Flinn Foundation names new leaders as longtime executive retires

June 5, 2024

By brianpowell

PHOENIX—Brad Halvorsen joined the Flinn Foundation in 1989 as its first communications employee. After 35 years of service to the foundation and Arizona, including nearly a decade as executive vice president, Halvorsen retires June 14.

Halvorsen’s departure prompts two other executive leadership changes. Vice President, Communications Matt Ellsworth has been promoted to chief administrative officer, and Stacy Sullivan, who has worked for the Arizona Republic and Gannett’s USA Today Network for more than 25 years, has been named vice president, communications.

Halvorsen leaves legacy in bioscience, leadership

Flinn Foundation Executive Vice President, Bradley W. Halvorsen.

Halvorsen was hired as a communications officer after graduating from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunications and serving as a press aide and campaign press secretary to U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini. He was later promoted to vice president, communications, and became the foundation’s executive vice president in 2015.

He was named the 2023 Jon W. McGarity Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year by the Arizona Bioindustry Association for his work advancing the biosciences in Arizona. Halvorsen was key to the 2002 launch and two-decade run of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, including introducing the long-range strategic plan to the public. Among his roles with the bioscience team, he has overseen the Foundation’s Bioscience Entrepreneurship Program and provided strategic guidance for the Seed Grants to Promote Translational Research program. He also supports the Flinn Scholars Program, now in its 39th year, which provides 20 full-ride scholarships annually to Arizona high-school seniors.

“Everyone who has crossed paths with Brad understands what a positive impact he has made in our state,” said Tammy McLeod, Ph.D., Flinn Foundation president and CEO. “His extraordinary knowledge of the Foundation, including its history and mission, is second-to-none, and he has been instrumental in bringing the community together to enhance all of our programs and initiatives.

“Personally, I am grateful for all his help and stewardship during my time at the Foundation. We will all miss Brad’s presence and convivial personality and wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Ellsworth to focus on strategy, board engagement

Flinn Foundation Vice President, Communications, Matt Ellsworth.

Ellsworth first became connected with the Flinn Foundation as a Class of 1993 Flinn Scholar at ASU and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing from George Mason University. He joined the Foundation’s communications team in 2007 and was appointed assistant vice president, Flinn Scholars Program in 2012. In 2015, he was tapped as vice president, communications.

The chief administrative officer position replaces the executive vice president role at the Foundation. In this new position, Ellsworth will focus on organizational and programmatic strategy and effectiveness. Among his responsibilities will be planning content for board of directors meetings and developing strategic-planning activities across the Foundation’s areas of philanthropic interest, especially as related to implementation of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap.

Sullivan brings experience in media, community engagement

Sullivan joins the Foundation after serving as director of local philanthropic partnerships for the USA Today Network, where he grew support for journalism at The Arizona Republic and Gannett’s largest newsrooms across the country. Previously, he was The Republic’s community-relations director, led the Season for Sharing campaign, oversaw the Arizona Storytellers program and managed the Pulliam Fellows internship program. At The Republic, he’s also led the social-media and events teams and features and politics/government reporting teams.

Sullivan chairs the board of the Arizona Local News Foundation, which supports newsrooms at radio, TV, print and digital media organizations throughout Arizona.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Louisiana Monroe, and began his career as a political reporter and newsroom leader at the Shreveport (La.) Times and Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, respectively.

“Matt and Stacy bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their new leadership roles that will enable them to advance the Flinn Foundation’s partnerships across our state in new ways that improve the quality of life for all Arizonans,” McLeod said.

“I am excited to be working alongside them as the Foundation looks ahead toward its seventh decade.”

Ellsworth and Sullivan started their positions May 28.

About the Flinn Foundation

The Flinn Foundation is a Phoenix-based privately endowed, philanthropic grantmaking organization established in 1965 by Dr. Robert S. and Irene P. Flinn that awards grants and operates programs in four areas: the biosciences, the Flinn Scholars, arts and culture, and the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership. The foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Arizona to benefit future generations.