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Meet the TucsonSentinel.com Community Advisory Council

Local community representatives & national journalism experts supporting & advising Tucson's independent nonprofit newsroom

The Community Advisory Council of TucsonSentinel.com includes standout local civic leaders and national journalism experts who believe in the importance of the Sentinel's trusted nonpartisan, factual local journalism.

Among them are informed, engaged residents of Southern Arizona who serve as a sounding board and provide feedback to the Sentinel leadership team and our entire independent nonprofit newsroom.

Members of the Community Advisory Council serve as ambassadors for the Sentinel — raising awareness of the vigorous watchdog reporting and civic engagement we provide. They also thoughtfully represent the scope of our community to the Sentinel's staff and leadership, building connections and providing input about opportunities to better serve our readers in Tucson and throughout the Borderlands.

They provide perspective, ideas and opinions on news coverage in Tucson and Pima County, and help our reporters and editors better listen, understand and respond to all of the voices in our community.


Community Advisory Council members

  • Arnie Bermudez, Multimedia Animator/ Artist
  • Jimmy Boegle, Editor/Publisher, Coachella Valley Independent
  • Christopher Conover, Reporter, Arizona Public Media
  • Laura Elías de la Torre, Physician, St. Mary's Hospital
  • Matt DeRienzo, Editor in Chief, Center for Public Integrity (Washington, D.C.)
  • Anthony Rocco DiGrazia, Owner/Chef, Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria
  • Ann-Eve Dingell, Owner, RanchoDoggo.com; Photographer & Writer
  • Randi Dorman, Chief of Making It Happen, R+R Develop
  • Gawain Douglas, Director, Campus Communications and Publications; University of Arizona Health Sciences, Office of Communications
  • Lorraine Glicksman, Retired
  • Stephen Golden, Retired Lawyer
  • Jennie Grabel, Director of Marketing and Communications, Community Investment Corporation
  • Rex Graham, Volunteer, League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson
  • Sara Hammond, Retired Journalist/Communications Professional
  • Matt Hennie, Executive Editor, Wichita Beacon
  • Marty Johnston, Marty Johnston Graphic Design
  • Kate Kenski, Professor of Communication, University of Arizona
  • Jim Kiser, Retired
  • Shasta McManus, Senior Program Coordinator; UA College of Medicine / Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center
  • Kasey C. Nye., Attorney, Waterfall, Economidis, Caldwell, Hanshaw, & Villamana, PC
  • Andrés A. Portela, Housing Advocate
  • Carmen Villa Prezelski, Retired
  • Adam Ragan, Teacher; Sunnyside Unified School District, Pima Community College
  • C.T. Revere, Public Involvement Director, Gordley Group
  • Joseph Rodgers, Co-Founder/Artistic Director, Dancing In the Streets Arizona
  • Jonathan Rothschild, Attorney, Mesch, Clark and Rothschild
  • David A. Schaller, Writer and Nonprofit Advisor on Energy, Water, and Climate Security
  • Jeff Scurran, Retired Football Coach, Teacher & current Business/Education Consultant
  • Dev Sethi, Partner, Schmidt Sethi & Akmajian
  • Nina Trasoff, President, Trasoff & Associates
  • Emily Verdugo, Teacher, Tucson Unified School District
  • Betty Villegas, Executive Director, South Tucson Housing Authority
  • Melissa Vito, Vice Provost for Academic Innovation, University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Christina Walker Queen, Volunteer Coordinator, Hospice Family Care
  • Lou Waters, Retired Journalist
  • John Winchester, Executive Director, YMCA of Southern Arizona Northwest branch

About our Advisors

Arnie Bermudez

Multimedia Animator/ Artist

Arnie was born and raised in Yuma and moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona, graduating with a degree in Fine Arts. He grew up on both sides of the border, speaking two languages.

In college, Arnie was the illustrations editor and a cartoonist for the Daily Wildcat, writing and drawing a daily cartoon strip. At the same time, he began providing the Tucson Citizen with illustrations and political caricatures, eventually joining the newsroom full-time and enjoying working as a staff artist, editorial cartoonist and member of the editorial board, until the demise of the oldest continuously published newspaper in Arizona. After that, he has been a freelance political cartoonist contributing to Fox News Latino, Huffington Post, Tucson Weekly, Blog for Arizona and the Tucson Sentinel. Currently, he is a freelance multimedia designer and illustrator.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "The Sentinel is hands-down the best site for independent journalism in Southern Arizona. It is also one of the most unbiased publications that I get to read. The people behind it are some of the most dedicated and hard-working out there, as well as some of the most experienced. I trust it because it tells the story as it is and not as it should be, which is rare to find on the Internet these days. The fact that it is independent and nonprofit keeps it clean and honest the way journalism should be, which is why I keep coming back to it."


Jimmy Boegle

Editor/Publisher, Coachella Valley Independent

Jimmy is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. A native of Reno, Nev., the Dodgers fan went to Stanford University intending to become a sportswriter — but fell in love with news and investigative reporting while working for the Stanford Daily. Jimmy worked for the Associated Press, Daily Sparks Tribune and Las Vegas CityLife before becoming the editor of the Tucson Weekly in 2003. In his decade as the editor, the Weekly and its writers won hundreds of journalism awards, and the Weekly was named the 2011 non-daily Newspaper of the Year by the Arizona Newspapers Association.

Since founding the Independent in late 2012, the newspaper has won multiple Association of Alternative Newsmedia awards. After serving on the AAN Board of Directors as the diversity chair, he is now in his second stint on the board, serving as the membership chair. Jimmy is involved with or a supporter of the Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), DAP Health center and the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert. He lives in Palm Springs with his husband, Garrett Dangerfield.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "The Sentinel is a vital part of Tucson. Its journalism has filled a gap created by the weakening of the Arizona Daily Star and other local publications by their corporate owners. Simply put: the Sentinel has made Tucson a better place."


Christopher Conover

Reporter, Arizona Public Media

Christopher came to Tucson in 2005 to work as a reporter and backup anchor on Arizona Illustrated. He began working in radio in 1989 in Miami, and covered the Florida Legislature for 14 years. He won the Sigma Delta Chi award from the national Society for Professional Journalists for coverage of the 2000 presidential recount in Florida. Since moving to Arizona Public Media, he has covered state and federal politics along with the military. "Buzz" also spent nearly 10 years working as an adjunct professor in the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "Local reporting is the workhorse of journalism. Without journalists who live in the community there is no watchdog."


Laura Elías de la Torre

Physician, St. Mary's Hospital

"The Good Doctor" Laura was born in Tucson. After graduation from the University of Arizona, she joined the Peace Corps and served as a teacher in Ghana. She returned to the UA for medical school, did a residency in Family Medicine, and has been practicing in Tucson. Laura has been active in the local Democratic Party. Prior to the pandemic, she took part in medical volunteer trips to Mexico and Central America. She works as a hospitalist at St. Mary's Hospital.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "I support Tucson Sentinel for providing factual, in-depth reporting of news that affects my community."


Matt DeRienzo

Editor in Chief, Center for Public Integrity (Washington, D.C.)

Matt is editor in chief of the Center for Public Integrity, a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit investigative news organizations that focuses on the causes and effects of inequality in the U.S. He has worked in the journalism business for more than 25 years, as a reporter, editor, director of news, teacher and publisher.

Previously, Matt served as vice president of news at Hearst's Connecticut newspapers, and as the first full-time executive director of LION Publishers, a nonprofit — of which Sentinel Editor and Publisher Dylan Smith is one of the founders — that supports local independent online news organizations across the country.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "What the Sentinel has done to step in and fill a void of local journalism in Tucson is needed in major communities across the country. I support the Sentinel so it can go even deeper in holding powerful interests accountable, and providing information crucial to making our democracy work."


Anthony Rocco DiGrazia

Owner/Chef, Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria

A native of Chicago's South Side, Rocco moved to Arizona to study Anthropology in graduate school at the University of Arizona, but naturally gravitated to the restaurant industry, his first love.

After stints at various storied local faves, he opened Rocco's Little Chicago in 1998. He has served on the Broadway Task Force and is a current board member and past president of the Tucson Originals restaurant group.

Ann-Eve Dingell

Owner, RanchoDoggo.com; Photographer & Writer

Ann-Eve worked for 25-plus years in the nonprofit sector in fundraising and organizational leadership positions in Tucson and Philadelphia including work with the University of Arizona (Arizona Public Media, National Institute for Civil Discourse), the American Red Cross, and others. She also worked in the for-profit sector with the Perrier Group of America.

In the past few years, Ann-Eve has focused on her own business: RanchoDoggo.com, which specializes in hand-made, pure-meat pet food seasonings and pet treats. She is also a freelance writer and professional photographer, focusing on social documentary and environmental portraiture.

Ann-Eve has been an active volunteer in Tucson, Philadelphia and New York, primarily focusing on causes related to animal welfare, education, and women's health.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "The Sentinel has consistently been a source of reliable, unbiased news in our community. It can be counted on to challenge leadership in our community and hold them accountable in a way that is all too rare in this day and age. I find that the Sentinel truly meets the best and true definition of 'journalism' at a time when that word is often battered and abused. We can be proud to have this resource in our community."


Randi Dorman

Chief of Making It Happen, R+R Develop

Randi is a community and business leader who has been involved in the revitalization of Downtown Tucson for almost 20 years. After a successful career in advertising and global branding, in 2001 Randi moved from New York City to Tucson, where she and her husband purchased an old factory on the edge of Downtown with partners, and turned it into the Ice House Lofts, the first residential loft conversion in all of Arizona.

Randi was president of the Museum of Contemporary Art, chairwoman of the Downtown Tucson Partnership and serves on the board of Higher Ground. She has also served on the Industrial Development Authority Board, Park Tucson Commission, twice on the city of Tucson Charter Review Committee, and completed the Flinn Brown Civic Leadership program. She was voted the Most Influential Woman in Tucson 2017, 2018 and 2019 in AZ Foothills magazine. Randi ran for mayor of Tucson in 2019 because she believes that Tucson has limitless potential, and she works every day to that end.

"I support TucsonSentinel.com because communities can't move forward without an accurate reflection of what is happening within and around them. TucsonSentinel.com shines a spotlight on the good and bad, and asks the hard questions we all should be asking."


Gawain Douglas

Director, Campus Communications and Publications; University of Arizona Health Sciences, Office of Communications

Gawain has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arizona, and worked for about 15 years at the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Citizen. He taught as an adjunct professor at the UA School of Journalism for more than 15 years. Gawain has a master's degree in art and design from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. He worked for 11 years at a local educational tech company and recently began in a position with the UA Health Sciences communications team.

Gawain is a founding board member of 520 Moto Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to developing the motorcycle community and safety in Southern Arizona. He is a member of the Pima Community College Digital Arts Advisory Committee. His family is involved in local political causes for early childhood education, and public education funding and teacher support, as well as with the January 8th Memorial Foundation.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "I care deeply about Tucson. I was born here and have spent the majority of my life here, by choice. I turn to the Sentinel for solid local news — in particular, in-depth reporting on political topics. I appreciate the no-nonsense approach."


Lorraine Glicksman

Retired

Lorraine was a legal assistant in Tucson for 25 years. With a passion for baking, she then became a co-owner of Epic Cafe for three years. She was then the pastry chef at Pastiche Restaurant for eight years. Before retiring, she was recruited to help open the East Side location of Zona 78. She and her husband Elliot have hosted many fundraisers in their home for Democratic candidates through the years. They were the recipients of the "Dynamic Duo" award for community service.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "'Democracy dies in darkness' is not just a slogan for The Washington Post. Without independent investigative journalism, facts are easily hidden. The consolidation of print journalism in the hands of a few corporations is dangerous. We need independent sources of news like The Tucson Sentinel."


Stephen Golden

Retired Lawyer

Stephen is a retired lawyer and a former reporter and media executive. He grew up in newspapering — he was a copy boy running errands in newsrooms at 13, a junior reporter at 17, and a full-time working journalist at 20. He's also been a TV and radio reporter and producer.

Stephen spent nearly 30 years as a business executive at The New York Times before moving to Tucson in 1999 to attend law school at the University of Arizona, intending to move elsewhere after graduation. But he and his wife came to know and love Tucson and stayed. He practiced law for several years and is now retired, spending time with charitable, philanthropic and political activities.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "Tucson Sentinel gives Tucsonans what they used to get from their daily papers: insightful analysis; crisp, knowledgeable coverage of the City; a dependable source of news."


Jennie Grabel

Director of Marketing and Communications, Community Investment Corporation

Jennie is a native Arizonan with a background in media and nonprofit leadership. She is the director of Marketing and Communications at the Community Investment Corporation, a nonprofit focused on economic development through equitable capital access. Her background in radio, both commercial and community, and nonprofit management, funding and program/event creation provide a unique understanding of and connection to the local community.

Jennie graduated from the University of Arizona cum laude with an interdisciplinary studies degree focused on humanities, classics and English literature. Her passion is working with and for the community, building initiatives, supporting progress and spotlighting the individuals and organizations that are doing the hard work to move identified community needs forward. She is also the mother of four and loves cooking for family and friends, yoga, and fitness. Her current admitted obsession is the Peloton cycling community.

"I support the Tucson Sentinel because the only way we learn and grow is by understanding the stories around us. The Tucson Sentinel works diligently and inclusively to tell the critical stories of our community without bias or judgement, which has become increasingly rare in journalism."


Rex Graham

Volunteer, League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson

Rex Graham is a retired editor and writer with newspapers in New Mexico and Tennessee, and senior editor at Astronomy Magazine. He is a graduate of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at MIT, and has won numerous journalism awards, including the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award. He also was a communications director at the University of California San Diego, creating multimedia to help local and national journalists communicate important scientific breakthroughs. He holds a master's degree in microbiology from the University of Iowa.

Rex has been most active in this chapter of his life in Tucson as a committee chair and board member with the League of Women Voters, while also volunteering with a variety of nonpartisan environmental and social justice organizations.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "In this post-truth era where almost anything goes on social media, I strongly believe that the high ethical and professional standards of talented journalists, like those at the Tucson Sentinel, merit our support. I feel strongly that Tucsonans should not only value the Sentinel, but also cherish the crucial role its journalists must continue to play to keep the light of truth and democracy shining brightly in our community."


Sara Hammond

Retired Journalist/Communications Professional

Sara Hammond had a career split nearly evenly between news - both print and broadcast - and public relations/corporate communications. She began her career in Maine, following graduation from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism, and returned to Tucson in 1993. She worked for Arizona Public Media, the University of Arizona, Raytheon, the Arizona Daily Star, Central Maine Power Co., and the Portland (ME) Press Herald. Sara has volunteered for numerous organizations in Tucson, and currently serves on the book and author subcommittee of the Tucson Festival of Books.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "An independent news source is critical for a community, especially as traditional news organizations shrink, lose their identities when taken over by major corporations, and declining advertising resources mean they can't maintain adequate news staffs. The Tucson Sentinel's model keeps our community informed."


Matt Hennie

Executive Editor, Wichita Beacon

Matt Hennie is executive editor of the nonprofit newsroom of The Wichita Beacon. Previously, he served as co-publisher of Project Q Atlanta, a digital news site covering LGTBQ issues that he launched in 2008. Originally from Euclid, Ohio, he grew up in Savannah, Ga. He started his career covering public safety and education, and later added health care, government, politics and public policy. Hennie has worked as a freelancer, reporter and editor focused on local news for 27 years at media outlets in Georgia, South Carolina and Texas. He's a dog dad to three and member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "Quality, independent local news keeps people informed and makes the place they live better. Providing it is a passion that the Tucson Sentinel embraces and excels at."


Marty Johnston

Marty Johnston Graphic Design

Originally from Southern California, Marty has lived in Tucson for more than 20 years. He enjoys his profession — communication strategy, graphic design and marketing — but prefers to volunteer his time and talents doing "Jewish-y stuff," "water-ish stuf," and "collaboration-ing stuff."

He serves on the board of Congregation Anshei Israel, helped start the Israel Action Network - Tucson, and volunteers with the Weintraub Israel Center and Tucson Jews for Justice. He also volunteers with Watershed Management Group, doing rainwater harvesting.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "The Tucson Sentinel is beholden to no one. In an era of corporate consolidation and advertising-based agendas, with declining subscription numbers and an expectation of free content, nonprofit news outlets offer a unique solution. The Sentinel digs deep, investigates fully, and provides breaking news that is full of facts, truth, and reality. These things should not be missing in news, but they often are."


Kate Kenski

Professor of Communication, University of Arizona

Kate was born and raised in Tucson. After graduating from Salpointe Catholic High School, she attended Willamette University for her B.A. and the University of Pennsylvania for her M.A. and Ph.D. She is currently a Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Arizona where she teaches political communication, public opinion, and research methods.

Prior to teaching at the University of Arizona, she was a senior analyst at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She is co-author of "The Obama Victory: How Media, Money, and Message Shaped the 2008 Election" (2010, Oxford University Press) and "Capturing Campaign Dynamics: The National Annenberg Election Survey" (2004, Oxford University Press). Kate has also published over 70 book chapters, articles, and research notes. Her current research focuses on political communication, gender and politics, and incivility in online spaces.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "In highly polarized times, local communities need strong, independent news outlets that focus on important issues and provide in-depth, investigative news coverage. We need less journalistic theater and more substantive, community-driven coverage to engage people. The Tucson Sentinel does just that."


Jim Kiser

Retired

Jim is retired editorial page editor and columnist for The Arizona Daily Star. After retiring from the Star, he worked part-time for the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

In previous years, he was the founding editor and publisher of Arizona Trend magazine, and before that vice president of Finance of the Des Moines Register and Tribune Co.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "With print newspapers facing enormous financial challenges, web-based newspapers, such as the Tucson Sentinel, fill the void by providing local news and opinion that is essential to the well-being of a community."


Shasta McManus

Senior Program Coordinator; UA College of Medicine / Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center

Shasta's name has been familiar in Southern Arizona politics and governmental strategy since 2007. She debuted here as the Southern Arizona lead for the Obama presidential primary campaign, served as the finance and executive director for the Pima County Democratic Party for four years, then became a senior consultant for Strategic Issues Management Group.

Shasta's experience spans across all levels of government from local and county, to federal and tribal nations. In addition, she has served on several boards of directors, including her current position as board secretary for Planned Parenthood Arizona. In 2019, after successfully assisting Regina Romero, Lane Santa Cruz and Nikki Lee in their election victories, Shasta began working in the field of HIV/AIDS research and health care retention at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Throughout her career and volunteerism, she has held a strong focus on three issues: LGBTQIA+ discrimination and advancement of civil rights, reproductive justice, and incarceration reform.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "As for-profit press continues to decline and slide into 'reality TV,' the Tucson Sentinel continues to be the place for quality journalism covering issues that deeply impact our region."


Kasey C. Nye

Attorney, Waterfall, Economidis, Caldwell, Hanshaw, & Villamana, PC

Kasey, a native Tucsonan, is an attorney who has been practicing law for more than 20 years representing individuals and businesses facing financial problems. He was appointed by Mayor Rothschild to serve on the City of Tucson Charter Review Committee in 2014-2015. He was elected chair of that committee, which ultimately resulted in major reforms to the City Charter that were approved by voters. He has also served on the boards of directors for Salpointe Foundation, Saints Peter & Paul Catholic School, and Information and Referral Services. Kasey is also active in local politics.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "The Tucson Sentinel has long been my go-to source for in-depth local news coverage. Its nonprofit model is innovative resulting in consistently high-quality reporting and opinion that is simply not available elsewhere. I strongly believe that democracy depends on shared truths, while autocracy depends on shared lies. I want to do everything I can to support the Tucson Sentinel's important work."


Andrés A. Portela

Housing Advocate

Andrés is the son of Tenishea and Andrés; born and raised in Sierra Vista. He was a first-generation college student and athlete, and a graduate of the University of Arizona.

Andrés is a Black Futures Lab policy fellow, Young Black Organizers Project alumnnus, Deputy Director at Arizona Coalition for Change and Our Voice Our Vote, and recently ran in the Democratic primary for the Ward 6 seat on the Tucson City Council.


Carmen Villa Prezelski

Retired

Carmen is a proud member of a family whose history in Southern Arizona goes back to the 18th century. She was the first in her family to attend college and went on to work as a program coordinator at the University of Arizona.

For many years she wrote a weekly column for the Tucson Citizen, which was sometimes an introduction to Latino culture for some readers, and often served as an affirmation and reminiscence for the Latino community. She is active in Democratic Party politics, has held several party offices, and has been elected as a delegate to the national convention six times. She is happily retired. She and her husband Tom (MSgt. USAF Ret.) have been married for more than 52 years.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "At time when reliable, local sources of news are getting harder and harder to find, Tucson Sentinel needs and deserves whatever support we, as a community, can provide."


Adam Ragan

Teacher; Sunnyside Unified School District, Pima Community College

Adam is a public school teacher, college writing faculty member and champion for public education. He works in the Sunnyside Unified School District, where he teaches English Language Arts and runs the dual enrollment writing program. Additionally, he is licensed to teach government/civics and political science. Adam previously ran for the Tucson Unified Governing Board and is active in local Democratic politics.

As a doctoral student at the University of Arizona, Adam is interested in all facets of public education, but has a keen interest in equity and dual enrollment pathways. Adam is a labor organizer and serves on the executive committee of the Sunnyside Education Association teachers' union. An avid, self-professed geek for all things space and rockets, Adam has but one regret in life: that he didn't become an astronaut (who then became a teacher).

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "I stand with the Sentinel because it's vital that Tucsonans have access to no-nonsense reporting that cuts through the noise and tells a story, advocates a position or uncovers a truth previously veiled. The Sentinel is just that. It's not a mouthpiece for any one person or party. It's just the local news, delivered reliably and accurately. "


C.T. Revere

Public Involvement Director, Gordley Group

After 22 years writing for daily newspapers in West Michigan and Tucson, including as the front-page metro columnist for the Tucson Citizen, C.T. served three years as chief of staff in Tucson's Ward 6 City Council office, providing constituent services and working on issues related to downtown redevelopment, water, land use, zoning and historic preservation.

Following the 2009 election, he became a community relations officer with the Arizona Department of Transportation, learning about best practices in public involvement, including the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the related laws and regulations to provide opportunity for traditionally underserved populations to have voice in civic processes.

During a seven-year stint with ADOT, C.T. was certified in public participation practices and requirements by the International Association for Public Participation. Since 2016, he has been the public involvement director at Gordley Group, a Tucson-based communications and marketing firm, providing services to government agencies at all levels throughout Southern Arizona and beyond. He also does contract work for the Regional Transportation Authority as part of the MainStreet Business Assistance Program. C.T. serves on the board of directors for the American Public Works Association Southern Arizona Chapter.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "The loss of local daily newspapers has threatened to create a void in local awareness of the issues that face communities across the nation. Too many citizens have turned to social media or biased 'news' outlets that don't provide the accuracy and balance that helps us to better understand our challenges. The Sentinel has become a strong, independent voice in our community that is needed to ensure that power is not abused and Tucson is well-served by those we entrust with public service."


Joseph Rodgers

Co-Founder/Artistic Director, Dancing In the Streets Arizona

A Tucson native, Joseph began dance studies at the age of seven, when he was “discovered” at St. Ambrose School by Maria Morton of the Tucson Academy of Dancing and offered a full scholarship to train in the Royal Academy of Dancing syllabus. George Zoritch, danseur noble of the famed Ballet Russe, was another early architect of Joseph’s career, offering wisdom and encouragement as he grew in his profession. He received a second scholarship to continue his training with the San Francisco Ballet School.

For the past 25 years, Joseph has performed with companies such as the Arizona Dance Theater, Ballet Arizona, Feld Ballet New York, Ballet Chicago and Milwaukee Ballet. His final appearance was in a 2004 PBS-televised performance of Der Fledermaus with the Washington National Opera directed by Placido Domingo at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Joseph’s energetic style and motivational talent have translated well as he moved from performer to teacher.

As a former at-risk child himself, he is proud to be able to give back to the community that helped him see another, better way of life and to help others do the same. Dancing in the Streets Arizona was started 2008 by husband and wife team Joseph Rodgers and Soleste Lupu. The DITSAZ studio is located in South Tucson, a one-square-mile city surrounded by the city of Tucson that maintains a strong cultural heritage but struggles with high crime rates and poverty.

The mission of DITSAZ is to use the power of dance to transform lives using the excitement and discipline of ballet to guide children in developing positive life skills, and to break down cultural barriers and enrich the community’s artistic experience. The students take classes and perform in professional settings regardless of their income level, physical shape/size, or skill level. Joseph and Soleste are proud of the fact that their minority-owned non-profit ballet school has lasted in a small city for nearly 15 years, providing high-quality classical ballet training to a population that would not have had this opportunity. "We heard over and over again that 'those people' won’t learn ballet, and that only fueled us to push harder for success with our students."

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "Tucson Sentinel is informative and non-partisan and I am happy to be a part of the Community Advisory Council."


Jonathan Rothschild

Attorney, Mesch, Clark and Rothschild

Jonathan served two terms as mayor of Tucson from 2011–2019, during which he emphasized economic and business growth as the foundation for providing needed revenue for core city services, and to provide and partner with social service agencies to bring additional programs to those most in need.

As mayor, Jonathan led the way to emphasis process improvements and business incentives to attract new business to Tucson and retain and grow existing local businesses. He was a leader in emphasizing the importance of our region's partnership with Sonora and all of Mexico. He led three city-wide initiatives raising $575 million to assist in repairing city roads, purchasing needed equipment and vehicles for police and fire, and updating and improving our city parks.

Jonathan's Steps to Success program (bringing high school dropouts back to high school), housing homeless veterans, and downtown redevelopment work brought the city national recognition and honors.

After serving two terms as mayor, Jonathan has returned to his long-time law practice, emphasizing corporate, estate planning, and municipal work.

Additionally, he is teaching at University of Arizona Law School, leading courses in state and local law, supervising a graduate certificate program in the Law of Civic Participation and Public Leadership, and conducting research in the areas of election law reform, polarization and solutions, and politics of place.

Jonathan is serving as an advisor to the Pima Community College Foundation helping raise dollars for their Centers for Excellence, after successfully leading a county-wide campaign which allowed the college to raise its expenditure limitations so that it could provide needed revenue to the school.

He is a co-founder of the Civic Political Leadership Academy and is completing the second cohort with that group of young professionals interested in public life. Jonathan is currently serving on the boards of Second Chance Tucson, The Tucson Jazz Festival, The Salvation Army, and the Casa de los Niños Foundation.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "It is important that their independent and diverse journalistic voices be heard."


David A. Schaller

Writer and Nonprofit Advisor on Energy, Water, and Climate Security

David is a retired Environmental Protection Agency scientist and a Tucson native. His professional career included managing complex hazardous waste site investigations and regional climate change policy.

David was a member of the U.S. delegation to the UN Sustainable Development Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, a member of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response effort, and later wrote an energy recovery plan for the territory of American Samoa after the 2009 tsunami. These experiences helped reinforce Schaller's awareness of the human impacts from natural disasters, especially among disadvantaged communities.

David has delivered capacity-building training for the EPA in over 20 countries across Eastern Europe, South Asia and the insular Pacific. He served as an EPA sustainability program head and later sustainability administrator for the city of Tucson. He currently writes on regional energy, water, and climate security and has published a weekly sustainability best practices newsletter since 2000. In early 2021, he began serving as a frequent volunteer at COVID-19 vaccine centers across Tucson.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "The Sentinel makes me proud to live in this community. It thinks. It inspires. It challenges. It understands. It serves. And it doesn't quit."


Jeff Scurran

Retired Football Coach, Teacher & current Business/Education Consultant

Jeff is a Hall of Fame nationally recognized football coach and a resident of Tucson since 1984. Known for his winning teams at Santa Rita, Sabino, Canyon del Oro and Catalina Foothills high schools as well as at Pima Community College, Jeff has coached in Europe three times, in Italy and Germany, and has recruited and coached student-ambassador American high school football teams overseas seven times. He has been a business and education consultant for 30 years, working in every state, specializing in strategic planning, organizational thinking, and problem solving.

Jeff, who studied Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida and earned a M.Ed in Psychology and Counseling at the University of Arizona., now works as an expert witness in sports injury cases.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: The Sentinel provides an independent and accurate source of local information that helps locals sort out the maze of biased information available on the internet. Locals have learned to trust this as an honest broker of information.


Dev Sethi

Partner, Schmidt Sethi & Akmajian

Dev is a partner with Schmidt, Sethi & Akmajian. He represents plaintiffs in a wide variety of complex injury and wrongful death cases.

Dev is the past president of Ben's Bells, an organization focused on the power of intentional kindness; the Arizona Minority Bar Association; Children's Museum Tucson; and the University of Arizona Law College Association Foundation. For several years he served as chair of the State Bar Trial Practice Section and serves as on the Advisory Board of Angel Charity for Children.

Dev is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Fellow in the International Society of Barristers, and listed in Woodward and White's Best Lawyers in America. He is most often on the sidelines of a soccer field or in the stands of a high school basketball game. He is a rabid Arizona Wildcat fan. Bear Down!

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "Local news brings the community together around a trusted source of information. The Tucson Sentinel provides an important service in Southern Arizona. The reporting and commentary is relevant, insightful, and has its finger on the pulse of our region. I am proud to do what I can to support vibrant, honest local journalism."


Nina Trasoff

President, Trasoff & Associates

Nina is a communications consultant who has made Tucson her home since 1976. She was a reporter and news anchor at KGUN-TV, where she also wrote and produced dozens of documentaries, special series, and investigative reports on topics ranging from the special needs of children to the death penalty. In 1983 she became public relations director and public affairs producer at KGUN, where she won numerous national and local awards.

She developed the News/Communications department at the Arizona Health Sciences Center, and served as a spokesperson for the hospital when it became the focus of international attention for being the first to use an artificial heart as a bridge to transplant.

In 1988, Nina founded her own communications company, which she pursued for 17 years before serving on the Tucson City Council, where for four years she focused on sustainable growth, Downtown revitalization, integrating the fine arts into economic development planning, restructuring of the Land Use Code to enable adaptive reuse of old buildings, and fiscal responsibility.

She has served on dozens of nonprofit boards during her years in Tucson. Currently, she serves as chair of the UA Psychology Advisory Board, sits on the College of Science Advisory Board, the UA Dance Advisory Board and the UA Arthritis Center Advisory Board, and is on the honorary boards of Arizona Theatre Company and Ballet Tucson.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "I value the independent and in-depth reporting the Tucson Sentinel brings to coverage of news in our community."


Emily Verdugo

Teacher, Tucson Unified School District

Emily teaches middle school in TUSD. A native of Ajo, she earned bachelor's degrees in political science and history at Arizona State University and public administration at Northern Arizona University. She is the former outreach director for the Pima County Democratic Party and coordinated a successful campaign in the 2013 Tucson City Council elections. A former councilmember for the City of Coolidge and ex-employee of Pinal County, Emily, the mother of two boys, has also been a member of the Tucson Human Relations Commission and the Tucson Police Department Advisory Council.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "I support and respect the professionalism and unbiased reporting of the Tucson Sentinel. It's a community-based news source that I can fully trust and promote."


Betty Villegas

Executive Director, South Tucson Housing Authority

Betty is a third-generation native of Tucson. In 2020, she completed an interim term as District 5 supervisor on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, serving out late County Supervisor Richard Elias' remaining time. As a supervisor during the pandemic's rise, she quickly identified community disparities and recommended several strategies to address them. Before the end of her term, Betty led the effort to pass a resolution, "Declaring Racism and Ethnic Health Inequities and Income Inequality in Pima County to be a Public Health Crisis."

Betty was the Affordable Housing program manager for Pima County, and has extensive experience working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other state and local housing departments. Before her local governmental service, she was a banking executive. Betty has served on numerous boards and commissions.

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Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "I know I always get the latest news and information from journalists committed to reporting the facts. The Tucson Sentinel cares about its readership and the overall community."


Melissa Vito

Vice Provost for Academic Innovation, University of Texas at San Antonio

A life-long Tucsonan by choice, Melissa retired in 2018 as a senior vice president of the University of Arizona after 35 years in higher ed. She is known for innovating programs, such as her work envisioning and building UA Online. Her consulting work led to her fulltime role at UTSA, although her role is 90% remote and she still lives in Tucson. She received national recognition for innovative support for faculty and students during a transition to online learning at the start of the pandemic.

She has served on the board of the Rialto Theatre, Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, and been involved in the Tucson Festival of Books, as well as involvement with Greater Tucson Leadership, the YWCA and other groups.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "Local, intelligent, provocative journalism — best reflected in the Tucson Sentinel — is at risk and I want to engage and do whatever I am able to support and help reinvigorate the relevance of local journalism in our society."


Christina Walker Queen

Volunteer Coordinator, Hospice Family Care

The daughter of a journalist/editor, Christina has a deep respect for the important work of journalism. With a work history that involves education, the arts, volunteer coordination and nonprofit organizations, Christina has had extensive community involvement. She currently serves as the volunteer coordinator at Hospice Family Care. She is also a mom, a cancer survivor, a dog lover, a Leadership Board member of the Hospice Veteran Partnership of Southern Arizona, and a longtime resident of Tucson with a passion for supporting local organizations and businesses.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "The Tucson Sentinel is known for digging deep to make sure the facts are solid. No bias, just the story. That's what news should be."


Lou Waters

Retired Journalist

Lou is known around the world as the founding anchor of CNN's original news team in 1980. Prior to working in cable news for 22 years, he worked in local radio and TV, including in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, as well as at Tucson's KVOA, where he was a reporter, anchor and news director for more than a decade. After returning to Tucson, he served on the Oro Valley Town Council, including as vice mayor, from 2010-2018.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "What are called 'news deserts' by the University of North Carolina Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media are a serious risk for democracy. Simply put, that's a community without a reliable local source of real reporting. The Tucson Sentinel is crafting a new business model to revive and restore trust in news media at the grass-roots level. Their work, and Dylan Smith's efforts to sustain local news nationally with LION Publishers, has been cited by UNC as one way to "fill the void." Ever since the Tucson Citizen newspaper folded, I've followed the Sentinel's progress. Its dedication to nonprofit independence and factual information is vital to our community's needs and understanding, and is building my hope for the future of journalism."


John Winchester

Executive Director, YMCA of Southern Arizona Northwest branch

John is a native of Tucson, where he lives with his wife Fernanda and four beautiful children. He was appointed to the Pima County Transportation Advisory Commission in 2021, serves as an honorary commander to the 355 Maintenance Group, and leads the Advocacy Committee for Tucson Young Professionals. He also ran for elected office in 2016, as a Republican candidate for District 1 Pima County supervisor.

John was named one of Tucson's 40 under 40 by the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2016. He is a Flinn-Brown Fellow with the Arizona Civic Leadership Academy, an alumnus of Greater Tucson Leadership, and the incoming chair of the Emerging Leaders Council though the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce. He holds a masters in public administration from the University of Arizona.

Why I support TucsonSentinel.com: "The Tucson Sentinel has the best local reporting and investigative journalism in Southern Arizona, earning my respect and support."



From the start, we've considered it a core function of the Sentinel to tell stories that would otherwise go untold, and as we enter our second decade and grow our award-winning newsroom, we want to further this work by having this Council help ensure our journalism is even deeply relevant and strives to amplify voices that need to be heard.

Providing that nuanced context in our investigative and analysis journalism is part of our mission, and the members of the Advisory Council help us delve into that, in all areas.

That's why this group of volunteer advisors includes a wide variety of representatives from all facets of our community, including people from advocacy groups, government and service agencies, educators, grassroots activists, startup entrepreneurs and small business owners — people with different life journeys, different places in society, different backgrounds, professions, and generational perspectives.

The members of the Advisory Council are people with a deep respect for a diversity of opinions — able to listen with an open mind, contribute to constructive discussions and find common ground in both a love for this special place we all call home, and finding value in truly independent watchdog journalism. This group helps facilitate access to the people, events and ideas that are shaping our community, and ensures that a broad spectrum of voices are heard as we continually assess our work and impact.

We still have a few open slots in this group — if you're interested or know of somebody who should be part of these discussions about how to continue to build authentically local news in Tucson, please let us know! And we don't just want to hear from these great advisors; we always want to listen to members of the Tucson/Southern Arizona community. Got questions or comments? Drop a line and tell us what you think: editor@tucsonsentinel.com.

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