Brenda Thomson

Executive Director

Brenda Thomson, Executive Director, is an experienced leader/business manager with expertise in governance, human resources, public speaking, community relations, and cultural competency. She manages the daily operations of the council, development, and advocacy. Prior to joining Arizona Humanities, 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 currently serves on the boards of the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission, Phoenix Burton Barr Library Advisory Board, Carver Museum, and Cultural Center (President), and Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame. B.A. in English, Yale University. J.D., Yale Law School.

Contact Brenda Thomson at or call 602-257-0335 x22.

Julianne Cheng

Associate Director

Julianne Cheng, Associate Director, supports the Executive Director with daily operations, including annual and long-term planning, finance administration, compliance and reporting, human resources, and advocacy and outreach. Julianne formerly served as the Programs Manager at AZ Humanities. Prior to AH, Julianne managed the ASU Downtown Writing Center. As a graduate student, she held museum research and archival positions, taught art history classes, and participated in archaeological excavations in Greece. Julianne is passionate about understanding the human experience through the lens of history and material culture. B.A. in History and Art History, University of California, Los Angeles. M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History, Emory University.

Contact Julianne Cheng at or call 602-257-0335 x25.

Stephanie Joyner

Grants Manager

Stephanie, the Pinal County Historical Museum’s first Executive Director, fostered its growth through social media, revenue diversification, launching the volunteer program, and resurrecting the museum’s Meetup group. In 2022 Stephanie received the Individual Award of Excellence from the Museum Association of Arizona and in 2023 the Arizona Humanities Rising Star award.   She has worked with many cultural organizations, including the San Diego Museum of Us, the National Park Service, and NAU’s Cline Library. Stephanie is passionate about museums and her love for the arts started early as a classical ballet dancer. B.S. in Anthropology and International Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, and M.A. in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University.

Contact Stephanie Joyner at or call 6022-257-0335 x27.

Katherine Sorensen

Marketing Manager

Katherine is a native Phoenician and a copywriter with extensive experience working with startups across various industry segments where she utilized her writing and creative skills to develop content strategies for social media, marketing, and communications. Katherine is also a published poet with work featured in literary journals such as Sonder Midwest and Write On, Downtown. Katherine believes in celebrating the human experience and fosters community with Marigold, a pop-up bookstore focusing on the queer experience that hosts a monthly book club in downtown Phoenix. B.A. in English Literature from Arizona State University.

Contact Katherine Sorensen at or call 602-257-0335 x24.

Chris Elliott

Programs Coordinator
Chris Elliott, Programs Coordinator, is excited to bring his project management, leadership, community engagement and public speaking skills to Arizona Humanities. Previously Chris served as a Public Ally member at the Arizona Commission on the Arts where he aided in research, grants, and communications. Originally from New Jersey, Chris obtained his M.A. in Musical Theatre from Arizona State University. He has performed at The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hale Centre Theater, and Southwest Shakespeare Company. He obtained a B.A. in Sociology and Music with a Concentration in Health and Medicine, from Goucher College. Chris constantly seeks ways to use his gifts and knowledge to foster enjoyable arts, culture, and humanities experiences for others.

Contact Chris Elliott at or call 602-257-0335 x23.

Amber McCrary

Programs Manager

Amber McCrary is Diné poet and zinester. She is Red House Clan born for Mexican people. Originally from Shonto, Arizona and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. She earned her BA from Arizona State University in Political Science with a minor in American Indian Studies. She received her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry at Mills College. McCrary is also the owner and founder of Abalone Mountain Press, a press dedicated to publishing Indigenous voices.

She is a board member of the Northern Arizona Book Festival. She is the AZ Humanities 2022 Rising Star of the year and a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation LIFT awardee.

Her debut poetry collection, Blue Corn Tongue: Poems in the Mouth of a Desert will be released Spring 2025 from University of Arizona Press. 

She currently resides on Akimel O’odham lands. 

Contact Amber McCrary at or call 602-257-0335.

Fill out the info below to sign up for our E-Newsletter.