Past Chairs

A look back at the fine leadership of the Commission on Excellence in Education. Over the past 21 years we have had the privilege to be led by some of the most innovative minds in education.

Dennis Cavanaugh

Commission Chair from 2011-2013. Mr Cavanaugh's focus were the five pillars of:

  • Mentoring
  • Increasing the College’s visibility and importance within the community
  • Student Success/College Completion
  • Fundraising/Capacity Building
  • Legislative Initiatives

A primary goal was to utilize technology to communicate and connect to a broader population and to enhance the skills and expertise of every member of the group in providing a global view of education within our community.  

Claudia Walters

Commission Chair from 2009-2011. Mrs. Walters is currently the Vice President at Mesa United Way. She served on the Mesa Public Schools Governing Board for four years and on the Mesa City Council for eight and half years, including four years as Vice Mayor. She has worked as an educator and as a communications consultant. Claudia likes to read, sing, fish, laugh, travel, bake cookies, and truly make a difference – not necessarily in that order.

John J. Giles

Commission Chair from 2007-2009. A practicing attorney, Mr. Giles is committed to serving the East Valley community. Mr. Giles was elected to the Mesa City Council and served as Vice Mayor. John has received several community service awards and has served on numerous non-profit boards including chairing the Mesa United Way and Banner Desert Hospital Boards of Directors.

Barbara Carpenter

Commission Chair from 2005-2007. Ms. Carpenter stated the "Commission on Excellence in Education is a solid institution built by strong leaders, partners, and teamwork. It is a valuable commodity to this community". Barbara's vision was to help the Commission stay on course, [while] holding fast to our plan to surge forward with programs and projects that build excellence in education.

Dr. Debra Duvall

Commission Chair for 2 terms: 2001-2005. Dr. Duvall stated that "through [her] involvement [she] learned more about Mesa Community College, and (sic.) developed relationships and friendships with people who demonstrated an interest in improving educational opportunities in the East Valley." Debra served as Superintendent of Mesa Public Schools and is still an integral part of education and workforce development in the East Valley.

Louis J. Casillas, DDS

Commission Chair from 1997-2001. Dr. Casillas is a practicing dentist who maintains his offices in Chandler, Arizona. A well-known and respected member of the East Valley Community, Dr. Casillas continues to volunteer his time to public service projects and organizations.

Ron Peters

Commission Chair from 1995-1997. A practicing Architect, Ron Peters is the Director of Historic Streetscapes which was founded in 1997. Mr. Peters is responsible for providing research and documentation of the history of existing buildings, including surveys and recordation methods, use of archival and published sources, development of historic contexts, on-site investigations, and the use of National Register of Historic Places guidance. Ron works locally to help preserve and document Arizona's historic architectural treasures.

Don Evans

Commission Chair from 1993-1995. Don Evans has served as CEO at Banner Baywood Medical Center since 2001. He is a Board member of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association and as an advocate for comprehensive hospital and trauma care in the East Valley, Don continues to serve his community.

The Honorable David Udall

Commission Chair from 1990-1993. Co-founder of the Udall Shumway Legal Practice, Mr. Udall has a long history of community involvement including eight years as a Mesa City Councilman as well as founder and second president of the East Valley Partnership. David is a past drive chairman of Mesa United Way and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Mesa Chamber of Commerce.