Our communities are safer, healthier and more prosperous when we know each other, help each other and work with each other. Through service and volunteerism, Arizona Serve connects passionate people to opportunities to make a difference in their community.
The mission of Arizona Serve is “to empower communities to address poverty through service and volunteerism.” Arizona Serve envisions that “healthy, compassionate, engaged, and vibrant communities are able to meet their own needs and create their own visions for a sustainable and just future.
What Does Arizona Serve Do?
The AmeriCorps State and AmeriCorps VISTA members with Arizona Serve do groundbreaking and influential work. Our members do a variety of activities from volunteer management, to grant writing, and website development. We work with organizations with diverse missions and programs encouraging people to become engaged in the fight against poverty. What connects the work of all of our diverse members is the projects focus on working together to strengthen communities.
Who is Arizona Serve?
AmeriCorps State and AmeriCorps VISTA members are a diverse group. VISTA members who are qualified to serve with Arizona Serve are nationally recruited, recent college graduates, retired and experienced individuals from the Boomer Generation, and various community leaders. VISTA members sign up with a host agency for a full-time term of service - 365 days. In return for their service, members are provided with orientation and training, a living stipend calculated at no less than 95% of the poverty line, settling in and transportation costs, child care benefits (if applicable), and a basic health coverage plan.
Upon completion of their one-year term, VISTA members have the option of receiving $1,500 or an education award of $5,645. Arizona Serve is currently managed by the Director of Arizona Serve, Ben Olsen, and Project Manager Vanessa Silverstein.
Current Arizona Serve Team
Ben Olsen - Executive Director
Ben moved to Arizona from New York in 2009 to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with US VETS to help develop a job placement program for homeless veterans. In 2011 Ben joined the Serve team as the Program Coordinator in Yavapai County where he assisted with recruitment, member management and developing our Certificate in Civic Leadership curriculum. He moved to Tucson in 2013 to lead the expansion on the VISTA program to Pima County. Previous to moving to Arizona for VISTA, Ben attended the State University of New York at New Paltz where he graduated with a degree in economics.
Meg Riley - Community Schools Program Manager
Meg Riley has been a teacher in Arizona since 1999 working primarily with high school students learning English as a second language. She has served as department coordinator at Catalina High School facilitating testing, curriculum development, and student access to required coursework. Before moving to Arizona, Meg attended university in Vermont and graduate school in Minnesota. In addition to her work in schools, Meg has worked with parent and family outreach within the Tucson refugee community through CENTER, a Refugee Focus program.
Celia Robidoux - Program Manager
Values based leadership is what Celia Williams is all about. She has been involved in her community advocating for social justice on various issues since she was 12 years young. Service means a lot to her, and is a great responsibility she carries with her in her work towards a better community for all. Her passion for service and social justice comes from her family, friends and the two years of AmeriCorps service she gave with Public Allies Arizona, a program of the ASU Lodestar Center. Celia has put together over 25 different community service projects and continues to work with various community based campaigns and coalitions such as Youth on the Rise, as well as nationally such as Opportunity Nation, which is a national network of advocates who have personal experience with barriers to advancement in America. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Justice Studies with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies Certification. Celia served as a nationally certified trainer and the chair of board development for the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) Phoenix Chapter where she led the vision and work on recruiting, training, and retaining the board of directors. She is currently a board member of PAtchwork, the Alumni network and board for Public Allies Alumni in Arizona.
Erika Stone - Recruitment and Communications Manager
Erika moved to Prescott in 2008 to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with Prescott Area Shelter Services where she developed programs and services for women and children experiencing homelessness in Yavapai County. Past roles in the national service world have included AmeriCorps State program management, national service event planning, and member recruitment. She grew up in Southern California, and graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in Comparative History of Ideas. Currently, she supports the Prescott AmeriCorps team and enjoys connecting with community partners and new members in both Prescott and Tucson as the lead for Serve’s recruitment efforts. In addition to her passion for building community through national service, she loves exploring Northern Arizona with her partner, and relaxing at home with her two cats and a good book.
Molly Sheehy - Program Manager
A graduate of Prescott College, Molly Sheehy was pleased at the opportunity to give back to the Prescott community after completing her studies. She spent a year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation—an organization that provides much-needed financial support to children in foster care. Molly completed a second year of service as Arizona Serve’s Tucson VISTA Team Leader. After completing her year as a VISTA Leader, Molly was hired as a Program Manager in Tucson supporting Arizona Serve's AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps State teams.
Kerry Johnson - Team Engagement Coordinator
They say your future is determined by your past…my story is no different. While the nature and simplicity of Vermont will always be my home, I had the special opportunity of living and studying abroad in Central and South America for several years throughout my youth. From urban Honduras and Colombia to rural Nicaragua and Ecuador, I found a new home awaiting me. I developed a passion for the Spanish language and Latin American culture, as well as an awareness of cultural sensitivity and travel. After graduating from the University of Vermont with a BA in Spanish, and embarking on a path of Community and International Development, I was drawn to a position with AmeriCorps VISTA in Tucson, AZ, working with Hispanic women transitioning back into the workforce. This chance to be connected to the Tucson Hispanic community through AmeriCorps and to work with Arizona Serve has been one of the most fulfilling experiences for personal and professional growth that I’ve had the privilege of knowing. In the future, I hope to combine my talent and love for art with community development efforts supporting Hispanic communities, either in the US or abroad; but for now, Tucson is a great place to call home.
Rich Ormond - Internship Program Coordinator
Rich grew up fixing lawn mowers and snow blowers at his father’s small engine shop in New England. After earning an engineering degree from the University of Massachusetts, Rich joined the Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea. He went on to use his technical skills broadly within the international relief and development field, living and working in Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan. After returning to school for his Masters in Public Policy at Princeton University, he continued in international aid, with stints in Indonesia, Syria, and East Timor. Now a resident of Prescott, Rich joined the Arizona Serve team in 2017, at first by providing financial assistance with our grants. He now works directly with our members, while also seeking to identify suitable internship placements for Prescott College students within the AmeriCorps system and beyond.
Annie Reifsnyder - AmeriCorps VISTA Team Leader
Annie Reifsnyder moved to Prescott in August of 2017 to serve as the VISTA leader for Arizona Serve at Prescott College. She calls Arlington Heights, IL her hometown. She received a bachelor degree at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN and majored in Religious Studies with a focus in Islam. A semester abroad in Kenya with the School of International Training propelled her to join the Peace Corps. She was placed after graduation in Benin, West Africa where she spent one term teaching English and another serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader. After her time abroad Annie return stateside and received a masters degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Annie worked in various capacities for the Boys Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee before turning once again to service, this time as a VISTA summer associate for Access Alaska based in Fairbanks.
Annie loves to travel far and wide and has recently developed perhaps an unhealthy obsession with the National Parks.
Phone: 520-329- 7613
Andrew L. Pawlicki-Sinclair - Recruitment & Program Support Coordinator
Andrew was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. He received his B.A. from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington where he studied human rights. He returned to Tucson in 2015 to serve as a VISTA as a Community School Coordinator at Santa Rita High School, part of the Tucson Community Schools Initiative Operation AmeriCorps grant. Andrew served a second year as an AmeriCorps VISTA Team Leader with the Community Schools Initiative before joining the Arizona Serve staff as the Recruitment and Program Support Coordinator.