Alumni Council

The nine-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:

Jennifer Banks (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.

Samantha Winter McAlpin (Incoming Chair)

Gust Rosenfeld, P.L.C.
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.

Ruth Allard (Past Chair)

Vice President, Conservation and Education
Arizona Center for Nature Conservation / Phoenix Zoo
Flinn Scholar Class of 1990
University of Arizona

Ruth Allard is the vice president for conservation and education for the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation based at the Phoenix Zoo. She oversees ACNC’s conservation-science and field-research efforts and its educational programming and volunteer-management teams. She holds an M.E.M. from Duke University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona. Conducting studies on butterfly learning and sea-turtle nesting helped her realize that she prefers science communication and community partnerships to basic research. When not at work, Ruth enjoys spending time being silly with her family. Ruth has served on the Alumni Council since 2011 and especially enjoys talking with students and alumni who are looking for reassurance that it’s okay to not know exactly what they’re doing or where they’re headed.

Shantanu Bala

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.

Breanne Bushu

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

Breanne Bushu previously served as Achieve60AZ’s director, policy and communications, leading statewide strategic efforts to raise the postsecondary attainment rate among Arizonans. She brings to the Flinn Alumni Council expertise in education public-policy research, strategic planning, and systems design—from experiences working in schools, to nonprofits, to 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.

Darryl Davis-Rosas

Manufacturing Engineer
Procter & Gamble
Flinn Scholar Class of 2006
University of Arizona

Darryl Davis-Rosas graduated from the University of Arizona in 2012 with a degree in chemical engineering. He stayed in Tucson for a few years, working in the mining industry, until he found a passion for food science, at which time he moved to the Chicago area to work for a food-ingredient manufacturer while completing his master’s degree in food science and human nutrition from the University of Illinois. Tired of snow, he recently moved back to the Phoenix area and accepted a food-engineering-based role with Procter & Gamble. In his free time, he enjoys cycling, scuba diving, and homebrewing. He recently started flight lessons for his private pilot’s license. He’s active in the Institute of Food Technologists and Engineers Without Borders. He joined the Alumni Council with hopes of providing perspective as a first-generation college graduate.

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.

Ajay Karpur

Software Engineer
Amazon AI
Flinn Scholar Class of 2012
Arizona State University

When he was at Arizona State University as a Flinn Scholar, Ajay Karpur studied electrical engineering. He is fascinated by the intersections between information theory, hardware, software, language, and biology. He has followed these interests in various directions: He has worked as a research assistant in neural engineering and haptics, as CTO of Somatic Labs (a wearable-haptics company co-founded with two other Flinn Scholars), and currently, as a machine-learning software engineer at Amazon Web Services. He. believes the best part of being a Flinn Scholar is the wonderful community of kind, curious, and intelligent people you get to be friends with. He joined the Alumni Council to create more opportunities for Scholars and alumni to come together and have the delightful conversations with one another that they all love.

Matt Rolland

Director of Programs and Community Outreach
Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance/ Catalyst Arts & Maker Space
Flinn Scholar Class of 2005
University of Arizona

Matt Rolland has had a fiddle in his hand since the age of 4. Best known as the bandleader and fiddle player for the Tucson-based band, Run Boy Run, Matt has performed at festivals and concert halls across the country, released six studio albums and was twice featured on American Public Media’s popular radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion.” In addition to being a touring musician and recording artist, the Class of 2005 Flinn Scholar is the director of programs and community outreach at SAACA (Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance) and serves as president of the Tucson Folk Festival. Matt is a graduate of the University of Arizona, where he studied economics and international studies and was a 2010 Fulbright Scholar to Mexico. He is excited to serve on the Alumni Council to contribute to its outreach efforts, engage with the Flinn community, which was such an essential aspect of his undergrad experience, and support the foundation’s ongoing work in the Arizona arts-and-culture sector.

Past Alumni Council Members

Ruben Alonzo
Flinn Scholar Class of 2001

Aaron Cain
Flinn Scholar Class of 1997

Michael ChuPast Chair
Flinn Scholar Class of 1992

Nathan Johnson
Flinn Scholar Class of 1986

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

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

The Flinn Scholars Directory