Sitting at the intersection of women and girls, basketball, LGBTQ rights and people of color, the Phoenix Mercury has utilized its platform to lift the voices of those previously silenced and to honor individuals making a difference in the community. In continuation of this commitment, the Phoenix Mercury, for the third year in a row, will elevate incredible women in sports, business and philanthropy who are making an impact in their communities with its Believe in Women award brought to you by Fry’s Food Stores.

2022
Nancy Lieberman

Nancy Lieberman

Lieberman, the first-ever woman to become a head coach of a men’s professional team in any sport, returns for a third season as Power’s head coach. The Basketball Hall of Famer replaced Clyde Drexler in that role before the 2018 season after he became BIG3 commissioner and promptly led Power to the championship, earning Coach of the Year honors along the way.

Lieberman brought an unparalleled resume to the league, including eight years of professional play in the Women’s Professional Basketball League and WNBA, eight years of professional coaching experience in the WNBA, NBA D-League (head coach of the Texas Legends, affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks) and NBA (Sacramento Kings assistant coach), and time as a broadcaster for ESPN and ABC. Lieberman also earned a silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics and a gold medal as a member of USA Basketball’s 1979 World Championship team.

Lieberman was named to three All-American teams while winning back-to-back AIAW National Championships at Old Dominion University. Nicknamed “Lady Magic,” she was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996.

Ryneldi Becenti

Ryneldi Becenti

Ryneldi Becenti, a member of the Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame who twice earned honorable mention All-America notice as a member of the Sun Devil women’s basketball team, will have her No. 21 jersey honored and displayed from the rafters of Wells Fargo Arena on Sat., Dec. 21 when the Sun Devils host the University of Miami, Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne announced on Monday.

“As we started to evaluate the stars of our distinguished past, it quickly became apparent that no player was more celebrated or had more of an impact – both in her community and within our own Sun Devil community – than Ryneldi Becenti,” said Turner Thorne. “While already in our Hall of Fame for her achievements as a student-athlete, we felt a program-specific tribute like this was fitting for a special individual whose influence went beyond the basketball court.

“The incredible work ethic and desire that led her to our program galvanized the Native American community. Her outstanding contributions as a Sun Devil enhanced her legendary status and remain an inspiration for many. I am so proud to be announcing that we will be hanging Ryneldi Becenti’s No. 21 jersey from the rafters of Wells Fargo Arena on Dec. 21. We hope all our fans and basketball enthusiasts alike will mark the date in their calendars to come out and help us pay tribute to this Sun Devil icon.”

Becenti was a two-time honorable mention All-America honoree while also becoming one of only three Sun Devils (at the time) to earn All-Pac-10 first-team honors twice in a career.

Following two successful seasons at Scottsdale Community College, Becenti joined ASU where her outstanding all-around play was pivotal in helping the Sun Devils earn a NCAA Tournament berth in 1992, the program’s first tournament invite since 1983.

By the conclusion of her two-year Sun Devil career, Becenti would accumulate 396 career assists, which at the time represented the second-highest career total in program history. Her career average of 7.1 assists per game remains a Pac-12 record to this day, while her 17-assist outing vs. Marquette in 1992 still sits atop the team’s list for most assists in a single game. With 15 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in a Jan. 25, 1992, game against Oregon State, Becenti became the first player in school history to record a triple-double and was the lone player in the NCAA – men or women – to record the feat that season.

Becenti’s enormous popularity in the community and the Navajo Nation received national acclaim in March 1993, when she was featured in a Sports Illustrated article written by award-winning journalist Gary Smith.

As a member the 1993 USA team at the World University Games, Becenti became the first Native American female to earn a medal at the event. She would also go on to earn the distinction of becoming the first Native American to play in the WNBA as a member of the hometown Phoenix Mercury.

In 1996, she became the first woman inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame adding to her list of enshrinements, which includes the Scottsdale Community College Hall of Fame, Arizona State University Hall of Fame and the Arizona High School Sports Hall of Fame.

A native of Fort Defiance, Ariz., Becenti earned high school All-America honors playing for Window Rock High School. Her stellar play continued at Scottsdale Community College where she earned junior college All-American recognition.

Donna Lopiano

Donna Lopiano

Dr. Donna Lopiano is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation (1992-2007) and was named one of “The 10 Most Powerful Women in Sports” by Fox Sports. The Sporting News has repeatedly listed her as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Sports.” She has been nationally and internationally recognized for her leadership advocating for gender equity in sports by the International Olympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports, the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Recent books include Unwinding Madness with Gerald Gurney and Andrew Zimbalist (Brookings, 2017) and Athletic Director’s Desk Reference with Constance Zotos (Human Kinetics, 2013).

Dr. Lopiano also served for 18 years as the University of Texas at Austin Director of Women’s Athletics and is a past-president of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. During her tenure at Texas, she constructed what many believed to be the premiere women’s athletics program in the country; twice earning the top program in the nation award. All eight University of Texas sports were consistently ranked in the nation’s top ten in Division I where they earned eighteen national championships in six different sports, produced 51 individual sport national champion athletes, 57 Southwest Conference championships and 395 All-American athletes, dozens among them Olympians and world champions. Ninety percent of women athletes who exhausted their athletic eligibility at the University of Texas received a baccalaureate degree. Prior to Texas, Dr. Lopiano served as an Assistant Professor and Assistant Athletic Director at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. She is currently an adjunct faculty member in the Sports Management Program at Southern Connecticut State University.

Recognized as one of the foremost national experts on gender equity in sport, Dr. Lopiano has testified about Title IX and gender equity before three Congressional committees, served as a consultant to the U.S. Office for Civil Rights Department of Health, Education and Welfare Title IX Task Force and as an expert witness in over forty court cases. Dr. Lopiano has also served as a consultant to school districts, institutions of higher education and state education agencies on Title IX compliance and to non-profit organizations on governance and strategic planning.

She received her bachelor’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University, her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Southern California and has been the recipient of five honorary doctoral degrees. She has been a college coach of men’s and women’s volleyball, women’s basketball and softball and coached the Italian national women’s softball team.

As an athlete, Dr. Lopiano participated in 26 national championships in four sports and was a nine-time All-American at four different positions in softball, a sport in which she played on six national championship teams. She is a member of the National Sports Hall of Fame, the National Softball Hall of Fame and the Connecticut and Texas Women’s Halls of Fame, among others.

Val Ackerman

Val Ackerman

Val attended the University of Virginia as one of the school’s first female student-athlete scholarship recipients. She was a four-year starter, three-time captain and two-time Academic All-American for the Cavaliers’ women’s basketball team and the first 1,000-point scorer in the program’s history. She graduated with high distinction with a degree in political and social thought in 1981 and played one year of professional basketball in France before earning a law degree from UCLA in 1985.

Val started her legal career as a corporate and banking associate at the New York law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and joined the National Basketball Association as a staff attorney in 1988. She was as an executive at the NBA for eight years, serving as Special Assistant to NBA Commissioner David Stern and Director (and later) Vice President of Business Affairs before being named the WNBA’s first President in 1996. She guided the league to a much-heralded launch in 1997 and headed its day-to-day operations for its first eight seasons.

In 2005, Val was elected President of USA Basketball for the 2005-08 term, leading the organization to an overall competitive record of 222-23 and gold medal performances by the U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She was one of the NBA’s original appointees to the USA Basketball Board of Directors in 1989 and served as an organizational liaison with USAB during the early years of NBA participation in national team competitions, including the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and 1994 World Championships. A USA Basketball Board member for 23 years, Val played a key role in the long-standing success of the U.S. women’s national basketball team program, which during her term won gold medals at the 1998, 2002 and 2010 FIBA World Championships and the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. In 2013, Val was named the recipient of USA Basketball’s Edward S. Steitz Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions in international basketball.

Val also served two terms (2006-10 and 2010-2014) as the U.S. representative for men’s and women’s basketball on the Central Board of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the sport’s world governing body. She was a member of FIBA’s Competition Commission and served on the Central Board of FIBA Americas, FIBA’s zone authority for North, Central and South America. She also served from 2017-19 as an at-large member of the U.S. Soccer Federation Board of Directors.

Val served on the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics from 2005-2017 and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee from 2014-2019. In 2019, she was appointed co-chair of the NCAA Federal and State Legislation Working Group, which was tasked with examining the NCAA’s rules relating to student athlete name, image and likeness. The Working Group’s efforts led to a report in 2020 recommending ground-breaking new NIL opportunities; the changes are expected to take effect in 2021.

Val is currently on the Board of Directors of Women Leaders in College Sports, which recognized her as Conference Administrator of the Year in 2018. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, which inducted her as a contributor in 2011, and is a Lifetime Trustee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which presented her with the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. She has done consulting work for the National Hockey League, which she assisted in 2011 in formulating a long-term plan to support women’s ice hockey, and the NCAA, for which she prepared a comprehensive white paper in 2013 on growth strategies for women’s college basketball. She also worked as a free-lance columnist for ESPNW, where she authored a series of articles on the subject of women and sports and participated as a member of the inaugural ESPNW Advisory Board.

Val’s accomplishments in the sports business have earned her numerous awards, including the University of Virginia’s Distinguished Alumna Award; the March of Dimes Sports Achievement Award; induction into the GTE Academic All-America Hall of Fame; the Girls Scouts of America National Women of Distinction Juliette Award; the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund Equal Opportunity Award; inclusion on the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 50th Anniversary Women’s Basketball team; induction into the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame; the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association President’s Citation; the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award; the International Olympic Committee Women and Sport Achievement Diploma; the Sports Business Journal Champions in Sports Business Award; inclusion as a Women’s Sports Foundation/ESPNW 40 for 40 Honoree; induction into the National Consortium for Academics and Sports Hall of Fame; the Women in Sports and Events (WISE) 20th Anniversary Women of Distinction Award; the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health Sports Ball Award; the Marquette School of Law Master of the Game Award; and the Emily Couric Leadership Award. In 2016, Val received the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Billie Jean King Contribution Award for significant contributions to the development and advancement of women’s sports.

Val is married to Charlie Rappaport, a retired tax partner of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. They have two daughters, Emily (a 2014 graduate of Yale) and Sally (a 2017 graduate of Wesleyan).

Linda Vollstedt

Linda Vollstedt

In her 21 years at the helm of the Arizona State women’s golf progam, the name “Linda Vollstedt” became synonymous with excellence in the world of women’s golf. The five-time national coach of the year retired from Arizona State in June of 2001 after leading the Sun Devils to six NCAA championships in the 1990s. Twently of her former student-athletes have gone on to play at the elite level — the LPGA Tour. She ended her ASU coaching career as just one of 11 head coaches to mentor Sun Devil programs for more than 20 years.

Arizona State women’s golf captured its sixth NCAA championship title in 1998 and its fifth in six years (1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998). Under Vollstedt’s direction, the Sun Devils own twice as many NCAA championships (6) as any other women’s golf program in the nation.

Vollstedt took the Sun Devils on an incredible trip in her final decade as head coach, leading them to 10 straight trips to the NCAA Championships, the third longest streak in the nation, and Top 10 national finishes in 11 of her last 15 years. In fact, the Arizona State alum coached the Sun Devils to first- or second-place finishes in 57 of her last 99 tournaments, dating back more than seven years. What’s more, the team finished lower than sixth only 10 times in that span.

As a result of her efforts, Vollstedt has been recognized by her colleagues with numerous coaching honors. Most recently she was named one of Golf World Magazine’s Top 10 College Coaches of the 20th century (4th on the list). She was named Golfweek’s 1997 National Collegiate Coach of the Year. She also swept the 1995 awards being named Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year, West Regional Coach of the Year, Golfweek National Coach of the Year and National Golf Coaches Association Co-Coach of the Year. Vollstedt claimed consensus national coaching honors in 1993 and 1994 and was named the 1989 National and Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

Throughout her career, Vollstedt guided 19 players to the professional ranks. Former collegiate All-Americans Danielle Ammaccapane, Brandie Burton, Michelle Estill, Emilee Klein and Wendy Ward all finished among the top 30 on the 1998 LPGA money winners’ list. Several other Sun Devils have left their marks on the Tour as well, such as the late Heather Farr, Amy Fruhwirth, Nancy Harvey, Lauri Merten, Pia Nilsson, Pearl Sinn, Nancy Taylor, Tina Tombs and Pamela Wright.

The Sun Devil women’s golf team traditionally ranks among the nation’s best in both academics and athletics. In addition to producing several academic All-Americans within the sport, the Sun Devils reached collegiate golf’s pinnacle by winning their first NCAA championship (eighth national title) with a 16-stroke triumph over UCLA in 1989-90. That squad captured five regular-season tournaments and won individual honors at six of the 11 tournaments in which it played. Burton, who won six tournaments and was named NCAA and Pac-10 Player of the Year as a freshman in 1990, went on to become the 1991 LPGA Rookie-of-the-Year.

In 1986, Vollstedt received a pair of outstanding honors, as she was named NCAA Regional Coach of the Year and the LPGA’s Teaching Division Coach of the Year. A 17-year member of the LPGA, she has served as president of the Western Section Teaching Division and was a member of the NCAA women’s golf committee.

In 2000, Vollstedt was honored by the Standard Register PING LPGA Tournament Board of Governors with the Linda Vollstedt Award for Service and Leadership in Women’s Sports. The award is given annually to a person or organization who shows courage, commitment, passion for women’s opportunities in sports, volunteerism and a desire to help youngsters be successful. That same year, Vollstedt was also awarded the 2000 PGA Anser Award which annually honors an individual whose positive efforts have influenced the history of golf in Arizona.

A much-heralded prep coach, Vollstedt coached the girls’ team at Phoenix’s Alhambra High School for a decade before coming to ASU. Her teams won a pair of state championships (1971, 1977), finished runner-up twice (1970, 1978) and posted four undefeated seasons.

A native of Portland, Ore., Vollstedt has been involved with Arizona State University for almost 40 years, earning her bachelor of arts degree in education in 1969 and her master’s degree in math education in 1971. Her Sun Devil playing career began in 1964 and concluded in 1968. The 1994 National Golf Coaches Hall of Fame inductee is currently employed by ASU’s Intercollegiate Athletic Department as the director of marketing and promotions for Sun Devil golf.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Linda Vollstedt became involved with Arizona State University more than four decades ago as a member of the women’s golf team, earning her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education and her Master’s Degree in Math Education. She taught high school math for 10 years and in 1980 was named the ASU women’s golf coach. During her 21-year tenure, she led the Sun Devils to six NCAA Championships, nine Conference titles, coached 42 All-Americans, and sent 22 players to the LPGA Tour. Vollstedt’s outstanding efforts have been recognized by her colleagues with numerous honors, including being named one of the Top 10 College Coaches of the 20th Century. The eight-time Coach of the Year is a member of five Hall of Fames, including the ASU Hall of Fame, the Women’s Golf Coach Association Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame.

Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King

Billie Jean Moffitt was born on November 22, 1943 in Long Beach, California to parents Bill, a firefighter, and Betty, a homemaker. The Moffitt family was athletic. Bill earned a tryout for an NBA team before becoming a firefighter and Betty was an accomplished swimmer. Billie Jean’s brother Randy, born in 1948, pitched for 11 years for several Major League Baseball teams: San Francisco Giants (1972-1981), Houston Astros (1982), and the Toronto Blue Jays (1983.)

Billie Jean’s first sport was basketball. She then began to play softball, and as a 10-year-old, played shortstop on a 14U team that won the city championship.

As she entered fifth grade, she asked her father what sports she could play to continue to achieve success. Her father mentioned tennis, and shortly afterward, Billie Jean was introduced to the sport by her friend, Susan Williams. Susan took her to a country club, where Billie Jean played for the first time. From the moment she put the racquet on the ball, Billie Jean knew what she wanted to do with her life. She began to play on Long Beach’s public courts using a racquet she purchased herself with money earned from odd jobs.

The young athlete set the bar high for her tennis game. “I am going to be No. 1 in the world,” Billie Jean told her mother. She soon realized, though, that the standards for young women playing the game were different than those for young men.

While participating in a tournament at the Los Angeles Tennis Club in 1955, Billie Jean was barred from a group picture of junior tennis players because she wore the tennis shorts her mother made her instead of the tennis dress traditionally worn by female athletes. She took this injustice and used it as fuel to power both her game and her future social advocacy.

Billie Jean emerged as a talent to watch when in 1958, she won her age bracket in the Southern California championship. In 1959, Billie Jean turned pro, and former women’s tennis great Alice Marble became her coach. She attended California State University, Los Angeles from 1961 to 1964, and continued to compete in tournaments while also working as a tennis instructor. She married law student Larry King in 1965.

In 1966, Billie Jean King achieved the goal she set for herself as a young girl when she was ranked #1 in the world in women’s tennis. She held the #1 ranking for five additional years (1967-1968, 1971-1972, and 1974).

In 1966, Billie Jean King achieved the goal she set for herself as a young girl when she was ranked #1 in the world in women’s tennis. She held the #1 ranking for five additional years (1967-1968, 1971-1972, and 1974).

Off the court, Billie Jean campaigned for equal prize money in the men’s and women’s games. In 1970, she joined the Virginia Slims Tour for women, and in 1971, King became the first woman athlete to earn over $100,000 in prize money. Yet when she won the U.S. Open in 1972, she received $15,000 less than the men’s champion, Ilie Năstase.

In 1973, at the height of her competitive years, Billie Jean leveraged her position to spearhead the formation of the Women’s Tennis Association and became its first president. She lobbied for equal prize money for men and women at the U.S. Open, and a sponsor was found to level the playing field. The U.S. Open became the first major tournament to offer equal prize money to both sexes.

The campaign for pay equality gained a worldwide audience of over 90 million when Billie Jean battled tennis player and self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes.” Bobby had claimed the women’s game was inferior to the men’s and Billie accepted his challenge to prove him wrong. King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. No tennis match before or since has been seen by so many.

Yet through it all, her crusade against inequality in all forms never waned, and she continued to receive recognition for her many contributions to both tennis and the fight for parity.

She was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987, and then later became the first woman to have a major sports venue named in her honor. The USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY, home of the US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament, was rededicated as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2006.

Tara VanDerveer

Tara VanDerveer

The all-time winningest coach in women’s college basketball, Tara VanDerveer has cemented herself as one of the top coaches in the history of sport, both collegiately and internationally, and is a member of both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2011) and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2002).

An ambassador for both Stanford University and the sport of college basketball, VanDerveer has enjoyed an unprecedented level of success through an energetic and positive approach to the game. A five-time national coach of the year (1988, 1989, 1990, 2011, 2021) and 17-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, VanDerveer, who prior to coming to Stanford served as head coach for a combined seven seasons at Idaho (1978-80) and Ohio State (1980-85), has accumulated an impressive 1,157-259 (.818) record in her 43 years as a collegiate head coach and an 1,005-208 (.829) record over 36 seasons at Stanford.

The 2020-21 season was a momentous one for VanDerveer, as she led the Cardinal back atop the collegiate mountaintop, all while maneuvering a global pandemic, and also broke the all-time wins record in women’s college basketball. On Dec, 15, 2021, she became the sport’s winningest coach, breaking Tennessee’s Pat Summitt’s mark of 1,098. Stanford finished the year 31-2, winning both the Pac-12 regular season and tournament championships, earning the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and claimed the national championship for the first time since 1992.

The milestones have been piling up in recent years for VanDerveer, as she became the second women’s coach to reach 1,000 career wins when Stanford beat USC on Feb. 3, 2017. VanDerveer has more career wins to her name than 344 of the country’s 351 Division I programs.

VanDerveer has led her Stanford teams to three NCAA Championships (1990, 1992, 2021), one of four coaches in the history of the sport to win three titles. She’s advanced the Cardinal to 14 NCAA Final Four appearances, 24 Pac-12 regular-season titles, 15 Pac-12 Tournament crowns and 33 trips to the NCAA Tournament. She also guided Idaho to one AIAW Tournament appearance and Ohio State to a pair of NCAA Tournaments while twice being named Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Her teams have won 20 or more games 37 times, including each of the last 21 seasons, and collected at least 30 victories 17 times. VanDerveer built Stanford into a national power almost immediately upon arrival and has maintained an unparalleled level of success for three and a half decades. On Feb. 26, 2016 the Cardinal won its 1,000th game in program history, becoming the seventh Division I institution to reach the milestone, and did so in fewer games than all but two other schools. VanDerveer has accounted for 1,005 of Stanford’s 1,181 total victories since its first varsity season in 1975 (85 percent).

Perhaps one of VanDerveer’s most notable attributes is her ability to connect with student-athletes and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of college athletics. Considered one of the nation’s premier recruiters, VanDerveer and her staff routinely bring top classes to The Farm. The Stanford staff brought in the likes of Jennifer Azzi and Kate Starbird, both of whom won women’s basketball’s highest individual honor – the James Naismith National Player of the Year Award (Azzi 1990; Starbird 1997) – as well as Candice Wiggins, who in 2008 joined Azzi (1990) as Stanford’s second recipient of the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy Player of the Year Award.

First-team All-Americans that have flourished under VanDerveer’s guidance include Haley Jones (2022), Cameron Brink (2022), Kiana Williams (2021), Alanna Smith (2019), Chiney Ogwumike (2012, 2013, 2014), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (2010, 2011, 2012), Jeanette Pohlen (2011), Jayne Appel (2009, 2010), Wiggins (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008), the program’s only four-time All-American to date, Nicole Powell (2002, 2003, 2004), Kristin Folkl (1998), Starbird (1996, 1997), Val Whiting (1992, 1993), Sonja Henning (1991) and Azzi (1989, 1990).

Overall, VanDerveer has guided her players to two Wade Trophy Player of the Year honors, two Naismith Player of the Year honors, 34 first-team All-America honors (WBCA and Associated Press), 19 Pac-12 Player of the Year awards, 83 first team All-Pac-12 selections and nearly 40 appointments to USA Basketball teams.

Many of those players have gone on to have success at the professional level. Stanford has had 30 players play in a regular-season WNBA game since the league’s inception in 1997. The program boasts 13 first-round draft picks out of its 28 all-time selections, including 2016 WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike, and has had seven players win a total of eight WNBA titles.

In 1995-96 VanDerveer served as head coach of the USA Basketball National Team, leading the team to a 52-0 exhibition record and then to the Olympic gold medal with a perfect 8-0 run at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

VanDerveer is a 1975 graduate of Indiana University, where she was a dean’s list scholar for three years and a sociology major. While at Indiana, VanDerveer held one of the starting guard positions for three years on the women’s basketball team. For her efforts at Indiana and her accomplishments after leaving the Hoosiers, VanDerveer was inducted into the Indiana University Hall of Fame in 1995.

An avid piano player in her spare time, VanDerveer was born June 26, 1953. A Boston native who grew up in upstate New York, she is also a published author. Her book Shooting From The Outside, which chronicled her 1996 Olympic and National Team experience, was released in September 1997.

Charli Turner Thorne

Charli Turner Thorne

The winningest coach in ASU women’s basketball history and No. 2 all-time in career wins (488) by a Pac-12 coach, Charli Turner Thorne oversaw the establishment of Sun Devil Women’s Basketball as a perennial national power. The two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Turner Thorne led ASU to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, three Pac-12 championships (two regular season titles and the league’s first tournament title in 2002) and the program’s only two NCAA Elite Eight appearances The outstanding success ASU enjoyed under Turner Thorne is a 180-degree difference from the program she took over that had an aggregate record of 20-60 in the three years prior to her arrival and only two NCAA Tournament wins in its history.

Announced her retirement on March 3, 2022, after 25 seasons as ASU’s head coach.

Turner Thorne, who was hired on June 21, 1996, after three seasons at Northern Arizona where she compiled a 40-40 record, methodically raised ASU’s profile with each passing season. Coming into the 2021-22 campaign, Turner Thorne’s Sun Devil teams qualified for the postseason all but one season since 2001. Included in that remarkable stretch were a school record six consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (2014-19), two Elite Eight appearances (2007, ’09) and three Sweet 16 finishes (2005, ‘15, ‘18).

ASU’s 14 NCAA Tournament appearances under Turner Thorne are 11 more than what ASU had in the 15 years prior to her arrival in Tempe. In addition to her decorated career as a college coach, Turner Thorne also earned a pair of gold medals with USA Basketball.

As successful as Turner Thorne’s teams were on the court, they were every bit as brilliant in the classroom. In December 2021, it was announced, Sun Devil WBB earned a 100 percent GSR for the third year in a row. Among its conference peers, from 1996-97 (Turner Thorne’s first season at ASU) to 2018-19, the Sun Devils led the Pac-12 in the number of first-team All-Academic conference awards (22) and the combined number of first- and second-team All-Academic conference awards (46). (Note: As of 2019-20 the Pac-12 no longer distinguishes first- and second-team honorees in academics). In 2018, ASU matched the program record with eight student-athletes named to the Pac-12’s All-Academic Teams. ASU’s No. 5 finish (3.672) on the WBCA’s 2017 Academic Honor Roll represented the second time in three seasons the Sun Devils were among the top 10 programs in the country after placing seventh (3.558) for the 2014-15 academic year.

Turner Thorne, who is a past president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s (WBCA) Executive Committee, started her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Washington before taking an assistant’s position at Santa Clara. In her first head coaching opportunity at Northern Arizona Turner Thorne led NAU to consecutive winning seasons in 1994-95 and 1995-96, the first coach in school history to accomplish the feat.

During the summer of 2009 Turner Thorne served as the head coach of the USA Women’s World University Games Team which went undefeated (7-0) and captured the gold medal at the 2009 World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia. It was Turner Thorne’s second time working with USA Basketball. In the summer of 2007 Turner Thorne served as an assistant coach on USA Basketball’s U21 World Championship Team which won the gold medal at the FIBA U21 World Championship in Moscow, Russia.

As a player, Turner Thorne lettered four years at Stanford where she played three years under Tara VanDerveer. She graduated from Stanford in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and later earned her master’s degree in education from Washington in 1990.

Turner Thorne and her husband, Will, have three sons – Conor (23), Liam (21) and Quinn (18).

Ann Meyers Drysdale

Ann Meyers Drysdale

A trailblazer in women’s basketball, Ann Meyers Drysdale wasn’t just the first woman to be signed to a four-year athletic collegiate scholarship when she signed to compete for UCLA, she also became the first woman to sign an NBA contract after signing with the Indiana Pacers in 1979.

A member of nine USA Basketball teams from 1975-79, Meyers most notably was on the 1976 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team that competed in the inaugural Olympic women’s basketball competition in Montreal. That squad had to first qualify for the Olympics and did so a few weeks ahead of the Olympics, earning gold with a 5-0 mark at the qualifying event.

Entering the six-team, round-robin Olympic competition, the USA fell to Japan in its opener, then collected a pair of victories before falling to the Soviet Union, which at the time was the most dominant women’s basketball program in the world. Undeterred, the 2-2 USA met also 2-2 Czechoslovakia and pulled out an 83-67 victory in its final game to secure the Olympic silver medal.

In all, Meyers earned four gold medals, three silver medals and compiled a 44-12 record from the 1976 Olympics, 1976 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, 1975 and 1979 FIBA World Cups, 1975 and 1979 Pan American Games, 1977 World University Games, 1979 Spartakiade and 1979 R. William Jones Cup.

Also notable in her USA Basketball career, Meyers was selected by her peers to carry the flag and lead the U.S. delegation into the 1979 Pan American Games Opening Ceremony.

In her four seasons (1974-75 through 1977-78) at UCLA, Meyers averaged 17.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 4.2 steals per game. The 5-foot-9 guard recorded the first quadruple-double in NCAA Division I history with 20 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals against Stephen F. Austin University on Feb. 18, 1978.

In her final game as a Bruin, Meyers led her team to a 90-74 victory over the University of Maryland in the 1978 AIAW national championship game. The first four-time women’s basketball All-American, Meyers earned the 1978 Honda Sports Award as the nation’s top collegiate player and the Broderick Cup as the nation’s most outstanding women’s collegiate athlete of the year.

Meyers has been inducted into numerous halls of fame, most notably she is a 1993 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, a 1999 inductee into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and in 2007 was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.

The California native lettered in seven sports during her prep career and helped her basketball squads, first at Cornelia Connelly High School and then at Sonora High School, to an impressive 80-5 overall record.

In 1986 Meyers married Don Drysdale, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the couple have three children. Drysdale died of a heart attack in 1993.

2021
Coach Mia McPoland

Coach Mia

Mia was born with a very rare bone marrow failure disorder called: Diamond Blackfan Anemia.

DBA is a rare bone marrow failure syndrome disorder where the body does not produce any red blood cells. Red blood cells are vital to the body as they carry and deliver oxygen to the body tissues via blood. People with DBA have symptoms common to all other types of anemia, including pale skin, extreme sleepiness, fatigue, rapid heart beat, and heart murmurs. There is no cure.

After a routine doctor appointment, that was moved up due to changes in medical insurance, the nurse thought Mia looked ‘pasty’ and sent for a blood draw stat. By the time we got home, there were 5 messages on the answering machine pleading me to please take Mia to the ER right away as she had a hemoglobin of 2.3. This was on November 26, 2002 the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I told the front desk person Mia has a hemoglobin of 2.3 and they immediately took her back for an immediate blood transfusion, she was so low that they gave her almost two units of blood as a tiny baby. It saved her life. Mia would not be alive right now thanks to generous strangers who donate their blood.

After about three months the diagnosis of DBA was confirmed and the doctors also told us that she had Turner Syndrome as well, found through a karyotype (chromosomes). TS is unrelated to DBA and it occurs in about 1 in 2,500 girls. Having both of these disorders has been difficult and requires MANY doctor appointments, but Mia continues to shine through it all.

Mia has survived thanks to the kindness of strangers who donate their blood so she can live. These blood transfusions are life sustaining. Mia receives packed red blood cells every 3-4 weeks and has for the past 19 years. (Except when she responded to steroids but got really sick and we couldn’t get her on a low dose again.) To date, Mia has received 225 blood transfusions but close to 300 – 400 units of blood. We are very thankful to blood donors taking the time to save a life, just like Mia.

Lynn Holzman | Vice President of Women's Basketball

Lynn Holzman | Vice President of Women’s Basketball

Lynn Holzman returned to the NCAA in February 2018 as the vice president of women’s basketball. She is responsible for the strategic direction, oversight, operations, and management of women’s basketball in Divisions I, II and III. She serves as the primary liaison to the women’s basketball committees and provides strategic oversight of the site-selection process for each championship. In 2014, Holzman was appointed commissioner of the West Coast Conference after serving in various leadership roles within the conference office, including executive senior associate commissioner/chief operating officer and senior associate commissioner of governance and administration. Before her conference office tenure, she worked at the NCAA national office for 16 years, last serving as a director of academic and membership affairs.

Holzman was served on the Board of Directors and President of Women Leaders in College Sports. She also has served on various Boards such as the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Kay Yow Cancer Fund, Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, San Jose Sports Authority, National Association for Athletics Compliance and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics.

Holzman earned her Bachelor of Science and secondary major degrees at Kansas State University where she was captain of the women’s basketball team and a three-time Academic All-Big Eight Team member. She also earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a Master of Business Administration from Purdue University.

Tiana Mangakahia | Australian Backetball Player

Tiana Mangakahia | Australian Backetball Player

Bio to come…

Susan Koehler | Chief Marketing Officer

Susan Koehler | Chief Marketing Officer

Chief Marketing Officer Susan Koehler leads all things Footprint marketing, including building a trusted brand, positive engagement with customers, partners and community leaders, and she chairs the Footprint Foundation. She brings over three decades of marketing leadership expertise creating trusted brands, strategic partnerships, and new revenue streams. She has a successful track record of building business alignment with governments, global and local communities, leading to awareness amplification, audience behavior change, and increased new customer acquisition.

Prior to Footprint, Susan served in C-suite roles at large companies and startups, including Microsoft, where she was Chief of Staff EMEA, based in Europe working for the president of Microsoft International, and as CMO for Rover.com. She also was a business leader at several consumer product companies and has served on non-profit boards such as The First Tee Greater Seattle and Taking IT Global.

Susan attended Rutgers University where she received her Master of Business Administration, and Syracuse University, where she graduated with both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Advertising and Marketing. Susan was a member of Harvard Kennedy School and Women’s Leadership Board for WAPPP (Women and Public Policy Program).

Noelle Trinder | MSN-Ed, RN Director of Clinical Education and Professional Development at Banner Health

Noelle Trinder | MSN-Ed, RN Director of Clinical Education and Professional Development at Banner Health

Noelle Trinder, MSN-Ed, RN, is the Director of Clinical Education and Professional Development at Banner Health. In addition to her role within Banner, Noelle is Mom to two children, ages 11 (Jack) and 15 (Elayna, a huge Mercury and Suns fan!). Noelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Nick. She is completing her DNP in Health Systems Leadership with a graduation date of March 2022, focusing on mental health and depression screening.

Noelle is an experienced Registered Nurse in Neuroscience and Progressive Care. She is skilled in creating centralized and standardized education across the healthcare continuum. Her passions include leadership, mentoring, relationships, professional development, and education. Noelle has a talent for bringing people together. Her passion for inclusivity, elevating women in leadership through mentoring, and building authentic relationships propels those she meets to success./p>

Noelle is the Practice Transition Accreditation Program (PTAP) Director for the dually accredited (by the ANCC and the US Department of Labor) Banner Health New Graduate RN Residency Program. The program is the largest globally, hosting approximately 1500 New Graduate RNs annually to successfully transition from academia to practice. Noelle is a member of the Arizona State Board of Nursing Scope of Practice Committee, representing Nursing at the state level. Also, she is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacist-Commission on Credentialing, Nursing Public Member, representing Nursing on the national level. She is dedicated to leaving the Nursing profession better for the next generation and healthcare better for all.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Noelle went back to the bedside in a RN role at Banner Boswell Medical Center to care for patients during the height of the pandemic. During this time, she worked alongside Dr. Jackie Hunter, DC, MHA, to ensure students could safely resume clinical rotations on COVID and non-COVID units, serving over 15,000 students and interns at Banner to achieve needed clinical hours for college.

As the nursing community, the country, and the world recover from COVID-19, Noelle strives to support her colleagues and community in processing the pandemic through self-care, easy access to mental health resources, and participation in wellness activities to make health care easier and life better for everyone.

If you or a loved one is suffering severe distress or appears suicidal, call Banner Health at (800) 254-4357, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. This hotline connects you with a behavioral health professional who can help. It’s completely free and accessible 24 hours a day. Online chat is also available. Asking for help is a sign of strength – you are not alone; we are here for you.

Tatiana Burkett | Medicwest EMS

Tatiana Burkett | Medicwest EMS

Tatiana Burkett started working with Medicwest EMS right out of high school. After 6 years with Medicwest she tried her hand at as a correctional officer for 2.5 years with the Nevada Department of Corrections. She completed a rigorous course at the Officer Training Academy. After gaining her experience as a correctional officer she returned back to Medicwest. She continues to set new personal and professional goals. Ms. Burkett’s most recent focus is a 4-month Retired Fire Captains Volunteer Fire Fighter Rookie School Experience Program.

Ms. Burkett was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada in the Historic West Las Vegas area. She is the oldest of 4 kids. She is the proud mother of a wonderful 7-year-old daughter, Tiana.

Throughout Ms. Burkett’s childhood, she recognized her mother’s sacrifices to raise her and her siblings. Her mother worked multiple jobs at a time, while still pursuing her college degree, which she earned when Ms. Burkett was 26 years old. Ms. Burkett credits her mother with giving her a strong work ethic, determination, compassion and grit. Ms. Burkett graduated from Cheyenne High School. She has continued her education and is well on the way to earning her AA degree. She intends to follow in her mother’s footsteps and earn her BA degree.

Jackie Hunter, DC, MHA | Banner Health's Sr. Director of Diversity and Inclusion & Talent Pipeline

Jackie Hunter | Banner Health’s Sr. Director of Diversity

Jackie Hunter, DC, MHA is a multifaceted leader who serves as Banner Health’s Sr Director of Diversity and Inclusion & Talent Pipeline. In addition to her role within Banner, Dr. Hunter is a proud mother of 3 children (ages 16, 15, and 13) and the wife of an Army Veteran. 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 or in our communities, to embrace who they are as well who others are – despite our differences. For more than 5 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. Dr. Jackie Hunter 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. She has also developed partnerships with community leaders to tackle healthcare disparities in the communities that Banner serves. Within her Talent Pipeline space, she oversees the Banner Center for Health Careers which serves over 15,000 students and interns in Banner. The departments efforts work to empower Banner’s employees to purse higher education by providing and facilitating grants, scholarships, tuitions reimbursement, and academic partnerships for current team members. Within this space, her team helps to diversify Banner’s Talent Pipeline through sourcing efforts and programs such as the Veterans Fellowship, Project Search, and Business Intern Program.

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 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.

Alena Wicker | 12 year old Mechanical Engineering Student

Alena Wicker | 12 year old college student

Those are just a few of the words used to describe Alena Wicker, who at 12-years old is headed tocollege to Major in Mechanical Engineering on a full 4-year scholarship, but that’s only part of herstory. With a bold dream of becoming the youngest girl of color to work and intern at NASA, Alena is also using her voice by launching The Brown STEM Girl and she is also the founder of The BrownSTEM Girl Foundation.

Alena was not only both traditionally schooled and homeschooled but she was also world schooled. She is an experienced world traveler which enabled her to attend school in Amman, the capital of Jordan, a city located in the Middle East. LEGO® sets, Robotics, and NASA are the things that excite Alena. It started at 4-years old when she began traveling to NASA sites to fuel her passion. Phenom. Prodigy. Whiz kid. Those words don’t fully describe the essence of Alena Wicker. Her intellectual brilliance is only a glimpse into who she is. It’s the depth of her warm-heartedness, quiet spirit, and gracious nature that sets her apart even more.

Alena has received international recognition through her features on Good Morning America, The Kelly and Ryan Show, Black Entertainment Television, and a host of news outlets throughoutthe world. In addition, she has also been honored by the Phoenix Mercury (WNBA) as part of theirBelieve in Women campaign.

Alena was not only both traditionally schooled and homeschooled but she was also world schooled. She is an experienced world traveler which enabled her to attend school in Amman, the capital of Jordan, a city located in the Middle East. LEGO® sets, Robotics, and NASA are the things that excite Alena. It started at 4-years old when she began traveling to NASA sites to fuel her passion. Phenom. Prodigy. Whiz kid. Those words don’t fully describe the essence of Alena Wicker. Her intellectual brilliance is only a glimpse into who she is. It’s the depth of her warm-heartedness, quiet spirit, and gracious nature that sets her apart even more.

With a clear vision, Alena is on the path to knock down doors for other brown STEM girls, just like her.

Jennifer King | Washington's Assistant Running Backs Coach

Jennifer King | Washington’s Assistant Running Backs Coach

In 2021, Jennifer King was named the Washington Football Team’s assistant running backs coach after serving as the team’s full-year coaching intern in 2020. With the promotion, King became the first African American female full-time coach in NFL history. King also became the second female assistant position coach in the NFL behind Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust.

In 2020, King was hired as a full-year coaching intern with Washington. In her role, she worked with the offensive staff throughout the course of the offseason, training camp and regular season and specifically assisted running backs coach Randy Jordan. During the 2020 season, King assisted Jordan with a running back group that compiled 423 attempts for 1697 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. King worked closely with running back J.D. McKissic in developing his skills in the pass game. McKissic finished the regular season with 80 receptions, which is second-most in a season for a Washington running back in franchise history.

King came to Washington from Dartmouth College where she was an offensive assistant. She primarily worked with the wide receivers and created defensive scouting reports and secondary specific scouting reports for the wide receivers. Dartmouth finished the 2019 season 9-1 and captured the Ivy League Championship. The team averaged 33.3 points per game and averaged 382.4 yards per game.

King interned for the Carolina Panthers during the offseason in 2018 and 2019. In 2018, she was an intern wide receivers coach and assisted Lance Taylor with on-field development drills and in position meetings. She assisted with the creation of scouting scheme cards for the opposing defense and charted practice and in-game player participation and defensive schemes. In 2019, she returned to the Panthers in the role of intern running backs coach and worked with the running backs in organized team activities, mandatory mini camp and training camp. She worked one-on-one with rookies on playbook proficiencies and individual skill development along with analyzing drill efficiency and drill concepts. She worked with the Panthers running backs, including Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey.

In between her two internships with the Panthers, King was an assistant wide receiver coach and special teams assistant for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football. The Hotshots were 5-3 and tied for first place in the AAF Western Conference before the league disbanded. At the time of the league being dissolved, the Hotshots ranked No. 2 in yards per game (343.9) and points per game (23.2).

King has participated in NFL coaching clinics from 2015-18 and also took part in the NFL Women’s Career in Football Forum in January of 2018. The forum was a highly selective two-day event which connected qualified female candidates for positions in football as coaches, officials, scouts and athletic trainers.

King also has experience as a player. She was a seven-time All-American quarterback and wide receiver for the Carolina Phoenix women’s tackle football team from 2006-17. In 2018 she played wide receiver and defensive back for the New York Sharks women’s tackle football team and captured the 2018 WFA National Championship. Most recently, King played wide receiver and safety in the District for the D.C. Divas women’s tackle football team in 2019.

King also has experience coaching women’s basketball. She was the Head Coach of Johnson & Wales University Charlotte from 2016-18. During King’s tenure the team had an 37-10 record, and they captured the USCAA Division II National Championship in 2018. She was named the USCAA Division II National Coach of the Year in 2018. King also was an assistant coach on the Greensboro College women’s basketball staff from 2006-16. During King’s 10 years with the team, they went 136-54, won five conference titles and appeared in the NCAA tournament five times.

King holds a Master of Science in sports administration from Liberty University and holds a Bachelor of Science in sports management from Guilford College. She was a member of the Guilford College women’s basketball and softball teams from 2002-06.

Adia Barns | UoA Women's Basketball Head Coach

Adia Barns | UoA Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Adia Barnes was introduced as Arizona’s head women’s basketball coach on April 4, 2016 and agreed to a contract extension to lead the program through 2026 in May of 2021. The leading scorer in Arizona women’s basketball history and a WNBA Champion, Barnes came to Tucson after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Washington for five seasons.

Barnes led the Wildcats to the National Championship game in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the first time Arizona advanced past the Sweet 16 in school history.

Through her first five seasons as head coach, Barnes has won 89 games, the most of any Arizona coach in program history in their first five seasons. She is also the only coach in school history to win at least 20 games three times in her first five seasons.

In her fifth season, Barnes was a finalist for the WBCA Coach of the Year and was a semifinalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, she became the 11th coach to play and coach in the NCAA Tournament at their alma mater. Once the Wildcats reached the National Championship game, she became the fourth coach to lead her alma mater to the title game.

Barnes became the youngest coach since 2014 to make the Final Four and was also the first coach since 2016 to reach the Final Four in their first five years as a head coach. She also helped Arizona become the first team ever to reach the National Championship game after missing the previous 10+ NCAA Tournaments.

During the NCAA Tournament, Arizona defeated UConn in the Final Four, which was the first time in school history Arizona knocked off both the No. 1 team in the nation as well as a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats finished in second place in the loaded Pac-12, their highest finish since the 2003-04 season when Arizona won the Pac-10. During the year, Arizona swept the regular season series vs. Oregon for the first time in 10 years and also swept Oregon and Oregon State in the same weekend for the first time in 10 years.

Prior to becoming the head coach at Arizona, Barnes joined the staff at Washington in 2011 and helped boost the Huskies profile in the Pac-12 and nationally, culminating in a trip to the Final Four this year. After three seasons on staff, Barnes was promoted to recruiting coordinator, where she handled all aspects of recruiting including budget, compliance and planning, in addition to her role in player development.

A three-time all-conference selection and ’98 graduate of Arizona, Barnes was voted USBWA first-team All-American and Pac-10 player of the year in 1997-98. Her 2,237 career points currently rank ninth on the Pac-12’s all-time scoring list. Following her collegiate career, Barnes played professionally for 12 seasons in the WNBA and overseas. She won a WNBA Championship with the Seattle Storm in 2004, was named to the Storm’s All-Decade Team, and also played for Cleveland, Minnesota and Sacramento. Her overseas career included stops in the Ukraine, Israel, Turkey, Russia and Italy.

A native of San Diego, Calif., Barnes is married to Salvo Coppa, who coached for 14 seasons prior to arriving at Arizona, including 10 professionally in Italy and with three separate national teams. She is also the mother of one son, Matteo and one daughter, Capri.

2020
Board Member, Helios Education Foundation

Jane Roig | Board Member, Helios Education Foundation

Jane LaRocca Roig began her career in banking, but spent most of it managing state and federal student aid programs in Kentucky state government and Arizona’s non-profit sector. Her lifetime interest in politics and public policy led her to focus on national initiatives to simplify student aid programs, with an emphasis on removing barriers for families and ensuring access to higher education and its assistance programs.

As Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Southwest Student Services Corporation, Jane, together with her husband Vince, helped lead the creation of the Helios Education Foundation, an organization established to enrich the lives of individuals in Arizona and Florida by creating opportunities for access and success in post secondary education. She serves on the Helios Board and chairs its Public Policy Committee. She also serves on its Executive Committee.

Jane’s passion in the belief that every child deserves a quality education led her to devote her energy to other non-profit organizations that improve the quality of life for individuals in the community. In addition to her work with Helios, she serves on the boards of Phoenix Suns Charities, the Arizona Science Center, the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute and the Leadership Council for the Congressman Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service at ASU. She is a past Vice Chairwoman for the American Red Cross, Grand Canyon Chapter. Jane and Vince were the 2019 recipients of College Success Arizona’s Leaders and Legends award.

Jane credits her grandmothers and parents for inspiring her beliefs in education equality, breaking down systemic issues and her sense of community. She enjoys spending time with her family, genealogy, and is an avid basketball fan. She is an enthusiastic traveler and has visited all seven continents. Jane is a graduate of the University of Kentucky.

Angela Hughey | co-founder and President of ONE Community and ONE Community Foundation

Angela Hughey | ONE Community/Foundation

Angela Hughey is the co-founder and President of ONE Community and ONE Community Foundation. Founded in 2008, ONE Community is the coalition of socially responsible businesses and organizations moving diversity, inclusion and equality for all Arizonans forward. ONE Community Foundation provides educational opportunities to ensure better understanding of nondiscrimination and the importance of being LGBTQ inclusive.

In 2013 Angela and the ONE Community team launched the UNITY Pledge a concerted effort by Arizona businesses and individuals to advance workplace equality and equal treatment in housing and public accommodations for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTQ) individuals and their allies. Over 3,200 businesses and organizations and more than 20,000 Arizonans have taken the UNITY Pledge; the largest equality pledge in the nation. Ms. Hughey is also credited with the Multicultural Conversation with the Candidates, Spotlight on Success Local Heroes Awards and The State of LGBTQ Arizona collaborative report, which was released in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Ms. Hughey is a 2012 graduate of Valley Leadership Institute. She has won awards for her work as an independent filmmaker and was honored with the YWCA 2013 Tribute to Leadership Award for Public Service. Ms. Hughey has received the HRC Individual Equality Award and was inducted into Echo Magazine’s Hall of Fame. Angela is a 2012 Business Journal Diversity Champion and sits on the President’s Advisory Council for Phoenix College. ONE Community is the recipient of the 2012 Phoenix Pride Howard and Patricia Fleischmann Community Spirit Award. Ms. Hughey is a 2013 inductee into the Phoenix College Alumni Hall of Fame. Angela and ONE Community led the open for business to everyone coalition in the first quarter of 2014 in response to SB1062, which led to an educational campaign of the same name, which focuses on diversity, inclusion and equality for all Arizonans to ensure the economic sustainability of the state. Echo Magazine named Angela their 2014 Woman of the Year. In 2015, Angela became the founding Chair of Valley Leadership’s Leadership Advance Program for high potential leaders, overseeing the program for two years. Angela was the 2016 recipient of the Anti-Defamation League’s Al Brook’s Community Leadership Award. Angela was a member of the Arizona Community Foundation’s LGBTQ Philanthropy committee from 2016 through 2018.

Ms. Hughey is the recipient of the 2018 Positively Powerful Woman of Equality Leadership Award and is a 2018 Diversity Leadership Alliance Diversity Leader honoree. Ms. Hughey sits on the City of Phoenix and State of Arizona 2020 Complete Count Census Committees. Angela currently serves on the board of the Phoenix Community Alliance.

Milani & Noelle | Game Growers

Milani & Noelle | Nike Game Growers

Milani and Noelle were chosen from many applications to represent the Mercury in the inaugural year of the Nike Game Growers program. Milani and Noelle were among 72 8th grade girls across the country who were chosen as ambassadors to represent their respective NBA and WNBA teams.

They visited Nike Headquarters in Portland Oregon to hone their ideas to encourage more girls to stay involved in and explore opportunities in sports. They brought these ideas back to their home community to implement them there. Milani and Noelle’s idea was to create a sports camp every Sunday where they could teach their friends different sports and share the benefits of sports. They hoped that this would help their friends build confidence and self-esteem. Both girls worked very hard in the program and in starting their test idea. They are committed to continuing to get girls involved in sports and inspiring the Game Growers that come behind them.

Emily Robinson | COO, FirstBank

Emily Robinson | COO, FirstBank

Emily Robinson is Chief Operating Officer (COO) of FirstBank, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks with over 110 locations throughout Arizona, Colorado and California. Prior to being named COO, Robinson served as Regional President for FirstBank’s Palm Desert, California and Northwest Denver locations, where she was responsible for over 33 branches and more than $4.5 billion in deposits. She’s previously held several leadership positions after starting her career with FirstBank in 1993.

Throughout her tenure, Robinson has been instrumental in amplifying the company’s corporate training and employee engagement efforts, leading FirstBank to garner multiple recognitions including Arizona Business Magazine’s Most Admired Companies, Phoenix Business Journal’s Best Places to Work, Denver Post’s Top Workplaces and more.

As a longtime board member and the former chair of Community First Foundation, Robinson was also influential in helping FirstBank and Community First Foundation launch Colorado Gives Day, a 24-hour online giving movement, which has raised over $250 million for nonprofits. That success sparked FirstBank and the Arizona Alliance of Nonprofits to start a similar online giving initiative in the Grand Canyon State in 2013. Coined Arizona Gives Day, the one-day online giving campaign has raised over $20 million for local charities.

An avid community supporter and volunteer, Robinson has served with over a dozen nonprofit groups that support seniors, education and economic development. She currently sits on the board of Craig Hospital Foundation and El Pomar Foundation’s Metro Regional Council, a grant-making and giving organization.

Bridget Pettis | WNBA Player, Coach and Executive

Bridget Pettis | WNBA Player, Coach and Executive

Bridget Pettis has three decades of experience in the WNBA as a player, coach and executive. Her WNBA career began in 1997 when the Phoenix Mercury selected her with the seventh overall pick in the WNBA Elite Draft. She played in the league for eight seasons with the Mercury and Indiana Fever before joining Phoenix’s coaching staff as an assistant in 2006, helping lead the team to two WNBA championships (2007 and 2009). She then served as the Mercury’s director of basketball operations from 2010 to 2013 before joining the Los Angeles Sparks as an assistant coach in 2013. She spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Dallas Wings (2014 to 2017), and as an assistant coach at the Chicago Sky (2019 to 2020).

Currently, Pettis is focusing her energy on her newly launched nonprofit, Project Roots AZ which she founded in late 2019. Project Roots AZ is a 501c3 organization that aims to educate the community on growing their own food through various educational programs. They also support the homeless by feeding them from their community gardens and mobile kitchen service, supplying hygiene items, clothing, and shelter.

LaChina Robinson | ESPN Analyst

LaChina Robinson | ESPN Analyst

LaChina Robinson serves as an analyst for ESPN’s WNBA and College Women’s Basketball coverage. Robinson is also the host of espnW’s podcast “Around The Rim” which was chosen as one of the best sports podcasts of 2017 by Sports Illustrated. In 2018 Robinson co-founded “Rising Media Stars”, a mentor lead training program for women of color that want to work in sports broadcasting. Also in 2018 Robinson was the recipient of the Dawn Staley Excellence in Broadcasting Award. LaChina is also a very sought-after facilitator and keynote speaker through her company “Stretch Beyond” where she guides student-athletes through personal and professional brand transitions.

Nichole Freeman | Labor and Delivery Nurse

Nichole Freeman | Labor and Delivery Nurse

Nichole has been a Labor and Delivery Registered Nurse for six and a half years, and it’s all she has ever loved. She was a travel nurse in L&D from 2015-2018, working in Texas, Los Angeles and Arizona. Nichole was accepted into Nurse Practitioner school in 2018, which she will complete in December of this year. During this uncertain time of COVID-19 she’s been balancing a life between working her usual L&D position, screening for COVID-19 symptoms at the point of entry into her hospital facility and seeing patients in clinic for school. However, being on the front line has brought her much anxiety and uncertainty. In March of this year, Nichole tested positive for COVID-19, along with 15 other members of her family. Since then, she’s recovered with a negative test and has returned back to work. Nichole continues to remain optimistic, knowing that having positive antibodies against COVID-19 may keep her somewhat safe from contracting it again, but the verdict is still out on that matter.

In what little spare time Nichole has, she enjoys watching basketball, going for walks in the neighborhood as the sun sets and going to Disneyland or Disney World as often as she can, traveling as much as possible. Most people know Nichole for never sitting still for long without taking a trip out of town. She looks forward to her next step in life as a Practitioner, caring for her own patients and hoping to remain in Women’s health.

Pam Giannonatti | Fry's Food Stores, a division of Kroger

Pam Giannonatti | Fry’s Food Stores, a division of Kroger

Fry’s Food Stores is beloved in Arizona, not only for their food but for their community engagement. This is a result of Pam Giannonatti’s commitment to the company’s purpose to Feed the Human Spirit.

She spends down time with her family and friends and loves to read and create different works of art. She practices meditation as well as remaining present in each waking moment. She believes that life is what you make of it and she truly believes in the quote “If you are not changing it. You are choosing it.”” Life is full of choices and it’s important for us to consciously make choices from a place of love and understanding, not fear and programming.

Managing Corporate Affairs, Pam directs resources to nonprofit organizations and community programs tied to Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan. She also maintains Fry’s reputation through media and government relations and oversees internal communications for more than 20,000 associates.

Pam is an active community leader and avid volunteer, serving on the board of directors or advisory councils of many nonprofits. She also is a proud Valley Leadership alumna and remains involved with the organization. Her involvement and leadership have led to many awards for both herself and Fry’s.

While all very important, her true pride and joy and most important role in life is caring for and being with her family.

Angiah Harris Author, The Magical Mermaid and the Moon

Angiah Harris | Author, The Magical Mermaid and the Moon

Angiah Harris is a member of the Talking Stick Resort Arena staff and author of The Magical Mermaid and the Moon, her first published work. She was born in Aurora, Colorado and spent her childhood in Colorado Springs until she left for college at the University of Wyoming. She was a part of the 2007 WNIT championship cowgirl basketball team. She graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology and entered into the social work field by chance. She remained in that field for almost eight years. She is now working in a field more closely related to her degree as well as writing.

She spends down time with her family and friends and loves to read and create different works of art. She practices meditation as well as remaining present in each waking moment. She believes that life is what you make of it and she truly believes in the quote “If you are not changing it. You are choosing it.”” Life is full of choices and it’s important for us to consciously make choices from a place of love and understanding, not fear and programming.

Mary Mitchell Deputy Director Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus – Pine Council

Mary Mitchell | Deputy Director Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus – Pine Council

Mary Mitchell serves as the Deputy Director, Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. She serves as a member of the council’s senior leadership team. Over the course of her 21 years at the organization, she has held various roles in the areas of fund development, finance, volunteer services, membership and community engagement. She serves as the senior advisor and co-lead for the organization’s work related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Mary has spent the majority of her professional career working within the non-profit sector. She has also worked for the government sector (city, county and state).

Mary is a recipient of the 2020 YWCA, Dare to be Powerful, Tribute to Leadership Award. She is also a 2017 Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Fellow, as well as a graduate of Valley Leadership, Class 26. She values the power of honest and authentic conversation and has an unquenchable thirst for collective dialogue spaces within communities and organizations. You will often find her sitting with leaders from a wide spectrum of disciplines, engaging in conversations centered around deep questions that matter and that create action and systemic change.

She has served on several nonprofit boards and community coalitions and is a current Board Member for Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services, a nonprofit community legal center focused on balancing the scales of justice for Arizona’s most vulnerable youth, via the provision of no-cost legal services, in the areas of human-trafficking, immigration, homelessness and abuse.

Mary is the mother of 4 adult children, and 8 grandchildren, ranging in age 6 months to 12 years of age. She enjoys reading all genres of literature, especially those written from a historical perspective, long bike-rides, music and theatre.