Brenda Thomson, Executive Director, joined Arizona Humanities in March 2010. Thomson brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Arizona Humanities; specializing in executive management, fundraising, human resources, public speaking, community relations, and strategic planning. Prior to joining AH, Brenda served as the Director of The Center for Law Leadership and Management at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU, and Executive Director of the Maricopa County Bar Association. She obtained her B.A in English from Yale University in 1983 and her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1989. Thomson also enjoys spending time with nonprofit organizations that promote education and diversity through community and volunteer activities.
Ellie Hutchison joined Arizona Humanities in April 2015. Ellie brings a wealth of experience as an educator, community collaborator, writer, public speaker, producer and grass-roots organizer who earned her B.A. in English in Native American Literature and a M.Ed. in Special Education from Arcadia University. Her scholarship as a current student through Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia, investigates the art of interfaith dialogue: theories, theologies, and pedagogies of interfaith engagement and activism through the arts and humanities. Prior to joining Arizona Humanities, Ellie spent 10 years as a teaching artist and poet throughout the Philadelphia School District, locally with Native youth, and youth diagnosed with special needs. Ellie is committed to developing partnerships and programs that use the humanities as a tool to build community.
Samantha joined the staff of Arizona Humanities in August 2015. Samantha has a B.A. in Art History from Arizona State University and M.A. in Anthropology from New Mexico State University where she specialized in Archaeology and Museum Studies. Samantha has volunteered, interned and worked with a number of museums in Arizona and brings experience in event management, communications and development. An Arizona native, Samantha is passionate about creating a sense of place and community within our amazingly diverse state. Her free time is spent reading, hiking and exploring local festivals, museums and cultural sites.
Dyadira “Yadi” Fajardo joined Arizona Humanities in September 2016. Yadi obtained her B.A. degree in Anthropology at Arizona State University and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Yadi has spent time volunteering and working at museums, library institutions and archaeological projects, which has cultivated a strong passion for humanities-based discussion and interpretation. Yadi has worked with several non-profit museums, including the ASU Museum of Anthropology and Arizona Science Center, and she is interested in creating open dialogue for humanities topics that can reach audiences of diverse backgrounds. Her experience in museums, anthropology and archaeology has inspired her to help create public forums that allow open conversation for social and cultural issues that affect Arizonans today. Having lived in California and Arizona, Yadi travels back and forth exploring museums and historical sites along the way.
Marilyn Murphy joined Arizona Humanities in April 2013. She obtained her B.F.A. from Arizona State University in Photography with honors from Barrett, the Honors College. Marilyn has worked with nonprofits and the healthcare industry, and she is experienced with communications, marketing, visual design, development, and social media. Marilyn is passionate about exploring how health, humanities, and the arts intersect to cultivate community. An Arizona native with family from Nebraska and Newfoundland, Canada, she is an avid reader, podcast listener, and serves as one of the vice chairs of her neighborhood.
Missy Shackelford joined the staff of Arizona Humanities in May 2015. Missy obtained her B.S. degree in Business from Arizona State University and comes to Arizona Humanities with a strong background in business as the office manager for a family dental practice for 15 years, and the owner and partner in her Interior Design Firm, Artfully Done over the past 14 years. Missy sees the humanities as the bridge of understanding for our richly diverse community. She is driven to experience connection with people through their stories and spends free time volunteering for organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul, the Center for Holocaust Education and Human Dignity, and DreamRoads, a youth mentoring group.