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2023 Southern Arizona Workforce Leadership Academy

Southern Arizona


The Workforce Leadership Academy brings leaders from across the Southern Arizona workforce system together for a year-long series of retreats, workshops, and action learning projects. The Academy provides a forum for workforce development professionals to work collaboratively to identify local and regional systems-based challenges and create shared solutions that advance economic opportunity for all Arizonans. Fellows work with leading practitioners throughout the country as they deepen networks; strengthen systems leadership skills; apply race, equity, and systems change frameworks to their work; and increase understanding of effective strategies and programs. Alumni of the Academy become part of the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunity Fellows Network, joining Fellows from fourteen previous Academies in eleven cities in the US and Canada.

Center for the Future of Arizona and Pima Community College are pleased to provide the Southern Arizona Workforce Leadership Academy to workforce development professionals in the Tucson area this year. Southern Arizona Academy Fellows have been selected and notified, and will be announced April 10! It was a competitive selection process and we want to extend appreciation to everyone who applied



Academy Goals


2023 Academy Schedule Overview


What Academy Alumni Say About the Professional Development Experience

Through the course of a year, it will transform how you view and leverage partnerships, advocate on behalf of disenfranchised populations, listen to dissenting views with earnest validation, along with transforming your community outcomes through an action-oriented systems thinking approach.


01 of 06

An incredible learning opportunity to understand yourself as a leader, challenge yourself in discomfort, identify the major players in the local workforce space and meet great people, doing great work - all through a critical racial equity lens.


02 of 06

My work is deep in program and operations and this was hugely helpful to challenge myself to take a step back and evaluate the bigger issues at play.


03 of 06

What I especially valued was the opportunity to hear different perspectives and opinions on controversial topics in a "safe environment.


04 of 06

It's had a great effect on my work and how I bring equity to the table in each conversation, leading with data.


05 of 06

I was a bit entrenched in competitive attitudes towards some of my peers - that faded during the course of the Academy.


06 of 06


Southern Arizona Advisory Council

  • Barbra Coffee — Director, Economic Initiatives, City of Tucson
  • Susan Dumon — Senior Vice-President, Sun Corridor Inc.
  • Rob Elias — President & CEO, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Francisco Garcia — Deputy County Administrator, Pima County [email protected]
  • Mark Gaspers — Sr. Government Operations, The Boeing Company; Chair, Workforce Arizona Council
  • Michael Guymon — President & CEO, Tucson Metro Chamber
  • Todd Jaeger — Superintendent, Amphitheater Public Schools
  • Greg Madril — Director, Workforce Development, Tribal Nations, Pascua-Yaqui
  • Ted Maxwell — President, Southern Arizona Leadership Council
  • Krista McGarvey — Business Strategy Consultant, Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity
  • Tony Penn — President & CEO, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona
  • Kathy Prather — Superintendent & CEO, Pima JTED
  • Ian Roark — Vice Chancellor, Workforce Development & Innovation, Pima Community College
  • Kasey Urquidez — Vice President, Enrollment Management & Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Arizona
  • Maria Zepeda — Statewide Strategic Initiative Manager, Arizona Department of Economic Security


Academy Contacts

Southern Arizona Site Facilitators

Holly Kurtz
Director, Workforce Development
Center for the Future of Arizona
[email protected]


Tennille Penaloza-Hagen
Project Manager, Workforce Development
Center for the Future of Arizona
[email protected]


Amanda Abens, MC
Dean of Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning
Pima Community College
[email protected]





The Southern Arizona Workforce Leadership Academy is made possible in part by the Aspen Institute and the Thomas R. Brown Family Private Foundation.