29 Local Women Graduate from Woman-Centric Leadership Program


Arizona Foundation for Women (AFW), a not-for-profit agency that advocates for women’s causes in Arizona, graduated 29 local women from their second annual woman-centric leadership program, SHE Leads!™.

Throughout the past six months, SHE Leads!™ participants raised over $72,000 for non-profits focused on helping Arizona women. The cohort is proud to fund the following organizations as grantees: Alice’s Place, Check for a Lump, Defenders of Children, Televerde Foundation, Time Out, Inc. and Women’s Health Coalition of Arizona. Additionally, a portion of the funds raised will support the SHE Leads!™ program moving forward.

“We are so proud of the 29 women who completed the 2022 SHE Leads!™ program! The level of growth our women demonstrated in leadership skills, confidence, and philanthropy was exceptional,” said Tracy DeSoto, Director, Financial Services at University of Phoenix and SHE Leads!™ program co-chair. “We are grateful for the generosity of our corporate sponsors and humbled at the impact of the incredible non-profit organizations we were able to support on behalf of the efforts of our participants this year.”

The program included a curriculum with topics covering growth mindset, diversity & inclusion, building strategic partnerships and more. Graduates worked one-on-one with personal mentors, completed personal strength assessments, built strong relationships through after- hours networking and workshop sessions and developed a toolkit to advance themselves personally and professionally.

“The 2022 SHE Leads! class exceeded our highest expectations, and we are proud to recognize their accomplishments” said Mesha Davis, AFW CEO. “We are confident that the skills these fearless leaders have demonstrated will generate great change for all women in our state.”

The following women make up the SHE Leads! class of 2022 graduates:

  • Alexandra Smaak, Assistant Project Manager, Rosendin
  • Alyxandra Pearce, Information Security Analyst II, Freedom Financial Network
  • Amanda Williams, BHC Manager, Mountain Park Health Center
  • Christi Sova, Project Manager, Rosendin
  • Christina Totah, Operations Coordinator, University of Phoenix
  • Christine Ferrell, Vice President Private Bank, Enterprise Bank & Trust
  • Dawn Ben Aziza, Underwriting Supervisor, Freedom Financial Network
  • Deborah Hoskins, Finance Advisor, University of Phoenix
  • Diana Batoon, DMD, Dentist, Bonita Dental
  • Erin Heys, CRM Platform Manager, Sonora Quest Laboratories
  • Hanna Jones, Sr. Training Specialist, Training & Development, Sunrun Inc.
  • Jelisa Dallas, Program Manager, Educational Equity, University of Phoenix
  • Jennifer Koeller, Mentoring Program Manager, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation
  • Jessica Arnold, Social Media & Content Specialist, Delta Dental of Arizona
  • Katherine Vawter, Director, Arizona State University
  • Katia Hollinquest, PayOps Supervisor, Freedom Financial Network
  • Katie Perez, Information Security Analyst II, Freedom Financial Network
  • Krystal Harris, Supervisor, Freedom Financial Network
  • Laura Gonzalez, Supervisor, Freedom Financial Network
  • Melissa Kovalesky, Cofounder & Managing Director, Families Raising Hope
  • Melissa Lanouette, Events and Education Manager, Arizona Multihousing Association
  • Melissa Whitlatch, Supervisor, Talent Acquisition, Freedom Financial Network
  • Michele Thorne, Executive Director/ Founder, DAMES Charities Inc.
  • Mona Bass, HR Manager
  • Natosha Edmonds, Senior Corporate Trainer, Freedom Financial Network
  • Ninja Rodgers, Unit Manager, Freedom Financial Network
  • Shelly Denny, Acupuncturist, Phoenix Indian Medical Center
  • Starla Schmidt, Registered Dietitian, Mountain Park Health Center
  • Tiffany Reed, Loan Servicing Supervisor II, Freedom Financial Network

This program would not be possible without the support of the following sponsors – Freedom Financial Network, Freeport McMoRan, PURE Insurance, The Rosendin Foundation, Salt River Project, and University of Phoenix.

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