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Brenda Thomson
Executive Director

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.

Contact Brenda Thomson at
bthomson@azhumanities.org or call 602-257-0335 x22.

Samantha Anderson
Grants Manager

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.

Contact Samantha Anderson at
sanderson@azhumanities.org or call 602-257-0335 x25.

María Isabel Álvarez
Community Engagement Manager

María joined the staff at Arizona Humanities in July 2020 after spending a year in Madrid, Spain. She received her B.A. in English Literature and her M.F.A in Creative Writing from Arizona State University, where she previously worked as a program coordinator, student support coordinator, research assistant, and teaching associate. María is passionate about amplifying the arts and humanities, especially in the realm of literacy and creative writing. Her writing has received grants and fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, The Elizabeth George Foundation, the Speculative Literature Foundation, and the Colgate Writers’ Conference. Additionally, she is experienced in program management, digital marketing, document design, copy-editing, and content writing.

Contact María Álvarez at

Missy Shackelford
Office Administrator

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.

Contact Missy Shackelford at
mshackelford@azhumanities.org or call 602-257-0335 x29.