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MPA Advisory Board

SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS MISSION STATEMENT

The School of Public Affairs lives the ASU Charter by preparing students and professionals for ethical, inclusive and effective public service; conducting cutting-edge research of public value; and engaging locally, nationally and internationally with the communities we serve.

MPA ADVISORY BOARD MISSION STATEMENT

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.

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CHAIR: 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 Bachelor of Science in Political Science (2000) and her Master 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.

Leo Lew headshot - medium-skinned man, black hair, glasses, light blue collared shirt, gray blazer, blue tie

CHAIR-ELECT: Leo Lew, County Manager, Pinal County

Leo Lew was appointed County Manager by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors on March 3, 2021, stepping up from the role of Deputy County Manager, a position he held since 2013.

Leo is a member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), an association of more than 11,000 members dedicated to creating and supporting thriving communities worldwide. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona City/County Management Association (ACMA) and the Leadership Development Advisory Committee for ICMA.

He has served in local government for over 18 years, having previously worked for the cities of Sacramento, CA and Scottsdale, AZ.

As a strong proponent of leadership development, he has completed the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia and the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at the Harvard Kennedy School. He has a bachelor's in business administration and is a Certified Public Accountant, having begun his professional career with Deloitte, a Big Four professional services firm.

Leo enjoys surfing, mountain biking, paddle boarding, yoga, live music and spending time with family.

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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.

Brandi Flores headshot - medium-skinned woman, smiling, brown hair, red sweater, necklace

Brandi Flores, Deputy Finance Director, City of Phoenix Finance Department

Brandi serves as a Deputy Finance Director with the City of Phoenix where she
oversees citywide risk management and accounts receivable including the receipt
and analysis of over $1 billion in annual TPT revenue. She has demonstrated
experience in budgeting, auditing, fiscal policy and accounting. She holds a bachelor’s
degree and MBA both with an emphasis in finance. Brandi is actively engaged in
industry associations that provide guidance in the area of governmental finance and
leadership including the Government Finance Officers Association of Arizona
(GFOAz) and Arizona Women Leading Government (AZWLG). Notable roles include
serving as the 2021 President of GFOAz and the 2021-2022 President of AZWLG. In
her free time, Brandi enjoys reading and camping with her husband and five beautiful
children.

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Kelly R. Leid, Director, Lifestyle Operations of Oakwood Homes; Alumni Representative

With twenty-five years of broad-based, results-oriented leadership experience, Mr. Leid’s professional journey has included executive-level strategic planning, implementation and oversight of highly complex community development initiatives across a range of public, private and nonprofit organizations. Some examples include Empower Field at Mile High (Denver Broncos, 1998-2001), State Farm Stadium (Arizona Cardinals/Fiesta Bowl, 2001-02), Omar D. Blair School/Green Valley Ranch Shared Use Complex (2003-04), Evie Dennis Campus (2008-10) and the National Wester Center Campus (2013-17). Collectively these projects total in excess of $2 billion.

The community-centered work, including 13 years as an executive director, has involved building and managing staffs small to large, establishing and executing budgets, organizing coalitions, guiding media and community relations, engaging, managing and serving on boards through the use of public/private partnerships. Collectively, these efforts have also involved partnering with state and local officials in concert with civic, business and local community leaders to successfully deliver desired outcomes for shared benefit.

Passionate about driving innovations in education, Mr. Leid’s experiences have also included leadership roles with a larger urban school district and two education non-profit foundations, each focused on leading community-centered K-12 educational initiatives and programming, operational management, innovative facility design and construction, strategic partnership development, along with direct, parent and community engagement activities in full collaboration with school district, business and city leadership.

Prior to rejoining Oakwood Homes in October 2017 as the vice president of community operations, Mr. Leid was honored to work for Mayor Michael B. Hancock as an appointee to lead, and in two cases, create new highly entrepreneurial organizations to fulfill key aspects of the mayor’s vision for the City of Denver, including Director of Development Services (2011-13), Founding Executive Director, North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative (2013-16) and Founding Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center (2016 -17).

Presently, Mr. Leid is the co-founder of the STEAD School, a science-based, agriculturally focused and student-led high school that is preparing the next generation of leaders to solve food, energy and natural resource issues. Mr. Leid is currently the board president of STEAD’s Building Corporation. Additionally, Mr. Leid serves a board member of the National Western Center Authority. In 2022, Mr. Leid was honored to receive the Colorado Governor’s Growth & Innovation Award for his work, along with co-founder Amy Schwartz, on the STEAD School.

Mr. Leid received his Bachelor of Science in General Business from Arizona State University (1989), a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Denver (1991) and a Master's in Public Administration from Arizona State University (1995).

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Gina Montes, Deputy City Manager, City of Phoenix

Gina Montes has spent her career of 28 years in local government. She is the Deputy City Manager for the City of Phoenix currently overseeing the Neighborhood Services, Housing, Human Services, Homeless Solutions and Heat Response and Mitigation departments. Gina also served as Assistant City Manager for the City of Avondale, Arizona, overseeing operations for the organization and a diverse range of city services including police, fire, public works and finance, among other functions. She began her 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.

Gina is a past President of the Arizona City/County Management Association (ACMA) Board and the 2022 recipient of the ACMA Catherine Connolly Outstanding Assistant City/County Manager Award. She completed the 2017 Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Texas Christian University, and a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the University of Texas at Austin.

Kevin Phelps headshot - fair-skinned man, smiling, white hair, blue, pink, and white collared shirt, gray blazer, pink tie

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 was appointed in November 2015 and considers it his priority to bring effective and transparent government practices to the community he serves with an emphasis on leveraging technology and innovation.

Recognizing that it is in Glendale’s interest to have a robust business sector, his desire is that Glendale becomes both a major job center and the most business-friendly city in the Valley. His focus is on encouraging initiatives that will grow the city’s economy, increase employment and encourage growth for businesses large and small. Glendale is a full-service community offering public safety, water, public works, library and recreation services for residents as well as offering business development services to support a strong economic base.

Mr. Phelps began a comprehensive strategic planning process using the City Council’s mission, vision and value statements. The intent is that Glendale will demonstrate measurable results toward being the community of choice for residents, businesses and employees. To accomplish this work, he has introduced the Balanced Scorecard approach to lead organizational development and set priorities for city staff.

Under his leadership, the city has continued to stabilize financially and operationally after experiencing a serious fiscal crisis that occurred several years prior to his hiring. The turnaround has resulted in credit rating upgrades and a growing fund balance that has been achieved through policy reforms, growth of new revenue streams and a long-term financial plan.

Kevin Phelps is a member of the Arizona City/County Management Association (ACMA), the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Mr. Phelps’ government leadership included 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 council member 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.

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Jen Pokorski, County Manager, Maricopa County

Jen Pokorski has been part of the Maricopa County family since 2005 and was appointed County Manager in April 2023. As she said after her appointment, Jen believes "in the power of government to do good because I’ve seen firsthand the impact our services and programs have. I also believe government must be responsive and accountable to residents because I’ve worked directly with folks whose lives are impacted by our action or inaction. Those things will never be far from my mind as I work to carry out the Board’s vision for Maricopa County.”

During her tenure at Maricopa County, Jen served as one of three assistant county managers where she oversaw seven departments that have direct interaction with the public including Air Quality, Animal Care and Control, Environmental Services, Flood Control District, Planning and Development, Real Estate, and Transportation (MCDOT). Jen has also had leadership roles as director of Planning and Development and director of the Ombudsman’s Office.

Prior to joining Maricopa County, Jen worked for several different government and non-profit organizations in Phoenix and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her focus throughout her career has been to work with staff to reduce unnecessary regulations, streamline the regulatory process and provide exceptional customer service.

Jen has served on a variety of boards and committees and is currently an ex officio member of the Valley Partnership board and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master of Science in Urban and Environmental Planning from Arizona State University.

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Brent Stockwell, Assistant City Manager, City of Scottsdale

Brent Stockwell is an assistant city manager at the city of Scottsdale, Arizona. He has worked in
Scottsdale since 2002 in various roles and is currently responsible for the following departments:
aviation, emergency management, information technology, planning and development services,
economic development and tourism. He also worked for the cities of Mesa, Arizona and Federal
Way, Washington and earned degrees from Kansas State University and the University of
Washington.

He is an ICMA Credentialed Manager since 2020. He completed the Bloomberg Harvard City
Leadership Initiative, the Bloomberg Harvard Cross-Boundary Collaboration Program, the Bloomberg Harvard Leading City Procurement Reform Program and the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. Under Brent’s leadership, Scottsdale has been recognized by Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities with Gold Certification.

Brent has served two-terms on the Arizona City/County Management Association board of directors, was recognized with ACMA’s NextGen Mentorship Award and currently is the board president of Community Celebrating Diversity, Chair of the ICMA Task Force on Updating the Guide to Breaking into Local Government and the former Chair and current Content Chair of the ICMA Performance Management Advisory Committee. Brent is co-founder of Valley Benchmark Communities and the Arizona Next Generation Leadership Conference.

 

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Shannon Portillo, Director and Professor, School of Public Affairs

Shannon Portillo is a professor in and the director of the School of Public Affairs. Her scholarship explores how policies, rules and norms shape the work of public organizations. Her work helps scholars and practitioners understand how inequities are institutionalized in public organizations including local government, policing and the military. Portillo served as co-chair of Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice and on the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.

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Margaretha Bentley, Associate Director of Operations and Student Services, Clinical Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs

Dr. Bentley is a Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Public Affairs in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University. She currently serves as the School’s Associate Director of Operations and Student Services and previously served as its Online Program Coordinator. She received her M.A. degree in History from the University of Delaware and her Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy from Arizona State University. Her dissertation examined the storytelling about SB 1070, a controversial immigration policy that became law in Arizona in 2010. She evaluated what the storytelling revealed about the relationship between public policy and identity. She has been teaching at the School of Public Affairs at ASU since 2009. She has taught in-person and online courses at the undergraduate and graduate level on topics including public administration, public policy analysis, ethics, diversity and leadership. She also regularly teaches the undergraduate Senior Capstone Project course.

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Spiro Maroulis, Associate Director of Academic Affairs, Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs

Dr. Spiro Maroulis is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Master's in Public Administration and Public Policy programs in the Arizona State University School of Public Affairs. Prior to coming to ASU, Maroulis was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Kellogg School of Management, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Kellogg’s Ford Center for Global Citizenship. He received his PhD in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University, where he was part of the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling and the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems. He received a master's degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree from Duke University.

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Kari Kent, Local Government Fellowship Program Manager, School of Public Affairs

Kari Kent has dedicated her entire 30-year career to public service, 27 years serving the City of Mesa and 3 years serving the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. She retired in January 2021 as the Assistant City Manager of the City of Mesa overseeing departments such as Transportation, Water and Wastewater, Electric and Natural Gas Utilities, Land Entitlement and Permits, Engineering Infrastructure, Parks and Recreation, Arts and Culture, Libraries and Digital Engagement. Previous positions held included Neighborhood Services Director, Assistant Public Works Manager and Solid Waste Director. Kari remains involved with the local government profession by serving as an executive coach and mentor to numerous local government professionals and university students.

Kari remains involved in the Arizona City/County Management Association (ACMA), a professional organization dedicated to increasing the knowledge and ability of local government professionals in cities, town and counties in Arizona. She served on the ACMA Board for five years including one year as President. Kari currently serves on the NAU Alumni Association Board, the NAU Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean's Advancement Council, the ASU Master of Public Administration Advisory Board and the ASU Master of Public Administration Accreditation Council. She also volunteers at the Sojourner Center with their workforce development program.

Kari’s professional award honors include NAU Dr. Cliff Harkins Distinguished Citizen of the Year, ACMA Cathy Connolly Outstanding Assistant City Manager, Women Leading Government Trailblazer, Arizona Capital Times Women Achievers of Arizona and ACMA Life Membership. Kari has a B.S. in Political Science from NAU and has her Master of Public Administration from ASU.