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The 2022 Women of Chandler

Meet This Year's Group of Amazing Women

Cassie Waz

Firefighter Paramedic, Chandler Fire Department


Following in her father’s footsteps, Cassie Waz joined the Chandler Fire Department (CFD) because she loves helping someone on their worst day—person or animal.

She mentors the youth in the CFD Cadet Program who hope to one day become future firefighters themselves. Her positive energy and attitude coupled with her love for her profession makes Waz a role model for all, and she was recently awarded the CFD Emergency Technician of the Year by her peers.

She describes herself as a passionate person who gives her all to everything she does.

“We can make anything in life better or worse with the perspective and attitude we choose to have. We can either be a part of the problem, or part of the solution. It sets the tone for our story, and the happiness and fulfillment we get to enjoy along our journey.”

Something you may not know about Waz? She loves to sing, dance, and perform.

Growing up she played the viola, harp, and piano, and took voice lessons. You will rarely find her at home without some genre of music playing in the background.    

Jody Pectol

Co-Owner, Zesty Zzeeks Pizza & Wings


Whenever Jody Pectol(along with her husband, Mark) open a new location of their popular restaurant, they fully embrace the community.

Whether it is fundraising for local schools, food donation drives for an animal shelter, or helping a family with medical bills, Pectol never turns down an opportunity to make a difference, just like her parents did while she was growing up. It’s her mission to use the family business to help others.

She has a passion is working with young people. Their pizza camps give local youth a glimpse into a small business by teaching them the basics of running a restaurant. Many of the jobs the business provides are filled by young people, where they are taught responsibility and great work ethics to set them up for success in life.

“We are very blessed. Zzeek (Mark) and I enjoy helping out others in need. When the community all comes together to help another family or cause, it’s just incredible to see the turnout. Chandler is very kind and very giving. It’s so overwhelming.” 

Nicole Vasey

Sergeant, Chandler Police Department

Founder, Back The Blue Pet Rescue


Raised by her Marine father, Nicole Vasey was always inspired to put others before herself—

over people or animals in need.

She has served the Chandler Police Department (CPD) for 15 years, and is currently responsible for hiring and recruiting, ensuring the most qualified and dedicated people are hired to serve the citizens of Chandler. Her profession often exposes her to people or families with needs, and she is quick to get them help in any way she can.

Vasey is also an important community resource, running a nonprofit pet rescue that serves abused or abandoned animals. The rescue helps residents who need vet care, food, or supplies in order to keep their pets. Strays are captured and cared for until owners or new homes are found.

“My rescue gets to witness families welcome these animals into their homes and provide a love they have never experienced before. Nothing beats watching an animal melt into the arms of their new adopters.”

Something you may not know about Vasey?

“I did not like animals very much until I was about 23 years old!”     

Andrea Marconi

Attorney, Fennemore Craig, P.C.


Andrea Marconi is an award-winning lawyer and when not litigating, she is volunteering in the community. Serving on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Humane Society, Chandler Chamber of Commerce, and KNOW Cares, and previously Phoenix Suns Charities 88 and numerous other groups, philanthropy is like a second career for her and one she absolutely loves.

Inspired by her grandfather and then her parents, “I was taught the importance of getting involved and making a difference by fighting for the people and causes you believe in to make the community a better place for all. I am now working to pass these beliefs down to my boys.”

Marconi mentors and helps train young lawyers and students, as she recognizes a big part of her success is attributed to those who mentored her. She also provides pro bono legal services and free education on various legal topics to numerous groups throughout Chandler.

Words to live by?

“Don’t be afraid to say yes to new professional and life adventures that might be outside your comfort zone. You may surprise yourself at what you love and are great at!”            

Ericka Lassiter

President, The Kwamie Lassiter Foundation


Raised by a family of givers and serving the community alongside her mother growing up, Ericka Lassitercontinues the legacy by instilling the importance of giving back to her five boys and her community.

She co-founded the Lassiter T.A.C.K.L.E Foundation, now the Kwamie Lassiter Foundation, along with her late husband, NFL Arizona Cardinal Kwamie Lassiter. The mission is committed to providing opportunities that promote comprehensive awareness of Sickle Cell Anemia Disease while also continuing to target the way children are motivated to inspire leadership through education.

Sickle Cell Anemia is particularly close to her heart, as the disease affected her youngest son until he had a bone marrow transplant in 2016.

As a Board Member of Off the Field NFL Wives Association, Lassiter embraces their mission to unite and empower initiatives that enhance the quality of life for families in our community. Together, they have raised over $1 million for charities.

Something you may not know about Lassiter?

“I may always be on the go but I am a homebody at heart. My absolute favorite place is in my bed under a weighted blanket, binge-watching TV shows!”  

Helen Jacobs

Volunteer, ICAN


In 2012, Helen Jacobs was a recently retired teacher and read that ICAN was looking for donations of school supplies and she had plenty! Knowing nothing about the organization, she took her supplies over to the newly opened ICAN building and quickly recognized the great needs of the underserved youth in Chandler. She has been volunteering there ever since.

“The most rewarding part of volunteering at ICAN is the connection I make with the youth. If I can make a child smile, help a child understand a homework question, or just be there if they need to talk, I feel accomplished.”

Her nominators write, “Teachers like Helen are often the unsung heroes of our community, but their commitment to shaping young lives for the better, even when they have already done so much, is truly something worth recognizing. That is why all of us at ICAN agree there is no one that gives more to the Chandler community every day than Helen Jacobs.”  

Kathleen Escobedo



This Arizona native and Chandler High School graduate has helped beautify Chandler—quite literally!

As a member and past Chair of the Chandler Arts Commission, Kathleen Escobedohas helped select artists for public art projects, and is a regular supporter of exhibitions at the Vision Gallery and Chandler Center for the Arts Gallery.

The Commission has approved many of the iconic art pieces located in our city, including wall murals, the beautiful shade covering over the entrance of the new Chandler Museum, and the recent electrical box coverings. An artist herself, she was selected with four others to form a group, Five on Tile, to contribute to the renovation of the street areas throughout the downtown area by creating tile for benches, tables, and art pedestals along the sidewalks.

“Living in Chandler for the last 30 years, I hope I have had some small part of making the community better through the public art that has been provided. Art is in some way the expression of the City’s heart, on view for all to see.”  

Erika Castro

Senior Community Engagement Strategist, Salt River Project (SRP)


Erika Castro’s parents immigrated from Mexico following the American Dream for a better life for their four children. One constant in the Ortiz home: education is key to change the trajectory of their lives. As a first-generation college student, Castro has come full circle. She received much-needed services from several community nonprofits that she now works alongside and supports through her role at SRP. Her biggest motivation now is her three daughters and giving them the life she only dreamed of.

Castro champions education, public and civic service, as well as arts and culture efforts in the community.

“I am passionate about ensuring that all kids have an equitable education and underserved communities have access to the arts, which enrich lives and give children life-changing experiences. I strive to be the voice for the underserved and amplify their needs.”

Castro is a member of the Chandler Cultural Foundation Board. She also serves the City of Chandler, Chandler Chamber of Commerce, Kyrene School District, Arizona Educational Foundation Teacher of the Year, and the CPLC Esperanza Latino Teacher Awards. 

Lyndsey Fry

Senior Director, Arizona Coyotes


Growing up in Chandler, Lyndsey Fry was only one of a few girls playing ice hockey in Arizona. Playing on boys' teams, she had to learn to have a thick skin very quickly but perseverance, true grit, and love of the game led her to many “firsts.”

She was the first athlete from Arizona (male or female) to play for Team USA in ice hockey Olympics; first athlete from Arizona to win an Olympic medal, silver at Sochi in 2014; first female color analyst on Coyotes broadcast team; co-founder of the Arizona Kachinas Hockey Association, a competitive hockey program for girls in Arizona.

Her mentor once told her the purpose of a Harvard degree isn’t to become rich or famous; it’s to make a positive impact in the world. And she has been doing exactly that ever since.  "My parents raised me to believe that I can do ANYTHING and I have held onto that into that into adulthood.  I think that confidence mixed with my humility and work ethic has lead me to the opportunities I have today!"

“I love being able to inspire girls to become the next generation of incredible women. Whether that’s teaching them life lessons through hockey or being a role model in business, sports or broadcasting, I want young girls to know that anything is possible!”

What’s on her bucket list? Singing the National Anthem at a Coyotes game. 

“I can sing, and I’m pretty good!”     

Anni Beach

Founder, Jam Pak


“I grew up in a family where building community among friends and people who needed a place at the table of life was taught by words and deeds.”

In 1994, this substitute teacher at Galveston Elementary had taken her mandolin to the school and played bluegrass music in every classroom where she taught. After school, two little boys knocked on her door, wanting to sing and play more music. The very next week, Jam Pak Blues ‘N’ Grass Neighborhood Band was born. She and her husband, Vincent, opened their front yard and their home to the children.

“We made our home into an oasis of peace and beauty in our immigrant neighborhood. The house and buildings are brightly painted. A huge memorial flag flies day and night to remind people passing by to be faithful and to live in peace with each other.”

Over the past 20 years, literally hundreds of children have joined in, learning music, self-awareness, and self-discipline through creativity and expression. In the early days, the children built instruments called canjos: a single-string fretted instrument with a soda can. Today, Jam Pak is more than an organization, it is a community created around a love for music. It is a place where children grow up playing bluegrass and building a music community with everyone on a level playing field. Many never leave the band and, in turn, mentor the next generation of young musicians.

“My strongest trait I was born with is TENACITY. I am tenacious! Not a pretty word but it defines my character. When I set out to do something, I will do everything I can to see it through.”

Her dedication to this mission was recognized in 2014 with a Governors Arts Award. Her embracing spirit and signature pigtails are a light in the arts community. It is impossible not to smile and be pulled in by her enthusiastic spark.


Dr. Andrea Stickland

Owner, Animal Medical Center of Chandler


Dr. Andrea Stickland’s interest in animals began early in life. What started with two little dogs grew to include 10 horses, 24 cats, 26 dogs, and two birds—all at one time!

Originally in medical school for humans, Dr. Stickland made a shift when she recognized her love of people included the human-animal bond in a big way. She discovered her joy came from working in medicine, while being able to play with animals at the same time.

After her past work at the Indian reservations along New Mexico and Arizona for the Remote Area Medicine program to help spay, neuter, and vaccinate reservation animals, Dr. Stickland was invited by Michigan State University to teach veterinary students remote area medicine and surgery on the reservations.

Her current practice employs over 30 employees and recently expanded by adding a Feline Medical Center. Her passion is to make sure every person and animal is safe and healthy, not only for the animal, but also for the good of public health.

One of the challenges in veterinary medicine is making the connection with the owner so that whatever happens is in the best interest of both the owner and the pet.

“It can be sad, but it can also be very happy and fulfilling when the animal is doing amazing and the owners are happy, it just completes the whole package.”

Dr. Stickland stays well-connected in the community by sponsoring local school activities and needs, working with local rescue organizations, and as a member of a local chapter of the National Charity League, along with her daughter.

“I like to be a resource where people can come to find answers without fear of judgment… perhaps we can have a few laughs and tell jokes while doing it.”

What’s on the Bucket List for 2022?

“I’d like to get involved with the local veterinary schools at the University of Arizona and Midwestern to provide a hub for continued education for future veterinarians.”  

Dr. Yasmin Rahimi

Founder and VP, BackFit Health + Spine


As a young girl, Dr. Yasmin Rahimi’s parents moved her family to the U.S. right before the Iranian revolution in 1978. Not only did they have to learn how to create a life for themselves in a strange country, they volunteered their time and resources to help other immigrants and refugees pursue the “American Dream.”

Her passion for sports and physiology led her to receive a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. In 2002, she started her own practice in Chandler, originally offering only chiropractic services and physiotherapy services. A couple of years later, her brother joined and they expanded into four locations. Soon after that, they integrated with medical services, and today have 10 locations around the Valley specializing in chiropractic, medical, physical therapy, and pain management specialties, including two interventional treatment centers.  

Working with over 500 local businesses, schools, and nonprofits, Dr. Yas is driven to help people live their best life by educating them and supporting them to be their own health advocates. She has served on the East Valley Advisory Board of Phoenix Children’s Hospital and co-founded the BackFit Cares Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for East Valley children in need. This year she hopes to create a scholarship program in honor of her deceased parents to help young immigrant and minority students in the healthcare field.

Julie Reid

Financial Advisor, Edward Jones


Julie Reid’s passion is for youth-serving organizations, investing her time, talent, and treasure. She is described as someone always willing to help another for the greater good.

Having worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 15 years, Reid knows how important it is for an organization to have good volunteers, and she has made it her mission to be one. Serving as the Board Chair of the Chandler/Gilbert YMCA, or serving on ICAN’s Dream Big Committee, her focus is on putting kids first.  

As a financial planner, she seems to be everywhere— networking events, lead groups, and community events. She helps support people, organizations, and businesses plan for their own successful futures.  

She also devotes her time to helping establish the Chandler Business Alliance as a Foundation and 501c3 and will serve on that Board.

Her words to live by come from George Eliot (real name was Mary Ann Evans): “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

What is something you may not know about her?

“I am a two-time Ironman!” 

Kate Ford

Senior Director, PayPal


Kate Ford had a high school teacher who was passionate about making a difference for students who did not have a supportive environment at home. She got them involved in the local community and organized a group of mentors and advocates to help guide them. As a student who benefited from her efforts, Ford resolved she would pay forward this mission as soon as she was able.

Serving on the Board of both the Chandler Chamber of Commerce and Dignity Health East Valley Power of the Purse, Ford promotes the power of women’s philanthropy and community. She is also a member of the Wishmaker’s Council for Make-A- Wish Arizona.

“I like connecting people to bring ideas to life and fresh thoughts to familiar problems to create solutions.”

Ford is actively involved in promoting diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging in her workplace and community. She has helped communicate and educate residents and businesses on creating an inclusive environment within Chandler.

“Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice be heard.”

What might you not know about Ford? Last year she obtained her private pilot’s license.  


Megan Mayhall

AVP, Alliant Insurance Services


Shortly after moving to Chandler, a friend introduced Megan Mayhall to ICAN. After learning about the needs of the local kids and the impact the organization was making on their lives, she was hooked! Today she serves as Board Chair and is proud of their plans for expansion in order to reach more kids in need.

“I absolutely love living in Chandler. Not only is it beautiful and clean, but we have a strong family-oriented community along with top-ranking schools. I am lucky to be able to raise my family here.”

A third-generation Arizona native and graduate of ASU, Mayhall’s career achievements have been widely recognized by her peers. Her nominator writes, “True success is not measured by wealth, but how you use your good fortune and talents in the service of others. No one works harder than Megan to secure the well-being of others and the Chandler community.”

Something you may not know about her? Prior to her insurance career, she was a Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Coordinator working with 24 patients weekly to improve their quality of life.


Lynne Hartke

Writer, Speaker


After being diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago, Lynne Hartke learned the importance of discovering beauty, hope, and faith right where you live.

A cancer survivor, Hartke celebrates by giving motivational messages to women’s groups, churches, and the cancer community.

“One of the most rewarding aspects for me is to see the light come into someone’s eyes as they connect with the message and realize they are not alone.”

Hartke and her husband Kevin (Chandler Mayor), have pastored a local church, Trinity Christian Fellowship, for over 30 years, and she has spent endless hours volunteering by teaching children’s classes, handing out food boxes, and washing sheets for the homeless.

“Last year I made it my goal to see 25 sunrises in 25 different locations around Arizona, not realizing how early I would need to get up to drive to the places BEFORE the sunrise. My dog was not impressed!”

When not writing or speaking, you can find the First Lady of Chandler keeping up with her four grown children and three grandchildren, or exploring nature around their cabin up north.          

  • Photo provided