ASBA-ASA 65th Annual Conference

December 6-8, 2023

The ASBA-ASA Annual Conference is the celebratory end-of-year gathering of school board members, superintendents and other district leaders in the state. Attendees hear from national speakers, focus on statewide education initiatives through a variety of breakout sessions, and network and share experiences with other educational leaders from across Arizona. School board members, superintendents and educators are celebrated during the Celebration Café luncheon and Tribute to Leadership portions of the event. The 2022 Annual Conference will be held Dec. 14-16 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix.

To view and access the ASBA-ASA Annual Conference Guidebook click here. 


J.J. Soria

Actor, Speaker and Entrepreneur

J.J. Soria is most recognizable from his acting roles; most recently starring as Erik Morales in the Netflix Original series, “Gentefied.” He has also starred in other award-winning productions such as “Fast & Furious,” “The Shield,” “Army Wives” and “CSI Miami.” Born in the tough streets of Boyle Heights, near the heart of East LA, his personal story is filled with extreme highs and lows which labeled him as “at-risk.” At the age of 7, Soria suffered a severe head injury that affected his memory and ability to learn. As he got older, he looked inward to find the strength to overcome all of life's challenges. Before acting, J.J worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District, serving kids with disabilities, a population that is still very dear to him. He eventually found himself at the footsteps of College of the Canyons, where he discovered his love for acting. Passionate about helping others, Soria has decided to use his powerful platform to inspire others by sharing his message of gratitude and maintaining a "no limits" mindset. In his off time, J.J. invests in his company “J-Walk Theory,” a brand he developed to help young people understand their value and and the importance of creating their own path.


Dr. Adolph "Doc" Brown III

Author, Humorist, Psychologist, Master Educator, and Unifier

Dr. Adolph Brown, III, is a clinical psychologist, life-long social justice advocate, and urban and rural school educator. Admired around the world for his simple and direct “Real Talk,” and powerful, universal and timeless teachings, he credits Head Start and public education for making him who he is today.  For over 30 years, Dr. Brown has researched, field-tested, and implemented a set of concrete strategies used to support and enhance schools and businesses around the world. He is recognized as one of the top 10 most influential thought leaders in America. Although he does not consider himself a motivational speaker, he was selected as one of the top motivational and inspirational speakers in America as well. Dr. Brown remains humble and grateful for his journey. He is most proud to be the husband of Marla and father of eight uniquely beautiful human beings, including a special needs daughter, and a grandson.

Wednesday, Dec. 14 - New Board Member Orientation

8:00 am - 8:30 am

Check-In and Continental Breakfast (provided)

Registration Pickup.

8:30 am - 8:40 am

Welcome and The Value of Membership Spotlight

8:40 am - 9:00 am

Student Achievement and Arizona Students

Chris Kotterman, Director of Governmental Relations

Who are Arizona students and how do we measure their success? We live in a beautiful, diverse state and students come in all shapes and sizes. What does that mean for school districts and governing boards?

9:00 am - 9:45 am

Policy: The Law of the Land

Nick Buzan, Director of Legal and Policy Services, Dr. Charlotte Patterson, Policy Analyst, Lynne Bondi, Policy Analyst

The approval of policies is a "must do" for governing boards. During this session, we will look at policies, and review the questions: What are policies? Where do they come from? Why are they important? Where can they be found? Plan on bringing your tablet or laptop so you can follow along while we take you on a tour of governing board policies.

9:45 am - 10:00 am


10:05 am - 10:10 am

The Value of Membership Spotlight

10:10 am - 11:00 am

Policy: Practical Implications on Governance

Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager, Devin del Palacio, Advocacy and Strategic Initiatives Consultant

But what does the policy manual have to do with the real-life experiences of board members? In this session, we will dig into policies so you can see how they impact the board, your staff and students, and the functioning of your school district.

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Open Meeting Law

Nick Buzan, Director of Legal and Policy Services

If there is one thing most new board members find challenging, it's the Open Meeting Law (OML). While it appears to be restrictive, you will learn why it is critical to the maintenance of transparency and accountability for governing boards.

12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Lunch (provided)

1:15 pm - 1:20 pm

The Value of Membership Spotlight

1:20 pm - 2:00 pm

School Finance

Kenneth McGovern, Chief Financial Officer, Sierra Vista USD, Chris Kotterman, Director of Governmental Relations

During this session, we take a look at the basic framework of school finance and school district budgets. And we'll share the top 10 questions you should ask as a new board member.

2:00 pm - 2:05 pm

The Value of Membership Spotlight

2:05 pm - 2:30 pm


Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager

What do you need to know before January 1, 2023? We will share a comprehensive list of items you should have access to before taking office. From the basics of demographic information to the strategic plan of the district, you will have concrete items to ask for ahead of taking office.

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm


Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager, Heidi Vega, Director of Marketing and Communications, Jade Frazier, Multimedia Communications Manager

From Board/Superintendent communication to social media, this session will cover the many complexities of communication as you begin your role as a governing board member.

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Veteran Panel of Board Members: How to Get Stuff Done!

Tracey Benson, Associate Executive Director and special guests

As a new board member, you will hear it is hard to get anything done in a team of five. Hear from a panel of veteran board members who have worked with their fellow board members to get new programs or initiatives approved.

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Main Conference Check-In & Exhibit Hall Reception

Join your colleagues from around the state for food, drinks and a fun evening of networking in the vibrant Exhibit Hall, which features more than 100 vendors.

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

The Big Event

Don't miss the DJ, dance floor, snacks and a no-host bar. (Non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages available for purchase.) Win prize drawings, including a special drawing open just to new members (those who join that night). Hosted by the Black Alliance, Hispanic-Native American Indian Caucus and Rural Alliance.

Thursday, Dec. 15 - Main Conference, Day 1

8:00 am - 8:30 am

Check-In and Continental Breakfast (provided) (Sponsored by A & H Painting)

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8:30 am - 9:50 am

Opening General Session, Welcome, Presentation of Colors & Keynote Speaker JJ Soria

9:50 am - 10:30 am

Exhibit Hall and Meet & Greet with Keynote Speaker JJ Soria

10:30 am - 11:20 am

Breakout Sessions - Round 1

  • Shifting Focus: How a Steadfast Commitment to Fun, Motivation, Wellness and Culture Resulted in Unprecedented Growth Baboquivari Unified School District is an Arizona public school district on the sovereign Tohono O'odham Nation (south of Phoenix and west of Tucson). The district serves the second largest indigenous community in Arizona and the third largest in the United States. The district had, for years, fought to address poor academic achievement, chronic absenteeism, declining enrollment and the mass exodus of education professionals. However, BUSD has revolutionized how we teach children by adopting a courageous, two-prong strategic plan that creates Himdag (Way of Life) and brings fun back to the organization. As a result, and despite COVID, the district has experienced increases in enrollment, significant improvement in student outcomes and decreased staff turnover. In this session, learn how the governing board and superintendent worked together to transform their district and how you can, too. Speakers - Ruben Diaz, Assistant Superintendent, Baboquivari Unified School District; Juan Buendia, Governing Board President, and Governing Board Members Kathy Vance, AnneMarie Stevens, Sylvia Hendricks, Baboquivari Unified School District
  • From Fractured to Flourishing: A Story of Rebuilding Community Support Through Common Values Between frustrations over COVID and national debates around "SEL" and "CRT," many school districts saw increased tensions and divisiveness in their communities. Vail School District was no exception. Anger and accusations flew and the community was fractured. Now, through a focus on common values, our community is healing. In this session we will share how we brought stakeholders from across the community together to identify 7 common values that have become our focus. Attendees will leave this session with the knowledge and tools needed to align a wide range of stakeholders and build collaboration around divisive topics. Speakers - Heather Stough, Director of Community Connections & Student Supports, Vail School District ; Debbie Penn, Deputy Superintendent of Teaching & Learning, Vail School District ; Allison Pratt, Governing Board Member, Vail School District; Callie Tippett, Vail School District
  • Partnerships with Purpose: Building the Capacity to Respond to Mental Health Concerns While Reducing Administrative Burden Mental health concerns among students have reached epidemic levels and districts are struggling with how to respond to this need in the context of the educational setting. Formalized community behavioral health partnerships are key to this response. In this session we explore how these partnerships reduce administrative burden, address the mental health concerns of students, and relieve school counselors to provide academic and social support. Members will discover foundational components of these formal agreements, how to use data to determine impact on student success and how these infrastructure supports enhance school safety and academic success. Speakers - Amy Castellanos, AWARE Coordinator, Arizona Department of Education; Kyle Holschlag, AWARE Coordinator, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment
  • The Big Issues Facing Rural Arizona Schools Hear from a panel of rural school leaders - a teacher, superintendent and county superintendent - about the challenges they face in their roles and solutions they are pursuing to address them. Speakers - Ty White, Arizona Teacher of the Year and National Rural School Teacher of the Year (Willcox USD), Dr. Melissa Sadorf, Superintendent, Stanfield ESD, and president elect of the National Rural Education Association, and Dru Waggoner, La Paz County Superintendent of Schools
  • Research-Supported Habits to Create a Great School Board and Superintendent Team This session is designed to introduce school board members and superintendents to research-supported solutions for balancing roles and responsibilities. Real-life scenarios and conditional simulations will allow participants to consider various situations and potential solutions for becoming an outstanding leader within the school board and superintendent team. Speakers - Dr. Dave Braswell, CEO and Co-Founder, UpSlope Solutions; Dr. Paul Tighe, Executive Director, Arizona School Administrators

11:30 am - 12:20 pm

Breakout Sessions - Round 2

  • Housing Our Community: How School Districts Can Help Tackle the Housing Crisis Through Vitalyst Health Foundation's support, the Alhambra Elementary School District has built a model on how to leverage school property to build affordable housing for teachers, staff and the greater community at-large. Learn how bold leadership and partnerships with community organizations can transform unused space into something new and valuable for your district and community. Speakers - Christian Solorio, Governing Board Member, Alhambra ESD; Dr. Cece Maes, Superintendent, Alhambra ESD, Gabriel Jaramillo, Director of Healthy Communities, Vitalyst Health Foundation; and Steve Hastings, Chief of Real Estate, Foundation for Senior Living
  • Creating a Path to Thrive: Implementing Virtual Teaching Practices and Equitable Academic Solutions - Even in Rural Communities Red Mesa USD has struggled with many of the same challenges as other districts do, including the impacts of the teacher shortage and COVID. However, as both a rural and remote district, these challenges are exacerbated as resources are hard to find. However, in the 2021-22 school year, Red Mesa USD partnered with ASU Digital Prep to provide targeted professional development for teachers and digital math support for grades 5-12 - despite the fact that fewer than 20% of homes in the area have broadband internet access. In this session, participants will learn how ASU Digital Prep was able to support this rural and remote district to address staff shortages, support staff professional development and provide personalized, targeted learning opportunities for students. Speakers - Mary O'Malley, Director of Arizona Partnerships, ASU Prep Digital; Dr. Amy Fuller, Superintendent, Red Mesa USD; Amber Morrow, Executive Director of Arizona Partnerships, ASU Prep Digital
  • Promoting Health, Preventing Disease: Why School Boards Should Care about Employee Health and Wellness– and What They Can Do About It It's not all sit ups and salads! Creating and supporting healthy schools, healthy employees and engaged students all starts with your employees feeling valued and well. Employee health promotion and education will help employees give their best when they feel their best. What your health plan offers through no-cost, low-effort programs and the disease states addressed can have a dramatic impact on your members overall well-being. Supporting school employee wellness is an important way to communicate that each staff member is respected and valued. In this session you will learn the most common health concerns facing our population today and ways to help manage these health conditions. Speakers - Mayra L. Zuniga, PHR, SHRM-CP, Human Resources Director, Nogales USD; Tina Etzler, Senior Strategic Consultant–Medical Management, Meritain Health (on behalf of ASBAIT)
  • Learning from Our Leaders: Insights from Arizona's Black District Superintendents Learn from a panel of Black superintendents from throughout Arizona about the assets diverse leaders bring and the challenges they face. Hosted by the ASBA Black Alliance. Speakers - Presiding officer: Berdetta Hodge (Tempe Union HSD), President, Black Alliance; with panel members Dr. George Barnes (Balsz ESD), Dr. Anna Battle (Casa Grande UHSD), Ernest Rose (Wilson ESD) and Dr. Sheila Harrison-Williams, Executive Director, ASBA; moderated by Lindsay Love (Chandler USD), Immediate Past President, Black Alliance
  • Telling Your District's Story and Building Trust in a Distrustful Time The echo chamber of social media. A tense, politically charged national landscape. And the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Learn how to help protect your school’s reputation in one of the most challenging communications atmospheres imaginable. This session will blend crisis communication best practices with pragmatic tips for social media use, an overview of communication plans and a discussion of what storytelling techniques still work. Speakers - Thom Fladung, managing partner of Hennes Communications and a 33-year veteran of daily newspapers

12:30 pm - 1:45 pm

Celebration Café Awards Luncheon (provided)(Sponsored by Proximity Learning)

We'll celebrate Arizona's ASA Superintendents of the Year and recognize some of the top educational programs in the state with ASBA Golden Bell Awards.

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1:45 pm - 2:30 pm

Exhibit Hall, Dessert & Entertainment

Enjoy dessert, student entertainment and prize drawings in the Exhibit Hall.

2:30 pm - 3:20 pm

Breakout Sessions - Round 3

  • NSBA 2022 Magna Award Winner: Gadsden ESD's Early College Program Gadsden ESD received NSBA's highest program honor, the Magna Award, for their Early College Program. In this session, attendees will learn how early identification of high achieving students, exposure to college-prep programming and STEM careers, and partnerships with local colleges have helped over 1,700 middle school students take college level math for credit and brought in more than $7 million in scholarship funds to the district for students to attend Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth Summer Residential Program. Speakers - Homero Chavez, Early College Program Director, Gadsden ESD; Jesus Arrizon, Lead Early College Program Math Teacher, Gadsden ESD; Raul Rojas, Middle School Math Teacher, Gadsden ESD
  • Empowering Student Voice Through Increased Leadership Opportunities Empowering students to lead and serve as critical voices on campus is a key to positive campus culture. This presentation will highlight student leadership opportunities and structures on West-MEC campuses that encourage student engagement, develop professional skill and provide opportunities to articulate learning. We will share how students are empowered to lead through Student Ambassador Programs, Student Advisory Councils, and Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs). Speakers - Jarett Guy, Administrator for Learning Systems, West-MEC; Mike Johnson, Assistant Campus Administrator, West-MEC Northwest Campus; Aaron Parsons, Campus Administrator, West-MEC Southwest Campus
  • Instructional Innovation: Leveraging Partnerships to Create Unique Learning Opportunities for Students Participants will learn about the benefits of deep community partnerships. Our K-8 school district has created deep relationships with businesses and community leaders to bring unique learning opportunities and experiences to our students. Community and district leaders will share why, how and where partnerships have benefitted students and the community at large. We will also discuss the difference between investing in your local schools and coming in to “fix” the community. Speakers - Jennifer Cruz, Superintendent, Pendergast ESD; Susan Serin, Governing Board Member, Pendergast ESD; Saravanan Balasubramanian, Principal Architect, Orcutt Winslow; Robert Heidt, Jr. , President & CEO, Glendale Chamber of Commerce
  • Building a Stronger District with Stronger TechnologyTechnology moves fast, and like the rest of the world, K-12 schools are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. Learn how reimagining K–12 technology infrastructure and support can create reliable, secure and strong technology to support your critical education mission no matter where you are in the state. Speakers - Dan Mason, Director, K12itc; Jerry Jennex, Superintendent, Globe USD
  • Fostering Positive Board-Superintendent Relations Learn practical strategies to support positive board-superintendent relations, communications and conflict resolution from a panel of experienced superintendents and board members. Speakers - Panel: Dr. Robbie Koerperich, Superintendent, Holbrook USD, and Linda Yazzie, Governing Board Member, Holbrook USD; Dr. Roger Freeman, Superintendent, Littleton ESD, and Kathy Reyes, Governing Board Member, Littleton ESD; Moderators: Dr. Paul Tighe, Executive Director, Arizona School Administrators; Julie Bacon, Leadership Development Manager, Arizona School Boards Association

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

ASBA Annual Membership Meeting

Election of officers to the 2023 ASBA Board of Directors will take place and an state-of-the-association report will be provided.


ASA Business Meeting


Exhibit Hall

Another opportunity to visit with the more than 100 vendors in the Exhibit Hall and participate in prize drawings.

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Exhibit Hall Reception

Enjoy more fun, activities, food and drinks, plus some new vendor-sponsored activities.

7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

President's Reception and Dance

ASBA President Monica Trejo invites all conference attendees to join her at the reception and dance sponsored by ADM Group and Wholesale Floors. Come enjoy dancing, a hosted bar and a chance to relax with other attendees.

Friday, Dec. 16 - Main Conference, Day 2

8:00 am - 8:30 am

Continental Breakfast (provided)

8:30 am - 9:20 am

Breakout Sessions - Round 4

  • Redefining Parent Engagement: How to Empower Parents to Champion Student Success Parent engagement in our schools has become a sort of mythical unicorn. Many have attempted to create strong relationships with parents, but most have failed to achieve their desired level of success. The reality is that meaningful parent engagement comes from providing them with an environment that fosters respect, support and courage. Learn more about how ALL In Education’s partnership with TNTP (an organization focused on creating equity in education) is redefining parent engagement and utilizing proven strategies to create a network of parents that are involved and committed to their students' success. Speakers - Livier Delgadillo, Leadership Programs Director, ALL In Education; Nathaly Batista-Morales, Director, Academics and Multilingual Learners, TNTP
  • 10 Years Later: How Eight Districts Use Participatory Budgeting to Empower Students and Impact Culture What happens when students decide how school district dollars are spent? Spoiler: Students cultivate a strong sense of personal agency, build relationships with their peers and educators, and strengthen important skills such as communication, problem-solving and collaboration. And they do all of this while also making a difference for their school community and inspiring long-term civic engagement. Join this session to learn how School Participatory Budgeting has been replicated in eight Arizona school districts, contributing to positive changes in student engagement and learning, SEL outcomes and school climate. Speakers - Tara Bartlett, Ph.D. Candidate, ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College; Consuelo Hernandez, Governing Board Member, Sunnyside USD; Nicholas Lodato, Principal, Emerson Elementary School; Madison Rock, Project Manager, Center for the Future of Arizona; Matt Strom, Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations, Casa Grande Union HSD; Cyndi Tercero, Community and Family Engagement Manager, Phoenix Union HSD
  • It Can Be Done: Creating Partnerships in Rural Communities Chino Valley USD has successfully fostered community partnerships that support students and families in their community. Come learn how you, too, can develop successful partnerships with foundations, service clubs, faith-based organizations and neighborhoods that support student needs. Speakers - Cindy Daniels, Assistant Superintendent, Chino Valley USD; Wayne Ballard, President, Chino Valley Education Foundation
  • Redesigning Effective Instruction: Meeting Students Where They're at with Virtual Learning There is an increasingly growing population of students and families who are advocating for virtual education options to become more widely available. Districts and educators must be prepared to navigate the new educational landscape. Innovative approaches are redesigning educational expectations from the ground up; no longer are we requiring students to conform to the traditional model of education. By offering educators the opportunity to reinvent delivery models and platforms for instruction, we can meet this need, all while maintaining high expectations and engaging students with meaningful content, applicable to the real world. This session will include best practices in online instruction and teacher development. Speakers - Dr. April Willis, Director of Operations & Business Development, National Virtual Teacher Association
  • Hispanic-Native American Indian Caucus Annual Business Meeting At this meeting, members of the HNAIC will elect officers and vote on a bylaw change regarding the HNAIC's future structure. Speakers - Presiding officers: Eva Carrillo Dong, HNAIC President, and Juan Buendia, HNAIC Vice President-Native American
  • Why Not the Best? The Past, Present and Future of Public Education in AZ This is a follow-up to the session held at the ASA Fall Leadership Conference. Join current and former superintendents in a discussion of the status of public education in Arizona. What actions can we take to restore our profession to one of influence? Discuss input from a political strategist. Identify key messages. Coordinate our communication. Speakers - Current and Retired Superintendents, moderated by Dr. Deb Duvall, former superintendent, Mesa USD, and retired executive director, Arizona School Administrators

9:40 am - 10:50 am

Keynote Speaker Dr. Adolph "Doc" Brown III

10:50 am - 12:00 pm

Tribute to Leadership Awards Celebration and Passing of the Gavel (Sponsored by Veregy)

ASBA's most prestigious awards will be presented during this very special ceremony, and the gavel will be passed from the 2022 president of the ASBA Board of Directors to the 2023 president.

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12:00 pm -



Emcee Sponsor - ASBAIT

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Attendee Guidebook Sponsor – Dave Bang Associates and MindShine Inc.

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Wi-Fi Sponsor – Elontec LLC

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Tote Bag & Conference Lanyards Sponsor – 1GPA

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Snack Pack Sponsor – Veregy

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Luggage Tag Machine Sponsor – Go Solutions Group

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Directional Decals Sponsor - Pueblo Mechanical & Controls

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Directional Decals Sponsor - Biddle & Brown Fence Company

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Directional Decals Sponsor – Belfor Property Restoration

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December 14, 2022

8:00 am - 4:00 pm