LFC Leaders Fellowship Class of 2024
Phoenix Mercury, Director of Business Operations
Adam Metzendorf is a former US Congressional candidate from Arizona's First Congressional District. He graduated from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and built a career in professional sports management. Through his experiences campaigning and working in sports with people from across the political spectrum, he understands how to bring people together through our shared values and create opportunities for Arizona's families. Adam is a proud member of the Jewish community. His faith teaches him that if something is wrong, you can’t sit on the sideline. You have a moral obligation to stand for others and what is right. After his campaign, he rejoined the Phoenix Mercury as Director of Business Operations and is passionate about advancing the WNBA and everything it stands for. Additionally, he remains active in his local community knocking doors for candidates and causes he believes in, testifying at the legislature against bills that promote hate, and has joined the boards of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix and Arizonans for Gun Safety. Nationally, Adam was recently appointed to the Jewish Democratic Council of America's New Leadership Council where he intends to continue to learn and grow as a leader who combats hate, brings people together, and creates a future that reflects the values most Americans care for and want to see.
Amplify Education, STEM Pilot Manager
Ben Harrison has been a passionate and involved Arizonan for over three decades. His education journey started in Ohio, but midway through found a home in Arizona. After graduating high school in Scottsdale, Ben went on to study both African American Studies and K-12 Education at Arizona State University, and received his degree in Education, his true calling to be a classroom teacher following the footsteps of his grandmother. Over the next decade he worked as a middle school teacher, coach, and mentor in the communities of Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Gilbert, and Queen Creek. Ben broadened his views on education, and his career, as a district administrator in technology. He worked closely with teachers and community members to bring the right tools to the future of learning. Over the latest tenure on his professional journey, Ben continues to expand his educational knowledge and career horizons by working for a collection of K-12 curriculum publishers supporting innovation in millions of students’ lives. Ben has also continued his learning and taken post graduate course work at NAU, ASU, Harvard, as well as, completed the Citizens Leadership Institute through the Town of Queen Creek. His political involvement started with early efforts to help raise teacher pay and education funding in AZ through propositions like 301 and other local bond issues. Since those early days, Ben continues his education activism by volunteering with local PACs and candidate campaigns. In recent years as an elected PC in LD12 and LD15 Democrats, Ben has worked to improve the communities of Gilbert and Queen Creek by informing neighbors on current issues and registering people to vote. Ben is a proud husband and father of two high schoolers in the east valley of Phoenix. Family is his first priority. Fixing Arizona is a close second.
AFSCME ARIZONA, Political and Legislative Director
Briona Parkinson is a graduate of Shaw University and a 2023 graduate of the George Mason University Master of Social Work Program. Briona’s motto is YOU+ME=WE. She has dedicated her life to uplifting those around her through community welfare, advocacy and capacity building. In doing so, Briona has volunteered her time working with these nonprofits; Seed Exchange of Central Arizona to fight against food hunger, Achieving My Purpose which is dedicated to young women 18-35 and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation where they provide an array of resources, classes and services to women. On the day to day she advances the rights for working people and their families as the Political Action Representative and Lobbyist for AFSCME in Arizona. She also serves on the Arizona Wins and Arizona Donor Alliance Board of Directors.
US HHS Office of the Inspector General, Social Science Research Analyst
Destinee recently earned her Master's degree in Social Work with a focus on Policy, Administration, and Community Practice. She is set to graduate with a Master's in Public Administration, specializing in Public Finance, in the spring of 2024. Last year she served as a Spirit of Service Scholar for The Pastor Center at Arizona State University, and co-led a seminar on facilitating intercultural teams and practicing cultural humility. She was also the recipient of the 2023 ASU School of Social Work's Emerging Leader of the Year award. Destinee just retired from her career in collegiate speech and debate where she competed and coached for Maricopa Community Colleges. Now, she is currently working as a Social Science Research Analyst (Student Trainee) for the US HHS Office of the Inspector General and is also a Management Intern for the Student Success and Engagement team for the ASU School of Engineering. Destinee is committed to creating positive change and advancing social justice through her education and advocacy. She looks forward to continuing her work in policy reform and community empowerment to build a more equitable society.
Civic Engagement Beyond Voting, Youth Program Coordinator
During his almost four years in the Arizona political landscape, Elijah has been actively involved in various campaigns and policy initiatives. He worked with the Mark Kelly for Senate campaign through the Arizona Democratic Party coordinated campaign, Mission for Arizona. Additionally, he managed the field operations for State Representative Jennifer Pawlik, who won against extremist candidates in a high stakes legislative district, as well as with Cindy Hans, a former public school teacher, who narrowly lost to a seasoned politician in a Republican-dominated district. In the policy realm, Elijah has worked with prominent groups like Keep Arizona Blue Student Coalition and Equality Arizona manning legislative affairs relating to education equity and LGBTQ+ rights, combating discriminatory measures such as bathroom and pronoun bans and protecting the rights of closeted LGBTQ+ youth. As an advocate for both equity and a skilled organizer, Elijah aims to continue his work to instill equity-driven principles into public and private schools across our State.
Arizona State University, Student
Francesca Martin is a Sophomore at Arizona State University, majoring in Political Science. She began her political advocacy as Director of Administration for Students for Biden Az 2020 and shortly after co-founded Keep Arizona Blue Student Coalition where she currently holds the position of Deputy Director. Keep Arizona Blue Student Coalition focuses on further involving young people in the political process and expanding the student electorate. She has created student strategy, fundraises, handles external communications, and is a spokesperson for the organization. She is also an intern for ASU’s Tempe Undergraduate Student Government this year. Earlier and just before graduating from Chandler Unified School District, she was chosen to serve on the Portrait of a Graduate Committee to create an outline of the future for the district and choose/identify what needed to be implemented. For the 2022 midterm she interned for the Maricopa County Democratic Party doing field and communications work. For the 2023 Tempe special election she was a Lead Field Coordinator and strategized field plans and coordinated volunteers for Tempe 1st, the No campaign on the three propositions.
Academies of Math and Science, Director of Development
I have served in the nonprofit space at local and state levels for 19 years. This experience spans services in mental health/ substance disorder, corrections, housing (or lack thereof), emergency support, and education. Salient to each of these distinct experiences is a commitment to addressing the root causes intergenerational poverty and the precipitating outcomes which cyclically reinforce it. Having worked in both administration and development, I operate most freely in constituent cultivation, program design, fundraising, and strategic planning. I am a born and raised Rural Arizonan, a lens I leverage at every opportunity. Count me in to shake things up, say yes to the unknown dirt road, know the best small town restaurant, and be a steadfast partner in anything that will make Arizona an equitable place to thrive! I currently serve as the Director of Development for the Academies of Math and Science and have been on the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism since 2019. A quote I like to share is, “Community leadership is the courage, creativity and capacity to inspire participation, development and sustainability for strong communities” - Sir Gustav Nossal
one•n•ten, POND Workforce Navigation Specialist
Isabel Montano is the POND Workforce Navigation Specialist for one•n•ten. Holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis on Community Focus, she passionately thrives on supporting communities, specifically underserved communities, as well as supporting youth development. Isabel’s commitment to empowering the LGBTQ+ community is at the heart of her work and through her work she connects youth with essential resources. Her personal experiences as a first-generation college student and LGBTQ+ advocate reflect a profound commitment to fostering inclusivity and equality. She aspires to continue creating change for our youth, fostering the leaders of tomorrow.
Siċaƞġu Co, Marketing Director
Jillian Waln is the Marketing Director for Siċaƞġu Co. She is an enrolled member of the Siċaƞġu Lak̇ot̄a Oyate (Rosebud Sioux Tribe). Her passion for reclaiming sovereignty, decolonizing political and social systems, and empowering Indigenous identity through storytelling can be seen through her work with Siċaƞġu Co and personal endeavors including writing, podcasting, and other community-facing work. In the future, she hopes to lead in a position that will allow her the authority to make positive changes that will better impact her community. “There are already laws and rules in place that benefit Indigenous communities, but they are looked over and many times not followed. I want to be in a position that will allow me to bring those laws and treaties into the rooms of the decision makers to ensure they are being adhered to.”
Safeway/Albertsons, Certified Pharmacy Technician
Jocelyn Cruces is a dedicated professional who has been working in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 16 years. As a pharmacy technician, she plays a vital role in ensuring the accuracy and efficiency of medication dispensing processes. She was born in Douglas, Arizona and raised in Agua Prieta and Nacozari Sonora by her Mexican parents alongside her two older sisters. Despite the demands of her career, Jocelyn has also taken on the role of a single mother, raising her daughter as a first-generation college student. Her daughter is currently studying psychology at the University of Arizona, and Jocelyn takes immense pride in her accomplishments. Jocelyn made the difficult decision to prioritize her daughter's upbringing over pursuing a 4-year college education herself. However, this didn't deter her from personal growth and progress. In fact, Jocelyn has demonstrated her commitment and dedication by becoming actively involved in her union, United Food Commercial Workers (UFCW99), for the past 9 years. Her involvement has been recognized, as she was recently nominated as Member of the Year, a testament to her exceptional contributions and commitment to her community. In 2021 she was invited to Washington, D.C. for a special Labor Day event, where she was given the honor of introducing President Joe Biden to the attendees. Jocelyn is a family oriented being and after losing her mother during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic she started distributing COVID-19 vaccines to her community. Jocelyn is excited to continue to grow as an individual and take on the opportunities that come her way.
Jose A. Morales
Retired Educator as of the summer of 2023
I was born in Salinas, California, and grew up in a small beach town (Imperial Beach) south of San Diego. I joined the Marine Corps in 1980 and served in the Reserves until 1986. After struggling for a while following the death of my father in 1982, I moved to Arizona in 1984 (my roots). I adopted my first 2 children in 1985. It was then I decided to go back to school. I graduated from Grand Canyon University in 1991. Just before graduating from Grand Canyon, I adopted my second 2 children. They are all fully grown, and I now have 14 grandchildren. I was hired in 1992 at Greenway High School, where I taught English, Psychology and Sociology for 31 years before retiring this past summer. I coached football and softball. I was also the faculty advisor for our community service club (Key Club) for 25 years. I am still the starter for swim, the scoreboard operator for football, and I umpire baseball in the Spring. My wife and I have been married for 8 years. We have 3 dogs and are planning a Mediterranean cruise for April of next year.
Juan Te Dailey
Dignity Health Medical Group, Patient Customer Representative II
Dsquared Homes for the Homeless, Executive Director
Juan Te Dailey has been an Arizona resident for over twenty years, relocating from California to provide her two sons with better education and quality of life. Juan Te is a Veteran, Author, Mental Health Advocate, and Certified Life Coach with a B.S. Degree in Criminal Justice. She is a recent member of the City of Chandler’s Merit System board and the founder of the nonprofit Dsquared Homes for The Homeless, supporting mental health challenges and homeless populations. She is a graduate of the Better Business Bureau (Overall Winner) and a graduate of the Local First Business Accelerator Program. She is constantly striving to impact the lives of the Mental Health challenged and homeless populations. Juan Te also works at the Dignity Health Medical Group.