Arizona’s history has been shaped by incredible women leaders, breaking down barriers in politics and professions and laying the foundation for championing community and civil rights that continues today.
As we mark the start of Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate leaders who have made a difference for women and girls in Arizona.
Get to know these leaders:
Rhonda Bannard (Institute 20; Impact Maker Health Team Member) is a committed connector. For more than 14 years she has hosted a monthly women’s salon, inviting women to build community by sharing their knowledge and experiences. More than 200 women have been a part of this gathering since its inception. She has worked with others to start The Women’s Collective to advance equality and offers her time as a mentor to individuals and through New Pathways for Youth. Rhonda is a consultant to a variety of businesses and nonprofits and is working on a large climate change initiative.
Debbie Esparza (Institute 35; former VL board of directors) has been an advocate for women, girls and people of color for more than 25 years. Throughout her various careers as a banker, entrepreneur, academic and nonprofit executive, she sees the world through a lens of race and gender. She serves the community as CEO at YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix, working to eliminate racism and empower women.
Michelle McGinty (Institute 33; VL board chair) was elected to serve as the chairwoman of Valley Leadership in 2019 after being involved with the organization since 2011. She was instrumental in shepherding VL’s Pivot Toward Impact, which maximizes the leadership and partnerships that are hallmarks of our organization to make a deeper impact in the community. She leads in the business community as the president of DRA Collective, a public relations firm in Phoenix. And, Michelle also has served as a mentor of a high school student from New Pathways for Youth.
Joyce Medina Harper (Institute 32; former VL board of directors) believes that to have a safe and just community, women and girls must have equitable opportunities. She serves as a Board Member at the YWCA Metro Phoenix and is the Chair of the Advocacy committee. In this role she is an advocate for women of color, especially those traditionally not included in leadership opportunities, to be centered in the work. Joyce has served her South Phoenix community on the First Things First Phoenix South Regional Council where she works in partnership to advise grants and support for families and children birth to 5. Joyce is a member of the Latina Giving Circle, where they are working to transformation the way philanthropy is leveraged to support the work of community driven solutions.
These are just a few of our alumni who are out every day doing good in the community. Join me in thanking them for their dedication to strengthening Arizona.