September 13, 2021

What Our Partners Say

By Rich Nickel, president and CEO, Education Forward Arizona

Rich Nickel

On behalf of hundreds of education, business, philanthropic, and community leaders from across the state, it is my great pleasure to announce the launch of Education Forward Arizona.  

Education Forward Arizona is more than a new organization. It is the representation of a collective community agreement that it’s time for dramatic change. This new organization is an agreement that a more robust voice is needed to make a strong case about the importance of investing in education — not just for education’s sake but for the increased prosperity of everyone in Arizona. 

We are joined in our work by a number of launch partners and people who have been committed partners along the way — and who will continue to be champions for education as we move forward. Launching the organization with these partners demonstrates how Education Forward Arizona sees its mission being achieved — with all sectors and stakeholders joining forces to build the public and political will needed to meet the goals in the Arizona Education Progress Meter. 

We are grateful for your ongoing support and for your kind words as we launch the organization together. Below are some of their expectations and aspirations for how we can move education forward in Arizona.

Vince Roig

Education is the most powerful tool we have to improve our state. It’s time to act together — with courage — to create a better future for all Arizona children.

Vince Roig, Chairman, Helios Education Foundation

Ron Butler

The creation of Education Forward Arizona is a reflection of what business, education and community leaders across the state are saying: If we want to move our state forward, we must move education forward.

Ron Butler, Arizona Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP

Steve Seleznow

“There are four essential ingredients for advancing education across Arizona: bold visions, noble aspirations, high expectations, and the courage to do the right thing for children. Education Forward Arizona will be a galvanizing force in advancing and advocating for these ideals and to fully represent the many voices in Arizona who seek the same.”

Steve Seleznow, President & CEO, Arizona Community Foundation

Stephanie Parra

“ALL in Education looks forward to partnering with Education Forward Arizona and working together to achieve our common goal of improving educational outcomes for underserved students in Arizona. Through this work we will secure a higher quality of life and achieve economic success for our state and communities.”

Stephanie Parra, Executive Director, ALL in Education

Teniqua Broughton

“Education is one of the Black community’s most highly held values. Each generation is instilled with a sense of pride in educational attainment as a means to uplift the community. However, when Black students arrive to the first day of school, they face an uphill climb. We look forward to collaborative efforts that will shift that experience for students and teachers across Arizona.” 

Teniqua Broughton, Executive Director, The State of Black Arizona

Monica Villalobos

“Education Forward Arizona is a productive collaboration between subject matter experts to improve the education of all students. In 2012, our public school system became a minority-majority student population and our work together will remedy the systemic inequities to improve the workforce pipeline of the future.”

Monica Villalobos, President and CEO, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Karla Phillips-Krivickas

“I’m looking forward to partnering with Education Forward Arizona to elevate the issues and develop the solutions that will propel Arizona’s students forward, especially our students with disabilities.”

Karla Phillips-Krivickas, CEO and Founder, Inclusive Strategies

Jim Swanson

“Arizona has big goals for P-20 education. Incremental progress is not enough. We need bold, courageous efforts that the business and education communities can advance together. Education Forward Arizona will play an impactful role in leading this work.”

Jim Swanson, CEO, Kitchell

Joshua J. Allen

“This is an exciting time as Education Forward Arizona launches its collective work to advance Arizona’s P-20 education system.  At First Things First, we know that children can’t climb the ladder of school success if the first rung is broken. We look forward to partnering with Education Forward Arizona to amplify the importance of learning across all ages, beginning at birth.”

Joshua J. Allen, Interim CEO, First Things First

John Arnold

“It has never been more critical that we ensure the benefits of higher education are made available to every student and in every corner of Arizona. As these champions of Arizona’s education system join forces, the board looks forward to our continued work together to ensure a vibrant future for our state.”

John Arnold, Executive Director, Arizona Board of Regents

Andi Fourlis

“Students of our great state will benefit from the expertise of thought leaders dedicated to providing a relevant and brighter future for education in Arizona.”

Andi Fourlis, Superintendent, Mesa Public Schools

Chris Bustamante

“Arizona’s Community Colleges, through the Arizona Community College Coordinating Council (AC4), are excited to partner with Education Forward Arizona.  The important work that we collectively do with our community and education partners is critical to our success in providing expanded equity and access to higher education, and to achieving our statewide attainment goals.  We have a shared vision with our partners for Arizona’s P-20 education system to make it as seamless and successful for our students as possible.”

Chris Bustamante, Ed.D., Executive Director, Arizona Community College Coordinating Council         

Beth Maloney

“Act One’s mission is to provide access to the arts for students in Title I schools in Arizona. That’s why we believe in the mission of Education Forward Arizona – they are also working to improve the quality of life for underserved students. We are proud and excited to partner with them to accomplish this critical work.”

Beth Maloney, Director of Arts Education at Act One, Arizona Teacher of the Year 2014

Deborah Carstens

“Congratulations on the launch of this new and important organization that will help students access and attain a postsecondary degree and move Arizona towards meeting our state’s attainment goal.”

Deborah Carstens, Founder, Carstens Family Funds

Colleen A. Smith

“Arizona has been fortunate to have these three organizations supporting education across the state.  Merging the three groups will strengthen their work and provide the opportunity to enhance their messages through collaboration.  I am grateful for their work to inform and advocate for all Arizonans to have access to world class education.”

Colleen A. Smith, Ph.D., Education Committee Chair, Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance, President, Coconino Community College

Tracy Bame

“Freeport-McMoRan applauds the launch of Education Forward Arizona which marks a new surge in the energy, capacity, collaboration and commitment aimed at improving education outcomes for all students, particularly those underserved.”

Tracy Bame, Director of Social Responsibility, Freeport-McMoRan and President, Freeport-McMoRan Foundation

Darcy Renfro

“Arizona’s landscape is ripe with excellence and promising practices. Education Forward Arizona is primed to be a strategic connector that elevates and aligns these practices across the education and workforce continuum, accelerating our path toward a best-in-class educational system for all Arizonans.”

Darcy Renfro, Chief Officer, Workforce & Economic Development, Maricopa County Community College District 

Virginia Watahomigie

“As a State, we must fully understand the needs of our learners and commit to investing in high quality education systems; it is our greatest chance for reversing the ongoing divides and major societal issues we face.  For these reasons, I am so thankful to partner with Education Forward Arizona and fully support its mission.”

Virginia Watahomigie, Executive Director, Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth

Tim Colgate

“At Nogales High School, we are very excited for Education Forward Arizona; the partnerships we have established in the past have been very beneficial for our students and families with the college ambassadors program leading the way in our school.”

Tim Colgate, Principal, Nogales High School

Chevy Humphrey

“All students in Arizona deserve an excellent education. We can’t afford to write off a single one. We need bold actions to move education forward and give every single child their fair shot at success.”

Chevy Humphrey, Board Member, Education Forward Arizona

Heather Carter

“Arizona’s P-20 education system – now, more than ever – needs our leaders to work together to identify solutions to systemic inequities. By developing a comprehensive plan to support Arizona students and families, we will make strides in closing the achievement gap and eradicating inequities to ensure that all students, regardless of zip code or background, have access to top-quality schools. We look forward to partnering with Education Forward Arizona on this important work going forward.”

Heather Carter, Executive Vice President, Greater Phoenix Leadership

Dr. Sybil Francis

“A strong education system is critical to our state’s economic prosperity, quality of life, and civic health. Arizona’s data on educational outcomes provide a clear call to action. We must continue to work together to close achievement and opportunity gaps, increase educational attainment, and prepare a skilled workforce for the future.”

Dr. Sybil Francis, President & CEO, Center for the Future of Arizona

Jennifer Holsman Tetreault

“We know that when students, teachers, and classrooms thrive, our state prospers. I am excited for the launch of Education Forward Arizona that will advance policies and scale programs to ensure that every Arizona student succeeds.”

Jennifer Holsman Tetreault, Assistant General Counsel, Field Operations, West Region, US Foods

Pat Welborn

“The business, education and community leaders behind Education Forward Arizona believe there is no more certain path to social justice and economic prosperity than through a public education system that ensures each and every student receives an excellent education. This will require bold investment and ambitious programs to meet the individual needs of all students, especially those who have traditionally been left behind.”

Pat Welborn, Board Member, Education Forward Arizona

Robert Neese

“NAU Arizona GEAR UP wholeheartedly supports Education Forward Arizona to help address low expectations and attainment levels in our state schools, especially high-poverty schools, to provide greater and more equitable opportunities for students from low-income communities to prepare, get into and succeed in higher education.”

Robert Neese, Director, Arizona GEAR UP, Northern Arizona University

Julie Pastrick

“This is a new day for education across the State of Arizona. Education Forward Arizona’s focus on improving our P-20 education system for underserved students has the potential to drive transformational change. The time is now to provide equal opportunity to every student.”

Julie Pastrick, President / Chief Executive Officer, Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce 

John Fees

“Education Forward Arizona is the best hope to help the state achieve our attainment goal where 60% of Arizona adults, ages 25-64, will hold a postsecondary credential or degree.  With its statewide platform of services and engaged community leaders, the organization is certain to positively impact the well-being of our Arizona communities and economies.”

John Fees, Founder and Managing Director, NGI Group, LLC  

Shelley Watson

“The advancement of Arizona’s P-20 education pipeline and student success requires intentional and strategic partnerships. SALC is excited about the launch of Education Forward Arizona and partnering on advocacy and implementation of data-driven solutions. Working together, we can positively impact all Arizona’s students as well as job creators who depend on a robust workforce pipeline.”

Shelley Watson, Vice President, Southern Arizona Leadership Council

Richard H. Dozer

“I’m excited for the launch of Education Forward Arizona. This organization will embody what we’ve known to be true for some time: that education is the best investment that our state can make to improve our workforce, our economy, and quality of life for us all.”

Richard H. Dozer, Chairman, Viad and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

Paul Koehler

“Education Forward Arizona is creating an organization that will support and advocate for the world class education system Arizona needs and deserves. As a founding board member of Education Forward Arizona, I am excited to be part of the next chapter of education success in Arizona.”

Paul Koehler, PhD, Senior Director of Leadership Development and Outreach, WestEd

Jeffrey Hall

“Education has been defined as “the transmission of civilization,” and Education Forward Arizona is an exciting opportunity to create a comprehensive and empowering strategy to make quality education accessible to all Arizonans. I look forward to working with Education Forward Arizona and to being part of the statewide network of organizations that will help this happen.”

Jeffrey Hall, Director, Lowell Observatory

Andrea Whitsett

“The launch of Education Forward Arizona signals a powerful affirmation of Arizona’s commitment to students – especially underserved students and their families. When our P-20 education system activates the full potential of every student, quality of life for all Arizonans improves and the state prospers.”

Andrea Whitsett, Director, Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University

Shelley Mellon

“To continue to advance education and the quality of life for all of Arizona, we need an organization with the ability to bring diverse leaders from across sectors and around the state together to champion the change needed to ensure the success of all students and communities. I’m excited to be a part of Education Forward Arizona’s work and ready to take the steps needed to transform education in Arizona.”

Shelley Mellon, President/CEO, RL Jones Insurance & MVS

Rick Collins

“The strength of Arizona’s economic future lies in the quality of our P-20 education system. For too long, Arizona has made incremental progress to improve education. The time is now for bold steps to be taken to create a common agenda and move education forward.”

Rick Collins, President, Western Division, Ryan Companies

Dr. Jacquelyn Elliott

“It is extremely exciting to be part of joining together three educational non-profits to create an expanded impact on educational attainment in Arizona. As one united and cohesive entity, a stronger voice for Arizona’s students and educations will be realized. Arizona’s Community Colleges will directly benefit from the wisdom, research, and collective knowledge that will lead to closing the achievement and equity gap in the state.”

Dr. Jacquelyn Elliott, President/CEO, Central Arizona College

Dr. Daniel P. Corr

“It is because of a shared belief in the transformative powers of education that Arizona Western College is thrilled to partner with Education Forward Arizona and others to advance P-20 education across Arizona.  AWC stands ready to work with state leaders to increase higher education credential attainment among first-generation students and other underserved populations.”

Dr. Daniel P. Corr, President, Arizona Western College

Jake Logan

“Arizona students are at the heart of our mission. We are excited about Education Forward Arizona that will realize a shared vision of excellent educational P-20 opportunities for them in communities all across our state. Underpinning our work is the belief that if we can close the opportunity gap, we can close the achievement gap and meet the goals in the Arizona Education Progress Meter.”

Jake Logan, President and CEO, Arizona Charter Schools Association 

Manuel O. Valenzuela

“Education Forward Arizona is a giant leap forward in leveraging the strengths of many Arizona organizations, across different sectors to align and advance our common goal, raising Arizona’s educational attainment, and further developing our workforce, economy, and overall quality of life. Our shared commitment to these outcomes will create common focus, common ground, and more success together.”

Manuel O. Valenzuela, Ed.D., Superintendent, Sahuarita Unified School District

Carla Vargas Jasa

“We’re excited to work with Education Forward Arizona as we work together on advancing the important goals in the Arizona Education Progress Meter and in MC2026, United Way’s Mighty Change goals for Maricopa County. Together, we will empower our communities to improve education and advance the quality of life for all Arizonans.”

Carla Vargas Jasa, President and CEO, Valley of the Sun United Way