History and Mission
Our mission is to connect passionate people with transformative community projects to fight poverty.
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.
During 2013, we expanded to Pima County as well, thus becoming Arizona Serve. We were awarded our first AmeriCorps State and National grant in 2015, which broadened the part- and full-time direct service opportunities available for projects targeting healthy futures, education, and economic opportunities. Additionally, in 2015, Arizona Serve established a partnership with the Tucson Mayor's office in order to implement the Tucson Community Schools Initiative. This initiative places members in three school districts to improve high school graduation rates and connect students to college and career opportunities.
Today, we are a team over 200 strong. We are proud to have one of the largest and top performing AmeriCorps project in the state of Arizona. Our staff, many of whom were National Service members themselves, oversees a collaborative team environment that allows us to support communities in the fight against poverty.
For general questions or information, please contact us at AmeriCorps@arizonaserve.org.
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 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 Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest program.
Celia Robidoux, AmeriCorps State Program Director
Values based leadership is what Celia 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.
Molly Sheehy, AmeriCorps VISTA Program Manager
A graduate of Prescott College, Molly 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.
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.
Kerry Johnson, Team Engagement Coordinator
Kerry Johnson is from southern Vermont and graduated with a BA in Spanish and double minor in Studio Art and Community & International Development from the University of Vermont. Having spent several years living in Honduras and Colombia as a child with her family, she became passionate about working with Hispanic populations and contributing to sustainable and culturally sensitive community development efforts, in the US and internationally. After graduation in 2014, she drove cross-country to Tucson, Arizona, to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the YWCA of Tucson and Southern Arizona to build curricula for a motivational workforce development program for Hispanic women. The next year, Kerry became the AmeriCorps VISTA Leader for the Tucson Community Schools Initiative. In 2016, Kerry joined the staff at Arizona Serve as the Team Engagement Coordinator managing professional development offerings for AmeriCorps members, coordinating events and a regional planning committee with local National Service programs, as well as managing an annual cohort of 300hr AmeriCorps State members in Tucson. Kerry is an avid volunteer at the Center for Community Dialogue, a department of Our Family Services in Tucson, and she teaches basic art skills to adults with mental disabilities or anxiety disorders with PSA Art Awakenings in Tucson.
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.
Andrew L. Pawlicki-Sinclair, AmeriCorps State Program Manager
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 AmeriCorps State staff.
Annie Reifsnyder, AmeriCorps VISTA Team Leader
Annie 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.
Niko Berger, VISTA Civic Engagement Program Developer
Originally from snowy western NY, Niko moved to Tucson in 2016 to serve as an AmeriCorps member through Arizona Serve. Niko received a B.A. in Political Science and a B.S. in International Affairs from State University of Fredonia focusing specifically on indigenous food sovereignty and exploring international land rights regarding native land in Mexico. In search of applying theory to reality in terms of service, Niko applied themself to a service year in Tucson as a former member at Pima County Public Library in 2016-2017 and now as the AmeriCorps VISTA Civic Engagement Program Developer at Arizona Serve 2017-2018. Niko holds a passion for research, for improvement of systems, LGBTQ+ safe space, the values of diversity and inclusion, and making sure Arizona Serve AmeriCorps members receive the support they need.
Camille Corsino Santiago, AmeriCorps State Member Training & Support Specialist
Camille moved to Tucson from Fajardo, Puerto Rico in 2016 to serve as a VISTA Community School Coordinator for Santa Rita High School. After falling in love with Tucson she decided to re-apply to an Arizona Serve AmeriCorps position and is now a full time state member serving as the Training and Support Specialist for the Tucson Community Schools Initiative. She has a degree in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico and enjoys hiking, traveling and photography in her spare time.
Allison Pollack, AmeriCorps State Member Tucson Outreach Specialist
Allison is a Jersey girl who moved to Tucson to attend The University of Arizona in 2012. Allison graduated with a degree in Education: Literacy, Learning and Leadership with an emphasis in Community Education, and decided to stay in Tucson to explore the Southwest for an additional year. After learning about AmeriCorps, and Arizona Serve, Allison signed up for her first year of service in 2016 working with the Pima County Public Library and their Career Online High School program. Currently Allison is serving in the Arizona Serve office, where she is working closely with the Community Schools Initiative. In her spare time Allison can be found reading, hiking with her dog Hazel and exploring delicious brunch spots in Tucson.
Denette Kenison, AmeriCorps State Member Prescott Outreach Specialist
Denette is the proud owner of an upcycled hoola hoop and is currently studying Environmental Studies and Social Justice with Prescott College with the hopes of helping people and trees after she graduates. She hails from the mountains in the last frontier of Alaska, has studied wildlife and landscape photography in Namibia Africa, and has taught English as a second language in Brazil. When she is not singing in her car or fighting one-time use plastics she enjoys languages, good coffee, parrots, improv, and playing outside.
Ariel Fry, Recruitment Specialist
Ariel Fry was raised in Ajo, Arizona. She moved to Tucson in 2013 to complete her undergrad degree in Sociocultural Anthropology after receiving her associate degree from Yavapai College. After graduating she joined AmeriCorps as a VISTA at Higher Ground Resource Center as their Behavioral and Data Management Coordinator. Currently, she is preparing to return to the UofA for a masters in Planning and Public Health.
Becky Peters, Recruitment Specialist
Becky Peters was born in Tucson, Arizona and grew up in northern Colorado. She attended Colorado State University where she earned a degree in Environmental Sociology and Women and Gender studies. Upon graduation, she returned to Tucson where she completed a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA working as a program developer for an affordable housing non-profit. Her year of service helped her to build connections in Tucson that allowed her to continue her work in case management for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. She currently serves as the assistant manager of a crisis youth shelter in Tucson and is working part time with Arizona Serve as a recruitment specialist for the Community Schools Grant. When she is not at the shelter or with Arizona Serve, Becky can be found walking her dog Lou, scoping out the best cup of coffee in Tucson, doing yoga, spending ridiculous amounts of money at The Loft Cinema or planning her next road trip.