The Be A Leader Foundation’s Advisory Board collaborates with Be A Leader senior staff in advancing the organization’s mission. To that end, board members serve as advisors to the organization and ambassadors.
Prominent leaders from both the public and private sectors are invited to serve, on the basis of having distinguished themselves in their respective fields and having demonstrated their commitment to helping Be A Leader close the educational attainment gap.
After a stint in public accounting at Ernst & Whinney, Kate joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and two decades later retired as V.P. and Treasurer, overseeing all corporate tax, investment portfolios, and risk management. As first in her own family to graduate from college, Kate has focused her community work around educational equity in Arizona. “I’ve seen first hand how Be A Leader supports hardworking, low income students navigate to and through college. Be A Leader plays an essential role in their success.”
Kendrick Bates -Kendrick is the Director of Client Services at University of Phoenix (UOPX) where he is responsible for academic reporting and analytics for the College of Information & Technology, the School of Business, and the School of Advanced Studies. Combined enrollments for the Schools and College account for more than half of all students enrolled at UOPX. In his current role he has led comprehensive efforts to measure University objectives and strategies as they relate to improving student learning outcomes, elevating graduation and student retention, engaging faculty in online education, and enhancing operational efficiencies. A Be A Leader senior boot camp coach since 2014, Kendrick has influenced students by sharing his college experiences and as a result, has witnessed an increase in the number of college-bound students, many of whom were the first in their families to attend college. Kendrick has been instrumental in supporting our students achieve their goals by helping them recognize the importance of a college education and a philosophy of lifetime learning and opportunities.
Ivan Calderon -Ivan graduated from Arizona State University in 2016 with a degree in Supply Chain Management. Currently, Ivan is a Vice President of Third-Party Management for MUFG Union Bank. Prior to joining MUFG, Ivan worked at Wells Fargo, American Express, and Citigroup. Throughout his career, he has also worked with a variety of nonprofit and community organizations that focus on increasing access to education. Ivan has volunteered with the Be A Leader Foundation since 2010 and is a fearless advocate for our students.
Jeff Stapleton – Jeff is an Economic Development Specialist with the City of Phoenix’s Community and Economic Development Department where he manages day to day activities of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus as well as provides support for various downtown development projects and programs. Jeff has served as a Senior Boot Camp coach since 2014 where he has mentored students through the often daunting college and scholarship application process. Jeff believes that securing a college education is key to economic opportunity which is not only critical for the well-being of our students, but Phoenix’s economy depends on the next generation’s ability to perform in the workplace.
Lori Taitano – Lori is the Executive Analyst and Chief Compliance Official for Public Affairs at the Salt River Project. Throughout her career, she has held a number of positions in Public Affairs, International Relations, Electronic Systems, Commercial New Business and Customer Services. Lori graduated from Arizona State University in Tempe, with a B.I.S in Political Science and Public Administration, and completed the Program on Negotiation for Senior Executives at Harvard Law School, Harvard University, 2011. Lori is involved in many community activities and serves on several boards and commissions. Her volunteerism doesn’t end with the youth in our community, there is a following of young professionals who Lori has guided, developed and taken under her wing as a mentor. This has been a personal mission and something she does individually as these mentees are taken in as family. Making a positive impact in the lives of those around her is something she considers her responsibility as a servant leader.
Kristen Torres – For the last 16 years Kristen has driven excellence in private postsecondary education through a collaborative partnership style dedicated to student outcomes. She is currently serving as Regional Director of Operations for Pima Medical Institute, overseeing 8 campuses in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Washington states. Prior to her regional role, she served as Campus President for Pima’s Mesa, AZ campus for eight years. A Valley Leadership alumna, Kristen is a board member of the Arizona Private School Association, having served as President and Legislative Chair. Kristen enjoys partnering with organizations who’s work is dedicated to closing the educational gap in our youth and young adults. The Be A Leader Foundation’s mission is in perfect alignment with Kristen’s passion and work in education, and she is excited to help Be A Leader fulfill their goals in the coming years.