Fabulous People: Deborah Gardner

Deborah Gardner is an entrepreneur, author, professional swimmer, speaker and Mrs. Arizona 2020. A swimming champion turned author and competitive performance expert, Deborah Gardner helps companies and organizations advance to new levels of success, and achieve maximum winning results. Learn more about Deborah Gardner…

Hometown: Peoria, AZ

First job: A waitress/hostess at an ice cream shop. I love ice cream so it was fun to purposely make mistakes from customer orders because I would get to take the ice cream home. You could imagine I was a fan favorite with my siblings.    

Favorite AZ restaurant: When not enjoying my Italian/Korean husband’s wonderful cooking, I really appreciate the experience at REDS BAR & GRILL on the Wigwam Resort property in Litchfield. REDS has a delightful combination of excellent food, refreshing casual atmosphere and friendly service. I just love the cozy, romantic European-style community setting with the beautiful outdoor landscape veranda area overlooking the golf course. The meals are amazing and very supportive of the local farm-to-table sourced produce. Plus, they are really dog-friendly which is very important to our family. 

Person who has impacted your life the most: My wonderful parents! They have been married for 60 amazing years with such a resilient attitude. My father, a Military veteran was gone to serve in Vietnam and my mother was home with three hyper kids for years. As a military brat, we moved more times than the number of my fingers and toes combined. We were experts in having garage sales. My parents are the ultimate example to follow especially when it comes to relationships and marriage. It took me 40 years to find the love of my life, like my parents and it was so worth the wait.

Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes: Becoming my own boss! It’s been a long, interesting and challenging 15 years owning my company and I would not change it for the world. Learning everyday about myself, what I can and cannot do. Experiencing successes, making decisions, failing, building strong business relationships was something I’m most proud of every day. And, I’m amazed at my strength and confidence to continue to go the next level.

The biggest obstacle you have overcome: What I considered my first speaking engagement was in front of a sold out packed (14,000 people) in the Arizona State University Sun Devils activity arena. As a student college athlete, I was given an exciting opportunity to be the P.A. announcer for the basketball games. The first game was nationally televised by CBS Sports against the biggest rivalry, the University of Arizona Wildcats. I remember putting on my headset to start the game and nervously heard the “voice of god”. That was my voice! Introducing the players from each team, first the U of A and then the home team, it went like this …“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your Arizona State WILDCATS!” What? Did I just announce the wrong team’s mascot name? Yep! While being booed, I crawled under the table. Then my boss leaned over and said, it’s ok, keep going. Now, 15 years later, I’m still going on many major international stages as a professional speaker. Ironically, I even had a broadcasting career with CBS Sports. It was an experience that got me where I am today. So appreciative of that day!

Someone who inspires you: My lover boy, Chief. He is a mixed chow 14 year old dog/kid that inspires me every day to live in the moment. He taught me to love unconditionally, greet others with acknowledgement and to be true to myself. Plus, to take care of my coat (hair), walk and play every day.

Favorite quote: “The answer is always in the NO” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: You must believe in yourself and love what you do. Listen to others but make your own decisions. Work hard and sweat. It will all be worth it!

What you think makes someone fabulous: As Mrs. Arizona 2020, I’m proud to say it’s someone that always wears their crown; meaning if you fail or feel defeated, just try again and again. Keep your head high and never give up!          

Learn more about Deborah at


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