The Arizona Center for Civic Leadership at the Flinn Foundation has selected 31 civic leaders from around the state for its 2020 Flinn-Brown Fellowship seminar series.
Meet the 2020 Flinn-Brown Fellows, learn their position and city of residence, and connect with them on social media.
Associate Vice President
Northern Arizona University
Daniel Palm is the associate vice president for international affairs and senior advisor for regional initiatives at Northern Arizona University.
In February 2019, Palm was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to the board of directors of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, a cross-border organization that focuses on improving the economic prosperity and quality of life for all Arizonans through strong, public-private collaborations.
Palm holds a Master of Arts in Leading Innovation and Change from York St. John University, York, England, and a Bachelor of Arts in history from Northern Arizona University. He is proficient speaker of Mandarin Chinese and lived in Beijing, China, for nearly five years, two of which he engaged in research and study at Beijing International Studies University.
Vice President of Business Attraction
Arizona Commerce Authority
Born and raised in a small town in Connecticut, Trevor Abarzua moved to Arizona at 18 years old to attend Arizona State University. Trevor’s start to his career was with Senator John McCain’s 2016 re-election campaign as a statewide field representative. After the successful campaign win, Trevor joined Gov. Doug Ducey’s team as a policy assistant, and was then promoted to director of operations and logistics for the governor.
Trevor’s current role is Vice President of Business Attraction for the Arizona Commerce Authority where he spends most his time recruiting companies from Southern California. Trevor and his fiancé, Jaena, recently bought a house in uptown Phoenix and are excited to start their lives together in Arizona.
Service Design Lead
Christian Baca is a service design lead for Maricopa County. In her role with the county’s Innovation Studio, she leads cross-departmental projects to evaluate and redesign public-facing county services. Her work focuses on solving complex problems with human-centered research and design. So far, Christian has employed her unique skill set to address issues of health care and criminal justice.
Christian received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of New Mexico and continued her studies to receive a Master of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services from Carnegie Mellon University. She is passionate about using research-based innovation to address the social issues facing society today.
Assistant City Attorney III
City of Phoenix Public Defender’s Office
Alex Benezra has been an Arizona resident since 1986. An Arizona State University and American University Washington College of Law graduate, he has represented clients charged with criminal violations since 2010 and presently works at the city of Phoenix Public Defender’s Office. He served on the Arizona Supreme Court Post Conviction Actions Task Force and currently serves on the State Bar of Arizona Criminal Justice Section executive board, the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice board of governors, and the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona regional board.
Alex is a past president of the Arizona State University Alumni Association Young Alumni Chapter and the Arizona Thurgood Marshall Inn of Court.
Chief Strategy Officer
Arizona Department of Health Services
A native Arizonan, Carla Berg has worked at the Arizona Department of Health Services for 11 years. In her current role as chief strategy officer, she carries out agency-wide strategic planning, quality improvement initiatives, accreditation efforts, and special projects. In this work, Carla coordinates the Arizona Health Improvement Plan.
She began her public health work at ADHS as an epidemiologist within the Tuberculosis Control Program. Since then, she has held roles as Bureau Chief for the licensing of health professionals and facilities as well as Office Chief for infectious disease programs. Carla holds a Bachelor of Arts in public health from the Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Health Sciences from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Roosevelt School District
Quintin Boyce was born and raised in Chicago and has been an educator since 2002. In 2005, he began working in the Phoenix Union High School District as a teacher at South Mountain and Bioscience high schools where he taught biology, chemistry, and forensics.
After earning his doctorate from Arizona State University in 2012, he moved into school level administration as the principal of Bioscience High School and later Camelback High School. Prior to joining the Roosevelt School District as the superintendent, he was the executive director of teaching and learning at Phoenix Union.
Dr. Boyce is married and has two daughters and a son. He enjoys remaining active in his community and engaging in recreational sports.
Deputy Chief of Emergency Medical Services
Mesa Fire and Medical Department
Brent Burgett currently serves as the deputy chief of emergency services for the Mesa Fire and Medical Department. He started his fire service career in 2001.
He currently serves as an active board member for the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens and also serves on state and local advisory boards across the public health and emergency response space.
Brent graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Masters of Administration in 2013 and completed the Certified Public Manager Program at Arizona State University. Brent is married to his wife, Dawn, of 12 years. They have two children, Gabriel (10) and Audrey (8).
Associate Vice President
Arizona State University
Adam Deguire serves as associate vice president in Arizona State University’s Office of Government and Community Engagement where he oversees federal and state relations and manages the university’s public policy agenda.
Prior to ASU, Adam consulted numerous political clients at the federal, state and local levels and advised multiple corporate clients with their government relations needs. Adam also served as chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon and worked for other major political organizations in Washington, D.C. A native Arizonan and proud Eagle Scout, Adam is a graduate of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix and the University of Arizona.
Associate General Counsel
Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System
Nicole Fries, a lifelong Phoenician, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in public policy, and a Juris Doctor from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.
Following a legal fellowship with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Education & Labor Committee, Nicole brought her passion for policy back to Arizona in 2017 when she became associate general counsel at Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.
Beyond her experience in health care and tribal law, Nicole is a member of the Junior League of Phoenix and chair of the American Association of Health and Human Services Attorneys.
Katelyn Harris Lange
Katelyn Harris Lange is a community connector and active writer with a passion for economic justice. She is a leadership search advisor with Y Scouts, an Arizona B Corporation working to reorient hiring around values, a philanthropist with the African-American Women’s Giving Circle through the Arizona Community Foundation, and Civic Engagement Chair for the Phoenix Urban League Young Professionals.
Katelyn earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and her Master of Public Administration from the University of North Dakota. In 2018, she completed a one-year Frédéric Bastiat Fellowship with the Mercatus Center.
CEO and Founder
A DACAmented entrepreneur, educator and dancer, Reyna Montoya is the founder and CEO of Aliento, a nonprofit leadership organization that transforms trauma into hope and action with dreamers and mixed status families impacted by the harms of lacking an immigration status.
She is an alumna of Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, and Harvard University’s Kennedy School. Reyna was born in Tijuana, Mexico, migrating to Arizona fleeing violence.
Reyna’s contributions towards the well-being of undocumented and mixed-status families earned her recognition by Forbes 30 Under 30, 2019 Phoenix Chamber ATHENA Awards, and the Muhammad Ali Center as the 2018 Humanitarian Recipient for Spirituality, among others.
Vice President for Enterprise Planning
Arizona State University
Christian Osmeña is vice president, enterprise planning, at Arizona State University, where he provides leadership on long-range strategic financial planning.
Previously, Osmeña served in California’s state government. Most recently, he was vice chancellor for the California Community Colleges. He also worked at the California Department of Finance, where he concluded his service as principal program budget analyst, and the Governor’s Office, with roles as deputy cabinet secretary and assistant to the chief of staff.
Osmeña earned an education doctorate from the University of California, Davis; a master’s degree from the University of Southern California; and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
ALL in Education
Stephanie Parra is the Executive Director of ALL In Education, which aims to ensure that the communities most impacted by education inequities are the ones making decisions for all students. Established to close the gap and achieve better representation on the state’s education policy-making bodies, ALL In Education aims to increase the number of Latino members on education boards that directly impact policy.
Stephanie is a first-generation American originally from Yuma. As one of the first in her family to attend college, Parra saw first-hand the importance of education and the wonders it can do to develop a child’s life and future.
Parra currently serves as the governing board president of the Phoenix Union High School District, representing Ward 3.
Senior Manager of Operations
Arizona Department of Administration
Jill Pernice is currently the senior manager of operations with the State Procurement Office, a division of the Arizona Department of Administration. She started her career in state service in 2011 as a budget analyst at the Governor’s Office, where she specialized in natural resource and public safety agencies.
Jill later moved on to serve in several leadership roles at the Arizona State Land Department, including the director of operations and director of administration). During her state service, Jill has played a critical role in both implementing and leading improvement projects utilizing the state’s lean-management system.
Jill received her Bachelor of Arts in music business and Master of Business Administration at New Mexico State University.
Principal Fiscal Analyst
Joint Legislative Budget Committee
Rebecca Perrera considers herself a native Arizonan. While born in Phoenix, she grew up in Georgia and graduated from University of Georgia before relocating to Arizona to be closer to family and to pursue a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Arizona.
Rebecca has cultivated an interest in the connection between bureaucratic public administration and the implementation of successful public policy. She currently serves as a Principal Fiscal Analyst at the Joint Legislative Budget Committee for the Arizona Legislature. Prior to her role at the JLBC, she worked as a performance auditor for the Arizona Auditor General.
Rebecca lives in Laveen with her husband (Nick) and two young children (Caroline and Zachary). When not crunching numbers, she enjoys trips to the zoo, Children’s Museum, and library with her family.
Food and Farm Initiatives Manager
Local First Arizona Foundation
Kate Radosevic is the Food & Farm Initiatives Manager at Local First Arizona Foundation, where she works to strengthen local economies by supporting small-scale food producers and localizing supply chains to ensure that good food is accessible to all Arizonans.
Growing up on a dairy goat farm in northern Arizona instilled in Radosevic a passion for sustainable local food systems and rural prosperity. She now holds a permaculture design certificate from the Sonoran Permaculture Institute, is a Maricopa County master gardener, and serves on the board for the newly founded multi-commodity Sun Produce Cooperative.
Mel Sanderson Consulting
Melissa (Mel) Sanderson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, when the city was still segregated, to first-generation immigrant parents. Her entry class at Xavier University was only the second to include women at the formerly all-male institution, and she was one of only seven girls. She joined the Foreign Service to represent America abroad and, following a 20-year career, returned to the private sector to join Phelps Dodge mining company in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That decision ultimately led her to Arizona, her home for the last decade, where she intends to remain.
Manager of Donor Engagement
Jack Schwimmer is currently the manager of donor engagement at the Heard Museum. He has served since 2016 on the city of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Commission, including one year as chair of the Grants Committee. Prior to joining the Heard, he worked at Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he helped lead new efforts to engage alumni and families around the world.
A graduate of Arizona State University in music performance and Southern Methodist University in business and arts management, Jack is passionate about building vibrant communities through the intersection of arts, culture, and public policy.
Adelaida V. Severson, Ph.D., is president and CEO of Bushtex, Inc. She founded Bushtex, Inc. with her husband, Barry, in 1994, as a satellite communications firm specializing in remote broadcast transmissions worldwide.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Dr. Severson has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and international relations from the University of Southern California. She received a Master of Mass Communication and a doctorate in public administration from Arizona State University. Her community involvement includes serving as an Arizona State University trustee; former Gilbert Public Schools governing board member; Gilbert Chamber of Commerce board member; National Cronkite Advisory Board; and Diocese of Phoenix Bishop’s Stewardship Advisory Council member.
Director of Strategy and Growth
Vista College Preparatory
Sam Shapiro is the director of strategy and growth for Vista College Prep, a high-performing network of public charter schools founded with the firm belief that demographics do not determine destiny. In his position, Sam oversees the planning and development of new school sites and ensures systems successfully scale to support growth.
As a Teach for America Corps Member, Sam was a founding teacher at Vista College Prep. Sam has extensive experience working in politics including digital organizing for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Sam earned a Master of Education from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Washington University in St. Louis.
Arizona Department of Education
Richie Taylor is a native of Safford, a proud graduate of our public schools, and a former board member of Equality Arizona.
He started his career working in television advertising sales in Phoenix and later worked for the Maricopa County Human Services Department, leading communications and strategic planning work. Following his time working for Maricopa County, Richie worked as a communications manager for the New York City Mayor’s office before returning to his home state to serve as communications director for the Arizona Department of Education under the leadership of Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.
Deputy Director of Communications
Arizona State Senate
Dajana Zlaticanin is the deputy director of communications for the Arizona Senate Republican Caucus. She immigrated to the United States in 2009 and has called Arizona home for almost 10 years.
Dajana is passionate about politics and has been actively engaged in positive social change in the political realm. Before working for the Senate, she worked for the Arizona State Treasurer’s Office, Arizona State University, Arizona Republican Party, and various campaigns.
Dajana holds a bachelor and master’s degree from Arizona State University and is looking forward to learning and inevitably growing furthermore during the Flinn-Brown Fellowship.
Director of Financial Aid
Mohave Community College
Attracted to helping students complete their education, Heather began working in financial aid as a student employee. She has worked at The George Washington University, Boston College, Simmons University, and most recently at Mohave Community College in Kingman.
A first-generation college student herself, Heather knows firsthand the transformative nature of a college education for both students and communities.
Heather holds an MBA in non-profit management from Simmons University and a bachelor’s degree in art history from The George Washington University. In her free time, Heather enjoys painting, cross-stitching, camping, and hiking.
Vail Academy and High School
Dennis Barger is a career public school educator who has been an administrator for the past 19 years in the Vail School District. He currently serves as the secondary division president of Arizona School Administrators and has been recognized for his leadership skills by multiple organizations, including being named Arizona’s 2016 High School Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Dennis is passionate about public education and its role within our state. The desire to get involved prompted him to run for the state legislature and be a voice for public education at the state level.
Director of Governance and Outreach
Southern Arizona Leadership Council
Nicole P. Barraza is from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. She received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Wellesley College, and her master’s degree and doctorate from Stanford University in sociolinguistics and peninsular literature.
After living in different geographic regions in both the United States and Mexico, Nicole moved to Tucson and taught at Pima Community College.
She is currently the director of governance and outreach at the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, a public policy organization that works to improve the economic climate and quality of life in Tucson and the state of Arizona. Nicole is passionate about civic engagement and wants to serve where she can have the most impact.
Regional Manager of Immigration Services
Chicanos Por La Causa
Sean Goslar was born in Tucson. He lived in Guadalajara, Mexico, with his family between ages 9 and 16 before returning to Arizona to finish high school. Sean holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in government (2015) and a Master of Public Administration (2018) from the University of Arizona.
Sean worked as a congressional caseworker for Rep. Raul Grijalva in 2010; Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2011; and Rep. Ron Barber from 2012-2014. In 2018, Sean became the program coordinator of immigration services at Catholic Community Services. For the past year and a half, Sean has worked for Chicanos Por La Causa as the regional manager of immigration services overseeing offices in Tucson and Somerton.
University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center
Ashley Hullinger is a research analyst at the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, dedicated to creating pathways for Arizona stakeholders to develop sustainable water management strategies, especially in rural watersheds. She manages the Water RAPIDS Program (Water Research and Planning Innovations for Dryland Systems), which extends through several counties in Arizona.
Ashley works directly with communities to evaluate issues that span beyond physical water resources, considering the people and history that make local water challenges and solutions unique. Her work has been based primarily in Graham, Greenlee, Gila, and Pinal counties, with goals to fortify rural water management strategies and policy options throughout the state.
LOOK! Save A Life
Brendan Lyons holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Arizona, focusing in collaborative governance. While serving as a firefighter, Brendan became concerned about distracted driving after responding to far too many crashes. So, he launched the nonprofit LOOK! Save A Life to create awareness. A year later, he became a statistic of the very epidemic he advocated against. Throughout his recovery, he threw himself into fighting for tougher laws. He set aside partisan politics to work with Republicans and Democrats in local and state government.
With overwhelming bipartisan support, in 2019 Gov. Doug Ducey signed Arizona’s Hands-Free, Distracted-Driving Law. Now, Brendan’s building upon his experiences, campaigning to be the next state representative in Arizona’s 9th legislative district.
CEO and Clinical Director
ABA Consulting Group-Autism Pediatrics
Yvette-Marie Margaillan is the founder and CEO of ABA Consulting Group-Autism Pediatrics, a business consulting firm and private medical practice focused on improving client performance metrics and increasing skills for children with special needs to thrive.
A first-generation Arizonan, Yvette-Marie is bilingual and bicultural. An advocate of STEM, she supports organizations seeking innovative solutions to local problems through the use of evidence-based practice and scientific inquiry.
Her primary areas of focus outside of STEM are financial literacy development, access to quality health care, and access to a competitive education.
Raytheon Missiles and Defense
Stefanie Murphy is an ATF Compliance Advisor at Raytheon Missiles and Defense in Tucson.
Stefanie joined Raytheon in May 2018 in global trade and supports the application of U.S. Government export/import regulations. Prior to joining Raytheon, Stefanie worked for Maricopa County Supervisor Denny Barney as the deputy administrator for District 1. She also held positions at the state of Arizona, including director of constituent services in the Governor’s Office and board administrator to the Arizona State Liquor Board.
Stefanie studied business administration and received a bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University and a MBA from Western International University.
Tucson Young Professionals
Zach Yentzer’s been intentional to work at the intersection of neighborhood and housing policy, and workforce and economic development to shape an inclusive, innovative future for Tucson.
He’s the executive director of Tucson Young Professionals and serves on the Tucson Metro Chamber’s Talent Taskforce. Zach’s the president of the Menlo Park Neighborhood Association, a member of the Barrio Neighborhood Coalition, and serves on the Downtown Neighborhoods and Residents Council and the Downtown Tucson Partnership (DTP) board.
Zach hosts the daily talk show “Tipping Point” on AM 1030 The Voice, and was named Tucson’s 2019 40 Under 40 Man of the Year.