Meet Our Honorees! – 20th Annual Celebration

Pam Grissom
Board Member & Co-Founder

A native of Tucson, Pam has a lifelong commitment to creating change by empowering women in Arizona. After running a successful modeling school and talent agency, Pam turned her energy into helping women get elected to public office. She was an active participant in the first years of EMILY’s List, and kept thinking about what was happening nationally and how to bring it back to make Arizona better. In 2004 she co-founded Arizona List with Pam Sutherland and never looked back.  Her leadership for twenty years has made Arizona List a unique statewide organization that started in Tucson and has grown to touch every corner of the state.

Beyond Arizona List, Pam was one of the first women on the board of the Boys and Girls Club and supports women’s organizations from the Women’s Foundation to the YWCA to Planned Parenthood. A proud Wildcat, Pam is one of the original members of the Women’s Studies Advisory Council and the board of Women in Science and Engineering. Pam adores her grandchildren Shelby, Luke and Jake (and their parents Jessica and Martin); and in her free time she loves traveling, hiking, snorkeling, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Coral Evans
Former Flagstaff Mayor

Mayor Coral Evans was elected as Mayor in November 2016 and re-elected in 2018. She was first elected to serve on the Flagstaff City Council in 2008 and reelected in 2012. She served as Vice Mayor of the City from 2012-2014.

Mayor Evans believes in a balanced approach to the stewardship of community resources and is passionate about creating opportunities that allow for civic engagement, civil discourse, community revitalization and genuine sustainability and advancement for Flagstaff citizens.

In addition to serving on Council, Ms. Evans is the Executive Director of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association of Flagstaff, a nonprofit organization. She also owns Destiney’s Creations, a local small business that she runs with her daughter.

Mayor Evans is pursuing a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in sustainability; she holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. She has a Masters level certificate in Public Management and is nationally certified in public participation practices. Ms. Evans is a Flinn-Brown Fellow and a graduate of the Flagstaff Leadership Program.

Her recognitions include the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce Athena Award, the United Way of Northern Arizona Community Builder Award, the Coconino Hispanic Advisory Council Cesar E. Chavez Community Award, the State of Black Arizona Community Luminary Award, the Arizona Informant Newsmaker Award and the Soroptimist International AZ Peaks Ruby, and the Women of Distinction (Economic & Social Development) awards.

Coral is the third generation of her family to live in Flagstaff. Her family, the Dorseys, have been an active part of the Flagstaff & greater Northern Arizona community since the early 1900’s.

Kate Gallego
Phoenix Mayor

Mayor Kate Gallego has spent her career working to find solutions to complex problems. Prior to being elected Mayor, she served for five years as the Councilwoman for District 8, a district covering much of South Phoenix. Her record of proven results includes leading the campaign to pass Phoenix’s citywide transportation plan through 2050 and working to ensure equal pay for equal work. In March 2019, Mayor Gallego became the second elected female Mayor in Phoenix history and the youngest big-city Mayor in the United States. Mayor Gallego is passionate about building a Phoenix that works for everyone, including her two-year-old son, Michael. She believes everyone should have access to cutting edge medical care and has led on expanding Phoenix’s biomedical campus. Mayor Gallego is working to grow the city’s economy, create jobs, and stand up for the city’s core values. Previously, Mayor Gallego worked on Strategic Planning and Economic Development for the utility company, Salt River Project. She worked to attract new companies and jobs to Phoenix. Mayor Gallego graduated from Harvard University and earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

F. Ann Rodriguez
Former Recorder

F. Ann was reelected for her seventh term as Recorder in 2016. Rodriguez has dedicated her time to the community by being a part of several boards, such as Kids Voting and Parent Aid Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. She has also worked hard to increase and simplify voting participation

F. Ann Rodriguez was the first Hispanic woman to be elected to countywide office in Pima County and continues to be the single highest “vote-getter” of all Pima County elected officials. As the Pima County Recorder, she has significantly automated and modernized the Pima County Recorder’s office. She has also broadened the exposure to vote-by-mail and walk-in early voting with aggressive media campaigns and expanded satellite voting sites to raise public awareness of this convenient, voter-friendly method of casting a ballot.

Jamescita Peshlakai
Former Senator

Arizona Native Jamescita Mae Peshlakai was first elected to the state legislature in 2012. A combat veteran of the Persian Gulf War, Jamescita served in the US Army for 8 years.

As a parent, she is committed to restoring public education funding, working to make healthcare affordable, improving public safety and protecting Arizona’s most vulnerable populations. She believes jobs, transportation, infrastructure, and responsible planning are key to every Arizona community’s future, especially rural Arizona.

Senator Peshlakai represents LD7, the largest state legislative district in Arizona and the United States. LD7 includes some of the most beautiful parks and natural wonders in the world, including the Grand Canyon, the San Francisco Peaks, Monument Valley and the White Mountains, and the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers. Eight tribes make up the majority of district’s constituents; Hualapai, Havasupai, Kaibab Paiute, San Juan Southern Paiute, Navajo, Hopi, White Mountain Apache, San Carlos Apache and some Zuni Pueblo. Environmental stewardship, water justice, tribal sovereignty, social and economic justice for women and LGBTQI are issues Peshlakai are among her top priorities.

Jamescita is a practicing, traditional, and bilingual Navajo of the Tanglepeople, Redhouse, Bitterwater, and Cliff-dweller clans. She is a mother of 2 and holds a bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy and a master’s degree in education psychology from Northern Arizona University.

Jen Longdon
Former Representative

In 2004, Jen Longdon was paralyzed in a random drive-by shooting, changing the trajectory of her life overnight. Before the shooting, Jen was a successful businesswoman and provider to her family. After the shooting she struggled to stay afloat, losing her health insurance while lying in a hospital bed in a coma and confronting poverty head on. But in the face of such adversity, Jen triumphed. For 14 years Jen has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and improve the lives of people with disabilities. As a Commissioner on the Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues, Jen helped create an amendment to the City’s non-discrimination ordinance which added protections for people with disabilities. A recent former president of Arizonans for Gun Safety, Jen worked with the City of Phoenix to organize Arizona’s largest gun buyback program which removed over 2,000 firearms from our streets. Jen resides in Phoenix’s FQ Story Historic Neighborhood with her two dogs, Porter and Kuma. Her son Matt attended Phoenix public schools and is a graduate of ASU. As LD 24’s representative in the State House, Jen has fought back against extremist policies and fought for our community through investment in education, attracting quality jobs and promoting the health and safety of all Arizonans.

Regina Romero
Tucson Mayor

Regina Romero epitomizes the American Dream in the Southwest. Raised by immigrant farmworkers in Somerton, Arizona, Regina is the youngest of six children and began breaking barriers early on as the first member of her family to vote and the first to graduate from college. She is a proud graduate of the University of Arizona and holds a post-graduate certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

In 2007, Regina became the first Latina elected to the Tucson City Council and the first woman to represent Tucson’s Ward 1. While on the Council, she has helped lift Tucson out of the Great Recession to its most prosperous decade in recent history, writing the City’s Primary Jobs Incentive program and calling for the Creation of an Economic Initiatives Office – both of which have resulted in thousands of long-term, good-paying jobs. She has championed issues such as equal pay for equal work and spearheaded the effort to pass universal earned sick and parental leave for City of Tucson families.

Regina is a pro-child, pro-family and pro-choice mother of two bi-lingual, bi-cultural and bi-adorable children, Emiliano and Luciana, and has been married to Ruben Reyes for 15 years.

She was elected as Mayor of Tucson in 2019 and is the first woman and first Latina mayor of Tucson.

Lela Alston

Lela credits Arizona’s kindergarten through university education system for making the difference in her ability to help others. As a young mother, Lela earned her bachelor’s from the University of Arizona, later receiving her master’s from ASU while teaching full-time in the Phoenix Union High School District. Lela was first elected to the Arizona Senate in 1976, serving on the Appropriations Committee for 18-years. After being encouraged by the community, Lela ran for the Arizona House of Representatives in 2010 and, after serving 8-years in the House, was returned to the State Senate in 2018. Lela’s fierce advocacy has made her one of Arizona’s most respected voices for public education. She has been a member of the PUHSD Governing Board since 2008, serving as president in 2015 and 2016. Lela was also instrumental in the creation of ASU West and expanding career and technical education in public schools. Some of Lela’s favorite awards are being recognized as the 2015 O’Connor Institute Statesman of the Year, becoming an Honorary State Firefighter, receiving the Girl Scouts’ World of Children Award, and the naming of Lela Alston Elementary School. Lela is the mother of two, grandmother of six, and proud owner of a 1929 historic home and 1956 Thunderbird convertible. 

Lynne Pancrazi
Yuma County Supervisor

After serving in the Arizona House of Representatives representing LD24 from 2007 to 2013, Lynne Pancrazi was elected to the Arizona State Senate in 2012 by voters in the new LD4 and served until 2017 when she began serving on the Yuma County Board of Supervisors representing District 5. She received a Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University in Elementary Education. Pancrazi has dedicated herself throughout her life to teaching and education. As a legislator she served to better the quality of education in the state of Arizona.

Paul Bixler
Liberty Elementary Governing Board

Paul Bixler was elected to the Liberty Elementary School Board in 2020. From Akron, Ohio, Paul’s family moved to Phoenix in 1955. After attending West and North Phoenix High Schools, she graduated from East Phoenix High School in 1967. After two unremarkable years at NAU, she invested four years with the United States Navy and Marine Corps. After completing her enlistment, she received my bachelors and masters degrees from ASU. After more then thirty years as a public school, classroom teacher, guidance counselor, coach, building and central office administrator, she retired in the Teacher Retirement System of Texas in 2009. In 2015 Paul and her wife returned to Arizona.

Berdetta Hodge
Tempe City Council

Berdetta Hodge serves on the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board as the President. Berdetta is the East Valley NAACP Educational Coordinator.  Berdetta also serves as the Co- treasure for the Booker T. Washington Child Development Center.  She was the first African-American woman elected in the City of Tempe with her election to the TUHSD Board. Berdetta has spent her life advocating for the less fortunate.  She has worked for Candidates, Campaigns and organizations that share her desire to see a better and more equitable city and world.

Rosanna Gabaldón

Rosanna Gabaldón is a dedicated public servant and an experienced legislator. She arrived in Sahuarita in 2004 and served on the Towns Parks and Recreation Commission, and Economic Development Commission. Rosanna was elected to the Sahuarita Town Council in May 2009 with support of Arizona List. She also holds leadership roles on the South Pima Regional Partnership Council, First Things First, the Greater Green Valley Community Foundation, the Green Valley Community Food Bank Advisory Board and the Friends of the Green Valley Library Board. She was part of the Arizona House of Representatives from 2012 to 2021 and is part of the Arizona State Senate. Her legislative priorities include water sustainability, public education, and economic development. She believes that our best days are ahead of us, and that it’s going to take cooperative leadership to stand up and make it happen. She has worked diligently on issues pertaining to the environment, notably the Drought Contingency Plan, education, and infrastructure. She is serving on the Transportation (ranking member), Health & Human Services, and Commerce committees in the Arizona Senate.

Pat Fleming
Former Representative

A resident of Sierra Vista, Pat has decades of public service on her resume.  Pat’s decades of experience as a budget and manpower analyst have prepared her well to ensure that the state has a balanced budget while protecting families and education. She is focused on getting real results from government programs.  She is a fiscal conservative who will fund education and vital community programs without frivolous spending.  Pat is passionate about protecting Arizona’s families, children and seniors.  She believes every child and college student deserves a world-class education.  She wants all seniors to have access to affordable prescription drugs.  Pat has been, and will continue to be, an advocate for our active duty military, our military installations, and our veterans.  Pat is a leader in our state capitol, and was one of only 8 Democratic lawmakers to pass a bill this session, a bipartisan-supported bill that allows Arizona Veterans to qualify for in-state tuition to attend any Arizona college or university. This is the kind of common-sense legislation Pat focuses on, and it is now law.  Pat is committed to preserving the ranches, farms, and rural communities that underpin such a big part of our cultural heritage.  She also works to attract new businesses that bring good jobs to our communities.

Laura Pastor
Phoenix City Council

Phoenix native Laura Pastor is a fifth-generation Arizonan who graduated from St. Mary’s High School and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Arizona State University. Her grandparents and great-grandparents worked in Eastern Arizona’s mining communities, and both her parents began their careers as classroom teachers.

For four years, Laura was also a classroom teacher in the Roosevelt and Isaac Elementary School Districts, working primarily with at-risk students. During that time, she created a volunteer program to provide after-school tutoring, and authored an accountability program for teachers, students, and parents.

In 1999, Laura attended a master’s program at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs, City University of New York. As part of this program, Laura relocated to Chicago for her master’s practicum with the Board of Education at Chicago Public Schools. There, she organized the National Conference for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans in Chicago and designed and implemented Theater in Public Schools. She also participated in the creation of the Global Educators Outreach. In 2000 Laura received her Master of Public Administration degree and joined the City of Chicago’s Office of Language and Cultural Education as the project director for Mayor Richard M. Daley’s innovative initiative Museums and Public Schools (MAPS). Since then, Laura has served as the Special Assistant to the Arizona Director of Insurance, and as a training coordinator for the Department of Employment and Rehabilitation Services at the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) as a training coordinator.

Currently Laura is Director of the nationally recognized Achieving a College Education Program (ACE) at South Mountain Community College. ACE is dedicated to assisting students in their transition from high school through community college and on to earning a bachelor’s degree. In addition to working directly with students on their post-secondary plans, Laura oversees all fiscal and administrative management of the program — including the coordination, implementation, and outreach of ACE initiatives. She is charged with creating partnerships among national, state, and municipal agencies as well as private sector organizations.

Laura is a member of the Phoenix Union High School District Board, where she has been a strong advocate for strategic planning for the District. On the Phoenix City Council, Laura is chair of the City Council Parks, Arts, Transparency & Education Subcommittee and serves on the following subcommittees: Neighborhoods, Housing & Development, Public Safety & Veterans and Transparency and Infrastructure. She also serves on the O’Connor House Speak Out Against Domestic Violence and Mi Familia Vota advisory boards.

Laura resides in Phoenix with her husband, Henry Cotto, a former major league baseball player and current minor league coach. They have four children, Henry Jr., Claudia, Eduardo and Sophia.

Charlene Fernandez
Former Representative

State Representative Charlene Fernandez is the Democratic Minority Leader in the Arizona House of Representatives from the 4th Legislative District. She was first elected to the state House in 2014.

Charlene has been making her mark on Arizona politics for more than 25 years. She worked for Congressman Ed Pastor for twelve years, coordinating constituent services for the western portion of then Congressional District 2. While working for Congressman Pastor, she spearheaded an effort that culminated in bringing a Veteran’s Administration clinic to Yuma County for the first time in history.

Charlene later served Governor Janet Napolitano as a liaison for the Arizona Department of Environment Quality in Yuma County. In this capacity she worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as its counterpart in the Republic of Mexico, to ensure that the air and water in Southwestern Arizona remained safe while ensuring that businesses faced minimal impact.

For more than twelve years Charlene sat on the Yuma Union High School District Governing Board; during her tenure she served as both President and Vice President. In 2008, Fernandez was elected by the Arizona Democratic State Committee to be First Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, she served in this capacity until 2009.

Charlene is known as a leader on education policy, and in 2016 was named Legislator of Year by the Arizona Parent Teacher Association. She has also been an ardent foe to the private prison system in the state supported by Governor Doug Ducey. She has challenged the governor’s staff from her seat on the Appropriations Committee to justify the need to provide more prison beds.

Kris Mayes
Attorney General

During her time as an Arizona Corporation Commissioner, Kris Mayes’ leadership helped create tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, saved Arizona consumers tens of billions of dollars, and fought climate change by requiring utilities to produce more clean energy — including solar, wind and energy efficiency. Kris worked to preserve Arizona’s increasingly threatened water resources by overseeing one of the largest expansions of utility water conservation programs in state history. Kris also pushed utilities to stop spending ratepayer money on corporate bonuses and advertising, in an effort to keep rates low.  Born and raised on a tree farm in Prescott, Kris attended public schools with her brother and sister. Her parents worked as a pharmacist and a teacher, taking care of the farm on nights and weekends. After graduating from Prescott High School, Kris studied political science and journalism at Arizona State University. After she graduated from ASU, Kris joined the Phoenix Gazette and Arizona Republic as a working beat reporter. She earned her law degree at ASU and a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University in New York. In 2002, Kris joined Janet Napolitano’s campaign for Governor as press secretary. Kris took a senior role in the Napolitano Administration in 2003.  Later that year, Governor Napolitano appointed Kris to serve as Corporation Commissioner. Kris became a Democrat in 2019. Since 2010, she has worked as a senior sustainability scientist at ASU’s School of Sustainability and teaches a course on energy law for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Kris lives in Phoenix with her daughter Hattie.

Adelita Grijalva
Pima County Supervisor

As a native Tucsonan, educated through TUSD schools and the University of Arizona, Adelita is committed to improving the quality of life in Pima County.  Adelita has worked with youth and their families for the last twenty-five years and has the experience and dedication to fight for the right for each child to achieve academic excellence and the opportunity to succeed.  Adelita is Director of Pima County Teen Court, a Juvenile Court diversion program, a program she has worked with for over 24 years.  Ms. Grijalva facilitates workshops for families in basic skills, communication, anger management, impulse control, goal setting and resisting peer pressure.  Adelita is currently a member of the TUSD School Board and was recently elected to her 5th term. Ms. Grijalva has also had a role nationally with the democratic party as a Member of the 2008 Democratic Convention Credential Committee, Member of the 2009 Democratic Change Commission and 2010 and 2012 At-Large Member of the Democratic National Committee.  Amongst some of the honors awarded to Ms. Grijalva are the “40 under 40” for Tucson Business Edge Magazine in 2005, Arizona School Counselor Advocate of the Year in 2008, the Valle Del Sol Profile in Success Awardee in 2010, 2015 UFW Friend of Labor and Tucson Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Deltas of Southern Arizona 2016 Women in Spirit Awardee and was recently inducted into her alma mater, Pueblo High School’s Hall of Fame.  Adelita lives in Tucson with her husband Sol and their three children, Adelina, Raúl and Joaquín.

Gabriella Cázares Kelly
Pima County Recorder

Gabriella Cázares-Kelly (she/her) has served as the Pima County Recorder since 2021. She oversees Voter Registration, Early Voting and Document Recording for the 2nd largest county in AZ. Gabriella is Tohono O’odham and is the first Native American to hold an elected, countywide seat in Pima County.

Rebecca Rios
Former Senator

A fourth generation Arizonan, Rebecca served in the Arizona Legislature from 1995 to 2010 where she was chosen to serve as Democratic Whip and Assistant Democratic Leader. She served in the House of Representatives of Arizona. Elected In 2014. from her new home in LD 27, Rebecca was again selected to serve as Minority Whip. She also is a part of Let America Vote on the Board of Advisors. She Is a fighter for better education and healthcare and an outspoken advocate on issues of equality and justice for Arizona’s Citizens.

Anna Tovar
Corporation Commissioner

Anna Tovar and her husband have been married for over 20 years and have two wonderful sons. She is a proud Arizona native and has served her community as a teacher, mentor and elected official. Anna was a school teacher for five years, served on the Tolleson City Council for over seven years, and was Vice Mayor for two years until she was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives. In 2013, she won election to the State Senate. As a State Legislator, Anna earned a reputation as a leader who fought for the dignity of all people. In 2011, she championed the effort to restore funding for nearly 100 patients on the transplant list, saving many lives. In 2016, Anna was the first woman elected to be Tolleson’s Mayor where she continued delivering results to make people’s lives better. The one question Anna always asked herself before making any decision is this: will it be good for my residents and the long-term future of our community? The answer to that question is why she ran for the Arizona Corporation Commission – to restore transparency and integrity to the Corporation Commission. She was elected in November 2020 and was the first Democratic Latina elected to a statewide office in Arizona.

Janet Napolitano
Former Governor

Janet Napolitano was elected Arizona’s 21st governor in 2002. During her administration she focused on education, economy, and the environment. Prior to this election Napolitano was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as U.S Attorney for the District of Arizona. She was later elected to be attorney general for Arizona, and became the first woman to hold this position. Napolitano resigned from office in 2009 to accept the appointment as U.S Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Janet Napolitano was elected as the governor of Arizona in 2002 and reelected in 2006. As governor, she converted a $1 billion budget deficit in 2003 into a $300 million surplus by 2006 without raising state taxes. Time named her one of the top five U.S. governors, and from 2006-2007, she was a chair of the National Governors Association. As governor, she was an advocate for education and border security and showed this by implementing voluntary full-day kindergarten as well as crackdown on employers who hired undocumented workers. She is the third Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and is leading our nation’s collective efforts to secure our country from the threats we face – from terrorism to natural disasters.

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