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Staff

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 Federation of State Humanities Councils (Secretary), 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
bthomson@azhumanities.org or call 602-257-0335 x22.

Samantha Anderson
Grants Manager

Samantha Anderson, Senior Grants Manager, is responsible for grants management, advocacy, capacity building, training, recordkeeping, and reports. She is the staff liaison to the board grants committee. Management of grants includes oversight of project grants, mini grants, and special grants (CARES and ARP). She is also responsible for designated special programs such as the MoMs Smithsonian traveling exhibitions. The Smithsonian has invited Samantha to national training in D.C. to share her program management expertise with other councils. An Arizona native Samantha is passionate about creating a sense of place and community within Arizona’s diverse communities. B.A., in Art History, Arizona State University. M.A. in Anthropology, New Mexico State University, with specialization in Archaeology and Museum Studies.

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

Julianne Cheng
Programs Manager

Julianne Cheng, Programs Manager, is responsible for program development and management, program partnerships and collaborations, educational advocacy and outreach, recordkeeping, and reports. She assists with the development of program marketing materials and social media campaigns. As a graduate student Julianne taught art history and conducted curatorial work at various museums and participated in archaeological excavations in Greece. Julianne is passionate about studying the human experience through the lens of history and material culture. She believes that understanding our past is crucial for cultivating a diverse community. B.A. in History and Art History, University of California, Los Angeles. M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History, Emory University, with a focus on Greek Art and Archaeology.

Contact Julianne Cheng at jcheng@azhumanities.org

Griffin Riley
Marketing and Communications Manager

Griffin Riley, Marketing and Communications Manager, is responsible for oversight of marketing and promotion, website and social media, and the development of promotional materials, newsletters, fliers, press releases and public communications. Griffin believes the responsibility of a journalist and political scientist is to study, understand, and communicate the history of the world and humankind back to the communities we live in. B.A. in Journalism and B.A. in Political Science, University of Arizona, Magna Cum Laude.

Contact Griffin Riley at griley@azhumanities.org

Missy Shackelford
Office Administrator

Missy Shackelford, Office Administrator, is responsible for oversight of the facility, grounds, and office equipment. She provides administrative support to the board of directors, staff, and Executive Director. She assists the Executive Director with staff training, administration of benefits, finance administration, recordkeeping, and reports. She assists the Executive Director with fundraising and appeals. She shares her unique knowledge of the ES house’s history with visitors and patrons. Missy sees the humanities as the bridge of understanding to diverse communities. B.S. in Business Administration, Arizona State University.

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