Valley Leadership Selects 15 Arizonans For Inaugural Explore Program

January 25, 2022
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Explore is the second of VL’s reimagined leadership development programs that will take participants to explore the wide variety of Arizona’s communities. 

Valley Leadership has selected 15 Arizonans to be part of the inaugural class of its new Explore program. The program takes participants out of their home communities to get to know the great diversity of Arizona and how our most pressing issues show up in rural, urban, suburban, border and Native communities. The all-alumni cohort represents a diverse cross-section of industries, political affiliations, generations and experiences. 

“We’re very excited about this new program and our first cohort of Explore leaders,” said VL Board President and current Catalyze program participant Paul Komadina. “With Arizona continuing to attract people from across the country, a program like this is invaluable to helping leaders gain a whole perspective of our state and work together to solve our most pressing issues.”  

Participants will visit five different communities in Arizona that represent the broad diversity of our state.  The destinations will include Navajo Nation, Nogales, Yuma, Mesa and Buckeye.  Travel will range from single to multi-day trips. Each visit will focus on learning about the community’s assets, opportunities and challenges, with participants gaining a better understanding and perspective of how the experiences in our state vary based on different communities.   

“The exciting thing about a program like this is that it can truly create a more connected Arizona,” Jen Gastelum, the Explore program manager shared. “Participants will connect with one another and learn about the incredible work being done throughout our state, connecting with the people in the places that we visit and ultimately contributing to the development of a network of community leaders sharing resources and supporting the work that makes our great state run.” 

Meet the Class:

Leslie Barakat Senior Medical Director and Market Medical Executive Cigna Healthcare 
Salvador Bretts Managing Director, Business Development BrightFi 
Michael Chang Project & Business Integration Manager SUMMi7 
Mark Dickerson Attorney, Legal Counsel  Schmitt Schneck Even & Williams, P.C. 
Laura Etter Deputy Director Sun Corridor Network 
Mary Foote Director Partnership for Economic Innovation 
Meaghan Kramer Managing Attorney, Healthcare Arizona Center for Disability Law 
Beth Maloney Arts Education Director Act One 
Michael Mazzocco Owner & CEO Michael Mazzocco Events 
Jessica Mitchell Dean, School of Naturopathic Medicine Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine 
Antonio Newman Chauffeur Self Employed 
Michelle Osife Philanthropy Manager Cancer Support Community Arizona 
Dani Portillo Executive Director Roosevelt School District 
Jen Scrivner COO Goodmans Interior Structures 
Janel White-Taylor Clinical Associate Professor Arizona State University