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Sara Ward

Board Member

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For more than three decades, Sara Ward spearheaded business advancement in Arizona and beyond through her visionary work as a board director of NASDAQ companies and as a business consultant for some of the world’s most innovative companies. 

Sara Ward is the Lead Director and a member of the Compensation, Nominating and Governance and Audit Committees at Grand Canyon Education (GCE), Inc. (NASDAQ:LOPE). GCE is a $3.5 billion market cap education services company that provides a full array of services in the post-secondary education sector. As Lead Director for the past five years, Sara led the board through a successful Grand Canyon University spin-off, as it returned to its nonprofit status and the acquisition of Orbis Education, a GCE subsidiary focused on educating future healthcare workers. 

In July 2020, Sara became a Director of WillScot Mobile Mini Holdings Corp. shortly after WillScot’s merger with Mobile Mini, Inc. (where she had served as a director since 2014). Sara was one of five Mobile Mini directors invited to join the newly formed board. At WillScot Mobile Mini, Inc., Sara was the Compensation Committee Chairman and a member of the Nominating and Governance Committee. As a Mobile Mini director, she led the company’s CEO transition and played a vital role in the WillScot merger. This $9 billion market cap company, is the world’s leading supplier of portable storage and modular space solutions. She stepped down from the board in 2023. 

In September 2022, Sara joined the Strategic Council of privately held Plexus Worldwide, a science-based health and wellness company. As a member of the Council, Sara joined the two Plexus founders and three other outside thought leaders to provide visionary and advisory support. 

For 20 years, Sara served as Director for the BBVA Phoenix Advisory Board until it was acquired by PNC Bank in June 2021. She facilitated dozens of business development opportunities for the bank in Arizona and throughout its national footprint. Sara also served as Director of the National Advisory Board of BBVA, advising the executive team on strategies for market opportunities and overcoming challenges. 

In 1996, Sara founded Sara Dial & Associates, where she is the President and CEO. Sara’s company operates as a global economic development consulting firm, specializing in site selection, economic and community development, and government relations for both public and private sector clients.  Clients seek the firm’s expertise in accessing and maximizing government incentives and building economic development strategies to advance a region’s economy. A sample of past clients include Facebook, Google, GoDaddy, Dr. Patrick Soon Shiong, the Office of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Arizona Department of Commerce, Avnet, Inc., Ryan Companies, Comcast, Fisher Investments, and Maxwell Technologies. Sara’s team completed high-profile economic development initiatives in Arizona, including the restructuring of the state’s economic development organization, resulting in the Arizona Commerce Authority. Recently, Sara added executive coaching to her firm’s services, benefiting coaching clients with her wealth of leadership and practical experience. 

From 1993-1996, Sara served on Governor Fife Symington’s Cabinet as the Director of the Arizona Department of Commerce. She led the state in three record years of business development and job creation. Before her role as Director of the agency, Sara was the Finance Director from 1991 to 1993. In that role, she was responsible for overseeing small business lending, job training grants, private activity bonds, and affordable housing programs. 

Sara began her career in 1986 in the investment banking industry at Rauscher Pierce Refsnes (now known as RBC Capital Markets), Boettcher and Company, and Kemper Securities Group, focusing on municipal finance.  

In recognition of her work as a business leader and philanthropist, Sara has received numerous honors  and awards, including: 2022 VYTality Award from Valley Youth Theatre; 2019 Most Influential Corporate Board Directors, Women Inc. Magazine; Top Ten Most Influential Women and 40 Under 40 award by the Phoenix Business Journal; 12 Most Influential Women in Commercial Real Estate award by the Commercial Executive Magazine; 50 Most Powerful Women in Arizona award by the Arizona Business Magazine; Spirit of the Children Award from Childhelp USA; John and Sandra Day O’Connor Award from the United Methodist Outreach Ministries; and Valley Impact Community Partnership Award from the Junior League of Phoenix. 

Being invested in her broader community, Sara has served on more than 25 nonprofit boards. Her current board membership includes: Childhelp USA Arizona Advisory Board as Emeritus Board Member and past Chairperson; and Activate Food Arizona as Co-Founder and Board Member. 

Sara is an active member of Arizona Women’s Forum, National Association of Corporate Directors, Stanford Women on Boards and Women Corporate Directors. She is an NACD Board Leadership Fellow, a designation she received in 2019 and an NACD Certified Director, a designation she earned in 2021.  

Sara earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Stanford University.


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