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 or call 602-257-0335 x22.

Dyadira Fajardo

Interim Grants Manager

Dyadira “Yadi” Fajardo, Interim 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 (50th anniversary). Yadi currently serves as a Marketing and Programs Consultant at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center. She has worked in nonprofits and museum institutions across Arizona for more than seven years, including Arizona Humanities, Pueblo Grande Museum, Musical Instrument Museum, and the Desert Botanical Garden. From managing adult learning classes to coordinating cultural events, Yadi’s goal is to highlight the rich histories present in Arizona communities and to inspire meaningful educational experiences and cultural awareness. B.A degree in Anthropology, Arizona State University. 

Contact Dyadira Fajardo at 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 or call 602-257-0335 x26.

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

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