Bernie Ronan is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs of the Maricopa Community Colleges. He oversees the Division of Public Affairs, which includes government relations, marketing, media relations, communications, as well as the Center for Civic Participation. He has been an administrator in the Maricopa Colleges for the past 20 years, including serving as the Acting President of Mesa Community College in 2007-8. Prior to his service in the Maricopa Colleges, he was Deputy Director of the Arizona Department of Commerce, and Deputy Associate Superintendent of the Arizona Department of Education. Over his career as a public administrator, he has developed numerous community partnerships and has done research and analysis on public policy issues. An Arizona native, he has his doctorate in public administration from Arizona State University.
Bernie Ronan's Keynote Address: Democratic Engagement for Students & Community: Higher Education's Response
Cynthia Kaufman is the Director of the Institute of Community and Civic Engagement at De Anza College where she also teaches Philosophy. She is the author of two books on social change, Getting Past Capitalism: History, Vision, Hope (Lexington Books 2012) and Ideas for Action: Relevant Theory for Radical Change (South End Press 2003). She is a lifelong social change activist, having worked on issues such as tenants' rights, police abuse, union organizing, international politics, and most recently climate change. She received her PhD and M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and her B.A. in Development Studies from University of California, Berkeley.
Marissa Theisen currently serves as President and CEO of the Arizona Grantmakers Forum, an organization dedicated to providing networking, educational and collaborative opportunities for Arizona's private, community and corporate foundations and giving programs. She helped start the organization in Oct. 1999 and ran the organization on a half time basis until January 2005. Prior to joining AGF on a full time basis, Ms. Theisen served for 17 years as President of Win Win Creations, a management consulting firm specializing in team building, business partnerships, and win-win conflict resolution. As a consultant, she provided training and facilitation services for a variety of government, private sector and non-profit clients in the areas of teambuilding, conflict resolution, strategic planning, and leadership development.
In 1998-1999, Ms. Theisen served for 6 months as Interim Executive Director of the YWCA of Maricopa County. During this period, she oversaw the operations of an agency with 32 staff and a budget of $2 million. Before launching her own management consulting practice in 1988, she was employed by Wirth Associates, a Phoenix-based planning and design firm as a Public Involvement Coordinator. From 1976-1980, she was a staff member with The Conservation Foundation in Washington, D.C. serving as training coordinator for a variety of citizen involvement programs.
Ms. Theisen is an active community volunteer and has been an officer and Board member of numerous local non-profit organizations including Crisis Nursery, Self Employment Loan Fund, YWCA of Maricopa County, Junior League of Phoenix and Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County. She's currently serves as a mentor for Quest for Kids, and earlier for Fresh Start Woman's Foundation and Phoenix Youth at Risk.
She is the co-author of two books dealing with the subject of Win-Win Conflict Replacement.
Ms. Theisen has an M.B.A. from Arizona State University and a Masters in Regional Planning from Harvard University.
Rhonda Oliver is the President/CEO of HandsOn Greater Phoenix where she has worked for the last 12 years advancing the volunteer service and civic participation movement. Before joining the nonprofit sector 14 years ago as a fundraising officer at The Arizona Humane Society, Rhonda worked for several years in the private sector as a marketing professional.
Rhonda has served throughout the Valley in various volunteer capacities including the Mesa Human Services Board, on school and community garden initiatives. She currently serves on the Experience Matters Advisory Board and is the Board Chair of Valley Permaculture Alliance. Rhonda holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Northern Arizona University and a Master's degree from Thunderbird, School of Global Management.
Mickey Edwards is Vice President of the Aspen Institute and serves as Director of the Aspen Institute's Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership. Mr. Edwards was a Republican member of Congress for 16 years, serving as a member of the House Republican Leadership and as a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees. After leaving the Congress, he taught for 11 years at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and for five years as a lecturer at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Maryland Law School and at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute and a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The Constitution Project, has co-chaired task forces on judicial independence and the war power, and served on the American Bar Association Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the American Society of International Law Task Force on the International Criminal Court. He has been a regular political commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and a weekly political columnist for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, as well as other major newspapers. His articles have appeared in magazines ranging from The Atlantic to The Public Interest. Mr. Edwards is a frequent public speaker and has been a guest on many of the nation's leading radio and television news and opinion broadcasts. Edwards' latest book, The Parties Versus the People, has just been published by Yale University Press.