shop. She and brother Edmund would call customers for their dad’s insurance company and wait tables at their mom’s community theater. “They always told us, you can accomplish what you set your mind to and build your future,” she said.
A University of Arizona graduate with an MBA from Pepperdine University, Peterson devoted seven years to Shell Oil, owned several gas stations and opened a business brokerage firm. She led Greater Tucson Leadership as its executive director before becoming president of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber, where she worked to give a voice to small business owners.
“I really started speaking up and writing letters,” she said. “We made some pretty brave statements. I took criticism and I had support, but I was a spokesperson and I knew who I was representing.”
After a run for U.S. Congress in 2018, Gov. Doug Ducey appointed Peterson to the ACC. She became the first Latina in Arizona history to hold a statewide seat and the only representative outside Maricopa County. Decisions about clean energy, climate change and water shortages now fill her day. She was just appointed to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Nuclear Energy Subcommittee.
“Lea’s willingness to serve the families and businesses of Arizona is well-known,” said Ducey. “She has always been willing to use her extensive leadership experience to make our state a better place to live and work.”
“I’m representing the rate payers,” Peterson said. “Even though I’m regulating some of the largest employers and utilities, I’m representing the people who can’t be at the table.”