Naegeli makes Valley '40 under 40' list

Dr. Breanna Naegeli has been a part of the GCU community for 14 years, helping to build the steadily growing Honors College.

Dr. Breanna Naegeli has held eight roles in her career at Grand Canyon University, from an admissions counselor in 2009 to Dean of the Honors College today.

Now at just 36 years old, she has been named to the 40 under 40 list, an award from the Phoenix Business Journal that distinguishes influential individuals in the Valley making an impact in their community.

Naegeli, along with 39 other young leaders, were chosen from a pool of 330 nominees and will be honored at the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts on August 3.

“I feel extremely grateful to even have been nominated,” said Naegeli. “To be on this list and in this publication and to see and work with the names and faces on this impressive list - it doesn’t feel real. It’s gratifying to be on this list and represent GCU.”

The Phoenix Business Journal criteria to chose nominees includes a demonstrated business success, community involvement, leadership ability and influence.

It also analyzed factors such as financial results, career growth, volunteer work and advocacy, public reputation and impact on the region.

In her 14 years with the University, Naegeli has witnessed some of the most transformative eras of the college.

In 2013, she helped to build the Honors College, formerly known as the Honors Institute, and has helped the college grow from 59 students to more than 3,000 students today.

“It seems like she’s one of the youngest deans in the nation and it’s so unique to see her journey from where she started and how she’s worked her way through GCU. She has been able to create such a great team culture, and I don’t take her leadership for granted,” said Kendall Smith, a graduate assistant in the Honors College.

Last April, Naegeli was named Dean of the Honor’s College and has since made tremendous strides for the college and its students.

Dean’s Award recipient Kendall Smith, right, with Honors College Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli during the Honors College Banquet in April.

Most recently, Naegeli led the National Society of Collegiate Scholars to Diamond status recognition, making the GCU chapter the best in the nation.

Her work ethic and commitment have previously earned her other accolades, such as being named one of the 10 Young Business Leaders to Watch by AZ Big Media in 2021, the Athena Valley of the Sun’s HAIL Award recipient in 2022, and one of AZ Big Media’s Most Influential Women in Arizona in August.

“I feel very fortunate to have started my GCU journey when I did because they were growing rapidly which created a lot of opportunity for growth and positioning myself to be in the right place,” said Naegeli.

Looking toward to the future, Naegeli said she’s going to continue to focus on community development and providing opportunities for current students and alumni in order to best utilize their skills in the workforce.

The Honors College will celebrate its 10th anniversary in the 2023-24 academic year and anticipates an enrollment of roughly 3,200-3,300.

GCU News staff writer Scianna Garcia can be reached at [email protected].

Related content:

GCU News: Naegeli among AZ's Most Influential Women

GCU News: Naegeli promoted to dean of growing Honors College

GCU News: Collegiate Scholars chapter named best in the nation

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