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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Shawn Pearson

Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Zion Institute

Location: Phoenix

Founded: 2003

Industry: Nonprofit

Shawn Pearson founded Zion Institute in 2003 and has seen the nonprofit grow from humble beginnings to a thriving organization, doubling its annual revenue and incubating other social impact businesses. By leveraging her experience and expertise, Pearson has multiplied the reach of this mission, training and mentoring new social impact entrepreneurs, particularly women, through her consulting firm, W.I.S.P. Consulting. Her ultimate goal is to help women entrepreneurs monetize their missions, creating personal wealth and making a significant community impact.

Zion Institute stands as a beacon of change, dedicated to transforming people, communities and the marketplace. Through the development of social impact business models, Pearson and her team teach residents and organizations how to replicate these models, breaking the cycles of poverty, the nonprofit said.

The organization’s current models include a childcare preschool and an integrated healthcare business, with plans to launch more businesses focused on addressing social determinants of health. Zion Institute operates a campus in South Phoenix to house community resources and incubate at least three of the more than 50 businesses it has helped to launch.

This is Pearson’s second time being named to the Phoenix Titan 100 list.

“As a 2022 honoree, I stood among leaders and influencers that are doing phenomenal work,” Pearson said. “Coming out of the shadows to be a visible change-maker caused me to reflect on my accomplishments as a founder and CEO. I began to recognize accomplishments that previously seemed so simple as extremely impactful change in the lives of my fellow residents, as well as in my family. I had to see myself through a different lens, and I chose to be more intentional with my influence and abilities.

“In the last year … I’ve leveraged this opportunity to increase my exposure and voice for women in business. I trained seven new businesses, and I am actively mentoring five new social impact entrepreneurs. My intentional goal is to replicate and exceed my personal success of turning a dream into a multimillion-dollar social impact business.”

Pearson said it took a long time before she found where to focus her talents for maximum impact.

“Leaders sacrifice a great deal to achieve success. The riskiest action I took was taking a chance on me,” Pearson said. “With a high school education and above average intellect, I spent decades investing in the building of wealth for other organizations through the use of my gifts, talents and abilities. None of this wealth contributed to the legacy I should have been building for my children and their children.

“Today, as a social impact entrepreneur, I am able to pursue the fulfillment of my personal mission to break cycles of generational poverty, and this is being accomplished for my family and others simultaneously. No one who wants to break the cycle in their life gets left behind.”

Presented by:

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Comerica Bank

One fun fact about Shawn Pearson is that she was once a do-wop girl, traveling to casinos and Las Vegas to spontaneously pursue her passion for music. She continues to sing and write, but she gave up the “do-wopping” in her 20s.


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