Making life better together

A coalition of nonprofit organizations has come together to grow Arizona’s life science sector and double its economic impact by 2033.

The benefits of reaching this goal include:

  • Increasing the economic economic impact of Arizona’s life science sector from $38.54 Billion (2021) to a target of $77 Billion.
  • Creating more high quality, high wage jobs for our Arizona workforce.  
  • Moving Arizona discoveries into development and on the path to become the treatments and cures people are waiting for.

To accomplish this goal we must work with our community to:

  • Grow the core capital within the Arizona Health Innovation Trust Fund (AHIT) through the addition of public and private funds to $200 Million or greater.
  • Fund AZAdvances Programs through a combination of grants and community donations.
  • Manage the AZAdvances Legacy Endowment which consists of private donations not designated to AHI by donors as well as the equity derived by the mission related investments in the AZAdvances Portfolio.  

The founding members of the coalition include the Arizona Bioindustry Association, Inc. (AZBio) and the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, Inc. (OTEF), a 501c3 pubic charity based in Arizona.

AZAdvances operates as a division of OTEF.  The AZAdvances Legacy Endowment and the AZAdvances Today Fund are managed as separate accounts under the OTEF umbrella.

This is the second collaboration between OTEF and AZBio.  The first was the creation of D3Bio, a division of OTEF, which launched in 2014 to support life science innovation and life science innovators along the pathway from discovery to development to delivery. D3Bio’s most popular program, the Student Discovery Zone held at AZBio Signature Events which provided over 1,000 Arizona high school and university students with the opportunity to share the results of student run research projects with industry leaders. This program is today part of the AZAdvances Talent Program.


The AZAdvances Board of Trustees are comprised of Arizona Leaders as well as at least one Trustee serving on the OTEF board of directors as board liaison.  The current AZAdvances Trustees are provided below.  Additional Trustees will be nominated and approved by the OTEF Board of Directors as the endowments build. 

As prescribed by Arizona Law, the Treasurer of The State of Arizona serves as trustee for the Arizona Health Innovation Trust Fund.

Russ Yelton

Russ Yelton currently serves as Chair of the AZAdvances Trustees; President of Yelton Associates;  Board Member  at Pinnacle Transplant Technologies, Inc. where he previously served at CEO; Member of the Arizona Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee; a member of the Phoenix Forward Bioscience Leadership Council; and Past-Chairman of the Board at AZBio.  A leader in Arizona’s  Bioscience and Business communities,  Russ served as CEO of Pinnacle Transplant (2014-2017), is a past Board Member of the National Business Incubation Association; and is nationally recognized for his expertise in the business acceleration and incubation sector.  Russ was awarded his BS, Management from Appalachian State University and his MBA from Western Carolina University.

Kevin Parker

Prior to joining AZAdvances as a Trustee, Kevin Parker was Vice President, Precision Oncology Business Operations at Exact Sciences.  In this role Kevin led the Arizona team and was responsible for ensuring day to day operations and strategic goals for Exact Sciences’ cancer therapy selection site were met. An executive with particularly strong skills in strategic and operational leadership; change management; merger and acquisition integrations; program management, and Lean Six Sigma, Kevin is especially passionate about fostering innovation and building strong, resilient organizations.

Kevin also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors at AZBio.

Joan Koerber-Walker 2021

Joan Koerber-Walker

 Joan Koerber-Walker currently serves as Chairman of the Opportunity Through  Entrepreneurship Foundation (OTEF) and board liaison as a member of the AZAdvances Board of Trustees; President & CEO, Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio); and as a member of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee.   Joan’s career includes past roles as CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association; as Treasurer and Board Member for RiboMed Biotechnologies, Inc.; and as an executive at Avnet, Inc, where, for over a 20 year span, she held a wide variety of roles in sales, marketing, technology, supply chain management, and global administration. She has served in the nonprofit community for over two decades including past roles as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Small Business Association in Washington D.C.; Chair of the Board of Advisors to CPLC Parenting Arizona, a child abuse prevention agency that provides family support services across Arizona; and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Industry Advisory Board for the Thomas and Joan Read Center at Texas A&M University.  Joan was awarded a BA in Economics from the University of Delaware, an MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma.

Ms. Koerber-Walker has been recognized as Executive of the Year by the Arizona Society of Association Executives (2020), as a “Most Admired Leader” by the Phoenix Business Journal(2015), in the pages of AZ Business Leaders (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024), Most Influential Women in Arizona Business (2014) and is a 2 time National Finalist for the Stevie Award which recognizes the work of women in business.

AZBio Board of Directors

The AZBio Board of Directors is led by chairman Kevin Parker and is comprised of over thirty leaders from across Arizona’s Bioscience and business  communities.  AZBio Board Members are leaders representing Arizona’s leading universities, research institutes, and hospital systems along side executives from local and global life science companies and leading philanthropic organizations.  Together they bring a wide range of expertise in research, development, regulatory affairs, life science commercialization, healthcare delivery, patient advocacy, and life science investment.

The AZBio Board serves AZAdvances in an advisory and resource capacity. 

OTEF Board of Directors

Joan Koerber-Walker has served as the chairman of the OTEF Board of Directors since 2006. 

Rob Dunaway, Esq. is a co-founder and currently serves as a Director and Secretary of the Opportunity Through  Entrepreneurship Foundation (OTEF). Dunaway is one of the most experienced business attorneys in Arizona, and over the past several decades has helped thousands of companies of all sizes to succeed.  From his start in the Silicon Valley, counseling technology companies like Sun Microsystems and Tandem Computers, to his 17 years in Arizona guiding hundreds of startup ventures – including over 50 merger & acquisition transactions and over 400 private investor fundings. Dunaway’s  Phoenix business law practice specializes in helping companies of all types build a solid foundation and grow into a thriving business. Dunaway’s expertise is focused on general corporate, contract and intellectual property law, with an emphasis on corporate and LLC formation, technology licensing and other technology-related contracts such as consulting, OEM, distribution and development agreements; venture capital and other private investor financings; mergers and acquisitions; protection of intellectual property; and internet law.

Ed Nusbaum is a co-founder and currently serves as a Director of the Opportunity Through  Entrepreneurship Foundation (OTEF). Nusbaum is a co-founder and partner of Stealthmode Partners. Since 2008, he has served on the board of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education  is a non-profit organization committed to improving access to education. Previously, he has served as a board member of the Arizona Technology Council, Arizona Internet Professionals Association, AeA, and TiE-Arizona. 

Francine Hardaway, PhD currently serves as Executive Director and is a non-voting member of the OTEF Board. Dr. Hardaway is the co-founder of Stealthmode Partners, an accelerator and advocate for entrepreneurs in technology and health care that was founded in 1998. Prior to Stealthmode, she owned two marketing companies, and served as Director of Worldwide Press Relations for Intel and the CMO of Innovative Environmental Products. Her communications specialties are technology, healthcare and financial services. She was an Entrepreneurial Fellow of the Eller Entrepreneurship Center at University of Arizona, and was a founder of Social Media Club Arizona and the Arizona Software Association. She is co-founder of the blog USHealthCrisis, and blogs for Fast Company, Huffington Post, and  Stealthmode’s blog

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