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2023 Southern Arizona Workforce Leadership Academy

Southern Arizona Workforce Leadership Academy Felows


In 2023, Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) and Pima Community College (PCC) provided the Southern Arizona Workforce Leadership Academy to 19 workforce development professionals, Fellows, in the Southern Arizona area. The eight-month Academy successfully strengthened leadership pipelines and deepened collaborative relationships through a series of retreats, workshops, and action learning projects. Fellows worked 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. The 2023 Academy concluded with Collaborative Learning Presentations on Dec. 14, 2023, in Tuscon, Arizona. At the event, Fellows presented ideas for improving local and regional systems-based challenges and addressing long-term sustainable solutions for workforce challenges, including improving cross-sector collaboration and job quality in the workplace, advancing economic opportunity for all Arizonans. As Alumni of the Academy, Fellows will become part of the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunity Fellows Network, joining changemakers from Academies across the US and Canada. The 2023 2023 Academy may have concluded but CFA, PCC, and the Fellows continue to impact Southern Arizona counties’ workforce landscape. Learn how your organization can join the effort and implement Fellows’ ideas.

The Academy was made possible in part by the Aspen Institute, Thomas R. Brown Foundations, The Burton Family Foundation, Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, Rusing Lopez & Lizardi, and U.S. Bank. The Academy was supported by an Advisory Council of senior leaders from Southern Arizona areas representing organizations engaged in workforce development.

Learn More About the Process, Participants & Progress



Academy Fellows


Fellows' Recommendations to Address Workforce Challenges


Many Thanks to the 2023 Southern Arizona Advisory Council

Organizations & titles current during the Academy

  • 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 Arizona@Work
  • Mark Gaspers — Sr. Government Operations, The Boeing Company; Chair, Workforce Arizona Council
  • Michael Guymon — President & CEO, Tucson Metro Chamber
  • Melissa Hernandez — Associate Vice President, Cradle to Career Partnership, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona
  • 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
  • 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:

Aspen Institute / TRBF / The Burton Family Foundation

Community Foundation for Southern Arizona
Rusing Lopez & Lizardi
U.S. Bank