Diverse business people group raise hands at corporate presentation training

"Since its inception in 1993, Leadership West has provided broad-based community education and access to key decision-makers to leaders in virtually every aspect of the region."

Leadership West, the West Valley’s premier leadership program, has announced 33 new members to its latest class.

New cohort group members join the ranks of business owners, municipal and civil employees, military, faith, nonprofit leaders and educators to the 26th year of the successful Leadership West program.

“We are excited to continue the tradition of preparing leaders who will invest in shaping the future of the West Valley and its thriving communities,” said Michelle Hess, executive director of Leadership West.

Since its inception in 1993, Leadership West has provided broad-based community education and access to key decision-makers to leaders in virtually every aspect of the region. Alumni are actively and effectively impacting the future of the West Valley and include mayors and council members, school board members and educators, real-estate developers, medical providers; small-business owners and representatives of corporate giants, grass roots activists, media executives, nonprofit directors, municipal employees, artists and architects and more. Every aspect of the region is represented.

This year’s class includes:

• Alicia Thornton-Murray, chief, Community Services Flight, Luke Air Force Base 

• Allie Clark, Realtor, AZ & Associates Realty

• Ann DeVlaeminck, executive director, Southwest Lending Closet 

• Brandi Galin, dispatch manager supervisor, Duncan and Son

• Brandon Williams, business development manager, The Wigwam

• Brannon Hampton, financial advisor/councilman, Edward Jones/city of Goodyear 

• Brett Benninghoff, community outreach director, First Things First 

• Catherine Locke, founder, West Valley Sol

• Chad Woolgar, supervisor of technical survey, Salt River Project

• Dena Parvello, tribal development coordinator, Desert Diamond Casino, West Valley

• Ginger Sanabria, support service manager, Tolleson Police Department 

• Gwendolyn Parker, director of exceptional students services, Pendergast Elementary School District

• Hannah Bashaw, community relations specialist, University of Phoenix 

• Jamie Downen, director of radiology, Abrazo West Campus 

• Joanne Fimbres, chief financial officer, Pendergast Elementary School District

• Joanne Thomson, president/CEO, Benevilla

• Joaquin Andrews, food and beverage manager, Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise

• John Carlo Samson Tulinao, teacher, Pendergast Elementary School District

• Kacie Franklin, group claims senior representative, Cigna 

• KristiRiemer, business development, GCON Inc.

• Laura Robb, financial advisor, Robb Wealth Management 

• Leanne Leonard, executive director, Agua Fria Food and Clothing Bank 

• Michelle Alcantar, director of business and community partners, Glendale Community College 

• Nancy Hayden, councilwoman, city of Surprise 

• Paul McKim, district executive director, Northwest Valley YMCA 

• Pilar Sinawi, chief government affairs officer, city of Tolleson

• Sarah Pratte Hughes, management assistant, city of Buckeye 

• Sarah Skaggs, director of customer operations, EPCOR

• Seth Dyson, human service and community vitality director, city of Surprise 

• Sherman Cawley, president, Cawley Architects Inc.

• Terry Berner, retired optometrist 

• Tricia Kramer, special events coordinator, city of Litchfield Park

• Veronica Malone, councilwoman, city of Avondale

Leadership West cultivates leadership capital by preparing West Valley leaders to affect positive change in Arizona. These leaders will spend the next nine months honing their leadership skills, studying civic engagement, learning more about the West Valley communities, and engaging with others to make an impact in their communities. They will join the ranks of over 500 alumni currently serving in various capacities, making a difference in the West Valley.

Class members engage in a rigorous selection process including applications, letters of recommendation and interviews to vie for prestigious spots in the informational and hands-on program.

“We welcome Class 26, a talented and diverse group of dedicated people who have the knowledge, skills, hearts and passion to invoke lasting change,” Hess said.

“This class, along with the amazing alumni, will make a difference in the communities they live and work in. We urge anyone interested in this life-changing program to contact us through our website for additional information or to apply for a future class.