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The Incredible Women of Chandler

Meet This Year's Group of Amazing, Inspiring Women

Article by Joyce Selk & Michelle Glicksman

Photography by Lifestyle Media & Branding

Originally published in Chandler City Lifestyle

Kim Moyers

Cultural Development Director, City of Chandler

“Watching Downtown Chandler transform over the past five years has been a highlight of my professional career,” says the director of this new department for the City of Chandler. Kim credits her team with creating memorable opportunities for residents and families and credits their dedication and passion as the source of her own inspiration.

Moyers also enjoys helping the new businesses coming into Downtown maneuver through the development process as they prepare to open their doors. She is there to see them through all the “blood, sweat, and tears” that finally makes them a part of the thriving Downtown family. Once open, Moyers stays in close contact with the owners and their key staff to assist them with City services as needed.

As for how she finds balance, Moyers credits her family. 

“My family has worked with me volunteering from the time they were very small and it has been integrated into their lives as adults. Spending time with my grandchildren centers me and helps me put perspective on what’s important in life… and they make me LAUGH and be silly, something we all can use more of!”

Her words to live by: “Be kind. It’s really that simple. And on a really bad day… this, too, shall pass!”

Rachna Nath 

Teacher/STEM Coordinator, Chandler Unified School District

Rachna Nath moved to the U.S. from India in 2003, and even though she had a master’s degree in science, no one would hire her. Even reducing her credentials on her resume did not land her a job, so she came up with the strategy of volunteering at a hospital, to get to know people and let them get to know her. It worked! She was noticed for her cheerful disposition and offered a job in the cafeteria, cleaning tables and floors, and cashiering. Nath loved her work at the hospital and was patient, finally being offered a teaching position at Mesa Community College.

A new chapter started in 2012 when she was offered a laboratory tech job with the USDA, allowing her to pursue her PhD. But life happens that can change the course of your life and Nath found her true purpose. In July 2017, she joined the staff at ACP-Erie and hasn’t looked back, securing two Lemelson-MIT excite awards and Global Innovation Award 2019 from TURNITIN, and more.

 “I love to see the students look beyond their grades and think about giving back to the community by exploring their creative and innovative spirits at early as 9th grade,” she says. 

She encourages her students to be WEIRD and think outside the box. 

“I have them critically thinking to come up with innovative solutions to solve real world problems.”

Monica Romero

Director of Federal Program, Chandler Unified School District

“Poverty does not define character. Ever since junior high my goal was not to become a statistic to teen pregnancy, high school dropout, or the stereotype of my culture.”

A devoted educator, Monica Romero develops, coordinates and supervises the needs of the Title 1 schools in Chandler Unified School District. Particularly, the families of refugees, migrants, the homeless, Native Americans, and English Language Learners. 

Outside of the classroom, Romero serves on the board of Si Se Puede Foundation and has participated on many national committees which advises states in carrying out their responsibilities to underrepresented students.

Romero is especially passionate about preschool-aged children and the development of the whole child. Her focus is on having them understand that attitude is what drives success, and that how one reacts to their environment or the things that happen to them will determine an outcome.

Her nominator summarizes her accomplishments by saying, “Monica has and continues to be the voice for the voiceless, and a strong advocate for providing equitable education for all in and out of the classroom.”

Mindy Jones Nevarez 

Owner, Amy Jones Real Estate Group

After years in the nonprofit sector (AmeriCorps, Hands on Greater Phoenix, Phoenix Children’s Hospital) and seven years in corporate America, this Phoenix native took on a completely new career in real estate and has never looked back.

“I’m a learning junkie and I was excited for a new challenge,” she says. 

“I love supporting local businesses. I am a Phoenix native so get star-struck by local owners and home-grown family names, and I love being able to run into my clients in my own neighborhood.”

This new mom is a true servant leader and she stresses that mentality with her staff and team of agents.

“My team continues to give back to our community both financially and with our time. The harder we work, the more we have to give. We are strong believers in that.

“Inspiration comes from all around you, if you just keep your eyes open. The hard part isn’t finding things to put my hands into; the hard part is that I want to do EVERYTHING!”

Michelle Mac Lennan 

General Manager, Chandler Center for the Arts

The theatre bug hit Michelle Mac Lennan in elementary school and she has worked professionally in the industry since she was 16.

“I’ve experienced nearly every aspect of the theatre from box office to acting to scenic design, but found my loving home in Chandler at CCA.”

During her 20-year tenure with the Center, her influence has expanded programming significantly, both in schedule and scope. She has helped create an engaging, innovative space that has created economic vitality for the Downtown area expanding what was once a winter snowbird season to a robust, year-round schedule. She spearheaded the Connecting Kids program, serving more than 5,800 young people with free or low-cost arts experiences. Plans for the future include looking for new ways to present theatrical performances beyond the four walls of the Arts Center.

When asked about the rewarding aspects of her job, she answers, “Walking through the center on a performance night and seeing the activity—people laughing, admiring the art, sharing stories with our incredible volunteers and staff. And then the moment when you can hear a pin drop in the crowd because they are all listening, waiting for what comes next. Gives me thrills every time!”

From her nominator, “Simply put, Michelle is the arts in Chandler.” Lucky us!

Melissa Deanda

Lieutenant, Chandler Police Department

No day is ever the same and that’s the draw for Deanda’s decision to be one of Chandler’s finest. 

It started in high school with the encouragement of her school’s Resource Officer. Picking his brain and going on ride-alongs, she soon fell in love with the job and the opportunity it would give her to have a positive impact on her community. 

Deanda is rewarded daily by knowing she is making a difference by having the “unique opportunity to interact with people on a personal level, be a role model and offer support in someone’s time of need.”

She is able to help shape the culture of the Chandler Police Department in her role overseeing the professional standards for Internal Affairs, Recruitment and Hiring. Chief Duggan describers her as an “influencer who models excellence” in the department.

Jennifer Hewitt 

Executive Director, Chandler Education Foundation; Board President, Desert Cancer Foundation of Arizona

Jennifer Hewitt has worked for nonprofits her entire life.

“I ended up holding almost every position in the nonprofit world, but if you have ever been in nonprofit work, you become the Jack of All Trades,” she says.

Her inspiration has always been to make a change in the communities where she lives and works.

“I want ALL people to be afforded the right to live the life they want.”

Chandler Education Foundation (CEF) is a nonprofit that provides significant financial support to the schools, students and staff of Chandler Unified School District. She has a deep appreciation and passion for how nonprofits seek to improve the quality of life for everyone, and says she has learned something very valuable: “CEF is not simply a fundraising entity. It has become and morphed into the conduit for students and families to give back to the community in which they work and live. We are helping them understand that service to others is critical in the success or failure of a community.”

Jessica Westmiller

Social Worker, Chandler Fire Department

Jessica Westmiller describes her job as a “humbling profession.” A typical day for her is responding to someone in our community during a time of need. They come from all walks of life and may be struggling with a parenting or relationship issue, grief or loss, mental health, addiction, homelessness, financial instability, or some other source of trauma.  

As a member of a Crisis Response Unit, she is truly a first responder, accompanying sworn fire and police personnel on scene to assist with rapid crisis de-escalation, resource and referral, and public safety.

“I aspire to strengthen entire family systems and build resiliency for those impacted by trauma, poverty, systemic health issues, or lack of connectedness,” she says. “My current role as the crisis intervention coordinator with the Chandler Fire Department allows me to build roots and remain invested in the Chandler community. What a privilege it is to serve others in such a meaningful way.”

Crystal Blackwell

Founder/President, Crystal Clear Results LLC

After 20 years as a leader in corporate America, Crystal Blackwell followed her passion and started a company offering coaching in business results, professional leadership skills, and life coaching. Her key focus with clients is to close the gap between where they are and where they want to be. 

She’s a member of the Phoenix chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. (a national professional and humanitarian organization), which focuses on youth, improving the status of women, service to senior citizens, community beautification, and community partnerships. 

Blackwell wakes up each day excited about her coaching business.

“I can’t imagine work that is more rewarding than what I get to do as a coach. I am able to partner with my clients, executives, and community leaders helping them uncover pain points either personal, professional, or in their business, while offering solutions. I am blessed to be doing the work that I absolutely love!” she says.

Blackwell is currently writing her first book for business leaders who want to understand young, professional millennials and Gen Z.

Kelly Delgado

Senior Programs Manager, AZCEND

When Kelly Delgado began working as a dishwasher for the senior nutrition program now offered by AZCEND, she never imagined 20 years later she'd be the senior program manager. 

She initially applied as a way to keep herself busy after beating Hodgkin’s Disease, and because the part-time position provided the flexibility to be with her daughter after school.

Over the years she has held every kitchen position, and currently manages the Gilbert Senior Center and the senior nutrition program at the Chandler Senior Center, including the home delivered meals in Gilbert, Chandler, and Sun Lakes.

Delgado shares that her goal is to “Meet the needs of the seniors in our community. I enjoy making a difference in their lives.”

“[Kelly] daily demonstrates values of excellence, commitment, hope, dignity and respect,” says Shawna Fellenz, programs operations director for AZCEND. “She always goes above and beyond, and does it in the kindest and most genuine manner.”

Cari Sparks

Sr. Account Manager & Sales Strategist, Pioneer Title Agency

Cari Sparks has multiple passions. In her career, she helps Pioneer Title’s clients exceed their goals and thrive. She also teaches educational classes, coordinates large commercial auctions and complex transactions, and assists customers with business development planning and marketing. In addition to all of that, she fights human sex trafficking in Arizona through The Starbright Foundation.

“I have a background in law enforcement and a passion for protecting children,” she explains. ‘I have been a speaker/educator for over seven year, and had previous involvement in other social issues such as poverty, battered women, and incarceration issues.”

Sparks, who has won numerous industry and corporate awards, designed an Ambassador Program for Spare Key in the Twin Cities, and sits on The Hearth Foundation Board of Directors in Tucson, lives by the idea to, “Do the right thing, no matter what the expense, and stay true to yourself and your family.”

Carla Morgan

ASL 1, 2, 3 teacher; TA for VINE (SP-ED); Sponsor of Bridges Club, Valley Christian High School

When Carla Morgan’s oldest daughter, Mishell, passed away in 2005, she didn’t think she would have the strength to be able to go back to teaching.

“I was really lost after she died and thought my days teaching and mentoring others were finished. Boy was that an understatement!” she says now.

Now, Morgan, who has been married to her husband, Bill, for 36 years (they have three children, Mishell, Jordan, and Nicole) picks up food donations weekly for a He-Brews coffee shop; helped develop the class at Valley Christian High School for special education students to learn how to manage and serve coffee/drinks and food items; picks up donated food items weekly for a Bridges Club that she sponsors; volunteers her time as a tutor and interpreter for the deaf community; and more.

As her daughter Nicole says, “She exemplifies what the term ‘teacher’ means! Not only do her students know that she loves and cares deeply for them… she shows a servant’s heart for the Lord.”

Jennifer Lowry

Fundraising Program Manager, Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels

Jennifer Lowry describes her strongest character trait as “determination.”

When her 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer and undergoing cancer treatments, she was determined to find her the best care. Now that her daughter, 12, is in remission, Lowry is determined to help other families who are battling cancer.

“I have worked in the nonprofit industry for five years, and when my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, I knew that I was called to work at a pediatric cancer nonprofit.”

She now spends her days advocating for families in Chandler and Arizona, and seeking to fill what gaps or needs pediatric cancer patients and their families need.

The saying she lives by was said by Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Rosemary Geary, M.D.

Owner, East Valley Dermatology Center

After suffering from cystic acne as a teen and experiencing a lot of sun damage from growing up in Arizona, Rosemary Geary, M.D., was inspired to pursue dermatology. Today, she owns East Valley Dermatology Center—one of the largest full-service practices in the East Valley—and finds, “Diagnosing, treating and educating patients about skin cancer,” the most rewarding part of what she does.

In addition to seeing patients at her practice, she gives back to the community regularly by providing resources and supplies to numerous organizations, as well as monetary sponsorships. She also volunteers with Mission of Mercy, providing dermatology care to those less fortunate.

Geary balances everything with help from “her very supportive husband and a fantastic workplace,” and looks forward to continuing to build her practice, including its EVRx store where patients can fulfill their dermatology prescriptions.

Letty Kaufman

Director of Credit Management, First Credit Union

From early on, Letty Kaufman was determined not to be a “statistic.” Growing up in poverty, her childhood was troubled. Her baby sister was her inspiration to survive hardship, pursue her dreams, and love unconditionally. She has always been focused on sharing her journey with others in order to help them realize what they are able to achieve, no matter the circumstances.

By volunteering with ICAN, Kaufman has found the perfect outlet working with the teen community and is rewarded constantly by seeing the true impact she is able to have on their lives. She is also one of the charity’s ambassadors, serving with The Henry’s, the group that focuses on philanthropic events and donation drives.

Kaufman has also found an outlet through her career, helping members of the credit union that are dealing with financial hardships. And she has written a book about her childhood that she hopes to have published this year.

The words this cancer survivor lives by come from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” It’s all about mindset!