Being a teacher is in Dr. Allison Mason’s blood.
Her mom is a teacher, her sister is a teacher and so is her husband, Woody, an Online Full-time Faculty member at Grand Canyon University, where Mason also works as interim dean for the Colangelo College of Business.
The Phoenix Business Journal recognized her leadership in education at the Outstanding Women in Business Awards ceremony Tuesday evening at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch, presented by Arizona Bank & Trust.
She is among 26 honorees chosen from among a pool of 185 nominees. They will be profiled in Friday’s weekly print and digital edition of the journal.
“There's no doubt that women are continuing to chip their way through the corporate glass ceiling, with female CEOs now running 10% of the Fortune 500 companies as of January, the highest percentage ever,” said the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Greg Barr.
Mason’s leadership role as an educator wasn’t something she envisioned early in her career.
The Minnesotan graduated from Winona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations/Mass Communications and was getting ready to move to the Phoenix area with her husband.
“My dad said, before you move, you need to go and shadow three PR companies. I didn’t listen to him,” Mason said.
Instead, she earned her master’s degree in education and started working for higher education at a small career college.
She soon found her way to GCU, starting out as an academic counselor before moving into a role as the academic coordinator in GCU’s business college.
“I kind of slowly worked my way up in the College of Business to where I am now,” said Mason, who quickly realized her strength is in administration and added master’s and doctoral degrees in business administration, both from GCU, to her arsenal.
“I love finding solutions where there’s challenges – and there’s always challenges that come up. I enjoy using the years of experience that I have and say, ‘How can I make this work?’”
She was integral in helping secure accreditation for the college through the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and never wavers in finding a chance to share the college’s message that business is “a force for good,” as well as a means to lift up and support others.
Administrative duties aside, when you ask her what she loves most about her job, she says, “I really love serving our students and helping them figure out what they want to do and what their future entails.”
Outside of her interim dean duties, Mason is the advisor for GCU’s Women in Business Club, whose members served as volunteers at the Phoenix Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business Awards.
When she talks about the club, her face lights up.
She loves working with Belle Rakestraw, who co-founded the organization with alumna Havilah Houston and is now the president. Although the club is only in its second year, it has seen phenomenal growth to nearly 700 members.
Organizations such as GCU’s Women in Business Club offer students that pathway to leadership.
She told the Phoenix Business Journal that while the barrier seems to be getting a little softer for women in leadership roles, “I think there are still many male-dominated organizations where women are not always heard or valued. This makes it more difficult for women to work their way into leadership positions.
“ … Women need to persist and continue to collaborate, with both males and females, so that everyone is truly working together to achieve the organization’s goals.”
Besides working with the amazing students in the Women in Business Club, Mason also speaks of recent graduates like Taylor Remley, who now works with the FBI.
“Working with students like them is my absolute favorite part of my job and seeing what they’re going to do,” she said. “Their futures are so bright, much brighter than mine will ever be.”
She loves seeing their success and joyfully speaks of them, though Tuesday night’s event really was about her success.
“It (awards ceremonies) is not something that I’m used to doing, so it’s a unique experience for me.”
“We're so proud of Allison for this recognition with such an impressive group of women business leaders in the Phoenix Valley," said GCU Provost Dr. Randy Gibb. "She demonstrates the quality of leadership here on campus for our team and students in the Colangelo College of Business.”
Other honorees include:
- Deepika Bhalla, owner, Chateau Luxe
- Sue Breding, Executive Communications Officer, city of Glendale
- Marina Carpenter, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and General Counsel/Compliance Officer, Arizona Coyotes
- Lauren Carr, Senior Vice President, Global Human Resources, Microchip Technology Inc.
- Heidi Coupland, Vice President of Development, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation
- Cheryl Covert, Assistant Director Economic Development, City of Avondale
- Ritta Fagain, Board Chair, St. Joseph the Worker and CEO, WHYFOR Agency
- Georgia Harris, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, The Excel Center Arizona, Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona
- Delma Herrera, Vice President of Field Services, West Region, Cox Communications
- Julie Johnson, Executive Vice President, Colliers International
- Inna Korenzvit, owner, KORE Accounting Solutions
- Anne Landers, Vice President, Strategic Impact, Junior Achievement of Arizona
- Tamala McBath, CEO, Dress for Success Phoenix
- Mary Mitchell, Co-CEO, Girl Scouts — Arizona Cactus-Pine Council
- Leslie Motter, CEO, Make-A-Wish America
- Christina Noble, Chief Growth Officer, Sonora Quest Laboratories
- Renee Parsons, President and Executive Creative Director, PXG Apparel and co-founder, The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation
- Michele Rebeor, founding partner, Synergy Philanthropy LLC
- Terra Schaad, Executive Director, Hunkapi Programs Inc.
- Torrie Taj, CEO, Child Crisis Arizona
- Lorraine Tallman, founder and CEO, Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels
- Sandra Torre, CFO and Executive Vice President, Laving
- Jennifer Villalobos, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Sharp Construction LLC
- Kathey Wagner, CEO, EPS Group Inc.
- Ann Wheat, Executive Director, Duet: Partners in Health & Aging