Meet the 2024 Flinn-Brown Fellows


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 2024 Fellows, learn about their careers and public service, the communities they represent, and connect with them on social media.

Cochise County


Jason Zibart

Community Connected Health Manager

Benson Hospital

Jason Zibart has worked in the healthcare sector for 17 years. He is known for his adeptness in developing and implementing community health programs and fostering strong relationships with stakeholders and healthcare professionals to help people live their healthiest lives. Jason has been recognized for his work in rural health as the recipient of Arizona’s Community Star Award from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health in 2020, the Exceptional Rural Healthcare Professional of the Year award by the Arizona Rural Health Assocaiation in 2022, and the University of Arizona Extensionist of the Year award in 2023.

Coconino County


The Honorable Austin Aslan

Vice Mayor

City of Flagstaff

The Honorable Austin Aslan was elected to a second term on the Flagstaff City Council in 2022. Born and raised in Arizona, Austin grew up the son of a firefighter in Prescott and was himself a certified ALS first responder. Austin received a Master’s in Conservation Biology at University of Hawaii Hilo, as well as an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.  Austin’s debut Random House novel, The Islands at the End of the World, was named a Best Book of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews. Austin’s eco adventure series, The Endangereds, co-authored with acclaimed environmentalist Philippe Cousteau Jr., is long-listed for the Green Earth Book Award.


The Honorable Lori Matthews

City Councilmember

City of Flagstaff

The Honorable Lori Matthews is a councilmember for the city of Flagstaff as well as the founder and executive director of a local nonprofit transitional housing agency, ANEW Living. In her official council capacity, Lori serves on several boards and commissions.  She is the city’s liaison for the Indigenous Commission, board member for Mountain Line, Coconino County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council as well as the Coconino Plateau Water advisory council. Prior to running for council, Lori had a business consulting firm providing chief financial officer services to small and midsize businesses. Lori earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix.


Jennifer Richards, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Johns Hopkins University Center for Indigenous Health

Dr. Jennifer Richards (Diné/Lakota/Taos Pueblo) is an assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health. With more than 15 years of public health experience in Southwest and Northern Plains tribes, her research focuses on reducing American Indian (AI) health inequities through family and child health (FCH) approaches and Indigenous research methodologies. Since 2013, Jennifer has led various FCH initiatives including: early childhood home visiting, diabetes prevention, teen pregnancy prevention, adolescent health promotion and fatherhood empowerment. Jennifer obtained both her Master of Public Health in maternal and child health and Ph.D. in health behavior/health promotion from the University of Arizona.

Graham County


Vance Bryce

Executive Director

Graham County Chamber of Commerce

Vance Bryce is the executive director of the Graham County Chamber of Commerce. In this role he leads the business community, tourism, and leadership training efforts for the region. He serves on the Southern Arizona Sports, Tourism, and Film Authority board, is the chair of the Graham County Fair and Racing Association, and is secretary of the Safford Rotary Club. He previously worked as a Congressional Aide in Washington, D.C., attended Brigham Young University, and was the Student Body President at Thatcher High School in Thatcher. Vance is the proud uncle of 24 nieces and nephews.

Maricopa County


Carlos Alfaro

Southwest Director

Alder

Carlos Alfaro is from Guadalajara, Mexico, and was raised in Phoenix. By working to foster constructive conversations on public policy, Carlos has emerged as a trusted political advisor, particularly renowned for his pivotal role in Arizona state elections.  Carlos is bridging policy ideas to action by leading three statewide ballot initiatives, advocating at the Arizona Legislature, and by directing policy delegations to New York City and Washington, D.C. Most recently, he served as campaign manager for the successful Proposition 308. Carlos is the founder of Arizona Talks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing civic engagement and improving Arizona’s public discourse. Carlos is bilingual in Spanish and a percussionist for over 20 years.


Michelle Beaver

Founder and Director

PEN Arizona

Michelle Beaver is founder and director of PEN Arizona, part of PEN America, the oldest and most prestigious literary association in the world. Founded in 1922, PEN works at the intersection of literature and human rights to promote free expression locally and worldwide. Michelle’s work leading PEN Arizona has included collaborating with politicians, journalists, and writers to bolster literature statewide, as well as fighting disinformation and book banning. Michelle teaches for ASU’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, has served on nonprofit boards and volunteered for Arizona causes every week for 20 years, most serving at-risk teens.


The Honorable Deborah Ann Begay, J.D.

Justice of the Peace

Maricopa County Justice Courts

The Honorable Deborah Ann Begay is an enrolled member of Navajo Nation. Nakai Dine’é nishłį́,Kinyaa’áanii báshíshchíín,Dził tł’ahnii dashicheii,Tódích’íi’nii dashinálí, Deborah Ann Begay yinishyé. This is her identity as a Diné woman. She made history four years ago when she became the first Native American elected to the Maricopa Justice Courts. She is currently the Justice of the Peace for Moon Valley.   Judge Begay holds a Juris Doctorate from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and a bachelor of arts in Native American history from the University of California, Berkeley. She has served over 18 years in the Naval Reserves.


Bridget Fitzgibbons, N.M.D.

Physician
Private Practice

Dr. Bridget Fitzgibbons, a leading physician with expertise in psychology and social work, champions human trafficking awareness within healthcare. An Excellence in Public Service Dodie Londen Scholar, board member of Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association (AZNMA) and key opinion leader in the medical community, she empowers healthcare professionals to fight this critical battle. Beyond safeguarding the vulnerable, Dr. Fitzgibbons’ efforts not only aim to address healthcare shortages and lead advancements in medicine but also extend to shaping policies and initiatives that impact healthcare delivery. Driven by a deep commitment to Arizona, she bridges her passion for healthcare and policy to address the state’s most pressing medical challenges.


Lloyd Hopkins II

Executive Director/Founder
Million Dollar Teacher Project

Lloyd Hopkins II is an organizational leader with extensive experience in community and nonprofit work. He has worked in and around education for 20 years. He graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in nonprofit management and leadership and took his passion for ensuring quality education for all to launch the teacher recruitment and retention program, Million Dollar Teacher Project. As a community leader, he has chaired targeted work with entities like Achieve60AZ, the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Governor on initiatives aimed at strengthening college attainment for African American youth and improving teacher retention efforts across Arizona.


Rebecca McKay

Data Science Specialist Principal
ASU Helios Decision Center

Rebecca McKay is a data science principal and software engineer with the ASU Helios Decision Center. The charge of the center is to build the infrastructure for a modern, data-based system of decision-making that improves outcomes for students. Rebecca has more than 20 years of experience in data and technology, and most recently served as the senior director of systems development for ASSIST, the Arizona State System for Information on Student Transfer. In 2021, she developed the Post Secondary Feedback Reports which has been instrumental in connecting PK-12 and college data.


T.J. Mitchell, J.D.

Chief of Staff, Supervisor Bill Gates
Maricopa County

T.J. Mitchell brings his legal and political skillset as a prior litigator, zoning, and real estate attorney to bear at Maricopa County by helping Supervisor Bill Gates develop and set policy that makes Maricopa County the best place to live in Arizona. Prior to joining Maricopa County, T.J.’s practice focused on assisting clients obtain governmental approvals including rezoning cases, use permits, and variances. T.J. also has substantial experience in financial and business litigation, having represented individuals and firms in private, commercial lawsuits, FINRA arbitrations and in front of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Arizona Corporation Commission.


Allison Otu

Executive Director, Marketing and Communications
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Arizona State University

Allison Otu is a seasoned leader known for her expertise in driving organizational success through impactful brand and community engagement. Otu currently serves as the executive director of marketing and communications at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. She has held influential positions, including Associate Vice President of Outreach at ASU and organized Connect2STEM, Phoenix’s largest STEM event at the University of Arizona. Otu is a Phoenix Women’s Commission member and serves on several boards. She holds an Executive MBA from the University of Arizona and a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism from Ball State University.


Vanessa Ruiz

Deputy Vice President, Educational Outreach and Student Services
Arizona State University

Vanessa Ruiz is deputy vice president for educational outreach at Arizona State University, leading teams in creating and implementing strategic engagement and enrollment, as well as partnerships with K-12 schools, industry, and nonprofits to advance the educational attainment and economic opportunity for diverse communities across Arizona—impacting over 100,000 students and families every year. As an Emmy award-winning journalist, Ruiz currently serves as fill-in anchor for PBS NewsHour West. Prior to joining ASU, she was a reporter, correspondent, and news anchor in Miami, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, where she was evening anchor for NBC Channel 12. She also serves on boards for the Phoenix Art Museum and CALA Alliance.


Stephanie Soto

Director of Operations
Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Stephanie Soto grew up on the border in Nogales, Arizona, and is a first-generation citizen who earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree from the University of Arizona. Her passion is being a public servant for the multicultural Arizona community.  Previously, she helped fund entrepreneurs who faced economic hardship due to COVID-19. She loves being involved in the community and was elected to be part of the Greater Tucson Leadership Program.  As the director of operations at the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Phoenix, Stephanie’s goals are to help the community and guide entrepreneurs.


Robert “Nick” Staab, M.D.

Assistant Medical Director
Maricopa County Department of Public Health

Dr. Nick Staab is the assistant medical director for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. Dr. Staab is a medical epidemiologist and previously served as medical director for the Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control at the Arizona Department of Health Services before joining Maricopa County Department of Public Health in 2020. He works clinically as a pediatric hospitalist and is trained in microbiology and emerging infectious diseases. He has recently worked through a variety of public health emergencies including the COVID-19 pandemic, mpox, measles, and locally acquired dengue infections.


Emily Steiner, J.D.

Deputy General Counsel
Arizona Department of Child Safety

Emily Steiner was born and raised in Arizona and has dedicated her career to serving the public interest. She is currently the deputy general counsel of the Arizona Department of Child Safety. She was previously managing attorney of a nonprofit law firm serving survivors of foster care, violence, and human trafficking, and an assistant attorney general in the child welfare section. She graduated magna cum laude from the Drexel University Kline School of Law in 2018, where she completed more than 100 hours of pro bono work. Her volunteer positions included a clerkship with Juvenile Law Center and a fellowship position teaching constitutional rights to high school youth.


Javier Torres, J.D.

Assistant United States Attorney
United States Attorney’s Office
District of Arizona

Javier Torres is an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona under the U.S. Department of Justice, where he represents the United States in federal court. Javier was previously in private practice at Stinson LLP in Phoenix and Cooley LLP in Palo Alto, California. Javier serves on the board of directors of Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, the board of Los Abogados, and serves on the Maricopa County Commission on Trial Court Appointments. Javier and his wife, Ginger Sykes Torres, live in Phoenix and have three small children, who enjoy basketball, ballet, and performing the Native American hoop dance.


Judah Waxelbaum

Chief Legislative Liaison
Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona

Judah Waxelbaum serves as the chief legislative liaison of the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona. Judah has spent nearly a decade in Arizona politics and legislative affairs, encompassing statewide campaigns and successful legislative portfolios. He is a proud two-time graduate of Arizona State University, having received his Master of Public Policy (environmental policy) and Bachelor of Science in political science. Judah is a regular opinion editorial contributor in his free time, appearing in numerous publications such as the Jerusalem Post and Washington Examiner.

Mohave County


The Honorable Cameron Moses

Owner/General Manager
Cha-Bones Steakhouse

The Honorable Cameron Moses is a Lake Havasu High School and University of Arizona alumni and vice mayor of Lake Havasu City. He is a founding member and past president of the Only Orchids Charity. He is a Rotarian. He is a local business owner of Cha-Bones Steakhouse and Tapas Bar. He is a husband and father to two amazing little girls. As a resident and business owner in Lake Havasu City for more than 18 years, he is incredibly grateful to call Lake Havasu City home. He’s proud to have graduated from Lake Havasu High School, to have met his wife here, and to be raising his family in the same neighborhoods and schools as where he grew up.

Pima County


Tina Dorsey

Vice President, Commercial Banking
First Citizens Bank

Tina Dorsey is vice president of commercial banking at First Citizens Bank in Tucson. She has been in business and commercial banking for the last 16 years, and has lived in Tucson for 35-plus years, now with her blended family of six. She has been involved in various professional and community organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House of Southern Arizona, CREW Tucson, Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Tucson Values Teachers, and others. Tina is passionate about the work she does for the business community and her civic involvement. She has a vested interest in the health and success of the greater community and our local economy.


Manuel Felix

Founder & CEO
AZ Cyber Initiative

Manny Felix is the founder and CEO of AZ Cyber Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering youth careers in cyber and emergent technology. He is also managing director at grIP Venture Studio, an organization of sector specialists advising investors and emerging companies. A commissioned U.S .Naval Intelligence Officer and former cryptologic technician, Manny’s diverse background spans startups, management consulting, government, and military. He holds bachelor degrees in political science and Spanish translation/interpretation from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in applied intelligence from Georgetown University, specializing in cyber defense, law enforcement, and national security.


The Honorable Alexa Lucchese

Government Affairs Manager
Cox Communications

The Honorable Alexa Lucchese is an Arizona native and graduated from Arizona State University. Alexa is currently a government affairs manager for Cox Communications overseeing Cox’s relationships with southern Arizona cities, towns, and counties. Prior to living in Tucson, Alexa grew up in Prescott and is a proud product of Arizona public schools. She was elected to the Prescott City Council in 2017 for a four-year term and served as Mayor Pro Tem in 2021. While at ASU, Alexa was a part of the Tillman Scholars leadership program and was later selected as the 2018 national Truman Scholar representing Arizona. Alexa lives in Tucson with her husband and desert-dwelling husky.


Erica Yngve

President/Owner Managing Contractor
Sonoran Stitch Factory, Postcraft Products, AZ Stitch Lab

Erica Yngve is a serial entrepreneur in Tucson and the founder and owner of Sonoran Stitch Factory, a cut/ sew manufacturer, and Postcraft Products, producing commercial bed and bath products. Erica also manages AZ Stitch Lab, a nonprofit workforce development program training industrial sewists. Erica has a Bachelor of Science in business management, a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies from the University of Arizona, and an MBA from DePaul University in Chicago. She has won several awards for her ventures, including Tucson Metro Chamber’s “Startup Business of the Year” in 2022, and “Business Leader of the Year” in 2023. She is passionate about creating quality USA-made products and empowering local workforce initiatives.

Pinal County


The Honorable Tara Walter

Mayor, Town of Florence
Assistant Principal
Florence Unified School District

The Honorable Tara Walter, mayor of Florence, is a steadfast public servant dedicated to driving progress in public safety, economic development, and strategic planning while upholding fiscal responsibility. With over 20 years of experience in education, Tara also serves as an assistant principal, leveraging her expertise to ensure the success of students. Her deep commitment to the community is demonstrated through her active involvement in various boards and committees, including the Arizona Mayor’s Educational Roundtable, Pinal Regional Partnership: First Things First Board, and Local Emergency Planning Committee. Tara’s unwavering passion for serving her community shines through in every endeavor she undertakes. 

Yavapai County


Steve King

Retired Superintendent
Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District

Steve King has had a more than 30-year career in Arizona as a teacher’s aide through superintendent in rural, urban, and suburban public, charter, and private schools. Steve has broad experience with educational policy, finance, law, governance, curriculum and instruction, safety, community collaborations, and school operations. He is student and family-focused and believes in the imperative of education in positively affecting the trajectory of children and communities.

Yuma County


Rodney Short, J.D.

Deputy City Attorney
City of Yuma

Rodney Short is the deputy city attorney/government relations for the city of Yuma. His primary duties include litigation, water law, and he is the designated lobbyist. A proud graduate of Yuma High School (Go Criminals!), Rodney also holds a Bachelor of Science in geosciences from the University of Arizona and a law degree from Oklahoma City University. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Yuma Community Food Bank and previously served on the board of Amberly’s Place, serving victims of violence or abuse. Rodney is a member of Caballeros de Yuma and a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. Rodney resides in Yuma with his wife, Melissa, a financial advisor, and their rescue dog, Holly.


Lorraine Stofft

Vice President for Advancement,
Executive Director of the AWC Foundation
Arizona Western College

Lorraine Stofft has been hiking, paddling, and wandering across Arizona since birth. Hailing from Tucson, Lori brings passion to two cornerstones of democracy: a free press and public education. She spent 17 years getting ink on her clothes in marketing for the Yuma Sun newspaper, and the past 15 working to eliminate poverty at Arizona Western College. An arts advocate, Lori has fiddled in country and folk bands for 25 years. She also co-produced a 16-year independent film series in downtown Yuma, and she writes poetry and fiction. She recently started section hiking the stunning Arizona Trail, because backpacking seems the ideal antidote to a hectic modern life.