Board of Directors
Calgary Committee Chair
Bob graduated the University of Alberta (Canada) with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1978. Prior to immigrating to Phoenix in 1985, he joined Xerox Canada for 4 years. He then ran his own construction company prior to joining ComputerLand of Edmonton at the outset of the personal computer era.
Shortly after transferring to ComputerLand of Phoenix, he partnered to found Computer Solutions/Valcom Southwest, growing that computer sales organization to 4 locations in Tempe, Tucson, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
He was recruited by MicroAge Computer Centers where he spent a 14-year career as a director, leading franchise development, and VP of sales for the West.
Bob joined US Web (the first national web development firm) in Santa Clara, CA in 1996. He led their franchise development efforts in the western US and Canada, culminating with a successful IPO, when he returned to Tempe and MicroAge HQ.
Bob joined Nextel Communications/Sprint in 2001, spending the next 13 years leading their local wireless data sales team in Arizona and New Mexico, before moving into account management of their wireless data sales at the Fortune 300 account level across the US.
In 2014, Bob created Right On Target Clay Guides of AZ (shotgun sports provider) and Southwest Mobile Apps, which he currently operates today.
Bob enjoys the outdoors, saddle horses, and coaching youth in shotgun sports.
Taipei Committee Chair
Wen Chyi Chiu graduated from Arizona State University, majored in Journalism and Communications. Wen Chyi Chiu’s specialties are Global Relations, Public Relations and Media Relations. As Chairwoman for Taipei Sister Cities, Taipei Sister Cities received three years in a roll, the Best Sister Cities titles in 2009-2012. Wen Chyi Chiu has been devoting, volunteering, contributing, and serving American, Asian, Taiwanese, and Chinese Communities and Phoenix Sister Cities for over 25 years to promote education, STEM/STEAM, sister schools, police and fire exchanges, youth ambassadors, global friendship, arts, culture, sports, business, solar energy, and high technology. She is the Founding Executive Board Member and President for Global Federation of Chinese Business Woman Arizona Chapter, and she is current Principal of Arizona Chinese Mandarin and Culture Academy, and Executive Director of Taipei Culture Summer Camp. Wen Chyi Chiu received many awards including the Recipient of Southern California and Arizona Outstanding Young Leader Award, US Congress Congressional Recognition for Community Service, Arizona Governor Award for Community Contributions, Outstanding Citizenship Award, Volunteer Medal International Award of Circle of Distinguish Volunteer Global Citizenship Award from Phoenix Sister Cities International, and Phoenix Sister Cities Taipei Sister Cities Volunteer of the Year, among other recognitions.
Misty Cisneros-Contreras is the Customer Service Manager at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. She enjoys working with a team to provide the best guest experience for all passengers and maintaining the reputation of being America’s Friendliest Airport. Misty recently celebrated 10 years with the City of Phoenix. During her tenure she has worked in the Street Transportation Department and the International Relations Office with Phoenix Sister Cities. She is a mother of two young daughters, Dolcé (5) and Luna (2) that keep her and her husband, Aaron, very busy. Misty is an Arizona sports enthusiast, enjoys thrifting and being a very involved mother in all of her daughter’s activities.
Commission Member Executive Committee Member-At-Large
Dr. Sherman Elliott’s passion is education, both on a personal level and a professional level. After earning a B.A. in Government and an M.A. in Theology from the University of San Francisco, he went on to complete his doctorate in Teaching Innovation and Leadership from Arizona State University. Currently, Sherman is the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Grand Canyon University. Prior to joining Grand Canyon University in 2011, he served as Assistant Clinical Professor of Secondary Education and Director of the Center for Civics Education at Arizona State University. Also trained as an Ignatian educator, Sherman joyfully served over 11 years as a Catholic educator at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix and as a Principal in the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.
Sherman was honored to be appointed to the Arizona Humanities Council by Governor Doug Ducey in 2016. In this capacity, he was afforded his dream of sharing his passion for education by providing individuals of all backgrounds with the opportunity to explore various aspects of the richness of the humanities through a journey of self-discovery. He also enjoys academic research, particularly in the fields of civic education, adolescent moral development, and Holocaust education. Working through the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Belfer Program, he shares his Holocaust expertise as a guest lecturer at universities and national conferences.
In his spare time, Sherman enjoys traveling the world with his family. Some of his favorite destinations have been England (particularly Cornwall), Ireland and Japan. Sherman’s travels have brought forth the importance and benefits of partnering with other countries to provide educational opportunities otherwise not available and to exchange the richness of cultures.
Commission Member Chairman of the Board
Mr. Foster is a Senior Partner at Snell & Wilmer where he has practiced law for the past 30 years. Mr. Foster’s practice is concentrated in commercial litigation with an emphasis on business disputes, real estate litigation, employment litigation, criminal defense and partnership and sale of business disputes. Mr. Foster is a frequent legal commentator on FOX 10 News and has made over 150 local and national appearances on various media outlets (FOX News & CNN) covering a variety of top news stories including the Jodi Arias trial. Mr. Foster represents individuals and businesses in a variety of state and federal court cases as well as appearing before administrative and other judicial bodies. Mr. Foster has obtained multiple multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of his plaintiff business clients and has obtained numerous defense verdicts on behalf of the individuals and businesses he has represented. Mr. Foster has been consistently recognized by his peers as one of the Best Lawyers in America® as well as obtaining recognition as a Southwest Super Lawyer® which is a recognition given to less than 5% of the attorneys practicing in the Southwest. Mr. Foster has been passionate in his volunteer efforts including currently serving on the Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board. He has also served as a board member, board chair and capital campaign co-chair on behalf of the YMCA. Mr. Foster has also served as a member of the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee.
Sheryl Frank brings twenty-five plus years’ experience as a real estate development professional, with a focus on residential urban infill projects. She has worked on the planning and development of projects in Phoenix, Tempe and Peoria, Arizona. Her substantial experience includes every aspect of the planning and development process, from acquisition and entitlements to design, construction, sales and marketing. She has honed her craft while holding project management positions with The Ellman Companies, SunCor Development Company and Artisan Homes. Prior to her project management experience; Sheryl worked as a designer/draftsperson for DWL Architects and a residential real estate sales agent for Coldwell Banker.
Sheryl is a sustainability-focused developer, with a strong mix of technical and design skills. She has been involved with the Urban Land Institute for several years and she has served as an Associate Professor at Arizona State University’s College of Design in the Housing and Urban Development Program.
Sheryl holds an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University’s College of Design in Housing and Urban Development and she received her MBA from ASU’s WP Carey School of Business. Sheryl holds a current, active real estate license in the State of Arizona, she was a long-standing member of the Alhambra Village Planning Committee for the City of Phoenix and is currently an active Commissioner and member of the Board of Phoenix Sister Cities.
Born and raised in the heart of farmland in Ohio. Moved to Arizona in 1975 and have been a resident ever since.
Began career in beverage industry beginning with Pepsi Cola for 18 years. Then transitioned to the water business where I have been a manager for the next 20 plus years.
In early 2000 had an opportunity to serve on Surface Transportation Advisory Committee representing District 5 and Councilmen Claude Mattox. Also helped to support Maryvale Revitalization especially with water donations. Also previously served on school board in Tempe.
Very excited to be a part of the Sister Cities team and look forward to all of the opportunities that await.
Emilio Gaynor serves as president of the CPLC Global Business LLC and as Director of International Development for Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC) where he heads international relations and development efforts. In this role, Emilio has accomplished great success in connecting Mexican businesses with resources to help make them successful in Arizona resulting in millions of dollars in foreign direct investment. He has also led high level business and government missions to Mexico connecting trade, investment, business and philanthropic partners as well as done the reverse, bringing the same types of groups to the United States. Serving the social sector, he has launched efforts of collaboration between non-profit organizations and foundations on both sides of the border. Emilio regularly contributes to Spanish publications in Sonora and Arizona including La Cueva de Los D-backs infield monthly magazine, Frontera Norte and an OpEd piece he prepared, featuring the Hermosillo Sister City relationship, was published in the Arizona Republic/Phoenix Business Journal. He has executed opportunities for the immigrant community to connect with their federal elected officials and support services. He has extensive experience in international relations and development having headed delegations and business efforts in Mexico and Latin America for over 20 years. Emilio worked in the executive branch for two governors as representative of the State of Arizona in Sonora, Mexico and as Executive Director of the Arizona Mexico Commission in the Office of the Governor. He also served as development director for Latin America for an aerospace design firm and a communications services company selling and providing services in Mexico and South America.
Emilio has created programs for non-profits and has managed large-scale public information and outreach programs projects such as Federal Aviation Administration housing relocation program for the city of Phoenix and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in Maricopa County. He headed government and community relations for Arizona’s largest Hispanic advertising and promotions firm. Emilio served as general manager for Delaware North, one of the largest hospitality companies in the world. He also represented an international mining distribution and service venture that focused on Chile, Peru, and Mexico.
Emilio’s community and civic contributions include serving as Chair of the PSC Business Relations Committee, Chair of the Arizona Diamondbacks Los D-backs Ambassador Council and is a former member and served as Chair of the Phoenix Board of Adjustment. HE also served as Chair of the Phoenix Sister Cities Hermosillo Committee, and has served on the board of the Border Health Foundation and World Affairs Council and the Easter Seals. Emilio was born I Mexico City, has worked in Paraguay, Bolivia, Dominican Republic and Chile in addition to having lived in Mexico. Emilio has the fortune of being married to Monica, who is originally from Hermosillo, and has two children, Samantha born in Hermosillo and Arturo born in Phoenix.
Ennis Committee Chair Treasurer
Mary Hill-Connor is a native of Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland. She has served the Ennis Committee of Phoenix Sister Cities for the ten years, including the last four years as its Chair. She also served on the board of the Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation (ICLF) for 3.5 years, including 2 years as Secretary.
Mary has a 14-year background in real estate and a 30-year background in nursing and is a retired Realtor and a retired Registered Nurse with an extensive background in several medical areas.
As a young girl, Mary won medals in Irish dancing and has always loved the traditional dance, music, song, and the Irish language. Today she chairs Four Peaks Irish Arts, the local chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, the worldwide organization that promotes and preserves these cultural gems.
Catania Committee Chair
Mike has been involved in Sister Cities through his extended families' participation with the Ennis and Taipei committees. Mike and his wife are the proud parents of three Phoenix Sisters Cities Youth Ambassadors (Taipei, Chengdu, and Catania). Mike is a Graduate of the University of Arizona majoring in Business/HR and Sociology. Mike currently is a Technology Product Manager for American Express Technology in North Phoenix, focusing on Cloud technologies. Prior to his Cloud Technology role, Mike built large-scale single global Oracle platforms, various mid-range Technology platforms and even mainframe. Through his long career at American Express, Mike has been part of the companies’ Authorizations, Middle Market Corporate Support functions, and Business- Tech liaison areas.
Mike spends a considerable amount of time outside of work supporting his Wildcats, cycling, skiing and gardening.
Himeji Committee Chair
My name is Camille King and I came to Phoenix in 2003. I relocated from Maryland where I was a Health Scientist Administrator with the National Institutes of Health, in the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). I ran a study section for the government while I was in NCRR. I have a graduate degree in anatomy with my concentration in cell biology. I am a high school science teacher at Xavier College Preparatory, an all-girls high school in Phoenix. I teach Biology and the Honors Human Anatomy and Physiology class. I love teaching and am particularly passionate about teaching anatomy and physiology. My daughter was a Youth Ambassador through the Phoenix Sister Cities and her city was Himeji, hence my involvement with the Himeji Committee. She had such a life-changing experience when she visited Japan. Our family enjoyed having her cohort live with us and the overall experience was so phenomenal that my membership to the PSC remains active.
Commission Member Secretary
Henry is a vice president at US Bank. He is responsible for compliance and regulatory for the Retail Payment Services division at US Bank. He has over 20+ years in the financial industry and is certified in project management. He chairs the strategic team for the US Bank relationship with Visa, Mastercard and American Express. He is a voting member of the capital expenditure team for project initiation and is a member of various process improvement, compliance and regulatory steering committees. He had previously worked in technology management at Bank of America and was a product manager for American Express.
Henry holds a BS in business from the University of Arizona and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.
Professional Affiliations/Community Involvement
Henry is a scout leader for Boy Scouts of America since 2006 and is a BSA Hall of Fame recipient. He chairs the Finance Committee for Troop 41. He was a member of blue ribbon panel for technology at Madison School District where he provided private sector consulting on how to strategically use $6MM bond money for technology. He was also an advisory member for the finance sub-committee at Unity Church reporting to the board of trustees.
Lin Ling Lee’s motto is “Educate younger generations today to become leaders of tomorrow." Lee believes international perspectives, ties, exchanges, cooperation, and unity are important for the world. Lee has devoted more than 30 years to build leadership roles in Taiwanese, Chinese, Asian, and American organizations as President, Principal, Chair, Director, and Advisor. Lee’s specialties include Global Relations, Public Relations, Education, Arts, Culture, and Business. Lee is Taiwan Overseas Community Affairs Council Advisor, recognized by the Taiwan Government and President.
Lee’s awards include Phoenix USA Hometown Hero, US Congressional Recognition for Volunteer Service, Arizona Governor Recognition for Community Service, Arizona Dr. Martin Luther King Living the Dream Award, US Presidential Award for Volunteer Service, Medal of Honor from Taiwan Overseas Community Affairs Council, City of Scottsdale Diversity Champion Award, Phoenix Mayor’s Partnership Award, Outstanding Principal of the Year, Arizona Women Impact Award, Taiwan International Outstanding Woman Award, Outstanding Citizenship Award for Arizona Asian American Association, Volunteer Medal International Award of Circle of Distinguish Volunteer Global Citizenship Award from Phoenix Sister Cities International, Phoenix Sister Cities Taipei Sister Cities Volunteer of the Year, Friend of Taipei City Council Gold Plaque, and much more.
Commission Member Chair Emeritus
Ralph Marchetta was promoted to the position of General Manager, Sr. Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Services in August, 2007. As General Manager, Ralph oversees all operations of the US Airways Center. In addition to servicing professional sports teams that include the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, and the Arizona Rattlers, Ralph books all events at US Airways Center including working with the NBA, WNBA, and AFL to schedule all regular season and pre season games. Ralph has booked hundreds of concerts including Barbra Streisand, U2, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, Vicente Fernandez, Juan Gabriel, Andrea Bocelli and many others. Ralph has extensive relationships with Feld Entertainment (Disney on Ice and Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus), World Wrestling Entertainment and many other family show and concert promoters. Ralph has been at US Airways Center since prior to the venue’s opening in 1992.
In managing US Airways Center as a key asset to the community, Ralph works with the leadership of the City of Phoenix, Phoenix City Council and Downtown Phoenix Partnership. In addition, Ralph serves as a board member of the Phoenix Police Department Reserve Foundation, the Phoenix Sister Cities and the Boys and Girls Club.
Ralph graduated from Arizona State University.
Commission Member Youth & Education Committee Co-Chair
Richard Marmor is an attorney. Now retired, in addition to practicing law, he has worked extensively in real estate investment and development. The founding president of the Arizona Self-Storage Association, he currently chairs its Legal & Legislative Committee. Richard is active in a number of community and philanthropic organizations, among them, Phoenix Sister Cities, in which he co-chairs the Youth & Education Committee. There he has been responsible for the development and implementation of many of the policies, tools and procedures of its Youth Ambassador Exchange Program. Richard lives in Phoenix with his wife Heather.
Simer is CEO and founder of Valor Global, overseeing all aspects of the company’s strategy. Prior to founding Valor, Simer worked with top consulting companies around the globe in different technical and management roles. Simer’s drive for excellence and commitment to customer delivery have been keystones for the success of Valor.
Simer brings over 15 years of experience in global business and holds a Masters from MIT and a Bachelors from Delhi University, India. Simer is an avid sports fan, enjoys traveling to different countries and loves outdoors. He is married to his beautiful wife of 10 years, Vicki and has 2 kids.
Simer is very passionate in helping with youth initiatives and provides leadership to several non-profit organizations and charities. Simer is a member of YPO (Young President’s Organization).
Bruce E. Meyerson is a mediator, arbitrator, and trainer in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center (1972) where he was an Editor of the Law Journal. He received his undergraduate degree from Arizona State University. Mr. Meyerson was the founder and first Executive Director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. He served on the Arizona Court of Appeals for almost five years where he heard over 1000 appeals. He served as General Counsel of Arizona State University from 1986 to 1990. From 1990 through 2000, Mr. Meyerson practiced commercial and employment litigation in Phoenix. Since 2000, his practice has focused on conflict resolution. He is a Past Chair of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution and the State Bar of Arizona ADR Section. He is an adjunct professor at the Arizona State University College of Law teaching courses in all aspects of dispute resolution, including Mediation and Arbitration. He is a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, the International Academy of Mediators, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the College of Commercial Arbitrators. He serves as a board member of the American Arbitration Association Foundation. He is the Chair of the City of Phoenix Civil Service Board and a member of the City of Phoenix Police and Fire Pension Board.
Comission Member Executive Committee Member-At-Large
Francesca Miller is currently the Marketing Director for D.P. Electric, Inc. as well as a dedicated citizen of Arizona. She called Arizona home from 2000 to 2006, and spent her time developing her career in marketing and public relations. After moving to New York in 2006 and living there for ten years, Francesca has returned to Arizona eager to give back to her community.
From 2000 to 2006, Francesca was a passionate member of several boards and commissions. She travelled as a member of the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission to Ramat Gan, Israel in 2004 for the inaugural trip. She was also a member of the City of Phoenix Youth and Education Commission and sat on the boards of the Steele Children's Research Center and Phoenix Body Positive (Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS).
While in New York, Francesca sat on the Board of Overseers for the Katonah Museum of Art and was the driving force behind their highly successful annual galas for more than five years. She also was on the host committee for the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Research during their annual Race 4 A Cure events from 2014 to 2016.
While in New York, Francesca served as the Director of Operations for a global hedge fund, overseeing the hedge fund's New York office. She then acted as Chief of Staff for an investment professional's family office. Until her move back to Arizona in 2016, Francesca was the principal of her own business, FJM Marketing Communications.
Upon moving back to Arizona in 2016, Francesca worked for The RealReal, an online luxury consignment company, as a Luxury Manager, establishing a market in Arizona for the company. She rejoined the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission at that time and was on the planning committee for the 2017 Mayor's International Gala.
Francesca was recently featured in Scottsdale Modern Luxury for her work at The RealReal, detailing her previous work there as well as her love for Phoenix. She lives in Phoenix with her husband Mark, their daughter Hunter and their two dachshunds.
Chengdu Committee Chair
Dianna Noli Hill is a third generation Arizonan who grew up in Tucson. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Master’s degree in Public Administration and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting from the University of Phoenix. Professional affiliations included the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) where she served on the National Board, and the National and Arizona Associations for Court Management (NACM) and (ACA).
Prior to joining the City of Phoenix, Dianna spent several years as an accountant in the private sector. Because of her love of the law, Dianna found her niche at the Phoenix Municipal Court as a Court Administrator where she used her skills to implement many award-winning innovations and programs and is proud to have been a part of the team overseeing the building of the current Court building. She recently retired from the Court and looks forward to achieving her goal to visit all ten sister cities , with only four more to go!
Dianna became involved with the Chengdu Committee when traveling to Chengdu in 2002 as part of the delegation to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of our Sister City relationship and has served in the roles of Secretary and Vice-Chairman ever since.
Grenoble Committee Chair
Jacqueline Palmenberg has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Emmanuel College in Boston, and a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Maine in Orono. She worked for 38 years in fundraising and administrative positions for non-profits, and now consults for national charities. She is on the boards of the Planned Giving Roundtable of Arizona, and the City of Phoenix Library Foundation.
Jacqueline is of French-Canadian descent, and joined the Grenoble Committee in 2018, becoming Chair in 2019. She and husband, Roger, have two children and six grandchildren.
Jerri Pastor is fourth generation,Arizonan. She received her graduate degree at Arizona State University, where she received her Masters in Public Administration ( MPA) in 1986. She received her undergraduate degree in Sociology at the same university.
She was the first female manager to be hired by the Town Council for Guadalupe, Arizona. Ms Pastor was subsequently hired as the Associate Director of the Department of Economic Security, for Maricopa County, for over three years. Jerri was then appointed by the Governor of Arizona, to serve as the Director of Highway Safety. She was charged with the responsibility of awarding federal and state grants to support the equipment and new training protocols for Police Departments throughout the state.
Jerri returned to her Alma Mater, as Director of Foundation and Corporate relations in the office of the Vice President of Development where she served for nine years. During this time, the university conducted two multi million campaigns and created the Arizona State University Foundation. Her campaign fundraising expertise led her to the University of Southern California (USC) as a consultant during their first billion dollar campaign. She stayed in the Los Angeles area for another year, to work with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF).
She was then given a surprising opportunity to work, in New York! NY. The Girl Scouts of America, were looking for talent to assist with the mergers of Girl Scout Councils and to train Girl Scout CEO’s and the Board of Director’s for those councils to fundraise.
Jerri continued to work for GSUSA for over five years, as a consultant to councils throughout America.
Today, Jerri continues to serve as an active member of the Arizona Association of Retired Persons. She helps produce a bilingual radio program on for the Hispanic Connection division of AARP. She is proud to serve the Sister City Commision and hopes to be an advocate for many of the commission’s opportunities that provide international experience to families.
Janielle is in international real estate as the lead project manager for a US-based investment group developing residential properties in Mexico. As a bilingual facilitator, she navigates all aspects of property development ranging from legal issues to zoning and taxation through her relationships with business and government entities.
Prior to her foray into international development, she spent the first decade of her career in Los Angeles as a Project Coordinator at the architecture firm of Frank Gehry, with The GRAMMY Foundation at NARAS, and with TBWA/Worldwide for Apple.
She was raised in Phoenix, graduated from Xavier College Preparatory and received her B.S. Degree in Global Finance from ASU. For 4 years she was a volunteer Patron Circle host at the Sundance Film Festival. She was also Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors of the S.P.A., a non-profit charity dedicated to the health and well being of animals. She credits her family and her education for developing in her a strong desire to connect with other cultures.
Josh Rawitch is in his 22nd season in Major League Baseball and fifth as Sr. Vice President of Communications with the D-backs. In this role, he is responsible for the internal and external communication efforts of the organization, including player & media relations, corporate communications, publications, social media, photography and fan feedback. The Los Angeles native also teaches a course at ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and serves on the board of directors for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, ASU’s Sports Business Advisory Board and on the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He was recently named to So Scottsdale and Uptown magazine’s list of the “24 Most Powerful Locals” under age 40. He and his wife, Erin, reside in Scottsdale with their children, Emily and Braden.Josh Rawitch is in his 22nd season in Major League Baseball and fifth as Sr. Vice President of Communications with the D-backs. In this role, he is responsible for the internal and external communication efforts of the organization, including player & media relations, corporate communications, publications, social media, photography and fan feedback. The Los Angeles native also teaches a course at ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and serves on the board of directors for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, ASU’s Sports Business Advisory Board and on the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He was recently named to So Scottsdale and Uptown magazine’s list of the “24 Most Powerful Locals” under age 40. He and his wife, Erin, reside in Scottsdale with their children, Emily and Braden.
Hermosillo Committee Chair
Mike Rakowsky brings a diverse array of experience to his service as Hermosillo Committee Chair and Active Member of the Board, not least of which is well over 20 years of highly-active involvement with Phoenix Sister Cities, including leadership of both the Hermosillo Committee and the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission, which he headed as we welcomed our latest new city of Ramat-Gan, Israel. He has conducted and participated in a wide range of exchanges and activities, joined a number of Sister Cities delegations, including Chengdu, Ramat-Gan, Taipei, Hermosillo, and Calgary as well as Sister Cities International conventions, particularly the 50th Anniversary in Washington, DC.
Mike graduated with honors in History from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, and with a dual major in Urban Studies & Economics from Brown University. He developed and ran an extensive Youth Employment Program through Phoenix OIC, and did stints in both radio and concert promotion. Mike was for some 14 years President of Buckeye Rubber Products, Inc., Lima, Ohio, a diversified producer of rubber hose and sheet products . He also chaired the West Central Ohio Regional Development Board and served as President of Temple Beth Israel, both in Lima.
Back in Phoenix, he founded MR International, LLC, conducting international business, primarily in Mexico, and initiated significant marketing initiatives in both aerospace, where he served on the Board of the ATMA, and in solar energy.
Mike loves the opportunities afforded by Phoenix Sister Cities to spread friendship and understanding.
Sebastien Reyes is a respected and award-winning strategist, advisor and business leader who has a breadth of experience working with public companies, nonprofit organizations and family businesses. As the Director of External Communications for AMERCO and its primary subsidiary, U-Haul International, Sebastien is responsible for Investor Relations, Media Relations, Public Relations and Community Relations for over 21,000 retail locations serving millions of U-Haul customers annually. U-Haul International, headquartered in Phoenix since 1967, is the largest do-it-yourself moving and self-storage company in North America.
A love for cultural diversity and travel was instilled in Sebastien from an early age by his parents. Having traveled extensively throughout the world, Sebastien is an advocate for cultural immersion.
Sebastien is a member of the Board of Directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Phoenix and the Alumni Association Board of Directors for Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is an alumnus of Phoenix Suns Charities 88.
Prague Committee Chair
Akram Rosheidat completed his Ph.D. at Arizona State University in 2014, and has been an Associate Faculty teaching at the ASU School of Sustainability since 2015. He is also a practicing architect and an Owner at MRT Design LLC (WBE/DBE/SBE Firm) in Phoenix. After starting his university studies in Prague, Czech Republic, he received his B. Arch. from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and his M. Arch. from the University of Arizona in Tucson. His research focused on outdoor thermal comfort in hot arid environments. In both his practice and academic research, his focus is on sustainable green building design and technology, energy conservation and studying systems for assessing thermal comfort in outdoor spaces. He designed LEED certified sustainable projects, and worked on USAID projects internationally.
Ramat-Gan Committee Chair
Born and raised in Israel, Edna graduated from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, following her military service in the IDF.
Upon arriving in the US, Edna obtained a Masters degree in Bible and Cognate Studies from the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion, and then a Doctorate in Education from the University of Cincinnati. She has devoted her professional life not only to teaching undergraduate and graduate level students, offering a variety of dynamic courses pertaining to Judaica, but also to serving as a school Principal within the Jewish communities in which she has lived. In that capacity she has worked hard to develop innovative curricula and engaging learning opportunities to children and adolescents. She has trained both parents and teachers, offering creative workshops, which aimed at establishing partnership between the school and the home.
Making Phoenix her home away from her native country, Edna is passionate about the betterment of her Phoenix community at large, and has lent her creativity and energy to a number of community endeavors. She joined the Board of Directors of Jewish Family and Children’s Service, where she has held several positions, including a two-time tenure as a board chair. With over 25 years of service to JFCS, Edna continues to find her work on that board both rewarding and inspirational. She is interested in the well functioning of non- profit boards, and is an advocate of the Governance Board Model.
Edna is proud to call herself a Phoenician. She is awestruck by the majestic beauty of the desert, the strength and resilience of our communities, and the ever growing and evolving Phoenix art scene. She is enthusiastic about the mission and vision of PSC. As chairperson of the Ramat- Gan Committee, Edna is looking forward to infusing the committee with new ideas and renewed energy, while collaborating with others for a more global impact.
Commission Member Chair-Elect
Chiko is an attorney with Copperpoint Mutual Insurance Companies. She has a Master’s degree in International Trade Law from the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law. Prior to working for Copperpoint , Chiko worked for the Pima County Public Defender’s office in Tucson. She speaks Ibo (a Nigerian language). She has lived on three continents. She has two grown children. Her son lives in the UK and her daughter lives here in Phoenix. She loves to travel and meet new people and experience new cultures.
Anne Thorne has been actively involved in the Valley’s media business for more than 20 yeas. She spent several years as the public relations director for Channel 3TV. In addition, she founded a public relations agency and media buying business with clients such as METRO Light Rail, St. Joseph's Hospital and Southwest Airlines.
Currently, Anne is working in the residential real estate industry with the HomeSmart Elite Group where she is focusing on the historic neighborhoods in Phoenix's Central Corridor.
Disability Awareness Committee Chair
Ms. Trunzo is the Clinical Director of the Arizona Institute for Communication and Cognitive Disorders and is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist and Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapist. She has worked extensively with children and adults with acquired and traumatic brain injuries for over thirty years. Her practice has specialized in a community-based rehabilitation paradigm with a clinical philosophy of empowerment for clients, family members and all stakeholders involved in an individual’s rehabilitation and return to maximum skill and independence.
Ms. Trunzo also has co-authored a clinical textbook entitled "Communication and Coping Skills" and has accomplished research in the area of neurogenic-based communication disorders. She has lectured and provided training and workshops on Traumatic Brain Injury (particularly in the area of Post-Concussive Disorders and Pediatric Brain Injury) throughout Arizona, United States, Europe, Asia, and Mexico. Ms. Trunzo has received numerous awards for her outstanding work in the area of Acquired Brain Injury and for her volunteer efforts to promote the capabilities of persons with disabilities across all disability categories. She also is a member of Valley Leadership, identifying her leadership role in the community.
In 1998, Ms. Trunzo co-founded the Disabilities Awareness Committee (DAC) of the Phoenix Sister Cities, which has received the prestigious National Disability Advocacy Award on multiple occasions for recognition of community leadership in the area of promoting disability awareness both in the United States and globally. Throughout the 20 years plus volunteering with DAC, Ms. Trunzo been actively involved in the development and ongoing continuation of ICAD, ICWD, the Bear and Book Holiday Fundraiser and other collaborative projects with both local disability groups and our fellow sister cities. Ms. Trunzo’s passion for improving the lives of persons with disabilities is her motivation for guiding DAC to even greater accomplishments in the future.
Marty is with Advanced Genomic Solutions since 2018, a genetic testing and analysis company focused on health, wellness, nutrition and pharmaceutical applications. He leads global business development and client facing operations.
Previously, he spent 11+ years with EXOS where he was its first VP of Sales and later VP of Strategic Business. He joined EXOS when it was about 30 employees and it grew to near 5000 staff at the time of his departure.
His business experience includes the telecom, wholesale distribution and pharmaceutical industries. Marty graduated Furman University (South Carolina) in addition to earning a MS and a MBA from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Marty’s international business experience includes 30+ countries including China, Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, Australia, Russia, Germany, UK, Colombia, Brazil, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Israel. As a services exporter with Marty's leadership, EXOS was recognized by the City of Phoenix as an inaugural winner of “Service Exporter of the Year” in 2015 and the “Export Excellence” Award from Arizona District Export Council the same year. In 2016, they were awarded the President’s (POTUS) “E” Award for Exporting Excellence. Fast Company magazine recognized EXOS in its “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies” lists in 3 different years of Marty's tenure.
Marty, born in Eastern Tennessee, has been married to Susan Speliopoulos, a Phoenix AZ native, since 2008. They have 3 daughters; Savannah, Alexandra and Makenna.
Commission Member Youth & Education Committee Co-Chair
Melissa Werner is Director of University Ceremonies and Protocol Officer at Arizona State University and co-founder of the North American Association of Commencement Officers (NAACO).
A native of Tempe, Arizona and a long-time employee of ASU, Melissa has held positions as an academic advisor, program coordinator, development officer and event planner.
In 1999 Melissa and Carol Switzer (1944-2011), co-founded NAACO, a professional association for commencement and graduation professionals from across the United States and Canada. Melissa served as the NAACO Charter President, coordinator of the inaugural conference in 2000 and chair for the 2007 conference.
Melissa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Public Relations from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University, Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University and is a certified Protocol Officer through the Protocol School of Washington®.