Page Last Updated June 16, 2020.
The following citizens serve on the
Phoenix Women's Commission. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor following formal approval by the Phoenix City Council. Once approved by the City Council, commissioners serve a term of up to three years. Members are expected to attend commission meetings and any task force or ad-hoc meeting the are assigned.
Nicole Acevedo is a Product Manager at Nextiva where she works to create products that help small independent businesses innovate and compete at a larger scale. She has worked in technology and technology consulting for the past ten years. She views technology tools as a way to drive economic equity. Throughout her career she has worked within her companies and other organizations to create and increase spaces for women and other diverse populations in tech, including leading employee resource groups and driving equal pay commitments.
Nicole graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in Women's Studies. She is passionate about intersectional feminism and believes that to achieve true equality it must include all people who identify as women. Nicole joined the Phoenix Women's Commission to increase connection to her adopted city of Phoenix and positively impact underrepresented groups in the community.
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Linda Alexander has an organizational development background and held senior leadership positions within corporate and educational settings. Linda’s passions are women's issues, 21st Century educational innovation, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, at-risk youth issues and the arts, and civic engagement. She was the executive director for a group of 13 independent schools in Cleveland, Ohio and served on Case Western Reserve University’s Center for Women’s advisory board for many years.
Linda was a former executive head of human resources at a Fortune 500 Company. She is currently the SBL Community Representative for Madison Heights Elementary School, a former board member of Phoenix Center for the Arts, an oil painter and community volunteer.
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Carolyn Andrews is a certified business and executive coach, international speaker and author. Her business experience ranges from Fortune 100 companies to organizations with less than 50 staff members. She is a seasoned corporate leader who also has more than 15 years of experience in small business management including starting new businesses and coaching existing businesses.
As a leadership expert, Carolyn is instrumental in designing strategies and building relationships that positively impact growth, increase effectiveness, improve operational efficiency and help business owners and corporate executives realize their dreams. Her mission is to inspire, empower and transform to achieve success and significance.
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Maria Bailey Benson
Maria Bailey Benson is Residential Business Faculty at South Mountain Community College and a serial entrepreneur. She describes herself as having an innate understanding of how things work. Maria holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Industrial and Systems Engineering, both from Georgia Tech. She is the co-author of
A Girlfriend's Guide to Social Media and loves to share her passion for technology and social media as well as how to successfully leverage it both personally and professionally. Her community affiliations include The Phoenix Chapter of the Links, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Phoenix Emerald Foundation, and the National Smart Set. She is the founder of the Red Dress Cocktail Party, an annual heart-healthy celebration, and currently serves on the national board of the Black Women Health Imperative.
Maria has always considered herself a designer and a fixer. She grew up in a family furniture manufacturing business and loves the process by which things are made. Engineering was a natural fit — her experience includes twenty years of manufacturing and software development in Fortune 500 companies. Maria is a Certified Raspberry Pi Educator and advocates for STEM education and physical computing in public schools.
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Lalitha Byra is the founder and president of Vensoft Inc., an information-technology company. She started this business in 1996 and has soon built it to a multimillion-dollar business and soon became a successful serial entrepreneur. Byra leads one of the top Summer Camps search engine, CampNavigator.com, and web portals HealthSpectra.com, HerGamut.com and many others.
She is a visionary, strategic leader and accomplished executive with domestic and international experience in incubation, operations, P&L, financial and legal transactions, negotiation, marketing involving growth organization. Her core competencies include key partnership development, global strategic alliances and operations, risk management, human capital management, budget planning and sales forecasting. She has proven experience in people skills and specialized in operations management, leadership development, organic business growth, P&L management/budget planning and staff development promotion.
Byra is also the founder and president of Women Empowerment Foundation, a 501 ©-non-profit organization, whose mission is to empower women by increasing awareness in women's health, providing assistance to domestic abuse victims, supporting families with special needs children and promoting skill enhancement through various workshops, seminars, mentoring and networking events. Under her leadership, the foundation has organized one of the biggest women conferences in Arizona. She is an active contributor as a volunteer and Trustee of Indo American Cultural Religious Foundation, AZ serving Asian Indian Diaspora, promoting Indian heritage and values. A loving wife and a proud mother of two she who believes in family values, simplicity, honor and respect before wealth.
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Jackie Hunter, DC, MHA
Dr. Hunter is a multifaceted leader who serves as Banner Health’s inaugural Director of Diversity and Inclusion. In addition to her role within Banner, Dr. Hunter is a proud mother of three children (ages 16, 14, and 12) and holds a position as adjunct faculty for Maricopa Community Colleges; where she has taught Human Anatomy and Physiology to pre-med/pre-nursing students for the past eight years. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, she is a servant leader, courageous and not afraid to challenge the status quo and encourage a different way of thinking.
Dr. Hunter’s journey into healthcare evolved from delivering chiropractic care to becoming an advocate for change. Today, she aims to influence and demonstrate to not only her children, but also those who she works alongside at Banner Health or in our communities, to embrace who they are as well who others are - despite their differences. For more than five years, Jackie has successfully led the Diversity and Inclusion council which allowed her to create a dedicated department that focuses on diversity and inclusion strategy systemwide. As the director, Jackie has accomplished several milestones including, but not limited to the rollout of systemwide unconscious bias trainings, successfully created an Administrative Fellowship Program, and created more inclusive practices and policies that foster a safe and welcoming environment for all. In addition, she has developed partnerships with community leaders to tackle healthcare disparities in the communities that Banner Health serves.
At Banner Health, with the rise of women leadership, Jackie has seen a rise in the culture that is founded on the principles of people. From the mission, vision, values and to the strategy of the organization, Banner Health is really putting people first. The rise of women leadership not only brings awareness about a woman's capability to lead and give more opportunity for leadership development and advancement, but it begins to acknowledge and respect the roles we all hold personally and professionally and aims to provide every one of us life balance without compromising one or the other. With her team, Jackie strives to empower and challenge them by thinking outside the box, going above and beyond, not being limited by their titles, being involved in the community and integrating who they are into the work they do so we can truly make life better for all.
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After 40 years of dedicated service in the courts and the field of criminal justice, Terri Jackson retired from the position of Judicial Services Administrator in the Judicial Branch of the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County. She served as the Director of the Pre-Trial Services Agency and the Administrator of the Office of the Jury Commission. On December 2, 2012, her name was placed on the Maricopa County Pillars of Honor.
Terri organized the County’s African American Knowledge Network and was its first chair. She served on two national boards, the National Association of Pretrial Services Agency, and the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice. Terri is currently a Commissioner on the Phoenix Women’s Commission and a former chair, and the Human Relations Commission. Her recent service to the Phoenix Police Department includes participation on the Engagement Outreach Implementation Team/the Community Police Trust Initiative task force.
Her community involvement is diverse. She has served on the boards of the YWCA, the Children's Activity Museum, Maricopa County TASC and the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She is a Read Across America program volunteer. Terri is a founding member of the Get It On TV show, a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a graduate of Valley Leadership Class 6. In 2008 Terri served as a delegate for the Governor’s Office at the 2nd Annual Symposium on Women’s Issues at SIAS International University in Zhengzhou, China.
Terri holds a master’s degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix and a Certification in Storytelling from South Mountain Community College. Terri’s purpose in life is to assist in the development of women and girls into global leadership positions.
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Allison Otu, MBA
Allison Otu is the University of Arizona Health Sciences Executive Director for Corporate and Community Relations. Mrs. Otu has been with the University since 2012 and is responsible for strategic planning and outreach in the corporate, community, civic and health care sectors in Phoenix, Tucson and across Arizona.
Allison serves on the Board of Directors of Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Inc and as the Vice Chair of Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs on the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Institutional Advancement Steering Committee. She was the founder and organizer behind Connect2STEM — the largest STEM outreach event in Phoenix — which celebrates science, technology, engineering, math and medicine. Connect2STEM has attracted over 39,500 attendees and generated 1 million+ media impressions over the last six years. Otu also serves as the Co-Chair of the Healthcare & Innovation Council for the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and is a dedicated Board Member at the Arizona School for the Arts.
Mrs. Otu received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. and her Executive MBA from University of Arizona Eller College of Management. She serves on the Phoenix Women's Commission to “understand inequities in our community and provide a collective voice to stimulate change to improve and enrich girls and women in Phoenix.”
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Yvonne C. Pipkin is co-founder and Vice President of RAL Consultants, a firm dedicated to teacher engagement and training, student achievement and financial literacy. Previously, Yvonne was the Professional Development Manager for i-SAFE, where she was responsible for bringing internet safety education to students and educational organizations across the United States. In a prior role, she served as the Outreach and Special Projects Coordinator for Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District where she was instrumental in bringing together stakeholders to build stronger communities.
Currently, Yvonne is a volunteer and the Board Chair for Science Prep Academy, a private STEM school in South Phoenix for students with Autism. In 2019, she was the recipient of the City of Tempe Human Relations Commission MLK Diversity Award for her work in education. Yvonne holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and her passion for education has led her to teach financial literacy to underserved communities to improve the wealth gap and push for economic equity.
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Heather Ross, PhD, DNP
Heather M. Ross, PhD, DNP is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona State University and Policy Fellow in the office of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. Dr. Ross holds a joint appointment between the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. Her research focuses broadly on the use of technology to impact health using implementation science approaches.
As a policy fellow in the office of Mayor Kate Gallego, Dr. Ross’s work focuses on multidisciplinary approaches to address the complex challenges associated with behavioral health and public safety, and strategies to make Phoenix a dementia-capable city to meet population needs across the lifespan. Additional work is directed toward ensuring rape crisis services and adequate nursing workforce for the long-term future of Phoenix.
Dr. Ross’s additional applied research focus is in the area of delivering health information to severely under resourced communities globally, including regions without reliable access to electricity or internet connectivity. She is the co-director of SolarSPELL Health (SolarSPELL.org) with ongoing projects in South Sudan, the Republic of Vanuatu, and Mexico.
Dr. Ross maintains an active clinical practice as a nurse practitioner in cardiac electrophysiology with Arizona Arrhythmia Consultants. She is the national chair of the American College of Cardiology Cardiovascular Team Advocacy committee, and the American College of Cardiology Arizona Chapter advocacy chair. She is active in legislative advocacy with the Arizona Nurses Association. She serves on the Board of the Arizona Anti-Defamation League.
Dr. Ross holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Yale University, M.S. in Nursing from Boston College, Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Arizona State University, and PhD in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology from Arizona State University.
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Dr. Sharon Thompson, Chair
Dr. Sharon Thompson is a practicing obstetrician gynecologist in Phoenix Arizona where she owns and directs Central Phoenix Obstetrics and Gynecology. She earned a B.A. in Biology from Vassar College, an M.P.H in woman and child health from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.D. from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Dr. Thompson completed her training in obstetrics and gynecology at the Harvard University affiliated Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospital residency program.
A sought-after expert in her field, Dr. Thompson is welcomed around the country as a keynote speaker, teacher and health coach. She has given invited presentations to organizations including the American Medical Women’s Association and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Thompson is regularly featured on 3TV’s
Good Morning Arizona and Fox 10’s
As a resource for her local community Dr. Thompson serves as Medical Director for the Arizona Community Health Partnership and volunteers on the Women’s Commission for the city of Phoenix. Dr. Thompson is dedicated to empowering the next generation of health care providers and serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Arizona School of Medicine Phoenix and an adjunct Professor at Grand Canyon University and the Arizona State University College of Nursing and Innovation. Outside of work, Dr. Thompson makes time to explore the Arizona outdoors with her nieces and nephews. Downtime will find her with a good book or a karaoke microphone in hand
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Kyle Webb is the Brand Manager for Bar-S Foods Co. She has spent her career working across industries such as television sports production, information technology, communications and marketing in various roles. She has a passion for helping others, community engagement, and has developed two projects of which she is particularly proud. One is a food donation program benefitting residents of UMOM in its third year. The second is the development and implementation of her company's first Women's Employee Resource Group in its second year. Founded to ensure inclusiveness within the organization, the priorities of the group include enhancing working conditions for all employees through benefits and services led by Kyle as Chair.
Kyle serves as Vice Chair on the Phoenix Women's Commission to remain civically engaged and to contribute towards a better Phoenix for all citizens. This is her third year on the Phoenix Women's Commission.
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As the Systems Transformation Advisor for Built for Zero with Community Solutions in Phoenix, Tamara focuses her energy on transformational change projects that will result in breakthrough reductions in Veteran homelessness in Maricopa County. She has over 13 years of experience working in the government sector both locally and federally, starting her career in Economic Vitality for the city of Scottsdale. In 2011, she was accepted into the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship program when she began working as a Regional Coordinator for The US Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veterans Families program. During her eight-year tenure at the VA, Tamara helped pave the way for drastic reductions in Veteran homelessness in 13 communities in her 14-state region.
Tamara also currently serves as the Co-Chair for the Maricopa Association of Governments Continuum of Care Board of Directors, Leader of the Coordinated Entry Subcommittee, and participates in the Ending Veteran Homelessness workgroup. She has a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration.
She serves on the Phoenix Women’s Commission to empower women to “lean in” and to serve in leadership positions in the community; also to provide strong female mentors and allies, and a pathway for women to achieve professional development and success in this great city.
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