The Arizona Center for Civic Leadership at the Flinn Foundation has selected 28 civic leaders from around the state as the newest Flinn-Brown Fellows.
Meet the 2023 Fellows, learn about their careers and public service, the communities they represent, and connect with them on social media.
Judy Lynn, a certified emergency manager, has coordinated disaster response, planned for large-scale events, and expanded emergency-dispatching capabilities in southern Arizona in partnership with Arizona’s National Guard. Her experience managing disasters, along with the surge at Arizona’s southern border, fuels her passion for immigration reform and updates to Stafford Act legislation. A Tucson native, Lynn earned a Bachelor of Science from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in homeland-security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School. She serves on the boards of the Coyote Crisis Collaborative and Arizona Association of Emergency Managers, volunteers as a chaplain and CISM practitioner, and sings with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus.
Melanie Colavito is director of policy and communications at the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University. A social scientist focused on the human dimensions of forest and fire management, she directs government relations, public-policy analysis, social-science knowledge development and application, and communication services. Colavito holds a Ph.D. in geography, with a specialty in remote sensing and spatial analysis, from the University of Arizona. Born and raised in Flagstaff, she is motivated to work toward science-based, collaborative solutions to restoration and climate adaptation with diverse partners across western forest and woodland landscapes.
Gail Jackson serves as president and CEO of Northern Arizona’s premiere economic-development organization, the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona. She leads economic-development efforts for the region and successfully led the team in recruiting the largest employer to the region in 50 years, UACJ-Whitehall Industries. Jackson has a significant background in management roles within city government and has worked in many sales and marketing roles in the resort industry. A Midwesterner who resides in Flagstaff with her husband and two children, she enjoys volleyball, live music, and quality time with family and friends.
Beya Thayer is a systems advocate, supporting enhanced collaborations among multidisciplioy teams, and enjoys the opportunity to work as the director of behavioral health services for the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office and as executive director of the Yavapai Justice and Mental Health Coalition. Thayer works to develop and implement strategies that lead to the long-term and sustainable involvement of community institutions, organizations, and individuals within the intersections of justice and behavioral health, with the goal of addressing partnerships, systemic change, and effecting policy on both the micro and macro levels.
Teresa Aseret-Manygoats is chief of the Bureau of Chronic Disease and Health Promotion, and the state chronic-disease director at the Arizona Department of Health Services. She holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Administration from Arizona State University. Aseret-Manygoats has more than 23 years of public-health experience, with expertise in program evaluation and data coordination, community engagement, and developing and implementing public-health approaches and initiatives that address population health, social determinants of health, health equity, and policy, system, and environmental change. She is Filipina and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.
Evelyn Burrell, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and owner of Arise Consultation and Training Services. Through her practice, Burrell has facilitated community events, bringing mental-health practitioners and communities of color together to discuss mental-health awareness with a focus on trauma, to include inter-generational racial and systemic trauma. She has developed trainings focused on childhood trauma, suicide, neurobiological responses to trauma, and racial disparities within the legal system. Burrell has received several awards due to her advocacy efforts. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, running, and spending time with her husband and twins.
Eddie Cook serves as the Maricopa County assessor. His office annually administers over 1.8 million parcels, with a full cash value of more than $1 trillion. His vision has been to create a “One Team” culture that provides the public with a high-performance team that is both efficient and effective at the lowest cost to the taxpayer. Cook has made it his mission to ensure that fairness, equity, and respect are present in every aspect of his business to secure best-in-class service. He accomplishes this by continuing to innovate and anticipate the community’s changing needs and embracing the latest technology.
Jesse Galvez is an Arizona native, born and raised in Yuma, and began his career as a state trooper with the Arizona Department of Public Safety in 1999. During his career, Galvez has held various leadership positions in administrative and operational assignments in special investigations, public affairs, and highway patrol. Currently, he holds the rank of major and works from the agency’s headquarters in Phoenix. He graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in sociology and is also an FBI National Academy and Arizona’s Leaders Connect Program graduate. Galvez loves running with his wife and volunteering at his children’s school.
A native Phoenician, Tim Gomez has been involved with Arizona State University since 2005, when he started as a student, and has never left. He currently serves as a director of government and community engagement, where he looks for opportunities to expand the university’s mission of advancing public value for the community, and also serves as an adjunct professor for ASU’s top-ranked School of Public Affairs. Prior to joining ASU, Gomez worked in municipal-government administration for eight years for three municipalities. He lives in Phoenix with his wife, Megan, and two sons.
Adam Goodman, CEO of Goodmans, is the third generation to lead the 69-year-old family business. Under his leadership, Goodmans became the first certified B Corp in Arizona and has been named Impact Company of the Year by the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, the Top Social Responsibility Company by the Arizona Republic, and a 12-time winner of the Best Places to Work award. Goodman, honored with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s Community Impact Award, serves on the boards of Greater Phoenix Leadership, Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, Banner Health Foundation, Phoenix Symphony, GPEC, and the Jewish Community Relations Council. Goodman and his wife, Stephanie, live in Paradise Valley and have three children.
Aron Ketchel, J.D. is a third-generation Arizonan who grew up in Tucson and currently lives in Paradise Valley with his wife and two sons. He has served as a federal prosecutor for over 10 years, first in Los Angeles before joining the Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s Office. As an assistant U.S. attorney, Ketchel has prosecuted a wide variety of federal crimes, including violent crime, drug and firearm offenses, crimes against children, fraud, money laundering, and public corruption. He earned his bachelor’s degree in public policy with distinction from Stanford University and his juris doctorate from Yale Law School.
Pete Kim is a technology entrepreneur, co-founder of Media.Monks/S4 Capital, and was CEO and founder of the advertising firm MightyHive. He has held senior product-management, sales, business-development, consulting, and private-equity roles. Kim serves on the board of the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority and as founder of Arizona Future Forum, a nonprofit focused on expanding access to education, amplifying economic development, and supporting long-term water and infrastructure solutions. He earned his undergraduate degree in biomechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA in finance/entrepreneurship at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He resides in Scottsdale with his wife and daughter.
Melissa Kotrys is the CEO of Contexture, a regional information-exchange organization serving Arizona and Colorado. Under her leadership, Contexture is celebrated as a model for aligning the community with the possibilities of connected electronic information to advance individual and community health and wellness. Kotrys is recognized as a collaborative partner of hospitals, health plans, providers, and health care stakeholders across Arizona. She serves as the board chair of Civitas Networks for Health, and as a member of Employers Council’s board of directors, Arizona’s State Medicaid Advisory Committee, Solari Crisis & Human Services’ advisory council, and the HIMSS Americas board of advisors.
Shamia Lodge currently serves as the director of community engagement at Aventiv Technologies. Most recently a fellow with CEO Action for Racial Equity, serving as the economic empowerment platform lead overseeing the corporate engagement and public-policy strategies, Lodge is passionate about creating fair opportunities for those impacted by the justice system. Recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” in 2021 and Arizona state ambassador to the United States of Women, Lodge holds a bachelor’s degree in human-resources management and is currently pursuing her master’s in legal studies at Arizona State University. She resides in Maricopa County with her beautiful family.
Claire Louge is executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to strengthening families and protecting children. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in human development from Cornell University and her master’s in education from Northern Arizona University. Louge co-chairs Together for Arizona, a collaborative advancing child safety and well-being and serves on Arizona’s Thriving Families Safer Children initiative, which focuses on addressing racial disparities for African Americans in the child-welfare system. She also chairs the Prevention Workgroup of the Governor’s Council on Child Safety and Family Empowerment.
Noah Mundt is the founder and COO of Nexus Integrated Solutions, focusing on energy and environmental sustainability professional services to a diverse clientele, encompassing domestic, international, and global markets. As a registered professional engineer and certified energy manager, he leads the Arizona Association of Energy Engineers board and serves as vice chair on Gilbert’s Planning Commission. Mundt also contributes to corporate advisory boards for Michigan Technological University and Arizona State University. Honored in the Phoenix Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” in 2018, he earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental engineering from Michigan Tech and an MBA from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Julie Spilsbury grew up in Mesa, is a product of Mesa Public Schools, and has been active for more than 20 years volunteering in local schools. Her parents were teachers, instilling in her a drive to support those who lead our children. During her time on the Mesa City Council, Spilsbury has been a strong advocate for education and workforce development, housing, small businesses, and nonprofits, and started a #mesakindness campaign. She attended Brigham Young University. Spilsbury and her husband, Jeremy, have six children and owned a tree-care company prior to Spilsbury starting her first term on the council in 2021.
Gillian Vanasse is an accomplished, practical professional with 18 years of experience successfully developing, implementing, and managing programs specific to child safety, foster care, and adoption. In her current role at the Department of Child Safety, she works collaboratively, leading a team of professionals, assessing risk factors, and making recommendations to ensure smooth execution of operational activities. Vanasse is a solutions-oriented leader with a commitment to continuous improvement, a proven ability to prioritize and analyze multiple projects, and experience that leads to operational success. She aspires to help people in need and make process improvements to benefit families and children.
Jaime Festa-Daigle, Ed.D. serves as director of student achievement for Lake Havasu Unified School District. A native Arizonan with Valley roots, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Grand Canyon University, master’s degree from Northern Arizona University, and doctorate from Grand Canyon University. Festa-Daigle is a National Board Certified Teacher and is committed to civic-education initiatives. She currently sits on the boards for Arizona Rural Schools Association, NAU Rural Resource Center, AZK12 Center, Lake Havasu City Rotary Club, Martin-Springer Institute, and Lake Havasu Museum of History. She is the proud parent of a NAU student and an Arizona State University graduate.
Jose Arias is a vice president at First Citizens Bank, specializing in business banking and commercial lending. He started his banking career in 2006 after graduating from the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. His current community involvement includes serving as board president of Tucson Youth Development, board secretary of Greater Tucson Leadership, and Honorary Commander for the 924th Fighter Group at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. He was a Southern Arizona “40 Under 40” awardee in 2020.
Vanessa Barchfield recently joined the Center for Biological Diversity as senior communications specialist, focused on the Southwest. Previously, she was communications director and environmental-policy advisor for Pima County Supervisor Matt Heinz. A Tucson native, Barchfield also worked seven years as a producer and reporter at the NPR/PBS station Arizona Public Media, where she earned two Emmys and three Edward R. Murrow Awards. After graduating from Barnard College, Columbia University in 2004, she spent several years abroad, studying journalism in India and working as a reporter in Brazil, before moving to Austria, where she worked with the Economist Group and United Nations.
Elaine Becherer, director of special projects in the Office of Enterprise Planning at Arizona State University, has years of experience in executive administration and economic development. She previously served as chief of staff and economic-development advisor for Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and as assistant to the city manager, executing regional projects and initiatives. Becherer serves on the real-estate committee for Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, the ULI Women’s Leadership Initiative, the board of the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, and is a member of the Arizona-Mexico Commission and the Arizona Association for Economic Development. She is from Tucson and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona.
Teresa Bravo is a government-relations representative at Tucson Electric Power/UniSource Energy Services. Prior to her current role, she was the international program manager in the Pima County Attractions & Tourism Department. Bravo also worked in the Pima County Economic Development Department, engaging in business on both sides of the United States-Mexico border. Before joining Pima County, Teresa was the Native American Congressional Internship program manager at the Udall Foundation. She has worked in the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Office of Indian Affairs and for U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Arizona.
Heath Vescovi-Chiordi is director of economic development for Pima County. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish as well as a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis on local government. Vescovi-Chiordi’s areas of focus at Pima County include both economic- and workforce-development initiatives, including specific programs to aid in sustainable and diverse economic growth that increases the viability of Pima County for business attraction, retention, and expansion purposes, and by extension, creation of upwards economic mobility for the community. He currently resides in Tucson.
Adam Leckie, Ed.D. is the superintendent of the Casa Grande Elementary School District. He previously worked for 13 years in various leadership positions in the Florence Unified School District. Leckie is the past president of the Arizona Council of Administrators of Special Education and served on the executive committee for the National Council of Administrators of Special Education. He has authored several publications, including Lucky 21: A General Education Teacher’s Guide to Special Education, and journal articles on equity and special education. He resides in Queen Creek with his wife, Jessica, who is also an educator.
Vincent “Vinny” Gallegos is the executive director of the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization. He is a third-generation Mexican American born and raised in Prescott. He graduated from Northern Arizona University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in applied human behavior and community planning, and holds a Master of Public Administration, also from NAU. He serves on the Arizona Transit Association board of directors, is the chairman of the AzTA Legislative Committee, and is chairman of the Rural Transportation Advocacy Council Advisory Committee. Gallegos first started in community planning through a high-school internship for Yavapai County government. Gallegos and his wife, Deborah, have the cutest goldendoodle, named “Pippa.”
April Hepperle has served on the Prescott Valley Town Council since 2020. She also sits as chair of the First Things First Yavapai Regional Partnership Council and the Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition. In 2022, she started a nonprofit organization, A Storybook World, Inc., with a goal of cultivating a love of reading among children through stimulating outdoor activities. Hepperle has lived in Arizona for 30 years and is married with two teenagers. She has been a licensed realtor since 2014 and appreciates the knowledge of the area she has acquired from that work.
Buna George serves as executive director of the Greater Yuma Port Authority, a quasi-governmental nonprofit agency leading global trade measures throughout the Yuma area. She holds an undergraduate degree in urban planning and development from Arizona State University and is pursuing a master’s in legal studies through the University of Arizona James E. Rogers School of Law. George is involved in various nonprofit boards, including the Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Community Foundation, and the Yuma Multiversity Project. In 2021, she was recognized as one of Yuma County’s outstanding leaders under 40. She lives and works in San Luis.