Piper Fellows 2022

Becky Bell Ballard

Rosie's House: A Music Academy for Children

"I am honored to be a Piper Fellow. The Fellowship affords me the time and resources to explore, innovate, and challenge myself at an inflection point in my career and a growth stage for Rosie’s House. I am humbled and invigorated by the opportunity and what it means for the work of Rosie’s House."

With over two decades of nonprofit arts experience, Becky Bell Ballard believes passionately in providing equitable opportunities in the arts, and the role of the arts in illuminating challenges and opportunities for society.

Ballard’s work at Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children is focused on providing creative youth development programs to youth from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Leading one of the largest free afterschool music programs nationwide, Ballard believes strongly in finding methods and solutions to address the disparity in access to music education. Under her tenure, Rosie’s House has achieved a 123% increase in program participation while building out critical capacity infrastructure, including recently completing a $6.5 million campaign for the acquisition, renovation, and expansion of services within a 15,000-square-foot building in the heart of downtown Phoenix.

Before joining Rosie’s House, Ballard oversaw the Phoenix Symphony’s Community Engagement Department, where she managed initiatives that impacted 80,000 children and adults annually. She also worked with the Lake Forest Symphony and Arizona State University’s School of Music. She completed the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Training Program in 2017. As a musician, Ballard enjoys playing piano and horn. She serves as an advisory board member for the Grammy-winning Phoenix Chorale, a board member for the Downtown Chamber Series, and is actively involved with Valley Leadership in Maricopa County.

Ballard’s Fellowship will focus on the power of relevancy in developing engaging and reflective youth programs by specifically exploring the frameworks of culturally sustaining pedagogy and youth-directed programming. Plans include observing three youth-serving systems including the National Batuta Foundation in Colombia. In addition, recognizing that approximately 80% of Rosie’s House families are primarily Spanish speakers, Ballard will work to improve her Spanish skills through an intensive language course of study. Finally, Ballard plans to attend the Stanford Executive Leadership Development Program to determine how to best implement innovations learned through the Fellowship.

Pedro Cons

Adelante Healthcare

“It is truly a privilege and an honor to be a Piper Fellow and I am humbled to be included among the leaders previously bestowed with this Fellowship. The Piper Fellowship will allow me the space to be creative and innovative in designing new learning experiences and developing new leadership skills to advance Adelante Healthcare to another level within our organizational development.”

A native Arizonan, Pedro Cons was named CEO of Adelante Healthcare in June 2020; his leadership spans a network of nine community health centers that provide primary healthcare to more than 82,000 individuals across Maricopa County.

With over 25 years of community-focused program experience, Cons is a thoughtful, visionary leader with expertise in strategy and organizational management. His diverse leadership and academic experience provide a unique perspective for creating strategic partnerships across corporate, nonprofit, and government sectors to better integrate service delivery, more effectively address the holistic needs of families, and ultimately create sustainable positive change. In 2022, he was named a Titan 100 and was honored by A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine for giving the keynote address at its White Coat Ceremony. He currently serves on the Boards of the Arizona Alliance of Community Health Centers, the American Heart Association, and Building Healthy Places Network.

His Piper Fellowship plans include attending Columbia University Business School’s Senior Leaders Program for Nonprofit Professionals to focus in-depth on leadership and strategy, functional excellence, management, finance, fund development, marketing, and organizational behavior. He intends to develop an organizational impact plan, conduct a 360˚ Assessment, and develop a leadership credo for Adelante Healthcare. Additionally, Cons will visit some of the most innovative Federally Qualified Health Centers in the country to learn and bring back ideas to close gaps in care for patients. He believes this Fellowship opportunity is an absolute gift that will have a great impact on the community and the patients of Adelante Healthcare.

David J. Hemphill

Black Theatre Troupe
Executive Director

“The realization of my passion for community service, compassion for others, activism, and the arts came about in the turbulent ‘60s. As a supporter of the Black Arts/Civil Rights Movement, the opportunity to broaden and enhance those experiences under the guidance of community activist and Black Theatre Troupe founder, Helen K. Mason, was beyond expectations. Her work as the very first proponent of the Movement in the Southwest and her mission to grow its work and assure that future generations knew about the work of the Movement was invaluable. To now have this opportunity from Piper Trust to bring my life’s driving force full circle and pass this knowledge on is the perfect culmination to my career.”

David Hemphill has been Executive Director at Black Theatre Troupe since 1995. He became the third Executive Director of the company since its founding, overseeing steady growth, guiding the company through capital renovations, and moving the Theatre into its “forever” home in downtown Phoenix.

Hemphill works in this field, locally and nationally, as African American theatre offers a major cultural phenomenon, often neglected, with its origins in social protest, and as a formal branch of theater arts.

Hemphill’s goal over the next four years is to position Black Theatre Troupe to be strong in each of its functions—production, programming, finance, operational systems, and, most importantly, leadership. Although leaving these functions in a great position is critical, it is even more critical that the company be left in the hands of a strong leader to ensure continued success and a viable future for the company. To that end, Hemphill’s Fellowship will focus on projects and activities that are vital to developing a succession plan that serves himself and Black Theatre Troupe.

Fellowship activities include site visits to several African American-run organizations that have or have had a founder leading the company. It is well documented that organizations in this position are extremely vulnerable to failure after the departure of these founding leaders. Hemphill plans to evaluate ideas on how these organizations are preparing for the leader’s retirement and whether or not they have developed a succession plan. He will also partner with a succession consultant.

Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, O.P.

St. John Paul II Catholic High School

“Through the Piper Fellowship, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust is giving a great gift to nonprofit leaders and their organizations. It is a blessing for me to begin the Piper Fellowship experience. I hope to develop long-lasting personal relationships that will strengthen connections between St. John Paul II Catholic High School, me, and the excellent leaders that are part of the Piper Fellows Program.”

Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, O.P. is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia and has been a Catholic school educator for 30 years, serving in various teaching and administrative roles before moving to Phoenix in 2016.

Having recently assisted the Diocese of Phoenix with the opening of the newest Catholic high school in Arizona, Sister Mary Jordan continues to lead the school with emphasis on creating culture that is informed by faith in Jesus Christ. St. John Paul II Catholic High School is a co-educational diocesan high school serving students in grades 9-12 and offers academic classes to meet the educational needs of its college-prep students. The school’s four-year ethics program provides the students with philosophical formation and development of critical thinking skills. In just four years, the students have inspired the formation of 15 athletic teams. Choral music, band, drama, and the arts are also important components of the school’s culture.

During the Piper Fellowship, Sister Mary Jordan hopes to develop skills that will help her better serve families in the West Valley, especially Hispanic Catholics, who represent the majority of students enrolled at St. John Paul II. She will participate in the Encuentro Program at Boston College. Sister Mary Jordan also plans to make several site visits and experience a Spanish Immersion program to improve her ability to understand and communicate in Spanish. She will also focus on leadership training in Advancement to prepare for the future growth of St. John Paul II Catholic High School.

Kirk Johnson

Founder & CEO
SOUNDS Academy

“It has been my dream to build a youth performing arts center in the Southwest Valley in order to increase access to the arts for families in the area. The Piper Fellowship will allow me the opportunity to lay the groundwork to turn this dream into a reality. I am honored and humbled to be a Piper Fellow, expand my knowledge, and bring back information that SOUNDS Academy can use to increase music education opportunities to children in Arizona.”

Kirk Johnson is a musician, performer, and educator who believes that the ZIP code of a child should not dictate access to music education.

Out of this belief, he founded SOUNDS Academy, a nonprofit music education organization that teaches, mentors, and provides musical experiences and opportunities for underserved youth. Further, the Academy teaches character values through music education. Johnson began his musical journey in Boston, Massachusetts with Project STEP and the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, where he learned to play the violin and viola, took theory classes, and played in chamber music groups and orchestras that toured in countries like Italy, Mexico, and Cuba. Johnson has guided SOUNDS Academy in providing over 62,000 lessons and classes to children and impacted an additional 21,000 students through the Musical Access program, where students attend concerts and are introduced to instruments in SOUNDS Academy’s “Instrument Petting Zoos.” In addition to students building confidence through performing in concerts, SOUNDS Academy is also making an academic impact, with 100% of the students in its SOLO program being accepted into college on scholarships.

The Piper Fellowship will allow Johnson the opportunity to lay the groundwork for SOUNDS Academy to bring a youth performing arts center to the Southwest Valley. He will start the year by attending the Sphinx Connect Conference, a social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Throughout the year, he will visit three renowned music education programs in the country to learn best practices in managing a high-level music education program. As he learns and reflects on how to implement the lessons learned with SOUNDS Academy, he will also participate in executive coaching sessions and take classes that will focus on program evaluation, developing major gifts, and managing a capital campaign so he can expand the access to music education opportunities for Arizona youth.

Jared Kittelson

Associate CEO
Foundation for Blind Children

“The Piper Fellowship represents a unique development opportunity for nonprofit professionals that can truly elicit profound impact at the organizational level. First-class learning opportunities coupled with the gift of reflection equals transformational leadership. During my Fellowship I plan on examining specific strategies aimed at ensuring Foundation for Blind Children can maintain and build upon its status as a national leader. I also look forward to learning from the other Fellows as we embark on this journey.”

Jared Kittelson is the Associate CEO of the Foundation for Blind Children (FBC), a 70-year-old organization that provides education and services to individuals of all ages with visual impairments.

He joined FBC in 2017 as its Chief Operating Officer; he is currently the Associate CEO and will be the Successor CEO in July 2024. Kittelson has helped grow programs by building collaboration between delivery models and creating infrastructure to support the demand for vision services in Maricopa County and beyond. For example, to address the shortage of Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI), FBC partnered with Arizona State University to create a one-of-a-kind program that marries classroom knowledge with real-world application. During the pandemic, FBC was not only able to survive, but thrive, becoming a national leader by hosting webinars with attendees from all over the world. When the pandemic hit, staff came together and found solutions so that FBC families never missed a day of service. Before coming to FBC, Kittelson spent time as an Executive Director at the Legacy Foundation Chris-Town YMCA and was a Superintendent of charter schools throughout the country.

Kittelson’s Fellowship will focus on learning how organizations maintain their competitive advantages while developing frameworks for growth. FBC has the opportunity to impact the world of vision education and services at local, state, and national levels. Through programs at Harvard University and The Center for Creative Leadership, Kittelson will learn best practices and develop a network of leaders from across the globe. In addition to classroom experience, he plans on visiting industry leaders to learn the different paths that organizations take to ascend in their fields.

Jessyca Leach

Executive Director
Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS

“I am honored and excited to begin my Piper Fellowship journey. The opportunities provided by the Fellowship will challenge me to grow as a leader to better support my organization and my community.”

Jessyca Leach (she/they) serves as the Executive Director of the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS.

Leach has been involved with the Southwest Center since 2018, when she began serving on its Board of Directors and was hired as its Chief Financial Officer in July 2020. Before Leach’s role as the Southwest Center’s Chief Financial Officer, she was the Chief Financial Officer for Downtown Phoenix Inc., where she oversaw financial reporting, cash management, and daily operations of the accounting department, and integrated deep analytics and data-driven decision-making into all business functions. Leach has also served in accounting roles at the Phoenix Zoo, Imagine Schools, and Honeywell Aerospace. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in accounting and finance.

Leach will be attending the Harvard Women’s Leadership Forum in March 2023. While in Boston, she will meet and tour with staff from the Fenway Institute, a healthcare clinic that provides services and support for the LGBTQ+ community and individuals living with or at risk of contracting HIV. The Fenway Institute is a leader in LGBTQ+ healthcare and Leach will bring back best practices learned to the Southwest Center. She will also attend the Lantern Consciousness Leadership Retreat in Utah where the training will be informed by a 360˚ review and customized to align with Leach’s leadership goals

Throughout the year, she will work with an executive coach to provide support on opportunities identified in Leach’s 2022 annual review.

Marcia Mintz

President & CEO
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

“The Piper Fellowship is a personal and professional opportunity that will allow me to continue to expand my leadership skills and knowledge to create transformational and sustainable changes in my organization. Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley (BGCAZ) has changed dramatically in the past few years. Following a complex merger between two organizations, and a pandemic, it is critical for BGCAZ to continue innovating and creating impactful programs to serve today’s youth and families. We need to adapt and pivot quickly to maintain relevancy to those we serve, while utilizing data and technology to be more effective and demonstrate impact.”

Marcia Mintz is the President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley (BGCAZ), with more than 30 years of global and national corporate and nonprofit experience.

The opportunity to make a difference and be a conduit for change drives her passion. BGCAZ is a large and complex organization tackling multifaceted youth-related issues. These include academic success, learning loss, food insecurity, physical well-being, mental and behavioral health, character and leadership development, and career and college pathways. These broad topics ladder down to numerous programs that are designed through the lens of removing barriers and opening doors to ensure access and equity for all Arizona youth.

Prior to BGCAZ, Mintz served as President of John C. Lincoln Health Foundation and Senior Vice President of Community Benefit for HonorHealth. Earlier in her career, she worked and lived in Latin America, Cuba, Europe, and the Baltic States, developing education, health, and infrastructure programs. Mintz earned an MBA from the University of Arizona’s Eller School of Management and a bachelor of fine arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of Arts.

Mintz’s Fellowship plans include participating in MIT’s executive program on Innovating in Existing Markets. This course uses the Distributed Leadership Model to provide a framework for leaders who want to be more creative and adaptive in new ways. It will allow her to examine BGCAZ’s current service delivery model and develop innovative and creative ways to deliver on mission and vision.

In addition, she plans to visit and learn from several Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the country that are providing world class programs in three priority areas: academic success, mental and behavioral health, and workforce readiness/career pathways.

Alicia Nuñez

Executive Vice President & CFO
Chicanos Por La Causa

“As front-line and service workers, the Hispanic community suffered disproportionately during the pandemic and continues to suffer ongoing hardships. The generous support of the Piper Fellowship will enable me access to valuable leadership resources so that we can continue to help families stay in their homes, put food on the table, and access the needed tools to pursue a happy and healthy life.”

Born in a predominantly Hispanic community in inner-city Los Angeles, Alicia Nuñez recognized early in her life that education provided the vehicle to economic and personal success.

A graduate of Cal State University, Nuñez entered the hospitality industry as a room service telephone operator and within five years had rocketed to the accounting department, where she served as the Assistant Director of Finance at the Ritz-Carlton. She later earned her MBA at the University of Arizona. For the next 26 years, Nuñez distinguished herself in multiple leadership roles. In 2006, she joined Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC), one of the largest Hispanic community development corporations in the U.S., as the Director of Accounting Operations, ultimately becoming the Executive Vice President and CFO. She has served in this role for the last seven years. During this time, CPLC has grown more than 400%.

Through the Piper Fellowship, Nuñez will attend a two-week program for growing businesses at the prestigious Stanford Executive School. She will also visit two rapidly growing corporations distinguished for building innovative and cutting-edge housing developments. With this knowledge, Nuñez will learn executive strategies to execute faster, operate more efficiently, and focus on management systems that will help CPLC sustain growth while providing excellent programs and services to low-income residents.

Denise Resnik

Founder, President & CEO
First Place AZ

“According to novelist Chuck Palahniuk, ‘…The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.’ That is what I aim to achieve through my work as a Piper Fellow—the creation of a model that perpetuates housing and community development options for people with autism and other neurodiversities in Arizona, across the U.S. and around the globe. Every day at First Place, I see what’s possible when community comes together for the greater good. The Piper Fellowship will help me stay this course in fresh, fruitful and future-focused ways.”

Denise D. Resnik is the Founder, President and CEO of First Place AZ; Co-Founder of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC); and Founder and CEO of DRA Collective, a marketing and public relations firm.

Through tri-sector leadership at every turn, she and the First Place team, along with stellar collaborative statewide and national leaders, are advancing a portfolio of residential developments, proof points and supportive policy, and—most importantly—raising the bar on life course outcomes. The nonprofit’s flagship R&D multi-use property, First Place–Phoenix, is in the heart of what PBS NewsHour acknowledges as “the most autism-friendly city in the world.” Through the First Place Global Leadership Institute, First Place is demonstrating how to develop homes and supports for those who live there and create peace of mind for families and friends.

Resnik will focus her Fellowship exploring leadership development and marketplace and community-building strategies with Arizona pioneers and others from across the country who are committed to raising the bar on options and ensuring that a diagnosis of autism and/or any  intellectual/developmental disabilities do not stand in the way of friends, jobs, supportive communities, and homes.

The Piper Fellowship will provide Resnik with the space and capacity to travel and meet with local and national leaders from academia, philanthropy, public/private sectors, and nonprofits. She plans to experience progressive programs such as South by Southwest and the Aspen Ideas Festivals. The ideation process will further inform growth of the First Place Global Leadership Institute and help determine the best strategies for engaging peers, organizations, and institutions, and mentoring the next generation.

Christopher Tiffany

Executive Director
Raising Special Kids

“I am incredibly grateful to have been selected as a Piper Fellow. This unique opportunity will allow me to strengthen our organization’s structure, management, and leadership as we continue to serve growing and diverse populations, and bolster advocacy efforts for community inclusion of people who have disabilities. Piper Trust’s investment in me will help move Raising Special Kids into its fifth decade of service to Arizona families.”

Christopher Tiffany came to the nonprofit community in 2010 from the public school system, where he was a middle school special education teacher.

His experience as a special educator changed dramatically when his son was diagnosed with autism at age 2. As a teacher, he began to identify with the parents and family members of the students he taught, identifying with their hopes and fears and their confusion about how to access necessary supports and services to enable their children to grow and live a good life. At Raising Special Kids (RSK) he found the opportunity to use his education and training to serve and support families. Tiffany has been with RSK for 13 years in several roles and is in his fifth year as Executive Director. He continues to be honored and privileged to serve Arizona families.

Tiffany’s Piper Fellowship plans are designed to increase competencies in nonprofit leadership and in the organization’s capacity to serve a growing population of Arizona parents and family members raising children with a suspected or diagnosed disability. In addition to structured professional development, Tiffany plans to explore disability inclusion as a civil right and the integration of family advocacy and disability advocacy to unify the collective voice for community integration of children and people who have disabilities.

Dr. Gerd Wuestemann

President & CEO
Scottsdale Arts

“It is my conviction that the arts are at the core of the human condition, and that creativity is embedded in all people. I believe that the arts are for everyone, and that creativity unlocks the very best in us. My Piper Fellowship explores the creation of a multidisciplinary arts and education campus, welcoming and accessible to the entire community, uniting people and allowing us to unlock our creative and human potential together.”

Dr. Gerd Wuestemann grew up the youngest son to a working-class family in a small, medieval town in Germany, mere miles from the Iron Curtain.

Wuestemann discovered music and art at a very young age, and the arts have been the one constant in his life—as a performer, a patron, an entrepreneur, and an administrator. After transitioning from a performance career and professorship to working as an entrepreneur, he began managing arts organizations in Louisiana and built a new multidisciplinary arts center. He became the CEO of Scottsdale Arts in 2018. Since then, the organization has grown from three to six major branches, working across visual, performing, and public art, as well as in arts education and festivals such as Canal Convergence. Funded by a city bond in 2019, Scottsdale Arts will be opening a new 14-acre outdoor campus with three performance venues in early 2023.

Wuestemann’s Fellowship agenda includes eight major focal areas throughout 2023. His goal is to study, synthesize, and plan a welcoming, accessible, and encompassing 21st century campus for arts and education in Scottsdale. After two decades of working on building venues and organizations, Wuestemann has been fortunate to grow deep relationships with architects, museums and theater planners, acousticians, and designers. He plans to study master planning with Studio Libeskind; architectural venue design with Snohetta; theater design with Theater Projects; acoustics with Akustiks; campus development and sustainability at Lincoln Center; and technology in the arts with digital museums and performance venue developers. With time to reflect and digest, Wuestemann plans to synthesize this new knowledge into action plans to develop a sustainable and people-centric model.