Our mission is to connect passionate people with transformative community projects to fight poverty.
Our vision is that communities and the individuals who serve them thrive when every person contributes to a sustainable and just existence.
We are an institution that strives to promote equity. We encourage individual positionality and strive to define Our organizational positionality.
What is positionality?
Our identities are critical because they shape our perceptions. They determine our assumptions and our understanding of how others treat us (Bourke 2014). By recognizing our identities and paying attention to our biases, we can work with different groups and recognize their unique circumstances. (Bourke 2014). We would recommend looking at resources from the Anti-racist teaching collective for more materials and further insight.
What is organizational positionality?
Staff, members, partners, and organizational stakeholders each have a unique path. Organizational positionality begins to define the inevitable complexities that exist within interconnected entities like Arizona Serve. It is vital to recognize the collective perspective because by acknowledging our own relative power, privilege, and biases we are able to start to move towards equity literacy and increase our own agency accountability (Madison 2005; Gorski, 2020).
Arizona Serve’s Positionality
We began as a grassroots effort to support communities and AmeriCorps members. Now we are a small Prescott College staff with dominant and nondominant identities that recruit new members of varying social identities, educational backgrounds, and lived experiences. Thus, our positionality changes yearly.
On the positive side, our community continues to grow and foster new ideas. On the negative side, we commonly make assumptions about member needs because we have limited time to recognize individuality. Ultimately, we answer to the agencies that fund and support our mission; thus, we walk a fine line between our members and partners.
There are more drawbacks to our model; National Service is rooted in white saviorism, and we risk imposing outside perspectives without community input. We struggle to accommodate citizenship status, income barriers, and reliance on grant funding. We strive to remain aware of the impact of our position and actively work towards operating a member-driven program that intentionally cultivates equity.
Our values are interlinked and inform our organizational goals that direct our yearly action commitments. This is the mechanism that keeps us accountable to our diverse array of stakeholders.
We engage with the community through deliberate outreach, partnerships with nonprofits and public agencies, and community-driven initiatives.
We amplify the voices of non-dominant identity groups by confronting inequities with a social justice perspective.
We strengthen our members for future endeavors through professional development, targeted coaching, and professional networking opportunities.
We recognize the imperfections in our work and will always work towards bettering our communities by constant self-reflection, internal evaluation metrics, and open-door policies to our communities
For Program Year 2021-2022, Arizona Serve of Prescott College is committed to:
Training: Civic Leadership Training content will be overhauled beginning in December 2021. All training content will seek to amplify member voices by enhancing and updating sources, including and/or involving members in the team meeting space, and including at least one non-dominant identity in each Guest Speaker Series panel.
Fund Development: Arizona Serve will waive, thanks to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) $40,000, in partner share to at least eight agencies between the regions whose mission is focused on social justice. A champion group will cultivate an application process to be utilized in the upcoming grant year to better identify partners, vet waived partner share, and further incentivize members. $50,000 will be raised by at least 20 external sources (i.e. grants and fundraising). The Tucson Program Coordinator and Executive Director will lead this process.
Engagement: The communications team will internally publish four blogs articles, two podcasts, and one newsletter a month and post to social media every day. Externally they will create 12 press releases, speak on the radio six times, be featured on local news stations twice, and participate in 12 tabling events a year. These tactics will be reviewed quarterly through the communications/marketing plan and will seek to help increase engagement in the community to build partnerships, recruit members, and create a culture of National Service in our region.
Evaluation and Compliance: Arizona Serve will develop a new set of standards to review and revise our data collection metrics and methods to ensure that we can accurately demonstrate the work of our members and the efficacy of our programs by September 2023. Performance measures will be reviewed and data collection processes revised by September 2022.
Recruitment: Staff will create specific Arizona Serve-wide recruitment metrics and enrollment benchmarks for State and VISTA by November 2021. It will include specific percentages to fill by unique dates and looking at adding partnership development into recruitment metrics in the form of a manual.
Staff Involvement: Arizona Serve will create a policy requiring staff to volunteer monthly with current and potential partner sites (for 2-8 hours) to build connections with community organizations by November 2021.
COVID-19 Preparedness: Create a plan for monitoring the COVID situation, regularly reviewing CDC guidelines, updating all staff (and members), and adapting our models to remote work if the situation demands it by November 2021.
Partnership Development: To maximize our impact, both rework our policies for assessing partner sites to ensure that they align with our anti-poverty values (including anti-racism), and rework our policies for dealing with partners that do not uphold their responsibilities to ensure that our members get the most out of Arizona Serve’s projects by the Summer of 2023.
Member Experience: Arizona Serve will overhaul our member experience by fostering connections between members and staff while also developing a process for consistently collecting and analyzing member feedback by Summer 2022. Create a one-stop-shop knowledge bank of tips, tools, and tricks to make sharing information between team leaders more reliable to make the member experience more consistent by Summer 2022.
Equity Literacy: An Advisory Council made up of community stakeholders will support Arizona Serve by January of 2022. The group will examine organizational policies and structures to address the causes of inequality and incorporate the voices of commonly marginalized stakeholders.
Our story began in 2006 when several Yavapai County agencies saw a gap in services, so they brought together a small team of AmeriCorps VISTA members to fight poverty in the region. Several members chose to stay after their service year to develop the Yavapai County VISTA Project. In 2009, we became Serve Yavapai and a program of Prescott College, increasing in scope and size to 25 VISTA members. Today, we are a team over 150 strong. We are proud to have one of the largest and top-performing AmeriCorps projects in the state of Arizona. Our staff, all of whom were National Service members themselves, oversees a collaborative team environment that allows us to support communities in the fight against poverty.
Today, we are a team over 150 strong. We are proud to have one of the largest and top-performing AmeriCorps projects in the state of Arizona. Our staff, all of whom were National Service members themselves, oversees a collaborative team environment that allows us to support communities in the fight against poverty.
Consider making a financial contribution to support our AmeriCorps members and general programming.
Annie Reifsnyder, Executive Director
Annie shifted in to a director role in 2020 and was promoted to Executive Director in September of 2021. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in Sustainability Education at Prescott College with an emphasis on experiential service-learning. She received a Bachelor’s degree at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana 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 served 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 returned stateside and received a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Annie worked in various capacities for the Boys Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee for nearly ten years before turning once again to service, this time AmeriCorps. Annie joined Arizona Serve in 2017 first as an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader and then the Training and Program Manager for the Prescott team. Annie loves to travel far and wide and spend time camping and hiking.
Lori Kindler, Director of Grant Administration
Lori joined Arizona Serve in October 2021 after managing homeless programs and grants in Pima County, most recently through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project. She had the opportunity to serve as a site supervisor for several AmeriCorps members while managing housing programs. Lori continues to serve the community through her committee work on the Tucson Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness. Lori is an avid gardener that enjoys growing some of her own food. She has a plot with Community Gardens of Tucson where she shares produce, seeds, and conversations about compost with her fellow gardeners. Lori is also a musician and member of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus. She earned a Master's of Music from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music studying opera, but recently she has learned to play instruments that have led her to folk and bluegrass music.
Sarah Haber, Senior State & Communications and Program Manager
Sarah got her start in National Service in the summer of 2017 when she moved from New York to Arizona to serve as a VISTA for 2 years. Her first VISTA term was for the Chino Valley Area Chamber of Commerce serving as the Community Volunteer Program Coordinator. There, she developed an online database to help to local nonprofits connect with people looking to volunteer. She then extended her service for another year and took on the position of the AmeriCorps VISTA Team Leader for Prescott. Sarah was then hired on full time by Arizona Serve and relocated from Prescott to Tucson. She is excited to continue her work with the organization as the Communication & Program Manager!
Number: (928) 793-8941
Ann Drazkowski, Operations and VISTA Program Manager
Ann moved to Tucson from Wisconsin in 2015 to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Arizona Serve and stayed on an additional year as a VISTA team leader. She served in both roles with the Community Schools Initiative, and then supported Arizona Serve as a Recruitment Specialist. Ann holds a Master's of Public Affairs from the University of Wisconsin – Madison where she developed skills in program evaluation and non-profit management. She is passionate about recruiting talented individuals to serve in AmeriCorps State and VISTA roles and to develop communication strategies that will share the valuable impact Arizona Serve's AmeriCorps members provide to the community.
Elaine MacPherson, Training and Youth Program Manager
Elaine MacPherson was born in Pasadena, California and grew up in a small town in the high desert called Acton. Because her parents never took her to the beach as a kid, she decided to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she studied Sociology and History, focusing on poverty policy. Elaine joined AmeriCorps VISTA in 2016, working with Compass Affordable Housing as a program developer and community gardener. After her year of service, she built on her skills in community collaboration to run a homeless prevention program and helped launch the coordinated entry system for homeless prevention services county-wide. She now serves as the Training and Youth Program Manager, where she will implement training curriculum and manage two youth cohorts of service-members. When she is not with Arizona Serve, Elaine can be found cuddling with her dog Niles, watching ALL OF the television on every streaming service, or gardening.
Mona Stephens, AmeriCorps Programs & Marketing Manager
Servant leadership and personal development are at Mona Stephens core. The ability to grow and act as a catalyst for change drives every aspect of Mona’s life – especially professionally. Mona brings her expertise in leadership, event planning, and digital marketing to her current role as AmeriCorps Program Coordinator with Arizona Serve of Prescott College. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis on social media from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Shortly upon graduation, she relocated to Arizona to join AmeriCorps and has been obsessed with making an impact for the organizations she works with and the community at large. This obsession led her to spend nearly the last two years leading a nonprofit at the director level before transitioning into her current role. Mona spends her free time camping, hiking, blogging, and coaching individuals in the art of confidence so they can make the impact they desire in their lives and communities.
Brandon White, Training and Program Manager
Brandon is a midwest transplant who grew up in a small town in southern Michigan. He earned a Bachelor's degree from Michigan State University, majoring in kinesiology with a specialization in health promotions. After graduation, Brandon moved to the Washington, DC area where he worked as a physical therapy assistant. In 2019, Brandon decided he wanted to help people on a larger scale and chose to enter national service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving in Prescott, AZ. After his year of service, he became the Program Manager for GEM Environmental NFP, where he developed a new AmeriCorps workforce development program for students in the Prescott area. Brandon is excited to be back with Arizona Serve in his new role as Training and Program Manager.
Number: (623) 282-2073
Allison Doty, AmeriCorps Program Coordinator
Allison moved to Tucson in 2016 to study Anthropology at the University of Arizona. During her time in college, she was engaged with non-profits like United Way, Watershed Management Group, and the Tucson City of Gastronomy. She learned about environmental and social justice issues in the Southwest and how various non-profits were combating these problems. She knew she wanted to stay in the area post-graduation and decided to pursue a position in the non-profit sector, eventually landing in the AmeriCorps Program Coordinator position that reflected her desire to get to know the organizations and people working in the non-profit community in Tucson. In her free time, Allison loves discovering new local restaurants and cafes and hiking with her friends.
Number: (530) 763-2327
Gianni Bisio, Tucson VISTA Team Leader
Gianni relocated to Tucson for the VISTA Leader position after completing a VISTA Summer Associate term with the State of Arizona's Refugee Resettlement Program. He is also currently a PhD Candidate at Kennesaw State University, focusing on international development and volunteer practice. Prior, Gianni community development experience through internships at Amnesty International’s Southern Regional Office (Atlanta, GA), the North Coast AIDS Project (Eureka, CA), and through volunteer and employment opportunities at Food For People (Eureka, CA). Furthermore, Gianni served as both a Health and English educator for the Peace Corps in Cambodia (2013-2015) and as a Peace Corps Response English Volunteer in Rwanda (2016-2017).
Number: (520) 261-1105
Alex Mangelsdorf, Prescott State Team Leader
iBorn and raised in Arizona, Alex has always had a drive to help his community. He gained his first experience with community service when he attended high school at Northpoint Academy in Prescott, where he participated in community cleanup projects. He earned an Associate’s of Science degree from Yavapai College, which was put to good use with his first Arizona Serve Term in 2021. Alex’s first term with Arizona Serve was spent as a STEM instructor for the Prescott YMCA, where he taught children from Kindergarten through 6th grade. With Arizona Serve, Alex sees the opportunity to support the community, and connect with new leaders and new people from all walks of life. He now serves as the State Team leader for the Prescott area. When he’s not working, Alex can usually be found hiking, gaming, reading, learning, and spending time with friends.
Number: (602) 767-1976
Red Jessup, Tucson State Team Leader
Red started their AmeriCorps service in 2018 at Tucson Village Farm where they taught youth about cooking, nutrition, and gardening. After that, Red served a term with FoodCorps at Roskruge, Manzo, and Brichta. At these schools they taught students about making healthy choices and growing food. Then Red served as the Benefits Enrollment Specialist at United Way, assisted Opportunity Youth in applying for benefits such as FAFSA, AHCCCS, and SNAP. Red also manages a Farmer's Market and loves promoting the Double-Up Arizona SNAP program. In their spare time they can be found hiking with their dog, Luna or eating ice cream.
Number: (813) 769-1745
Sean Stevens, Prescott VISTA Team Leader
During the day, Sean enjoys solving problems and supporting efforts that tangibly improve the lives and experiences of his fellow man. He views it as a privilege, rather than a responsability, to work to meaningfully better the world. He brings to the table his years of coaching and mentoring experience as well as his prior work with the Prescott Unified School District's volunteer teams. Though he got his start in AmeriCorps shortly after graduating from Case Western Reserve University in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in history, he found the experience fulfilling enough to sign up for another year of punishment in the hope of helping others find their own meaningful experiences. After work hours, Sean is a quintessential dork and a loveable rapscallion. When he's not busy roughing it as a rogue, he enjoys listening to Jukebox the Ghost, watching Community, reading Redwall, and getting trounced by skilled fencers.
Number: (520) 276-1802
Rebecca Wood, Prescott State Team Leader
In the summer of 2017, Rebecca took a position as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Prescott Unified School District. After completing her term as the Family Resource Coordinator, she moved to Faribanks, Alaska to attend University of Alaska, Fairbanks as an MFA candidate in Creative Writing. As a born and raised Arizonian, the winters were a bit of a shock to the system. Just this past May, Rebecca graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing and returned to Prescott Unified as the English Language teacher for English language learners. While having fallen in love with Alaska, she is happy to be back home in Arizona. Rebecca just accepted the position of Team Leader with Arizona Serve and will support Prescott College students completing Experiential Service-Learning roles.