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About Karl Gentles

Karl Gentles PortraitKarl Gentles has shown a long commitment to public service and his family has a deep record of military service. He’s made a difference on education and economic development and has the focus and drive to do even more for Arizona in the future.

Karl is a longtime supporter of Democrats and Democratic campaigns, from interning on former Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt’s presidential campaign to running city council campaigns to supporting President Obama. He also served as a staff assistant for Senator John McCain in 1989. Karl credits the Senator for showing him that politics is less about ideology and party and more about building coalitions and doing what is right regardless of those factors.

His diverse business background includes a record of economic development and job creation as part of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. While at GPEC, he worked on the team that produced one of the largest job creation projects of the past two decades in the USAA corporate expansion. Gentles later joined the USAA leadership team as a corporate communications executive and contributed to the creation of 3,000 jobs and the one million square foot corporate campus buildout. Earlier in his career, Gentles led community development as an executive for Bank One, delivering banking, credit, and financial access to low and moderate income communities across the state.

Karl is currently a partner at The Gentles Agency, a brand strategy, event production, and strategic communications agency, which he co-owns with his wife, Carla Gentles. The agency created the Phoenix Famtastical Festival—attended by 20,000 people in 2018.

He also serves as executive director of Back to School Clothing Drive, a nonprofit that provides elementary school students with new school uniforms, outfits and supplies. Over the last 11 years, Karl has directly made a difference in the lives of more than 250,000 elementary school children, supporting their basic needs in preparation to achieve in school. The Back to School Clothing Drive has helped break down barriers to early childhood school success for K-6 public elementary school children in Maricopa County.

Karl grew up in an Air Force family, and spent his childhood moving every four years or so before moving to Arizona in 1984. His father is a 33-year retired US Air Force Chief Master Sergeant. Karl earned his degree in Organizational Communication and MBA from Arizona State University, and continuing education in nonprofit management and social enterprise at Georgetown University and INSEAD in Fountainbeau, France. His civic and community involvement includes service on the Arizona Power Plant & Transmission Line Siting Committee, Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Maricopa Integrated Health Systems Audit & Finance Committee, Grand Canyon University Honors and Business College Advisory Boards, Class XV FBI Citizens Academy, and Phoenix Citizen’s Police Academy. He was selected as a Fellow in 2011 by Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust for his innovative social enterprise work with the nonprofit Back to School Clothing Drive.

Karl lives in Phoenix with his wife, Carla and they are members of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Phoenix. She is a 29 year retired Army Reserves Master Sergeant and co-partner in their public relations agency. Carla has a fashion merchandising degree from Bauder College, earned her undergraduate degree in economics from the University of South Carolina Spartanburg, a MBA from Webster College, and is now a PhD candidate at Grand Canyon University. His son, Jordan, works in the moving and logistics industry in Phoenix and is an active sports, music, and entertainment enthusiast. His grandson, Jordan Jr., is five years old and just started kindergarten.

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