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2021-22 Greater Phoenix Workforce Leadership Academy


The Greater Phoenix Workforce Leadership Academy was the first fellowship program for workforce development professionals ever provided in Arizona. Center for the Future of Arizona was selected by the esteemed Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program to host the Academy, which provided training and networking opportunities for local workforce development professionals. Through working with leading practitioners from around the country, engaging in leadership development activities, and using practical planning tools, the Fellows learned and developed effective strategies and programs to collaboratively address common challenges to Arizona's complex workforce systems.

The ten-month Academy launched and ran from 2021 to 2022 and was successful at strengthening the leadership pipeline and deepening collaborative relationships for the Fellows and the organizations they represented to ultimately advance the economic well-being of the people they serve. Twenty Fellows completed the Academy and developed a series of recommendations for long-term sustainable solutions for Arizona, including improving job quality and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. The Academy was made possible by Walmart and supported by an Advisory Council of senior leaders from across the Greater Phoenix area representing organizations engaged in workforce development.


Learn More About the Process, Participants & Progress


2021-22 Greater Phoenix Academy Fellows
Organizations & titles current during Academy [Full Bios]

  • Audrey Bell-Jenkins — Workforce Development Manager, UMOM New Day Centers, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Katie Belous — Research Analyst, Pipeline AZ, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Colleen Bivona — Associate Director/Grants Manager, Grants Development and Management, Maricopa Community Colleges, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Miguel Fernandez — Professor, Chandler Gilbert Community College, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Eileana Gudiño — Community Development Director, Valley of the Sun United Way, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Kimberly Hanes — Regional Manager, Maricopa County, University of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Jennifer McChristian — Site Director, YearUp - Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Jerry McPherson — Director of Economic Empowerment, Greater Phoenix Urban League, Phoenix, Arizona
  • James Montoya — Workforce Project Manager, City of Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Steve Navis — On-The-Job Training Supportive Services / Workforce Development Program Manager, ADOT Arizona Department Of Transportation, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Christine Niven — Director - Adult Education and Family Literacy Programs, Mesa Unified School District, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Leah Palmer — Executive Director, Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AzAMI), Mesa Community College, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Jose Patiño — Director, Education & External Affairs, Aliento Education Fund, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Terence "Dee" Pinkston — Deputy Director of Workforce Solutions, Chicanos Por La Causa, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Alison J. Rapping — CEO, Arouet Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Mariana Torres — Assistant Program Officer, LISC, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Terell Welch— Employment Coordinator, Arizona Department of Economic Security/EEA, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Ashley Wilhelm — Workforce Arizona Council Manager, Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, Arizona Commerce Authority, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Richard Wilkie — Economic Development Director Pinal County Local Workforce Board Member, City of Casa Grande, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Steven Zylstra — President & CEO, Arizona Technology Council, Phoenix, Arizona


Many Thanks to our Greater Phoenix Advisory Council
Organizations & titles current during Fellowship

  • Daniel Barajas — Associate Vice Chancellor, Workforce Development, Maricopa Community Colleges
  • Heather Carter — Executive Vice President, Greater Phoenix Leadership
  • Elizabeth Cole — Director of Outreach and Community Partnerships, Rio Salado College and Arizona@Work Maricopa County Workforce Board Member
  • Victor Contreras — Director, Workforce Solutions, Chicanos Por La Causa
  • Kristin Ferguson — Professor & Director, Center for Human Capital & Youth Development, Arizona State University
  • Jesus Love — Executive Director, Literacy Volunteers of America and Arizona@Work City of Phoenix Workforce Board Member
  • Jennifer Mellor — Chief Innovation Officer, Greater Phoenix Chamber
  • Liza Noland — Director of Rural Programs, Local First Arizona
  • Rob Stenson — Manager, Arizona@Work City of Phoenix
  • Katrina Thurman — Vice President, Mission Development, Goodwill of Central & Northern Arizona
  • Chevera Trillo — Administrator, Workforce Development, Arizona Department of Economic Security
  • Tina Wadham — Arizona@Work, Manager, Arizona@Work Maricopa County
  • Kweilin Waller — Deputy Director, Human Services, City of Phoenix
  • Kolu Wilson — Arizona Workforce Administrator, Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity


National Partner


Many Thanks to Walmart for making GPWLA possible!