Ross Zimmerman

Founder & Chief Science Officer


Ross Zimmerman was born in Indiana, but moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico when he was 8. His mom was an elementary school teacher, his father was and is a practicing entomologist, a taxonomist. Ross stayed there until he graduated from New Mexico State University with a B.S. in Biology. He wandered around to different graduate schools, picking up an M.A. in Zoology from Indiana University in 1978 and a Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Arizona in 1983. He started running again in Bloomington, Indiana (IU) and to his surprise was good at it. He did his first marathon in 1978, the Marathon Marathon in Terre Haute, past the Clabber Girl Baking Soda factory (very smelly). He had in mind running in the mountains around Tucson when he moved here in 1978 to go to grad school. He had also been interested in computers since a Fortran class in high school. He did his first 100 mile run in 1982, got a bit less interested in running for a bit, and noticed computers had gotten more interesting. He and his first wife got one that he taught himself how to use and did the charts and graphs for his Ph.D. dissertation on a termite native to the Sonoran Desert. He was staying home taking care of Gabe and his younger brother Ben at the time. Jon Beck, the boyhood buddy of running friend Wally Shiel (the first person to run across the Grand Canyon 4 times in one run) had a business machines place and wanted to start a computer division. He asked Ross to join him 2 days a week for child care costs. That became a 33-year career building computer networks for organizations like the Pima County Attorney’s Office, Tucson Medical Center, and Pima Community College. He retired from PCC in 2017. On another track, Ross has been involved with the Tucson Trail Runners since 1979, helping lead the group from about 1990 until 2018. He paced a Tarahumara runner in the Leadville 100 in 1993 ( He has run into and across the Grand Canyon many times. He started riding bikes in 2003 when the effects of an infant operation that puts stress on his back became started to seriously impair his running. Ross has done various long bike rides, most notably El Tour and the Death Ride ( Lately Ross has been a Designated Campus Colleague in the UArizona’s College of Education, President of the Beyond Foundation, and Race Director of the Colossal Vail 50/50 ( And a grandparent, the best part… Beyond was created as a response to the shooting in which Gabe was killed, along with 5 others. Thirteen people, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, were wounded. Gabe was Gabrielle’s Outreach and Constituent Services Director. Beyond grew out of conversations convened by Pam Golden’s (Ross’s wife, Gabe’s stepmom) cousin Steve Golden, who had helped create the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. Michelle Crow applied when they decided they needed a project manager. Turned out she was Gabe’s counterpart in Raul Grijalva’s office and a friend. She’s done all the heavy lifting since. Circa 2014, she and Ross started talking about doing things year-round, then maybe turning Beyond into a foundation, which they did in 2016, with the blessing of Julia Strange, who had taken Beyond under their wing for several years. Michelle stepped down as Executive Director in late 2020 to devote her full time to her role as Southern Arizona Director of the Children’s Action Alliance. Daniela Diamente, founder of El Grupo, has joined our team now as ED. Gabe’s brother Ben lives in Watertown MA lately. He’s been working for a company where he was in charge of building big upscale apartment complexes (~250 units). Gabe and Ben were both good soccer players and all around athletes. Ross was only good at persistence motion activities. Gabe ran across the Canyon with Ross on two occasions.