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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Jamie Heckerman

President & CEO

Special Olympics Arizona

Location: Goodyear

Founded: 1975

Industry: Nonprofit

Jamie Heckerman joined Special Olympics Arizona in 2010, initially working in an assistant role, handling paperwork and certifications. Over the years, she took on various responsibilities, including running sports competitions and events as an area director and supervising a team of six staff members to ensure the delivery of high-quality competitions and events across the state. During her tenure as an area staff member, Heckerman expanded athlete participation from 2,000 to more than 7,000 and introduced new competitions to provide additional opportunities for athletes.

In 2016, Heckerman assumed a senior leadership role through which she further honed her skills in fundraising by securing in-kind donations and overseeing an Area Development Committee aimed at raising funds to support programs. In 2018, when the previous leader left for another organization, Heckerman was selected as the interim president and CEO. In October 2018, she was officially appointed as the president and CEO of Special Olympics Arizona.

“I had been with Special Olympics Arizona for eight years, in several different roles, prior to pursuing the CEO position,” Heckerman said. “I did not feel prepared professionally to pursue this position; however, I had worked for a long time to help build a program that I was very proud of and wanted to continue to support and grow. Pursuing the CEO role as a female and someone with a disability was incredibly daunting, but I felt I owed it to myself and the organization to challenge myself to lead.”

Heckerman guided the organization through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. She ensured the continuity of staff positions and transitioned programming to allow athletes to continue participating in Special Olympics Arizona’s activities. The organization not only maintained positive revenue during the pandemic but also secured more than $2.3 million in state government funding to support health and Unified Champion Schools initiatives.

Heckerman envisions expanding athlete participation numbers to 25,000, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, and increasing the number of schools participating in Unified Champion Schools to at least 300.

Heckerman takes pride in being named president and CEO of Special Olympics Arizona, as well as being honored in the Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 class of 2021. However, her most significant source of pride stems from the accomplishments made during the pandemic. Heckerman’s leadership and the dedication of the organization’s team allowed the nonprofit to finish each of the last three years with positive revenue.

Presented by:

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Comerica Bank

I played wheelchair basketball in college at the University of Arizona and was named co-captain of the Under 23 women’s team that competed in Sydney, Australia in 2005.


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