Alumni Council

The seven-member Flinn Alumni Council supports the Flinn Scholars Program by providing feedback and advice to Flinn Foundation staff, undertaking initiatives to enhance the experience of current Flinn Scholars, and cultivating a meaningful network of Flinn Scholar alumni.

Meet the Flinn Alumni Council:

Samantha Winter McAlpin (Chair)

General Attorney (Tax)
IRS, Office of Chief Counsel
Flinn Scholar Class of 2004
Arizona State University

Samantha Winter McAlpin graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University in 2008 with degrees in English literature, Spanish, and history. She earned her law degree at Notre Dame Law School in 2011, and her LL.M. in taxation from the University of San Diego School of Law in 2015. Samantha practices law as an estate planner and probate litigator with Gust Rosenfeld, P.L.C., and maintains an active pro bono practice assisting detained children in deportation proceedings with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. In addition to her work with the Alumni Council, Samantha is the community outreach chair of the League, the Young Professionals Council of the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA, serves as an Emerging Leader on the ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council, judges high-school mock trial competitions, and sings with the ASU Choral Union.

Shantanu Bala (Incoming Chair)

Product Engineer
Flinn Scholar Class of 2011
Arizona State University

Shantanu Bala has spent the past decade building wearable computers and multimedia software. At Culdesac, he integrates ubiquitous computing into the first car-free neighborhood built from scratch in the United States. In his previous role as CEO of Somatic Labs, he oversaw the design, engineering, manufacture, and distribution of haptic interfaces on behalf of three Fortune 500 R&D groups, two large aerospace companies, and hundreds of individuals. While pursuing undergraduate degrees in computer science and psychology at Arizona State University, he conducted human-computer interaction research at the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing for six years. He was awarded a Thiel Fellowship in 2014, and his contributions to the field of tangible media received first place awards at the Alphalab International Hardware Cup, NASA iTech, and ASU Innovation Open. As someone who has collaborated with Flinn Scholars throughout his career, Shantanu brings enthusiasm for helping foster the same connections in future classes.

Jennifer Banks (Past Chair)

English Teacher
Kyrene Centennial Middle School
Flinn Scholar Class of 1991
Arizona State University

Halfway through college, a literacy and politics class revealed to Jennifer Banks why she dreaded writing assignments. She switched from pursuing a science degree to becoming an English teacher and spent two years figuring out how to help high-school students embrace writing. She ultimately sparked her own desire to pursue a communications career and now has 20-plus years’ experience writing and editing for various projects and organizations, including two National Science Foundation projects and the national magazine Principal. Her passion remains understanding the writing process, which has led her back to teaching. She has volunteered with multiple education-related organizations and enjoys creative writing, photography, hiking, and playing and coaching volleyball. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English education from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts in English from George Mason University.

Timothy Ellsworth Bowers

Timothy Ellsworth Bowers
Support Astronomer
Lowell Observatory
Flinn Scholar Class of 1997
University of Arizona

Timothy Ellsworth Bowers is raising a family in Flagstaff and working a dream job at Lowell Observatory. He attended the University of Arizona, where he eventually obtained degrees in physics and science education while enjoying the quiet of the desert and telescopes on the surrounding mountains. After teaching high-school and community-college physics in Flagstaff, he earned his doctorate at the University of Colorado Boulder in astrophysics before returning to Arizona. In addition to the stars, he is passionate about children in foster care, serving as a board member for Arizona’s Children Association; gardening, especially apple trees; and local history, both human and geologic. Timothy is excited to be able to help weave together the lives of current Scholars with the wider Flinn Alumni community.

Breanne Bushu

Education Policy Leader, Strategic Planner, & Education Designer
Flinn Scholar Class of 2002
University of Arizona

Breanne Bushu serves as an education consultant who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy from University of Arizona. She brings to the Flinn Alumni Council expertise in education public policy research, strategic planning, and systems design—from experiences working in schools, nonprofits, and the Arizona Legislature. Breanne is particularly excited to serve on the Alumni Council because of her lifelong commitment to Arizona students and to give back to the Flinn Foundation for its ongoing support. Breanne is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from the University of Arizona, where she earned a Master of Education in educational leadership and Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art. She is also a 2016 Flinn-Brown Fellow.

Heidi Ernst

Fiduciary Investigator
Maricopa County
Flinn Scholar Class of 1998
Arizona State University

Heidi Ernst is passionate about people, literature, music, the outdoors, and most things about being alive. She is from the Flinn Scholar Class of 1998, attended Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University (with degrees in psychology and integrated studies), and Phoenix School of Law. She loves puzzles of all kinds; her latest endeavor is the Rubik’s Cube. She is committed to civil service and advocating for individual rights and liberties. She has been a teacher and a professional taiko drummer, has worked in both for-profit concerns and nonprofit organizations, loves the color red, and is frustrated by blanket negativity. She joined the Alumni Council to continue to engage with the Flinn Scholars Program and help students be better, stronger, faster, and smarter than she ever was.

Benjamin Sanchez

Antitrust and Transportation Attorney
Hogan Lovells
Flinn Scholar Class of 2009
Arizona State University

Benjamin Sanchez is an antitrust and transportation attorney at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C. He represents transportation companies before the federal government and maintains an active pro bono practice working on housing, civil rights, and transportation equity matters. His childhood love of trains and planes was nurtured into a professional vocation by his Flinn-sponsored travel to Madrid, Spain; Seoul, South Korea; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. After a year of riding world-class commuter rail, one of the world’s most expansive subway systems, and witnessing infrastructure failures in one of the largest cities, he returned to Arizona State University focused on the study of transportation and graduated summa cum laude with degrees in geography and economics. After spending time at American Airlines, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Regional Transportation District, the Maricopa Association of Governments, and the Tempe Transportation Commission, he returned to school and received a Master of Science in Transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a law degree from Harvard Law School.

Past Alumni Council Members

Ruth Allard Past Chair
Flinn Scholar Class of 1990

Ruben Alonzo
Flinn Scholar Class of 2001

Aaron Cain
Flinn Scholar Class of 1997

Michael ChuPast Chair
Flinn Scholar Class of 1992

Darryl Davis-Rosas
Flinn Scholar Class of 2006

Nathan Johnson
Flinn Scholar Class of 1986

Ajay Karpur
Flinn Scholar Class of 2012

Renata Keller
Flinn Scholar Class of 2000

Arielle King
Flinn Scholar Class of 2007

Susan Luu (Lai) Past Chair
Flinn Scholar Class of 1987

Michael Mitchell
Flinn Scholar Class of 1986

Margaret Neff
Flinn Scholar Class of 2003

Am Norgren
Flinn Scholar Class of 2006

Matt Rolland
Flinn Scholar Class of 2005

Amy Shahar (Stabler)Past Chair
Flinn Scholar Class of 2007

The Flinn Scholars Directory