Academic Advisory Council


The ASU School of Public Affairs' mission is to understand and address society's grandest challenges in public management, policy and governance. We seek to maximize our impact through rigorous transdisciplinary research, project-based education, collaborative and inclusive community engagement, experiential learning and innovative solutions.


To provide guidance and counsel on the academic preparation and competencies of school graduates at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This collaboration will be used to develop course work, guide research of relevant centers, and identify practical experience opportunities for students.


Donald Siegel

Donald Siegel, Director, School of Public Affairs
Dr. Donald Siegel is a Foundation Professor of Public Policy and Management and Director of the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University. The School’s MPA program is ranked #14 in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report and #3 in research, according to the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities. From 2008-2016, Don served as Dean of the School of Business at the University at Albany, SUNY. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics and his master’s and doctoral degrees in business economics from Columbia University. He then served as a Sloan Foundation post-doctoral fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Don has also taught at SUNY-Stony Brook, the University of Nottingham, RPI, where was he was Chair of the Economics Department, and the University of California-Riverside, where he served as Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.

Spiro Maroulis

Dr. Spiro Maroulis, Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs
Dr. Spiro Maroulis is an associate professor at the School of Public Affairs, the MPA/MPP Program Director, and the associate director for policy informatics at Arizona State University's Decision Theater. Prior to coming to ASU, Maroulis was a visiting assistant professor of social enterprise and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Ford Center for Global Citizenship at the Kellogg School of Management. Maroulis received his bachelor's degree from Duke University, master's degree from Harvard University and doctorate from Northwestern University, where he was also a member of the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling (CCL) and the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO). Outside of academia, he has worked for Red Hat Software and Anderson Consulting (now Accenture), and was also the cofounder of PracticeFields, LLC, a corporate education and consulting company that creates computer simulations and interactive board games of business problems.

Cynthia Seelhammer

Cynthia Seelhammer, Professor of Practice, School of Public Affairs
Cynthia Seelhammer joined ASU in August 2020. She has a BA from St Cloud State University and an MPA from Golden Gate University. She has worked in local government for more than 36 years, including first Town Manager at the Town of Queen Creek, Deputy City Manager in Phoenix, and County Manager in Coconino County. Her involvement with the International City/County Management Association included service on the International Committee and work in Slovakia and China, as well as study tours to Ireland, India, Israel, and the Dominican Republic. She hosted numerous ICMA Fellows from Asia as well as high school exchange students. She now teachers about local government and is coordinator of the Marvin Andrews Fellowship in Urban Management at ASU, a program dedicated to developing the next generation of municipal managers. Cynthia was awarded the 2019 Networking Award from Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership program; the 2017 Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Civic Leader Award; and the 2012 ACMA Professional Excellence Award, named for Jack DeBolsky, for demonstration of the highest level of professional excellence in local government from the Arizona City/County Management Association

Jeff Barton

Jeff Barton, Phoenix City Manager

A Pennsylvania native, Barton moved to Arizona in 1999 where he became an auditor, ensuring operational efficiency of city departments and programs. That experience propelled his more than two-decade long career with the city, including roles as Budget & Research Director, Deputy City Manager and  Assistant City Manager. As part of the city’s executive leadership team, he has overseen a wide variety of city departments including Police, Fire, Community and Economic Development, as well as the Phoenix Public Library and the Youth & Education Office. Barton holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Morehouse College and a Master of Public Administration from Shippensburg University.

Tom Belshe

Tom Belshe, League of Arizona Cities and Towns
Tom Belshe is the Deputy Director for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. From October 2001 until December of 2004, Tom served as an Assistant Deputy Director for the Department of Commerce overseeing the operations of the Community Development Division. He also served as Executive Director of the Greater Arizona Development Authority (GADA) where he was appointed in September of 1999. From July of 1998 until his appointment as Executive Director, Mr. Belshe worked as the Community Development Manager for GADA developing the Technical Assistance and the Community Outreach Programs. Before joining the GADA staff, he worked for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns for five years where he coordinated the Technical Assistance program which includes the League’s training program, publications, conferences, website and inquiry program. Belshe also worked in the City Manager’s Office for the City of Provo, Utah. Belshe received his Bachelor of Science in Economics and his Master of Public Administration degree from Brigham Young University.

Lisa Blyler

Lisa Blyler, Information, Outreach and Support Division Manager, Flood Control District of Maricopa County

Lisa Blyler is a Certified Public Manager with more than 20 years of service in the public sector. She has extensive public policy and outreach experience, having worked with elected officials and senior leaders throughout her career. Lisa’s work at the Arizona Department of Education afforded her the opportunity to build and manage an award-winning technology team that transformed the way Arizona collects, stores and manages educational data. Her current role with the Flood Control District of Maricopa County manages outreach and communications efforts aimed at preventing the loss of life and property, alerting the public to the dangers of flooding.

Lisa is a proud two-time ASU grad with her Bachelors of Science in Political Science (2000) and her
Masters of Public Administration (2002). A passionate and creative leader, she believes life is too short to not have a sense of humor and a sense of purpose.

Brandi Flores

Brandi Flores, Deputy Director City of Phoenix Water Services Department
Brandi Flores is a Deputy Director with the City of Phoenix where she leads the budget and accounting team in managing the Water Services Department’s $365 million operating budget. She has 15 years of experience in governmental finance and she is passionate about providing guidance for the responsible stewardship of public resources. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in global business from Arizona State University and a Master of Business Administration from Ottawa University both with an emphasis in finance. She is currently pursuing designation as a Certified Public Finance Officer (CPFO). Brandi is actively engaged in industry associations that provide guidance in the area of governmental finance and leadership including the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), the Arizona State University School of Public Affairs Advisory Council, Arizona Women Leading Government (AZWLG), and the Women in Public Finance Network (WPFN). Notable roles include serving as the 2021 President of GFOAz and 2021-2022 President of AZWLG. In her free time, Brandi enjoys reading and camping with her husband and five beautiful children.

Marissa Garnett

Marissa Garnett, Economic Development Coordinator, Town of Queen Creek
Marissa Garnett, CEcD, AICP serves as the chair of the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED) Professional Education committee. Currently, she is the Economic Development Coordinator for the Town of Queen Creek. Marissa holds a master's degree in Urban and Environmental Planning from Arizona State University, a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Spanish from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and is a Master of Business Administration candidate at Benedictine University, Mesa, Arizona. She enjoys using her knowledge of planning and fascination for data and analytics to help businesses make informed decisions. Marissa is a member of the International Economic Development Council and the American Planning Association, and is a Certified Economic Developer and Certified Planner through these organizations.

Kaitlin Harrier

Kaitlin Harrier, Policy Advisor, Arizona Governor’s Office
Kaitlin has served as a policy advisor to Governor Ducey since September of 2018, first as Administration and Economic Affairs Advisor, and since August 2019 as Education Policy Advisor. In this role, Kaitlin works with education stakeholders throughout Arizona to develop policy recommendations and analysis for the governor on matters impacting all levels throughout the education continuum: early childhood, K-12, postsecondary, and workforce development. Before joining the Governor’s policy team, Kaitlin completed four fiscal years at the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, starting out as a budget analyst and eventually taking on the role of budget manager. During her time on the budget team she made key contributions to the governor’s K-12 funding initiatives, including Proposition 123 and Arizona’s Volkswagen settlement school bus program. While completing her education, Kaitlin served a 2-year term as a Student Regent on the Arizona Board of Regents, representing the student perspective while overseeing the management and operational strategy of Arizona’s three public universities. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Northern Arizona University, and her master’s degree in public administration from Arizona State University. Kaitlin has lived in Arizona since 2004, and proudly calls Peoria home.

Erin Hart

Erin Hart, COO, Expect More Arizona
Erin has more than 15 years of experience in education policy, advocacy strategy and operational development, serving in roles at the state and national level. She currently serves as the COO of Expect More Arizona. Previously she worked for the National PTA, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, and Arizona Governor Jane Hull. She is a graduate of Valley Leadership, where she is also a Board Member and the Chair of the Education Impact Team. She is also a Flinn-Brown Fellow and is the Chair of the First Things First Regional Partner Council in NW Maricopa. She serves on the State Board of Education’s K-3 Literacy Committee, the ADE English Language Learners Advisory Council, the NALEO Advisory Committee, and the Arizona Early Childhood Alliance. She is a recipient of the Forty Under 40 Award, Amazing Woman Award from the Phoenix Suns & National Bank of Arizona and the “Do Gooder” Arizona Award. She is a proud Sun Devil and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the WP Carey School of Business with honors and an Executive Master’s of Public Administration degree from the School of Public Affairs.

Kari Kent

Kari Kent, Retired Deputy City Manager, City of Mesa, Alumni Representative
Kari Kent retired in January 2021 from the position of Assistant City Manager after 14 years as Assistant City Manager. She oversaw Development Services; Energy Resources; Engineering; Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities; Transportation and Water Resources Departments. Kent began her career with Mesa as a Management Assistant and was promoted to Solid Waste Management Director in 1999, Assistant Development Services Director in July 2001 and Neighborhood Services Director in June 2006. Prior to coming to the City of Mesa, Ms. Kent was a Budget Analyst for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Kent is currently the Past President of the Arizona City/County Management Association, a Board member on the Arizona State University School of Public Affairs Advisory Council and the Local Support Initiatives Corporation Local Advisory Board, and a member of the International City/County Management Association. Kent received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from Northern Arizona University and a Masters of Public Administration from Arizona State University.

John Kross

John Kross, Queen Creek Town Manager                                                                                        John Kross is Town Manager for Queen Creek, Arizona a position he has held since March 2007. Mr. Kross joined Queen Creek in 1996 as the Community Development Director and also served as Assistant Town Manager. In 2007, the Queen Creek Town Council voted unanimously to appoint John as Town Manager. Kross began his career in planning and development finance in both Wisconsin and Arizona in 1989. In Wisconsin, he worked for a private downtown redevelopment firm, and in Arizona he has worked for the Town of Gilbert, the cities of Phoenix and Wickenburg, and Queen Creek. Mr. Kross has a Bachelor’s Degree from Ripon College in Wisconsin, a Master’s of Public Administration from Arizona State University and is a 2014 graduate of Harvard University’s Senior Executive in Local and State Government program. In 2018, John Kross was the recipient of the John J. Debolske Professional Excellence Award – the highest honor granted to an Arizona City or County Manager. Mr. Kross currently serves on a number of local and regional committees. He is Chair of the TOPAZ Regional Wireless Cooperative and the former Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments Management Committee

Natalie Lewis

Natalie Nadolski Lewis, Deputy City Manager, City of Mesa
Ms. Lewis has served in government-related leadership roles for 24+ years. At the City of Mesa, she oversees five service-related departments in Mesa: Development Services, Arts and Culture, Libraries, Community Services (Housing, Neighborhood Outreach, Diversity, Volunteers, Animal Control), and Code Compliance, which together includes 340+ employees and with combined budgets of approx. $45M. In addition to departmental responsibilities, she leads high-priority initiatives for the City Council, including: 1) Lead negotiator to sell 12,000 acres of Pinal County farm land, which has enabled Mesa to build a new Cubs Spring Training stadium/facility; 2) Launched “Mesa K-Ready,” a cross-sector collaboration to offer kindergarten child/parent readiness for families in Mesa who don’t have access to pre-k today and as part of an effort to reduce poverty and strengthen Mesa’s workforce; and 3) Developed and serves as City Manager’s Office advisor for a centralized and coordinated approach to serving those in our community who are experiencing homelessness in Mesa. She resides in the Valley with her husband of 31 years. She has two grown sons, one of whom graduated in 2019 from ASU.

Jen Marson

Jen Marson, Executive Director, Arizona Association of Counties
Jen Marson is the Executive Director at the Arizona Association of Counties (AACo). She manages the daily operations of the Association and the Government Services Foundation, directs the state and federal government affairs program and cultivates new business and membership opportunities. She also serves as the primary liaison to the National Association of Counties and other state associations and coordinates the Association’s educational outreach programs. Jen’s research and advocacy areas of expertise include elections, property taxes, public records, criminal justice, law enforcement, justice and superior courts and education. Marsn has been with AACo since 2002 when she started as the legislative intern. Since then she has worn nearly every hat in the Association before being selected as Executive Director in 2013. Jen received the “Friend of Education” award in 2013 and has been a Certified Election Officer since 2007. In 2013 she was nominated by the capitol community as of the of the “Best Female Lobbyists Under 40”. Marsn is a native of Arizona and received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s degree in Communication Studies from Arizona State University with an emphasis in rhetoric and advocacy.

Kevin Phelps

Kevin Phelps, City Manager, City of Glendale
Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps is the top executive for the city of Glendale, which is part of a growing area of Maricopa County and the sixth largest city in AZ. His responsibilities include managing day-to-day operations and policy implementation for all city departments and divisions and ensuring prudent fiscal stewardship for the city. Mr. Phelps is a board member for the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, an Executive Board member for the Arizona City/County Management Association (ACMA) and a member of International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Mr. Phelps’ government leadership includes serving as the highest ranking appointed official in Pierce County, Washington, an area that includes greater Tacoma and is the state’s second largest county. Prior to that, he was a deputy auditor for the Washington State Auditor’s office, and was a councilmember for the city of Tacoma, Washington. Before his tenure in government, he had more than 30 years of experience in the private sector as a businessman, which includes being the founder and managing partner of the Landmark Convention Center in Tacoma. Mr. Phelps represents the ACMA on the Committee.

Gina Montes

Gina Montes Ramos, Deputy City Manager, City of Phoenix
​​​Gina Montes is the Deputy City Manager for the City of Phoenix currently overseeing the Housing, Human Services, and Neighborhood Services departments along with the City’s Homelessness/Affordable Housing Strategies. Gina has served in local government for 27 years and prior to re-joining Phoenix served as Assistant City Manager for the City of Avondale, Arizona, overseeing a diverse range of city services including police, fire, public works and finance. She began her local government career at the City of Phoenix as an internal auditor and was promoted to a variety of positions including deputy city auditor and deputy director of the Human Services Department before being named founding director of Avondale’s Neighborhood and Family Services Department. She is active statewide having served as president of the Arizona City/County Management Association. Gina holds a Bachelor of Arts from Texas Christian University and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the University of Texas at Austin.

Joy Rich

Joy Rich, AICP
Joy Rich was named County Manager of Maricopa County, Arizona in May, 2016. Prior to her appointment as County Manager, she served as Deputy County Manager, Assistant County Manager, and Planning & Development Director. Before joining Maricopa County, she worked for both the cities of Phoenix and Glendale, Arizona as a planner and neighborhood programs administrator. Ms. Rich holds Bachelor of Science in Physical Geography and Master of Public Administration degrees from Arizona State University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, the American Planning Association, the Arizona Planning Association, and the Arizona City/County Management Association.

Gerald Richard

Gerald P. Richard II, Retired, City of Phoenix Police Department
Gerald P. Richard II, Esq., currently is a member of the Department of Justice, Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR) Collaborative Reform Initiative Team focusing on the Salinas, California police department. He recently served on the IIR After-Action Assessment Team for Ferguson, Missouri. He retired after serving as assistant to the Chief of Police of the Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department. He was responsible for overseeing the Phoenix Police Training Academy and the Employment Services Bureau as well as department leadership development and training. He was also responsible for implementing recommendations submitted by the Community Engagement and Outreach Task Force and community advisory boards, overall police and community relations, and legislative issues. Previously, Mr. Richard served the Arizona Attorney General’s Office as a Special Policy Advisor for Law Enforcement. His experience includes positive and proactive police/community development, negotiations, and resolutions; passive and large-scaled, highly charged controversial demonstrations; public safety and emergency management; local, regional, and federal planning; corporate communications; intra- and intergovernmental relations; grant oversight; community-oriented crime prevention and intervention services; and other core public services He is an experienced litigator, arbitrator, and legal advisor for local, state, federal, community, and faith-based organizations. He has extensive experience serving as adjunct faculty/guest lecturer. He is a member or past member of numerous professional associations, boards, and commissions. He is the pastor of Harbert Chapel A.M.E. Church in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Susan Thorpe

Susan K. Thorpe, Yuma County Administrator
Susan K. Thorpe was appointed County Administrator for Yuma County, Arizona in February 2016 and has served there for 4 ½ years. Susan has over 30 years of local government experience including serving as City Manager for two Texas cities and Assistant/Deputy City Manager for cities in Texas, California and Arizona. Susan is an advisory board member of California Women Leading Government and a board member of the national League of Women in Government. Susan was honored as MPA Alumni of the Year in 1998 by the University of North Texas for her contribution to local government. In 2011, she received the Outstanding Assistant City/County Manager Award from the Arizona City/County Management Association. Susan is also a contributor to the book Democracy at the Doorstep, Too! by Mike Conduff and Melissa Byrne Vossmer. Susan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Economics and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Texas (UNT). She is a graduate of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. Susan has been an ICMA Credentialed Manager since 2004.

Ed Zuercher

Ed Zuercher, City Manager, City of Phoenix
Ed Zuercher was appointed Phoenix City Manager on Feb. 19, 2014. In this role, Zuercher is the Chief Administrative Officer for the city of Phoenix and oversees the largest council-manager form of government in the United States, with 14,500 city employees, including seven employee unions and associations. He encourages city employees to focus on working smarter, saving money aggressively and treating residents kindly in order to maintain residents' high public approval ratings for city services. Working with the Mayor and City Council, he is responsible for a city budget of $3.2 billion, including airport, water/wastewater, solid waste, convention center and hotel, transit system and general city services. Zuercher’s twenty year career with the city started as a Management Intern and grew to include Assistant to the City Manager, Public Transit Director, Deputy City Manager, Mayor’s Chief of Staff, and Assistant City Manager. He received his Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas and his B.A. in English/secondary education from Goshen College in Indiana. Prior to his time at the city of Phoenix, Ed taught high school English and American History. He enjoys life in central Phoenix with his wife and two teenage daughters.