A staff of experienced educators.
The Arizona K12 Center staff consists primarily of former educators. From kindergarten through high school, we have worked in some of the most culturally diverse and educationally challenging environments in Arizona. This gives us an intimate understanding of the difficulties today's educators face. We've been there ourselves, and are committed to helping make the teaching experience as successful and satisfying as possible.
Executive DirectorRead More
In 2005, Kathy Wiebke was brought on as the Executive Director to create a new vision and direction for the Center. Prior to joining the Center, she was the Deputy Associate Superintendent for Highly Qualified Professionals at the Arizona Department of Education, a principal, and a classroom teacher.
Kathy Wiebke earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts degree in elementary education from Northern Arizona University. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in educational leadership and policy studies from Arizona State University, focusing on quality teaching and teacher leadership in urban schools.
Kathy was Arizona’s first National Board Certified Teacher with a Middle Childhood Generalist Certificate. For seven years, she served on the Board of Directors of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She was a member of the NEA’s Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching and NCATE’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning.
Kathy was a recipient of the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship and focused on project-based learning through the creation of a native habitat on her elementary school campus. Kathy was recognized as an Ambassador for Excellence in Arizona’s Teacher of the Year Program and received the Disney American Teacher Award in the elementary category. Her classroom practices were featured in a learning series produced by Disney.
Most recently, Kathy served as the Executive Producer of The Mitchell 20, a documentary focused on 20 teachers seeking National Board Certification or its single entry alternative, Take One. The documentary highlights teaching in America and the struggle for teacher quality.
As a native Arizonan, Kathy has spent almost her entire life in Arizona’s public schools as either a learner or a teacher, and sometimes both. She cares passionately about this state and wants its children to have the same great education she received at all levels. That is why she does this work.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Favorite Teacher & Why: This is a tie! I can’t separate the two of them, as they were both remarkable and inspiring teachers. Mrs. Mack, my second grade teacher, had a piano in her classroom. We would always sing in her classroom. I remember how much she cared and the smile that was always on her face. Mrs. Timbrooks, my fourth grade teacher, challenged me to really think and create. In her classroom, learning was an adventure. In both these teachers I knew I mattered.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is…the opportunity to support the learning of Arizona’s teachers. I have long held the belief that when we help teachers be their best, we are helping kids be their best. When I was in school, I had great teachers! I want the same for all the children in this great state!
Director of OperationsRead More
Cheryl is the Director of Operations and has been a part of the Arizona K12 Center since 2005. Cheryl is an Arizona native who grew up in Sierra Vista and has lived in many cities across the state. She is currently living in Tucson. Cheryl graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration with a specialization in computer information systems. Prior to joining the Arizona K12 Center team she worked at the Boulders Resort in Scottsdale where she discovered her love for planning events. Cheryl has more than 10 years of experience in event management and has a passion for creating learning opportunities that enable teachers to be their best for their students.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Favorite Teacher & Why: Mr. Plumb, fifth and sixth grade teacher. He created an environment where learning was creative, collaborative, fun, and competitive. You could see that he really cared about each of his students and wanted us to realize and reach our true potential.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is…getting to work with teachers! It doesn’t get better than hearing the stories of how our work is impacting teachers and their students. I’m fortunate to be a part of an organization that cares as passionately about helping teachers improve the quality of teaching and education in Arizona as much as I do.
Executive AssistantRead More
Liana Favela grew up in Tempe, Arizona. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and a minor in Spanish. Liana has always had a passion for working with people and has worked in customer relations for almost 10 years. She joined the Arizona K12 Center in March of 2013 as an Administrative Associate.
Favorite Book Growing Up: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Favorite Teacher & Why: Mr. Hashem, seventh grade history teacher. He made learning about history fun and involved all of his students in class discussions. He had a passion for helping his students succeed.
The best part of working at the Arizona K12 Center is...working with and learning from all of the great staff and seeing first hand the great opportunity the Arizona K12 Center provides in helping teachers and students of Arizona succeed.
Fiscal Operations ManagerRead More
Valerie Lombardi is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, attended San Francisco State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies in 1981. Valerie began her career in higher education at the University of California Berkeley, initially working as a Payroll Specialist and later as a Contract and Grants Administrator in the Department of Electronics Research and Computer Science.
In 1991 Valerie left Berkeley to manage Marathon Company, a family business focused on educational fundraising for public and private schools throughout Northern California. In 1996 Valerie and her family relocated to Phoenix and oversaw the expansion of the family business throughout the state of Arizona.
Valerie has a strong presence in the non-profit community of Arizona, most notably serving as Executive Director of The Branden Lombardi Foundation, a Phoenix based 501 ( c ) 3 nonprofit organization. Along with her son, Branden, Valerie founded the organization in 2000, and has been responsible for overseeing the day to day activities of the Foundation and its numerous programs serving the cancer community of Arizona as it pursues its mission of “Improving the Quality of Life for Cancer Patients Today”.
Favorite Book: Charlotte’s Web by EB White
Favorite Teacher & Why: Mrs. Garrett, 3rd Grade. She made us feel that we were important and had something to contribute.
The best part of working at the Arizona K12 Center is... being a part of a wonderful team that is there for the benefit of others!
SEED Project DirectorRead More
Rachael Mann joined the Arizona K12 Center as the SEED Director in January 2016. Prior to joining the organization, Rachael was the State Director for Educators Rising and State Supervisor for Education and Training at the Arizona Department of Education. A former high school career and technical education teacher and hailing from a family of educators, Rachael Mann has 14 years of experience in the classroom. She is a fellow for the Association for Career and Technical Education, past-president of the Family and Consumer Science Educators Board, and is an advocate for public education.
Originally from West Virginia, Rachael earned a bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Secondary Education from Liberty University and a master's degree in Education Leadership from Northern Arizona University. When she is not working to further the cause of education in Arizona, Rachael enjoys spending time with family, running, and exploring local restaurants.
Favorite Book Growing Up: The Little Engine that Could based on the story by Rev. Charles S. Wing
Favorite Teacher & Why: Shannon Smith was a classroom teacher and school improvement coach who mentored me throughout my teaching career. Although she has retired, she is still an advisor to me to this day.
The best part of working at the Arizona K12 Center is... having the opportunity to be involved in teacher preparation, providing resources to equip educators to foster a world class education to Arizona's learners.
Master Teacher CoordinatorRead More
Kristin Moon is a proud native of Arizona and graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History. Upon graduation, Kristin spent time traveling abroad in Italy, Switzerland, France and Greece where she was able to see firsthand all of the beautiful works of art and architecture that she had studied in her degree program.
Kristin spent the next couple of years exploring various industries and eventually discovered her passion for event planning. Prior to joining the Arizona K12 Center, Kristin worked for seven years with Junior Achievement of Arizona, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. As the Senior Manager of Special Events, Kristin was responsible for coordinating high-end fundraising functions including golf tournaments, bowl-a-thons, auctions and student programs.
Kristin currently lives in Phoenix and enjoys travel, photography, arts & crafts, and coordinating an occasional wedding in her spare time.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene
Favorite Teacher & Why: My favorite teacher is one that I technically never had in the classroom. My dad was a teacher at Mesa Junior High at the same time that I was in junior high at Brimhall. It never failed that when we were out and about, he would run into a student or a parent who went out of their way to thank him for being such an impactful influence in their lives. When I got to high school, I met many of his students who echoed the same sentiments. My dad only taught in the classroom for seven years and has since gone on to work at the district level and is currently a junior high counselor. To this day, over 20 years later, I STILL run into former students of his who are excited to tell me how much he meant to them. How lucky am I that I have been able to learn from him for my entire life?
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is… being able to work with accomplished and fascinating people – from the educators who participate in professional learning events to the Arizona K12 Center staff.
Communications CoordinatorRead More
Shannon Olinski is an Arizona native whose self-proclaimed motto is “live with passion.” After earning her Bachelor of the Arts degree in journalism and Spanish minor from the University in Arizona in 2012, she completed her Master of Education degree in higher and postsecondary education at Arizona State University.
Prior to joining the Arizona K12 Center, she was a communications specialist at Grand Canyon University, where she worked to create content and marketing campaigns that were circulated throughout many educational arenas. Also, Shannon has experience with event planning, student organizations, public relations and communications, as she was a management intern for the Memorial Union at ASU and an information specialist at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.
Shannon joined the Arizona K12 Center in May 2014 and coordinates the technology and partner events, as well as the Lesson2Life program. Her journalism experience also enables her to assist with external Center communications.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sacahar
Favorite Teacher & Why: Ms. Marsh, my high school English teacher, will always remain close to my heart. I was fortunate to have her for AP Language and AP Literature. Ms. Marsh always pushed me to new limits and required me to think critically. Whether it was creating a passionate narrative, or analyzing a thought-provoking novel, she inspired me to write from the heart with a sharp mind.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is… Working with educators who are cultivating the future. There is something incredible about helping others become better at their craft, knowing it will impact the lives of so many others. When teachers put passion into their profession it encourages their students to do the same.
National Board CoordinatorRead More
Michelle grew up in Washington State, but moved to Tucson in fifth grade. She graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in hospitality. Michelle brings her guest service background from Walt Disney World and Fox Restaurant Concepts to the Arizona K12 Center team. Working with people is incredibly important to her, and being with an organization that gives back in this way, really resonates with her.
Favorite Book Growing Up: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
Favorite Teacher & Why: Mr. Huff was one of my math teachers at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson. He made math fun, if you can believe that. He is such a funny and energetic man that helped me look at math completely differently moving forward in my education.
The best part of working at the Arizona K12 Center is... helping those that contribute to and lead the education of our children in Arizona.
Professional Learning CoordinatorRead More
Kendall Waite is an Event Coordinator for the Arizona K12 Center. She is a Colorado native and enjoys reading, traveling and rock climbing. She graduated from Brigham Young University (BYU) with a Bachelor of Science degree in recreation management with an emphasis in experience industry management and she also studied for a semester in Jerusalem. She is passionate about creating events and making them memorable learning experiences for guests. Prior to working at the Arizona K12 Center, she worked with events on Utah Lake and with the BYU Marriott School of Management.
Favorite Book Growing Up: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Favorite Teacher & Why: Mr. Martin from Chaparral High School was a teacher who had a passion for reading and for inspiring his students. He sparked my love of reading and for that I am forever grateful.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is…. The extraordinary staff and devoted teachers. It is a pleasure to come to work when everyone you see is smiling and passionate about what they do.
Master Teacher DirectorRead More
Andrew graduated from Arizona State University West with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Andrew Ward was an educator in the heart of Phoenix for 8 years. During that time, his focus was to set students on the path of accomplishing their dreams. He taught mathematics, was grade level chair, coached a variety of sports, and was the athletic director. Currently, Andrew is the Director of Master Teacher Project for the Arizona K12 Center. He believes the State of Arizona’s educators and students are making a difference in the world.
Favorite Book Growing Up: The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble
Favorite Teacher & Why: Mrs. Pope, 5th grade Social Studies teacher. She made me believe that history can come to life when we embrace the stories of the past. She made me understand today’s freedoms are yesterday’s struggles.
The best part about working at the Arizona K12 Center is… working with the many talented individuals that make up the center. Their knowledge and dedication to improving education make it exciting to come to work every day.