Jerry Colangelo arrived in the Valley of the Sun in 1968 to take over the expansion Phoenix Suns NBA franchise. He proceeded to build the Suns into one of the most successful organizations in the NBA. He also brought Major League Baseball to the Valley in 1998 and was chairman of the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Colangelo was the key element in facilitating the move of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets to the Valley of the Sun to become the Phoenix Coyotes. He was also on the founding committee for the WNBA, and the Phoenix Mercury were one of the league’s inaugural teams in 1997. and the Phoenix Mercury were one of the league’s inaugural teams in 1997.
Colangelo’s impact on the sports scene in Phoenix and the game of basketball has been so great, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in April 2004. He has been among The Sporting News most powerful people in sports for over the last decade and was appointed as the first Managing Director of the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team program for 2005-2008. Colangelo assembled the coaches and players of the “Redeem Team,” who returned USA Basketball to Olympic glory and claimed the gold medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
Colangelo’s commitment to the Valley transcends sports. He is well-known as one of the city’s most active community leaders. In recognition of his efforts in the community, Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon proclaimed March 26, 2004, Jerry Colangelo Day in the city of Phoenix. Colangelo is also deeply committed to improving our city’s civic culture, and supports efforts to preserve the diverse heritage and history of Phoenix’s many ethnic and religious communities.
Born November 20, 1939, Colangelo grew up in the “Hungry Hill” neighborhood of Chicago Heights. He graduated from the University of Illinois, where he met his wife, Joan, on a blind date. They have four children and ten grandchildren.
Born and raised in Williamsburg, New York, Sheila married Jess Schwartz (who came to the Valley in 1947 from New York) in Phoenix in 1959. Jess Schwartz was the founder of American Creditors Bureau.
2014 Heritage Award Recipient
Mr. Mark Curtis
Mark Curtis made his first appearance on valley airwaves back in June of 1980. Back in those days, Curtis and his mustache went all over the country covering sports for 12 News. He remained at 12 through 1987 when he and his pregnant wife Abby packed their bags for Minneapolis where he covered the Twins amazing run to the 1987 World Series! After three years in the Twin Cities it was on to St. Louis where Curtis not only worked as the main sportscaster but was also the play by play voice for St. Louis University basketball. But deep inside, Curtis and his quickly growing family wanted to return to Phoenix. In 1995 he finally did, returning to 12 News. It wasn’t long before Mark made the switch, moving over to join Lin Sue Cooney on the anchor desk.
Mark has been involved in the community, and he is particularly interested in lending support for two causes: pancreatic cancer, from which his mother passed away, and Crohn’s disease. He has volunteered his time to numerous charity fundraising events and hosted this year's community Yom Hashoah commemoration. He is a member of Congregation Beth Israel.
2015 Heritage Award Recipients