Kim Graham joined the Arizona Educational Foundation as Executive Director in 2018. Previously, she served as Deputy Director of Louisiana A+ Schools for the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts in New Orleans. Graham is the former Director of Education and Community Engagement at The Phoenix Symphony where she created “Mind Over Music,” a unique STEAM collaboration between Symphony musicians and teachers. Most of her professional career was spent in Nashville, where she created nationally known arts integration initiatives during her tenure as Director of Arts Education for the Tennessee Arts Commission. Graham has successfully written and received multi-million dollar grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her programs for schools have been cited by the National Governor’s Association as models for states seeking education reform through the arts. Graham is the former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Arts Education Advisory Group and has taught workshops and served as a panelist for The John F. Kennedy Center, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Arts Education Partnership. Kim holds a Master of Arts Degree in Theatre and Speech Communications, a Master of Arts Degree in English, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Arts.
Director, Programs & Partnerships
Matthew was born in Illinois but raised in Arizona. He's a product of the Arizona public school system and a graduate of Northern Arizona University. Matthew has made his career developing and enhancing a diversity of youth programs at schools, private country clubs, child cares, and a number of non-profits. He is passionate about children receiving a diverse education rife with opportunities in STEM, arts, and athletics. While he was never a full time teacher, Matthew substitute taught in the Payson Unified School District and taught elective classes such as theater and yearbook to middle schoolers in Ahwatukee. Those experiences gave him a small taste of the challenges today's faculty and staff face in education. Matthew is passionate about shining a spotlight on the love and dedication these individuals give to the children in their schools and in their classrooms. When he's not working, Matthew can be found volunteering for local non-profits, coaching youth sports, or DJing school dances.
Renee joined Intel Corporation in 1995 and served as the Community Affairs Manager until March 2021.Her responsibilities included managing Intel’s grants and strategic relationships as well as neighbor relations and K-20 Education program. She also served as new hire integration manager and a member of the Diversity community of practice within her organization. Prior to her current position, Renee led Intel’s corporate volunteer program where she was a member of the Diversity Leadership Team. One of her favorite activities was recruiting STEM professionals to speak to students about careers in technology, math & science. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kansas and is a graduate of Valley Leadership Class 31. Renee served on the Board of Trustees for Arizona Educational Foundation from 2009-2021. She was also a board member for Chandler Chamber of Commerce, Chandler Cultural Foundation and the SciTech Institute (formerly known as the Arizona Technology Council Foundation). In 2015, she was appointed to the Governor’s Commission for Service & Volunteerism. In 2017, Renee was recognized as one of Phoenix’s Outstanding Women in Business by the Phoenix Business Journal. Moving from Shawnee Mission Kansas in 1993, Renee has lived in Chandler for 28 years. In her spare time, she likes to volunteer, read, travel, SCUBA dive and ride her Harley.
board of directors.
Ann K. Allison, Ed.D, Community Volunteer
Ann Allison, Ed.D., a longtime K-12 educator, first became involved with AEF as an A+ School of Excellence™ Principal. During her time as a board member, Ann has been involved in all of AEF’s programs including providing instruction for the Principals Leadership Academy of Arizona and has served for numerous years on the Arizona Teacher of the Year panel. She has been on AEF’s Board since 2004 and was also the Chair of the College of Education at Argosy University, Phoenix, where she established a strong partnership with AEF through the Teacher of the Year and Principals Leadership Academy of Arizona.
Jodi Chesbro, 1996 AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador for Excellence and Teacher at Sierra Verde STEAM Academy
Jodi Chesbro has been teaching Language Arts to seventh and eighth graders in Arizona for over 30 years. An Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador, Jodi has worked with AEF since she earned the honor in 1996. Not only passionate about students and teaching, Jodi works with the AEF A+ School of Excellence program. “I love visiting fabulous schools across the state and stealing ideas. Observing top-notch teachers in the classroom is the best professional development.” She also worked on the national level with the U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Schools for 4 years. In her free time, Jodi hikes with her husband John, and furry son Buckley.
Jim Colletti, Owner, Elements Studio West
Often referred to as a detail manager and a bridge-builder, Jim Colletti has become known as the go-to in all areas of business, with a strong focus on branding, marketing and advertising, for-profit and non-profit business management and development, client and project management and entertainment and experiential event management. He is always available and willing to help others grow and prosper. A true team-builder with positive and uplifting energy. Process-minded and results-driven with a history of success. As owner of the boutique design and creative agencies Element Design (1997) and Element Studios West, LLC (2014), Jim has applied his strong experience in creative service management, printing and marketing while serving a wide variety of clients including Dial Corporation, Microchip, APS, Petsmart, America West and Hawaiian Airlines, Intel, Motorola, Hard Rock Café and others. In 2001, Jim partnered with Precision Dynamics International (PDI) in support of the automobile industry, serving the North American headquarters of Nissan North America, INFINITI, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and KIA Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, BMW, Honda Motors and others, including global divisions in Canada, the Middle East and Japan. Most recently, Jim has joined the management team in support of B.R.A.K.E.S., a national non-profit organization promoting safe driving for teens though a hands-on, behind-the-wheel advanced driving school. Jim is responsible for fund development, partner relations and general management.
Jim has served on many community and non-profit boards in areas of education, film, arts and theater and currently sits on advisory boards for several non-profit organizations.
Michelle Doherty, 2017 Arizona Teacher of the Year, and Encanto Elementary Teacher (retired)
Michelle Doherty was a first-grade dual language teacher and mentor coach at Encanto Elementary in the Osborn School District for 25 years. She proudly invested her ENTIRE teaching career for the same district and the same school. Michelle was born and raised in Arizona, and is a first-generation college graduate. She is continuing her love for teaching by supporting and mentoring new teachers in the Arizona Teachers Academy, and is also an adjunct faculty member for Northern Arizona University. Michelle supports many inspiring programs within AEF, including, the selection of Arizona Teacher of the Year, the A+ School of Excellence program, and Our World. Michelle was recognized at the Arizona Educational Foundation 2017 Arizona Teacher of the Year, the 2016-2017 Osborn School District Teacher of the Year, and the 2015 Chicanos Por La Causa Esperanza Latino Teacher of the Year. Michelle received her B.A. in Early Childhood Education and her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in reading and early childhood education from Arizona State University. She feels it is a privilege and an honor to work in the field of education, and is most passionate about providing a quality education for all.
Suzanne Durkin-Bighorn, President & CEO, The Philanthropy Outsource
Suzanne Durkin-Bighorn began her work in the community as a parent volunteer in the Tempe Union High School District. Her many years of service in the schools lead her to build a career in community relations, leadership development, strategic planning and capacity building, primarily focused in the nonprofit sector. With more than 10 years’ experience, Suzanne has also devoted her life to volunteer service, sitting on multiple boards, commissions, and committees. She is the past President of the Tempe Leadership Council, is on the ASU National Alumni Council, ASU Wings of Gold advisory board, and participates in the Flinn Foundation Leadership dialogs. In May 2018 Durkin-Bighorn completed her Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management at ASU, her under graduate degree is in Public Administration and Recreation Management. She and her husband Lyle reside in Tempe, they enjoy golf, ASU athletics, travel, and spending time with friends and family. They have two grown daughters that also live in Tempe.
Joseph Garcia, Executive Director of the Chicanos Por La Causa Action Fund and Vice President of Public Policy at Chicanos Por La Causa
Prior to joining Chicanos Por La Causa in November 2019, Garcia was Director of Communication and Community Impact at ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy. During his 10 years at ASU, he was founding director of the Morrison Institute Latino Public Policy Center. Garcia, who still teaches at ASU Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has an extensive career as an award-winning editor, reporter and columnist at The Arizona Republic, The Daily Times (Farmington, N.M.), Tucson Citizen and the Associated Press. He often is quoted in news stories by local, regional and national media as a trusted source regarding Arizona issues related to politics and changing demographics. Garcia is a frequent presenter of data, policy research and trends, including last August at UCLA at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Leadership Academy. In 2018, he testified before the Arizona Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights concerning Arizona's emerging Latino voters. Garcia is a member of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce DATOS Research Committee. He has served on numerous community boards, including presently as an executive board member of Arizona Children's Action Alliance.
Mike Gardner, Partner, Triadvocates
Mike Gardner is a partner with Triadvocates, one of Arizona’s largest government relations firms, and was recently nominated as one of the top lobbyists in the state. Mike is a 5th generation Arizonan that comes from a family of educators. His father, mother, wife, father-in-law and two brothers are all public school teachers.Mike served in the Arizona House of Representative for three terms and served as Chairman of the Government Operations Committee and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He was frustrated by many key leaders in the state making unfounded critical comments about our education system. As a result, Mike chose to serve on the board of the Arizona Educational Foundation to celebrate the wonderful things happening in our schools.
Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick, Associate Dean of Outreach, Research, and Development in the College of Education at Grand Canyon University / AEF Board Secretary
Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick has been a member of AEF’s Board since 2012. She is the Associate Dean of Outreach, Research and Development in the College of Education at Grand Canyon University. Additionally, she serves as the treasurer on the Board of Directors for Educators Rising Arizona; member at large of Arizona Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages; vice-chair of Southeast Maricopa Regional Council of Arizona First Things First; and president of the Arizona School Administrators’ Higher Education Division. Prior to joining GCU, Marjaneh was the Instructional Specialist, Chair of the Reading Department and Coordinator for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) at a junior high school, an adjunct instructor at Maricopa County Community Colleges where she taught ESL and education courses, and a 3rd and 4th grade ESL teacher. She and her husband of 33 years have three children ages 22-29.
Matt Hesketh, Attorney, Sherman & Howard
Matt Hesketh is a member of Sherman & Howard’s Trial and Litigation Practice Group in Phoenix. He focuses on contractual and business disputes and has significant experience defending public entities. Matt comes from a family of teachers, including his mother who taught in public schools for over 30 years. This led to Matt’s passion for promoting and celebrating achievements in public education.
Gary Hull, Senior Director of Law Services, SRP
Gary Hull has been a member of AEF’s Board since 2005. He is a Senior Director of Law Services at SRP, where he has worked for the last 25 years. Prior to joining SRP, Gary was in private practice for 10 years. Gary is a proud Sun Devil, with degrees from both ASU and U of A. In addition to serving on AEF’s Board of Directors, Gary serves on the Board of Directors of the Arizona State Parks Foundation. He and his wife, Suzie, have raised two children, one graduating with a teaching degree from NAU and the other graduating with an engineering degree from ASU. Both Gary and Suzie maintain a continuing interest in education at all levels.
Stephen Jordan, Chief Financial Officer, Desert Financial Credit Union / AEF Board Treasurer
Stephen Jordan is a Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Desert Financial Credit Union. He has worked at credit unions in California and Arizona that have historical schools-based fields of memberships since 1992. He holds degrees in economics and political science from the University of California, Riverside. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Stephen is active in the volunteer field and serves on the United Way Committee at Desert Financial.Stephen has two grown children. His daughter is a University of Arizona graduate while his son is currently attending Arizona State University.
Deea McBride, Vice President, Wells Fargo
Deea McBride is a Vice President with Wells Fargo and has been working with the company for over 20 years. Deea earned her Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Political Systems from Northern Arizona University and her Master’s degree in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She has experience in finance, communications, and training. Deea comes from a long line of educators and joined the AEF Board of Directors in the summer of 2015. She has served on numerous boards of directors and committees for Arizona’s nonprofit community and is looking forward to making a difference in Arizona schools through her work with AEF.
Dominic Orozco, Chief Strategic Marketing Officer, Gila River Hotels & Casinos
Dominic Orozco’s career in marketing began as Director of Marketing of Laguna Development Corporation from 2006 to 2014. He was promoted to Assistant General Manager in 2014. During his tenure, Orozco successfully executed the grand opening of Dancing Eagle Casino. During this time, Orozco served as a Board Member for the Cibola County Chamber of Commerce and he also served as a board member for the New Mexico Tourism Department. In 2015, Orozco’s career brought him to Phoenix where he served as Director of Gaming for a local ad agency. In 2016, Orozco was hired on as Corporate Vice President of Marketing for Gila River Hotels & Casinos. In January 2019 he was promoted to Chief Marketing Office. In just four years Orozco successfully rebranded the enterprise and he has expanded the company’s philanthropic works by strengthening partnerships with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Arizona and other local non-profit organizations.
Dr. Pamela Roggeman, Dean, College of Education, University of Phoenix
As Dean for the College of Education at the University of Phoenix, Dr. Roggeman works to support new educators on their path to the classroom. She began her tenure as an AEF Board member in January 2018. Before Pam’s second career in teacher preparation began at Arizona State University in 2008, she was a high school English teacher in Pima County for almost two decades. In 1999, she was named an AEF Teacher of the Year Ambassador of Excellence. She is a lifetime supporter of and believer in Arizona public education.
Colleen Sauer, Director of Accounting, Arizona Public Service
Colleen L. Sauer is the Director of Accounting at the Phoenix corporate headquarters of Arizona Public Service, where she has devoted 20 years of accounting leadership and practice. She has extensive experience in financial accounting including business operations oversight of Pinnacle West, APS, Bright Canyon and other affiliate companies in the utility energy industry. She previously served as Treasurer on the Pinnacle West Political Action Committee Board and is the co-chair of the Employee Engagement Council. She also serves as an advisor with the Phoenix Union High School accounting program. Colleen earned her Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at Northern Arizona University, obtained her Master of Science in Accountancy at Southern New Hampshire University and recently completed her Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt at Purdue University. She comes from a family lineage of accountants, including her grandparents, mother, brother, and identical twin sister. Colleen is a sports fan and loves all Arizona teams, especially the Cardinals and Diamondbacks.
Brian Schulman, Attorney, Weiss Brown / AEF Board President
Brian is an attorney at Weiss Brown, where he practices commercial and securities litigation. Brian and his wife Jami moved to Phoenix in 1993 after they both graduated from law school. They have two boys – and two dogs. Brian’s been a member of the AEF Board since 2009.
Christina Upah, Director, International Apache Programs, The Boeing Company
Christina Upah is the Director of International Apache Programs for the Boeing Defense Systems site in Mesa, Arizona. The Mesa site is home to the Attack Helicopter programs including the AH-64E Apache and AH-6i Light Attack Reconnaissance helicopters; the Boeing Unmanned Airborne Systems; and includes Strategic Fabrication Centers building electrical and composite sub-assemblies for a number of Boeing programs. Since joining The Boeing Company in Mesa in 1997, Christina has worked in Human Resources/Employee Engagement, Production, Mesa Site Operations, and International and Domestic Attack Programs. In her present role, she is responsible for leading the development and production of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter Direct Commercial Sales Programs for the Indian Air Force and Indian Army customer in addition to Apache Supplier Transitions.Christina holds a Bachelors of Arts in Human Resources and Psychology from Ottawa University. She is also a graduate of the Boeing Leadership Experience Program and Executive Mentoring Program; and completed Accelerating Leaders for the Future at the Boeing Leadership Center.
Christi Warner Beyer, Warner Group and Community Volunteer
Arizona born and raised Christi Warner Beyer is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and community volunteer. Christ has dedicated over 40 years working as a leader in the non-profit arena and has helped raise millions for Arizona charities over the years. Early in her career, Christi developed residential and commercial planned communities in Arizona. She helped launch Environmental Integrated Technology (EIT), a full-service environmental consulting firm that handle assessments and remediation. Christi was president of EIT for 4 years and holds numerous U.S. Environmental Protective Agency certifications, endorsements and licenses. In 1989 Christi founded Warner Home Imports, an International design and manufacturing company that manufactured and imported from India, China, Thailand, Mexico and Indonesia. Some of Christi’s distinguished clients include COSTCO, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware. In 2003 Christi sold Warner Home Accessories and started Warner Group, a consulting company, in order to spend more time with her children and now consults with companies looking to develop in Arizona and overseas. She has served on many boards and committees, including Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, Phoenix Theater, Phoenix Indian Center, Trends Charitable Fund, Heart Ball, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Two Pups Wellness Fund. She has chaired numerous charitable events, including Florence Crittenton, Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, Beat the Heat, Science Center Gala and Liberty Wildlife. Christi resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband Paul Beyer, their 19-year-old daughter Makaira, and their 16-year-old son Marshall.
David Williams, Director of Operations, Cable One
David Williams is Director of Operations at Cable One in Phoenix. He joins AEF after serving on the board of the Education Foundation in Odessa, Texas. His 30-year career in telecommunications has taken him from New England to the Upper Midwest and Deep South. He and his wife, a Montessori teacher, look forward to promoting public schools. Their passion stems from seeing their three adult children thrive thanks to the public schools they attended.
Advisory Board Members
Jeff Guldner, CEO, PinnacleWest/APS
Dr. J. Robert Hendricks, Assoc. Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona College of Education
Dr. Daniel Kain, Provost. Northern Arizona University
Jeffrey Meshey, President & CEO, Desert Financial Credit Union
Linda Milhaven, Region Bank President, Wells Fargo
David Rousseau, President, SRP
Dr. Christine Wilkinson, Senior V.P., ASU