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Board Members’ Bios

Executive Committee

Dr. James Blasingame
Chair
Gilbert
Professor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University Tempe

As a professor at Arizona State University, JIM BLASINGAME focuses on young adult literature, Indigenous curriculum, censorship, secondary reading and writing pedagogy, preparing pre-service teachers, and cowboy poetry. He also works with the ASU chapter of the US State Department’s International Leaders in Education Partnership, for which he helps visiting teachers from around the world to create professional development modules to use with teachers in their home countries. Dr. Blasingame is the executive director of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English, and has served as its president and co-editor of The ALAN Review, a journal devoted entirely to young adult literature. He is an assistant to Henry Quintero and Simon Ortiz on the RED INK Indigenous Initiative for All: Collaboration and Creativity at Work. Dr. Blasingame has published over 100 interviews with poets and authors of young adult literature and over 200 book reviews in VOYA, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, The ALAN Review, and English Journal.

Dr. Blasingame was the 2018 ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Zebulon Pearce Professor for the Humanities, a 2018 Pat Tillman Veterans’ Center Professor, and the 2017 Arizona Humanities Dan Shilling Public Humanities Scholar. He was a 2014 ASU Doctoral Mentor of the Year, and the 2008 ASU Parents’ Association Professor of the Year. He was the 2008 International Reading Association Arbuthnot Award winner for outstanding professor of children’s and young adult literature. He has given presentations and/or performed cowboy poetry at the National Council of Teachers of English convention, the International Reading Association, the Western States Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, and the Graz University International Summer School at Seggau Castle in Austria. Before coming to ASU in 2000, Dr. Blasingame spent twenty-four years in secondary education as a high school teacher, coach, bus driver and principal.

Edgar Rafael Olivo
Vice Chair
Scottsdale
CEO/Business Leadership Educator and Economic Development Advisory, Compass Computer and Business School, LLC

EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is an award-winning bilingual business communication expert, international corporate trainer, author and speaker whose work is regularly featured on Univision, Telemundo, CNN Latino, NPR, Phoenix Business Journal and many other media platforms across the country. He founded Compass CBS, a computer and business school that delivers innovative leadership and training solutions to top businesses in North and Latin America in order to help grow and develop strong, harmonious, productive and inclusive work communities. A passionate advocate for economic development, community, culture and education. Edgar has invested much of his philanthropic efforts as an executive board member for grant-giving organizations, social-arts focused charter schools, financial advisory boards, and social justice projects. Edgar hosts a weekly social media show called “Hablemos de Negocios con Edgar Olivo” or “Let’s Talk Business with Edgar Olivo” with Univision Arizona. The show is for Spanish-speaking professionals who wish to establish and successfully grow in their profession and business. Edgar is certified in business, finance, data analytics, corporate training, and executive coaching. He holds a business communication degree and applied business data analytics certificate from the W.P Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Edgar is the son of Mexican immigrants in the United States and is the eldest of eleven siblings. When he is not working, you can find Edgar on his ranch in Northern Arizona searching for fossils and assisting his husband build his natural history museum.

Karl Kendall
Treasurer
Glendale
Deputy Director of Collections and Programming, Phoenix Public Library

KARL KENDALL has worked for the Phoenix Public Library for the past 17 years. In his current role as the Deputy Director of Collections and Programming, Karl oversees the coordination of programs, services, and the purchasing of library materials across this diverse system of 17 Library locations. Prior to his current position, Karl managed the Century, Cesar Chavez, and Agave libraries, overseeing the opening of the latter two. Karl holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Arizona State University and a Master’s degree in Information and Library Sciences from the University of Arizona. Married with three young children, Karl’s main passions are music, baseball, and, of course, reading.

Eshé Pickett
Secretary
Chandler
Cloud Automation Engineer, Intel Corporation

ESHЀ PICKETT is a Software Architect at the Intel Corporation in Chandler, AZ with the Internet of Things Group; she has been with the company since 2005. In her role, she focuses on cloud-to-POS workloads and system software operations in the store. Eshe participates in STEM outreach, specifically targeting women in engineering. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Northwestern University and her Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Chicago. Eshe is an active community member who strongly advocates for civic and civil engagement. She is a graduate of Valley Leadership, mentored for 6 years with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, was a Precinct Committeeman (PC) in Legislative District (LD) 18 from 2008-2018, and is presently a Democratic PC in Legislative District 17. She served as the Recording Secretary for LD 18 from 2010-2014 and is currently on the Communications and Technology Committee.

Dr. Julie Codell
Member at Large
Tempe
Professor, Art History and Film, Barrett Honors College Faculty, Arizona State University

JULIE CODELL is Professor of Art History at Arizona State University and affiliate faculty in English, Film and Media Studies, Asian Studies, and the Sidney Poitier New American Film School. She has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Indiana University Bloomington, an MA in Art History from Indiana, an MA in English from The University of Michigan and a BA in English from Vassar College. She was Vice Chair of the Montana Humanities Council while teaching at the University of Montana, Missoula, and is grants evaluator for the Australian Research Council and the National Humanities Center and has served as grants evaluator for the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. Her over 120 book, book chapters and article publications and teaching interests include 19th-century art and European culture and the press, the British empire, 19th-and early 20th-century India, life writings, the art market in Europe and America, the history of collecting and film, She wrote The Victorian Artist (2003; 2012) and edited Victorian Artists’ Autograph Replicas: Auras, Aesthetics, Patronage and the Art Market (2020); Transculturation in British Art (2017); Power and Resistance: The Delhi Coronation Durbars (2012); The Political Economy of Art (2008); Genre, Gender, Race, and World Cinema (2007); Imperial Co-Histories (2003), and co-edited Replication in the Long 19th Century: Re-makings and Reproductions (2018), Orientalism, Eroticism and Modern Visuality in Global Cultures (2016); Encounters in the Victorian Press (2004), and Orientalism Transposed (1998; 2018). She was recently awarded a Seed Grant from ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research, 2020-2021, and the School of Art Evelyn Smith Award for 2019-20 for her research. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Getty Foundation, Kress Foundation, Huntington Library, Ransom Center, American Institute of Indian Studies, the Yale Center for British Art and the Renaissance Society’s Nelson Prize (1986) for her essay on Giotto’s Peruzzi Chapel frescoes, originally her master’s thesis. She has been president of 5 Victorian studies societies, board member of 8 professional organizations, editorial board member of 6 scholarly journals and edits the blog for The International Art Market Studies Association. She has presented papers and invited lectures at universities and museums in England, France, Italy, Germany, China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, and throughout the US. She served on dissertation and thesis committees at Oxford University, Yale University, The University of Sydney, The University of Ghent in Belgium, Queen’s College Ontario, Nehru University in Delhi, and several ASU humanities departments—School of Art, English, History, Religious Studies.

Members

Regi Adams
Tempe
Director of Information Development, ADP

Regi Adams is Director of Information Development at ADP where he oversees the Knowledge Management program that supports service teams and clients. Adams is ADP’s Tempe campus president of Cultivate, a volunteer employee group that focuses on professional development of African American businesses and allies. He has worked across multiple industries spanning government, education, and the business services sector. As a Knowledge Management leader, his career has been dedicated to helping others find empowerment through knowledge and information. Adams believes that when people know more, they do more, and organizations serious about empowerment must use methods that allow them to preserve knowledge in useful ways for the use of people. Adams serves on the board of the Sonoran Science Academy, a K- 12 school system that places an emphasis on STEM education across diverse communities. Adams has a Bachelor’s in Organizational Leadership from Wilberforce University and a Master’s in Education from the University of Phoenix. He is a Certified Information Professional (CIP).

Dr. Chris Boyer
Flagstaff
Dean of Arts and Letters and Professor of History, Northern Arizona University

Chris Boyer is Dean of Arts and Letters and Professor of History at Northern Arizona University. A specialist on the social and environmental history of Modern Mexico and Latin America, Boyer has published and taught widely in English, Spanish and Portuguese. His most recent book, Political Landscapes: Forests, Conservation, and Community in Mexico (Duke University Press) investigates social history of forest management in between 1880 and 2000, with special emphasis on the experiences of Chihuahua and Michoacán. He has won three book awards, including honorable mention for the Bolton-Johnson Award. Boyer has published a volume of environmental histories of modern Mexico, A Land Between Waters, that represents the first binational reflection on Mexican environmental history. He co-edits a University of Arizona Press book series on Latin American environmental history. Boyer was a visiting scholar at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 2017, where he taught and continued work on his current research project entitled McMexico: Green Revolution, Industrial Foodways, and the Future of Humanity that traces the how green revolution technologies pioneered in Mexico such as the improvement of cultivars and the application of agrochemicals, are linked with the industrialization of foodways in Mexico and beyond.

Dr. Albrecht Classen
Tucson
Distinguished Professor of German Studies, University of Arizona

Dr. Albrecht Classen is University Distinguished Professor of German Studies at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Dr. Classen has published 114 scholarly books on German and European medieval and early modern literature and serves on many different boards of international journals dedicated to the Humanities. In 2021 he won the Tulliola Renato Filippelli World Award for his prose narratives. Dr. Classen, a dedicated member of the Arizona Speaks program at AZ Humanities, has given presentations statewide on the Middle Ages, German and European history and culture, and the contributions of German Jesuits to the early Sonoran region. He has served for over two decades as the President of the Arizona Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), and on the boards of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association and national AATG. Dr. Classen has received numerous teaching awards, including the Five Star Faculty Award (2009), and for his service as Director of Undergraduate Studies (2014 and 2015).In 2012, he was awarded the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Arizona Professor of the Year Award.

Dr. Alain-Philippe Durand
Tucson
Dean of the College of Humanities, University of Arizona

ALAIN-PHILIPPE DURAND is Dean of the College of Humanities, Professor of French, Honors College Distinguished Fellow, and affiliated faculty in Africana Studies, Latin American Studies and LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona. His research interests include French and Brazilian literatures, French Cinema, Hip-Hop, and the promotion of the Humanities disciplines in the professions. He is the author and editor of four books: Black, Blanc, Beur. Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture in the Francophone WorldA Techno World. New Electronic Spaces in the French Novel of the 1980s and 1990s (preface by Marc Augé, published in French); Novels of the Contemporary Extreme (co-edited with Naomi Mandel), and Frédéric Beigbeder and his doubles (published in French). He has published chapters and articles in journals such as PMLAThe French ReviewRomance NotesContemporary French CivilizationL’Esprit créateur, and Romance Quarterly, among others. He is Associate Editor of the journalContemporary French Civilization. The French Government awarded Durand the Palmes Académiques. The University of Arizona awarded Durand the Five Star Faculty Award, the Richard Ruiz Diversity Leadership Faculty Award, and the African American Community Council’s Distinguished Faculty Award. The French publication France-Amérique named him among its list of fifty French talents living in the United States.

Dr. Tanae Morrison
Laveen
CEO of Morrison Education Group, Inc. / Sun Valley Charter School

TANAE MORRISON is an educational change agent. An Arizona native hailing from Tucson, she has methodically and strategically forged through the ranks of statewide educational leaders to find herself among the top educators in her field. Tanae earned a B.A. in Sociology, an M.A. in Educational Psychology, an M.A. in Educational Leadership, and a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership respectively and is now setting the educational system in Arizona on fire by becoming one of the most highly regarded women in business in the state. Tanae has been a driving force in the Arizona educational system and has not wavered from her passion for rigor and excellence in the academic development of students wherever she has served. Dr. Morrison has been in the educational field for over 20 years beginning as a teacher assistant, and progressing through special education, student advocacy, teaching, school counseling, and now is the CEO of Morrison Education Group, Inc. dba Sun Valley Charter School founded in 2009. A mark of excellence many cannot claim.

Sun Valley Charter School emerged because Dr. Morrison saw that students in the Laveen/South Mountain community were being underserved. Dr. Morrison committed to make a change in this community. With the help of enthusiastic believers in her mission, Tanae brought the school’s program to a high need area because of a strong conviction that all students can learn when given the right tools along with love and support. Over the course of nine years Dr. Morrison has employed a diverse group of passionate educa-tors beginning with 10 employees to now over 35 employees. Sun Valley is currently ranked among the highest in its service area by the Arizona Department of Education. Morrison Education Group is now extending its reach through a new school campus pro-ject to improve the academic outcomes for more than 750 young scholars and employing over 50 faculty and staff all while positively impacting the local community. This is due in part to Dr. Morrison’s strong character, excellent interpersonal communication skills, relentless desire for excellence and a genuine love for those she serves. Dr. Morrison is a respected member of the Phoenix business community, an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated, which is an international service organization, is involved in ongoing community outreach through Pilgrim Rest Foundation. She is a well- respected pillar in the community.

Debbie Nez-Manuel
Scottsdale
Consultant, Social Justice Advocacy Champion

DEBBIE NEZ-MANUEL’S professional accomplishments have profoundly impacted the humanities and Arizona communities. She earned her Master’s of Social Work, and advanced degree in Nonprofit Leadership, from Arizona State University. Nez-Manuel is a proactive community leader, and also a public servant. Nez-Manuel currently serves as the Co-Chair of the “MMIWG” Data Sharing Committee, the committee charged with developing a state-wide plan to examine and reduce the murder and missing of Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). Her expertise and leadership on the Study Committee was instrumental to the passage of HB2570 signed by Governor Ducey. Nez-Manuel remains an active and engaged community leader, who mobilizes community members to be strong, productive, healthy, and resilient people. She serves as a Consultant to promote equity and social engagement among Native American communities and peoples across Arizona.

Dr. Almira Poudrier
Mesa
Principal Lecturer, Arizona State University

ALMIRA POUDRIER is principal lecturer in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University. Her research interests include Greek history and religion, particularly the material culture of religious space and cult described in Herodotus. A specialist in teaching first-year Latin, she teaches many of the lower division Latin courses at ASU as well as frequent courses in ancient Greek and Roman language, myth, culture, the classical tradition, and comparative literature. As faculty sponsor of Solis Diaboli (the Classics club on campus), she organizes the yearly Fall Forum in Classics, and several other outreach activities both on and off campus. She organizes the annual international poster contest at the SILC Language Fair. She also serves as vice-president of the Central Arizona Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, which brings monthly lectures on archaeology and material culture from national and international scholars to the Valley. She recruits volunteers for and occasionally participates herself in “mudslinging,” a monthly conservation activity at Pueblo Grande Museum. As the organizer of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) Medieval Latin Research Group, she leads weekly reading sessions in translating medieval and Renaissance Latin authors. In her free time, she enjoys reading and watching futuristic science fiction and space opera, hiking in the desert with her dog, Fridays for Future Climate Strike rallies, and true crime podcasts.

Joe Ray
Scottsdale
Creative Director/President, Maximo Branding

Joe Ray is Creative Director/President of Maximo Branding in Scottsdale, a creative collective and consultancy specializing in branding and strategic design with expertise in engaging multicultural audiences. Ray has spearheaded the development of many successful and award-winning projects and integrated campaigns for U.S. Latino and mainstream audiences. Ray is a visual artist and has been actively involved in the Phoenix arts scene for over 30 years, including as an artist member of Xico: arte y cultura, an arts organization focused on nourishing a greater appreciation of the cultural and spiritual heritage of Latinx and Indigenous people of the Americas through the arts. Ray’s artwork evokes color and passion, lust, and emotion, and has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications throughout the U.S. and Mexico. Ray is a board member of Phoenix One Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting the needs of the students and families in Phoenix Elementary School District #1 beyond the classroom. Ray is a proud alumnus of Arizona State University, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.

Natalia Ronceria Ceballos
Phoenix
Founder, La NRC

Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Natalia Ronceria Ceballos has had the opportunity to study and work throughout the U.S. and internationally. She comes from a diverse family of artists and entrepreneurs, and believes in the importance of hard work, creativity, giving back, staying true to what makes you passionately curious – while of course having fun. She received her B.A. in Communication & Culture from Clark University and went on to earn an MBA from ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. In 2016 she founded a consulting practice, La NRC, to fulfill her true calling as a Facilitator of Knowledge. She focuses on connecting nonprofits, small businesses, and individuals to the resources and education they need via bilingual facilitation, coaching, and training. Current focus areas are Intercultural Competency, Strategic Planning, Community Engagement & Outreach, DEI Efforts, & Leadership Development. Community give back is a key pillar in her life and she was recognized for her efforts as one of 2014’s 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40, in 2015 with the Sparxx Fly Pillar of Strength Award, and as a 2020 Athena Award Nominee. She is also proud to be a member of the Valley Leadership Class 40. Belief in creating positive change locally, nationally, and globally is her fuel. Good humored and open minded, she loves entertaining innovative ideas to further her development and the causes she supports.

Dr. Tamika Sanders
Phoenix
Talent Development Manager, Silicon Valley Bank
Business & Educational Consultant, Savvy Pen

Dr. Tamika Sanders has over 10 years of experience working with schools and businesses in the areas of teaching, training, curriculum design, public programming, strategic planning, and professional development. She has a PhD in Higher Education, a Master’s in Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

Her work revolves around bringing a diversity of real-world perspectives into programming initiatives and creating strategic community partnerships that can generate revenue and provide access to resources and opportunities for marginalized groups.

In 2009, Dr. Sanders started her company Savvy Pen to provide interactive programs that incorporate arts learning and multicultural training to bridge cultural and socioeconomic divides between educators and their students. She is also a producing collaborating partner of the Bi-National Arts Residency (BNAR), which connects cultural communities in the Sonoran Desert together with issues of social justice and identity through art.

Dr. Sanders work in the community earned her an invitation to speak at the TEDx Phoenix Salon about community sustainability in 2012, a Community Luminary Award in 2014, and a nomination for the 2015 Humanities Rising Star Award for individuals using creative approaches to engage the public in humanities topics. Her goal is to continue using the arts to break barriers, inspire youth, and create social change.

Martin Stamat
Page
Executive Director, Glen Canyon Conservancy

MARTIN STAMAT has worked in and on public lands for the past 10 years.  In his current role as Executive Director of Glen Canyon Conservancy, he oversees a philanthropic nonprofit that educates visitors to public lands in northern Arizona and southern Utah including Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Before his current role, Martin worked in the Glen Canyon river corridor as a daily river guide on the Colorado River. Martin earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Appalachian State University of Boone, NC. He lives and works in Page, AZ, where he is frequently outside on the public lands he loves.

Crys Waddell
Phoenix
Chief Operating Officer/Creative Strategist, Hustle PHX

CRYS WADDELL is the Creative Strategist/ Chief Operating Officer at Hustle PHX. Hustle PHX is a non-profit that serves under-resourced areas in Arizona by providing intellectual, social and financial capital to entrepreneurs. She is the appointed Vice Chairperson for the Arts and Culture Commission for the City of Phoenix. The Commission is a critical voice in promoting the importance and value of arts and culture experiences for all Phoenix residents. Crys Waddell is a servant leader. Crys’s extensive background in all things creative has lent itself to a variety of creative, community-building projects that have fostered tremendous change in marginalized communities. She is also a member of the A.A.W.E.G.C.(African American Women’s Empowerment Giving Circle) which is a part of the Black Philanthropy Initiative to advance equity, health, education, leadership and social justice for African-Americans in Arizona. Crys graduated from California State University of Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater Arts and Dance. She is a mixed media artist, who loves to use her artistic talents volunteering her time to communities in Arizona and throughout the U.S.