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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Sharon Harper

Chairman & CEO

Plaza Companies

Location: Phoenix, AZ

Founded: 1982

Industry: Commercial Real Estate

In 1982, Sharon Harper identified an opportunity to fill a need for healthcare and senior living facilities in the West Valley of the Phoenix area. 

She founded Plaza Companies in order to purchase a large parcel of land and create the Plaza Del Rio Campus, which is still the largest non-hospital campus in Arizona. Plaza Companies expanded from there, growing its portfolio with additional developments. 

Another milestone for the company was in the mid-2000s when it developed SkySong, the Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center. Harper and Plaza Companies helped to transform what was once a dying mall property into one of the largest economic engines in the Southwestern United States. 

Plaza Companies replicated this approach in the redevelopment of the Park Central property in central Phoenix, another mall property that is now a hub for business, education, healthcare and the arts. Creighton University recently opened its new $100 million Health Sciences Building on the Park Central campus.  

“Throughout this time, Harper’s influence in commercial real estate has grown, but she also has emerged as one of the preeminent business leaders in the state of Arizona,” Harper’s team said. “Her impact on public policy in the state has been significant, and her work in economic development has supported the creation of thousands of new jobs for Arizona residents.”  

As CEO, chairman and co-founder of Plaza Companies, Harper oversees all facets of company operations, including ownership, development, leasing or management of nearly 13 million square feet of Arizona projects, healthcare companies, senior living communities and bioscience centers. 

Harper was named among the 2019 Leaders of the Year in Public Policy for the Economy by Arizona Capitol Times, earned recognition as 2017’s Woman of the Year by Valley Leadership and was listed among the Phoenix Business Journal’s Landmark Leaders the year prior. In 2019, she was inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2021.   

In 2020, Harper co-founded the Arizona PPE Initiative in response to the pandemic and a shortage of protective equipment for hospital workers, nonprofits, public safety and first responders. The Initiative delivered 11 million units and six tons of equipment to the state of Arizona.  

“I have worked diligently over the years to support organizations and initiatives that make our community a better place to live, and I will continue to do so in the future,” Harper said. “This includes working in economic development, education, philanthropy, the arts and so many other disciplines that contribute to our overall quality of life.” 

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Did you know?

Harper’s leadership roles began at a young age — at age 10, she was elected President of the Ricky Nelson Fan Club in her hometown in Minnesota.


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