Linda Morales

Owner & CEO, The Planning Center

By Tiffany Kjos

When there’s good news about Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, it’s often been Linda Morales delivering it.  

Morales is president of DM50, a nonprofit group dedicated to the base’s viability, especially with the impending retirement of the A-10 aircraft. DM employs around 19,000 people locally and has an estimated economic impact of $2.6 billion, so it’s vital for it to remain vibrant.

The base will soon have a new special operations wing as part of the Air Force Special Operations Command and DM’s combat search and rescue mission. “It preserves the flying mission, as we’ve always advocated at the DM50, and it keeps the personnel levels the same or maybe even more,” she said. 

In addition to her DM50 leadership, Morales is owner and CEO of The Planning Center, which works with local governments, property owners, developers and builders. Its projects include master planning the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa years ago and communities such as Rancho Sahuarita and Dove Mountain.

To ensure the Arizona Congressional delegation knows about DM’s considerable impact, in its mission statement, the organization states: “DM50 Advocates for the continued presence of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ, supports its Airmen, and educates the community on the importance of DM to the local economy and national defense.”

Morales became head of DM50 after COVID-19 hit and kept people involved and organized, said Tom Murphy, a DM50 member and past president. “It’s been a trying time because the base is going through a change,” Murphy said. “She’s just been remarkable.”

Traveling to the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon to advocate for DM and running an 11-person firm has been akin to working two full-time jobs, she mused.

Morales holds two national positions with the military: an alternate on the Air Combat Command’s Commander Group, a civic leader organization; and a civic leader for the Air and Space Command. Though she cedes the presidency of DM50 to Jay Bickley in May, she’ll remain involved, having been a member since 2010.

She serves as a commissioner for Pima County’s Regional Affordable Housing Commission and is a longtime board member of the Metropolitan Pima Alliance. “It’s a very important organization for my business for what we do to advocate for responsible and good development policies in the greater commercial real estate economy,” Morales said.

The Nebraska native holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in planning from the University of Arizona. A mom of two, she celebrates 28 years with her husband Albert in June. 

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