Christine Mackay, Director
"Every day I have the privilege of helping to build our city of the future for businesses and residents."
Phoenix Community and Economic Development director, Christine Mackay, has served the people of Phoenix since August 2014. She is responsible for leading and fostering an environment where businesses can create and retain jobs, make capital investment and reinvestment in the community, and connect our workforce to employers and training opportunities. During Mackay’s tenure with the City of Phoenix, the department has facilitated the creation of over 75,000 high-value jobs, seen the average wage of those jobs increase from over $30,000 in 2014 to more than $70,000 in 2019, and closed deals with more than $20 billion in capital investment.
Christine leads a department of over 55 full time staff that encompasses the full spectrum of economic development areas including: business attraction, business retention and expansion, community development, international relations, Sister Cities, the Phoenix Business and Workforce Development Board, administration, research, marketing, the City-owned Footprint Center and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.
In 2021, Christine was named as one of the Top 50 Economic Developers in the Country by Consultant Connect. She is a three-time honoree as "Economic Developer of the Year, Large Community" by the Arizona Association for Economic Development. Mackay was recognized as "Leader of the Year in Economic Development–Public Policy" by the Arizona Capitol Times, and "Industry Leader of the Year – Economic Development" by Arizona Commercial Real Estate Magazine. She has also been on the list of the Arizona Business magazine’s "50 Most Influential Women in Arizona."
She is a member of the Economic Development Director's Team for Greater Phoenix, Maricopa Association of Government's Building a Quality Regional Community committee, Flinn Foundation Biosciences Roadmap committee, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Commercial Office Real Estate Executives (CoreNet), the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED), and the Arizona Business Incubator Association.
Christine has nearly 25 years’ experience in economic development overlapping 30 years of commercial real estate experience. Mackay has spent both her personal and professional life here in the Valley.
Michelle Pierson, Deputy Director
Michelle brings years of experience and knowledge in all facets of economic development; business retention and expansion, small business/entrepreneurship, attraction and workforce.
As Deputy Director with the City of Phoenix Community and Economic Development Department, Michelle provides oversight and manages a team of 12 professional staff that focuses on Business, Retention and Expansion (BRE) of existing Phoenix companies. The BRE team focuses on the growth of the existing business community. These efforts include developing and enhancing relationships with employers, gathering business intelligence through business visits, providing customized programs and services while helping to ensure businesses retain and expand their operations in Phoenix. Under Michelle's leadership, some of the most innovative programs in the country have been created, implemented and have become nationally recognized; such as:
A robust Business, Retention, Expansion and Workforce visitation program geared towards existing Phoenix companies to facilitate business expansion and net new jobs.
- Strategic sector partnerships in Health Care, Service Centers, Manufacturing and Cyber Security to increase Phoenix's competitive advantage.
- Phoenix Business and Workforce Development Center that is business-focused.
- City-wide Management Technical Assistance Program that provides a deeper level of one on one business assistance at no cost to our existing small business community.
Prior to moving to Phoenix, her career in economic development included, but not limited to, initiatives related to business retention and expansion, sitting on the Pima County Workforce Investment Board and chairing the Pima County School to Work Board, bringing the City's Film Office to the Office of Economic Development and overseeing two federally funded programs known as HOPE VI.
Born and raised in Nogales, Arizona, Michelle comes from a family of small business owners and entrepreneurs which created the foundation of giving back to the community through public sector work.
Eric Johnson, Deputy Director
Eric Johnson is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Administration, Research and Marketing Division which includes the Fiscal, Administration, Information Technology, Marketing, Research and Human Resources Sections as well as overseeing the department's $42 million budget.
Eric's career spans two decades of management, planning, code enforcement, transit and economic development experience in the public sector. During his time in Community and Economic Development, he led many of the city's major economic development efforts including public-private partnerships, numerous revenue sharing and incentive agreements, transit-oriented development, Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix campus, Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and mega-events such as the 2008 and 2015 Super Bowls.
Eric joined the City of Phoenix in 2004 and prior to working the Community and Economic Development Department has worked in the city's Downtown Development Office, Office of Customer Advocacy and the Development Services Department (now Planning and Development Department). Prior to working in Phoenix, Eric worked in Glendale, Arizona and Avon, Colorado. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Denver, with a Master of Public Administration, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, with a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning, and is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Xandon Keating, Deputy Director
Xandon Keating leads the Community Development Division, a specialized team focused on driving real estate investment in the City’s critical areas for redevelopment. The Community Development Division is responsible for managing the Downtown Redevelopment Area including seeking redevelopment proposals for City-owned downtown properties, working with private landowners to redevelop their properties and working with the downtown community to identify solutions to ongoing issues. The division also oversees the City’s contractual relationship for many downtown assets such as the downtown Arizona State University campus and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Xandon’s team also manages the Downtown Enhanced Municipal Services District, a business improvement district established to provide a high level of service within in the district with the aim of encouraging more activity and vitality within the downtown core.
Xandon brings over 14 years of local government experience to the position with previous experience in the City’s Planning and Development Department, the City Council Office and the Office of Environmental Programs. During his time with the City, he has worked on many important City projects including many significant downtown projects focused on residential growth, new retail and entertainment options and educational infrastructure. His work has included a key role in updating the Phoenix General Plan, overseeing Planning Commission and Village Planning Committees such as Camelback East and South Mountain, and managing the City’s rezoning process. Xandon also has extensive experience working directly with the community whether it be providing information through a customer service function, engaging with neighborhood leaders through his role with the District 1 Council Office, or working closely with stakeholders through various City boards and commissions.
Prior to the City, Xandon prepared for his future endeavors with several years in the restaurant industry where he has done everything from washing dishes to managing front of the house operations. Xandon hold a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Bachelors of Arts in Economics and Political Science from the University of Colorado.
Nathan Wright, Deputy Director
Nathan Wright is responsible for managing the efforts of the Business Attraction Division. This team helps to assist highly successful companies in their growth expansion or move to Phoenix and manages innovation and retail initiatives and specialized staff that oversee the foreign trade zone, the aviation land reuse area and the Phoenix film office.
Nathan's career includes over 13 years of experience at the City of Phoenix working in a variety of areas including economic development, water, transit, aviation, and planning and development. Nathan joined the City of Phoenix in 2007 and has worked on major economic development efforts including the Arizona State University Downtown Campus, Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and a variety of major downtown projects. He has served as a management assistant to the Water Services Department Director, managed the Planning & Development Department's Self-Certification Program, served as a management assistant in the Building Inspections Division, served as a planner in the Transit Department and worked for three years in the Voluntary Acquisition and Relocation Services Program in the Aviation Department. Mr. Wright has also worked closely on special events such as the Super Bowl, National Championship Game and NCAA Final Four.
Prior to working in Phoenix, Nathan worked in Residential and Commercial Financing in California and Arizona. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Technology and Globalization from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott and is a graduate of Arizona State University, with a Master of Science in Urban and Environmental Planning. He is fluent in Italian and grew up in southeastern Arizona.
Rita Marko, Protocol Program Administrator
President/CEO, Phoenix Sister Cities, Inc.
Rita Marko serves as the Deputy Director of the Community and Economic Development Department's International Relations Division and concurrently as the President/CEO of Phoenix Sister Cities, Inc. (PSC), a private, not-for-profit organization established to oversee and coordinate the city's Sister Cities program.
As Deputy Director of the International Relations Division, Rita and staff serve as the city's primary point of contact for international visitors and related activities with the Mayor, City Council and city departments. The division serves as the city and business community's source for official, international and protocol matters.