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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.

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.

Griffin Riley
Marketing and Communications Manager

Griffin Riley joined the Arizona Humanities staff in March 2021. He graduated Magna Cum Laude in May 2020 from the University of Arizona with a B.A. in Journalism and a B.A. in Political Science. While at the university, he acted as Director of Media and Communications for ZonaZoo, a student-run athletics organization focused on student engagement, where he shot, created, and posted all visual content for the organization to use across their social media pages with a combined following of over 100,000. He also has experience in public speaking, acting as emcee for Bear Down Friday in Tucson, Arizona, and with the various comedic performances he’s given with over 6,000 in attendance. 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.

Contact Griffin Riley at griley@azhumanities.org

Julianne Cheng
Programs Manager

Julianne joined the staff of Arizona Humanities in March 2021. She received her B.A. in History and Art History at UCLA, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History, focusing in Greek art and archaeology, at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. As a graduate student, she taught art history courses, conducted curatorial work at various museums, and participated in archaeological excavations in Greece. More recently, she put her academic writing skills to use as the coordinator of the ASU Writing Center on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Julianne is passionate about studying the human experience, especially through the lens of history and material culture, and she believes that understanding our past is crucial for cultivating a diverse community. In her free time, Julianne also enjoys going on walks with her former-foster-now-forever dog, Eva.

Contact Julianne Cheng at jcheng@azhumanities.org