Flinn’s Brad Halvorsen named 2023 Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year

September 21, 2023

By brianpowell

When Brad Halvorsen first set foot in the Flinn Foundation offices, Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap did not exist. The iconic Flinn building along Central Avenue near downtown Phoenix was a decade away from construction. The Flinn Scholarship was in its infancy. 

Since that moment more than three decades ago, Halvorsen has played a significant role in the Flinn Foundation’s evolution and multiple Flinn initiatives. Most notably, he was instrumental in the creation and public introduction of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, the state’s long-term strategic plan to guide the growth of the bioscience ecosystem. 

As Flinn Foundation executive vice president, and previously as vice president for communications, Halvorsen’s knowledge and collaborative demeanor has helped lead to the sector’s consistent growth and sustained momentum. 

During Arizona Bioscience Week, Halvorsen will be honored as the 2023 Jon W. McGarity Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year for his decades of service in advancing Arizona’s bioscience sector. The Arizona Bioindustry Association award will be presented Sept. 27 during the AZBio Awards and 20th Anniversary Celebration. 

“For over three decades, Brad Halvorsen has used his skills and talents to improve the quality of life in Arizona,” said Joan Koerber-Walker, AZBio president and CEO. “Brad leads by example and inspires others to come together to achieve individual and shared goals. Programs he has supported and led have helped to drive the growth of our life science industry, helped bioscience entrepreneurs to move their projects forward, provided educational opportunities for Arizona scholars, inspired community members to become civic leaders, and more.” 

After the launch of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap in 2002, Halvorsen led efforts to generate awareness of the importance of the biosciences in Arizona among key audiences and the general public. He helped to bring new organizations into the grand collaboration. He also led the annual collection and public release of Arizona’s bioscience performance metrics as well as the annual convenings of state leaders in northern, central, and southern Arizona. Today he leads Flinn’s administration of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee, which regularly brings together researchers and scientists along with health care, business, academic, and policy leaders who are making the high-level decisions that have led to the sector’s success. 

The Roadmap, which aims to strengthen Arizona’s economy and improve health outcomes, was updated in 2014 with a goal of Arizona becoming globally competitive and a national leader in select areas of the biosciences by 2025. 

In addition to Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, Halvorsen has overseen the Flinn Foundation’s Bioscience Entrepreneurship Program and assists with the Seed Grants to Promote Translational Research program, both of which each year provide competitive grants to emerging bioscience startups and Arizona-based research teams addressing significant clinical needs. He also provides strategic guidance for the Flinn Scholars Program, which annually awards 20 full-ride merit scholarships to excelling Arizona high-school seniors in partnership with the three state universities. 

Flinn Foundation President and CEO Tammy McLeod, Ph.D., said that Halvorsen inspires others with his steadfast dedication to the Flinn Foundation, its mission to improve the quality of life in Arizona, and its history of providing medical and research grants aimed at improving the health of all Arizonans.  

“Inside the Flinn Foundation, Brad is a champion of his colleagues, making all of us better at what we do, and his wealth of experience is vital to setting direction for our grantmaking and programs and anticipating the consequences of actions we want to take,” McLeod said. “He applies the same insight to Flinn’s work out in the community, especially as we foster collaborations across organizations in the biosciences to benefit the whole state.” 

Halvorsen was hired in 1989 as the Flinn Foundation’s first communications officer after serving as a press aide and campaign press secretary to U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini. An Arizona State University graduate, Halvorsen was later promoted to vice president, communications and in 2015, was named executive vice president. 

Jack Jewett, who served as Flinn Foundation president and CEO between 2009 and 2017, was honored with the Jon W. McGarity Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year award in 2014, as was the Flinn Foundation’s first president and CEO, John Murphy, in 2006. 

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 Scholarship, 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. The foundation’s focus on health care and medical research stems from the career of Robert Flinn, a cardiologist who headed the departments of cardiology and electrocardiography at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.