Tamm Yoakum

Interim President / President-Elect - Tricia Winters, Class X Graduate

Tricia Winters is an Arizona native with deep Verde Valley community roots. She grew up attending schools locally before moving on to attend classes at Yavapai Community College in Business Administration. Tricia began her career in publishing and advertising and then later transitioned into education sixteen years ago. Tricia has become a respected educational leader as the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, and Governing Board Secretary at Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District. Ms. Winters began her leadership journey in 2013 when she took an educational leadership course offered by McRel Balanced Leadership and is currently an alumni of Verde Valley Leadership Class X. "Professionally, I have been a collaborative team member involved in developing the vision, mission and goals to bring systemic organizational change. However, It wasn't until joining Verde Valley Leadership that I realized just how important it is to have a personal vision, mission and goals. A personal vision, mission and goals provides focus and guidance in one’s personal life," states Ms. Winters. Leadership matters. It matters to our community and to me as an individual. Effective, focused leadership helps bring harmony, and balance to organizations. It also creates a safe environment that can ignite the vision and passion of others into a wave of action that benefits all. It is a lifelong journey! A great leader, Ernest Shackelton once said, "Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results." Ms. Winters hopes to inspire others to step up and take a "results driven" leadership role in their community as well.

Tamm Yoakum

Past President - Tammy Yoakum, Class IX Graduate

Tammy is a second-generation Arizona native who grew up in Flagstaff. Graduating in the top 3% of her high school class with plans to attend Arizona State University, circumstances arose which instead propelled her into an eight-year stint in commercial banking at what was then Valley National Bank. Beginning as a receptionist, she moved into various positions finally ending up in the programming department as the department’s first “User Application Analyst” and later went to Dallas for training in mainframe programming. She was married to her husband Darrell during this time. At the arrival of their first child, Tammy worked part-time from home in a pilot telecommuting position until relocating to the Verde Valley in 1994 when she began a new career as a full-time mommy.

Tammy has home educated all their children. Their oldest graduated in 2011, was married in 2013 and resides in Cottonwood with her husband and two-year-old son. Their second daughter is a senior at Grand Canyon University and their son is homeschooling through high school.

Tammy is a support representative for Yavapai County for an international homeschooling organization called Classical Conversations. She is a graduate of VVL Class Xi, has served as Board secretary, president-elect, president, and is currently the past president. She serves on the missions and deaconess committees at church. Her hobbies vary from gardening, sewing, and baking, to caring for her small flock of chickens, black lab, tiny shiffon puppy, and two outdoor cats. She is a collector of books and reads whenever opportunity allows. The whole family enjoys going to the sand dunes, camping in the forest, off-road riding and hiking.

Stephanie Vocca

Secretary - Stephanie Vocca, Class XI Graduate

Stephanie is a graduate of Class XI. She has lived in the Verde Valley for most of her life. She grew up in Clarkdale and attended Mingus Union High School. After graduating, Stephanie enrolled at Yavapai College and obtained her Associate of Arts in General Education. She then went on to Grand Canyon University and graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Applied Management.

​Throughout this time, Stephanie worked for Educational Services, Inc. During her 5 years there, she moved up within the company and got to work in many different positions. In March 2016, Stephanie went to work for the Town of Clarkdale in their Community Development Department. In March 2017, she began a new position as HR Specialist II with the City of Cottonwood.

Stephanie and her husband have a precious 3 year-old daughter, Lyla. Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family, watching sports, exercising, and baking. She also likes to get involved with the community in any way that she can.

Kirsten Lennon

Treasurer - Kirsten Lennon, Class VII Graduate

​Kirsten Lennon was born in Fallbrook, California and moved to Cottonwood, Arizona, in 1984. She graduated from Mingus Union High School in 1992 and started taking college courses at Yavapai Community College. After having four children, she went back to school and received an Associates of Applied Science in Accounting degree in 1998.

She got a part-time job working at the Adult Community Center of Sedona (ACCS), also known as Sedona Community Center, in March of 1998 as a bookkeeper and was later promoted to the Assistant Director position. After a couple of years, she decided that– being a single mother- it would be better to work closer to her children. She said goodbye to ACCS and started working for the City of Cottonwood as the Accounts Payable Clerk. Since being hired by the City of Cottonwood, she has returned to Yavapai College and received an additional Associate of Arts degree in General Studies. She went on to Old Dominion University where she got a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Accounting.

Kirsten is currently the Accounting/Budget Manager for the City of Cottonwood where she has worked for 16 years. She is a graduate of Class XXV of Project Centrl. Project Centrl is non-profit rural Leadership program that is committed to equipping and empowering leaders to meet the needs of rural Arizona. She also serves on the board of the Government Finance Officers Association and serves as the education committee chairand on audit board for the Northern Arizona Council of Government. She is also the secretary for the City of Cottonwood Public Safety Retirement Board.

​Outside of work, she loves being with her four children, who are now 19, 21, 23 and 25 and her grandchildren. She also enjoys watching basketball and baseball when time permits, running and volunteering to do tax preparation at Catholic Charities.

Debbie Breitkreutz

Board Member - Brandon Iurato, Class XII Graduate

While in U.S. Customs, seeking more meaning in his life, he embarked on a serious self- exploration quest which eventually became content for his book, Mind Karate: How to Kick Your Own Butt, which demonstrates how the mind ultimately determines your success, as it did his.

After nearly a decade with the U.S. Customs Service, a Fortune 200 company recruited him for a position as their corporate sales trainer, delivering training to sales professionals nationwide. In 13 months he was promoted to Director of Training & Development, responsible for motivating and training more than 400 sales reps.

Realizing the tremendous need for helping others in the area of self-development, Brandon left corporate America in 2003 to officially launch Success Strategies, a training and development company he founded in 1997. As founder and president of Success Strategies, Brandon helps people in transition create a more abundant and fulfilling life.

Brandon transferred his skills and passion for helping others achieve more by helping establish CrossFit Can-Do as a managing partner and CF-L1 Coach. His enthusiasm for helping others set goals and realize their potential is evident in his coaching style…positive, encouraging and high-energy. He challenges his team and athletes, inspiring them to take action!

Favorite quote:

Come to the edge he said. They said, we are afraid.
Come to the edge he said.
They came. He pushed them…and they flew.
-Guillaume Apollinaire

Debbie Breitkreutz

Board Member - Debbie Breitkreutz, Class X Graduate

Debbie Breitkreutz was born in Castle Rock, Colorado. Her father’s family have been in that area since the 1900’s. She lived there for ten years before packing up and moving to central Texas where she and her mother stayed for four years. She then moved to upstate New York and in 1990 graduated from Fairport High School. She returned to Colorado to pursue a college education. While back in Colorado, she worked several jobs including a warehouse manager for a toy manufacturer, a technician at the county assessor’s office and working for her mother’s husband as a laborer at his general contracting business. She moved to the Verde Valley in 2001 to be closer to her mother and her extended family. Shortly after arriving, she started working at the Cottonwood OfficeMax as a Customer Service Manager. While looking for a new career opportunity, a position opened at the City of Cottonwood Utilities Department. In 2004, she accepted a job as a Wastewater Operator in Training. Four years later and lots of hard work became the Wastewater Superintendent. In 2016, she transferred to a new position within the City as the Regulatory Compliance, Safety and Education Administrator. Debbie currently holds water and wastewater licenses in the State of Arizona. She has also completed OSHA outreach training for general industry and construction safety.

In 2014, she finally finished her Associates Degree from Yavapai College. She is a graduate of VVL Class X and a VVL Board member. She also serves as a Board member to the Verde Valley Natural Resource Conservation District Education Center. She is involved in the Verde Valley Rural Innovation Council as a Marketing Board member and coordinates the City of Cottonwood’s participation in SciTech and STEM related activities. She currently volunteers at the Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity in the Critical Home Repair Program. This program helps the veterans, persons with disabilities and the elderly of the Verde Valley.

Krishan Ginige

Board Member - Krishan Ginige, Class V Graduate

​Krishan, a professional Civil Engineer with over 20 years of construction, project management and design experience, holds a BS Degree in Civil Engineering and a MS Degree in Environmental Engineering. He is a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM). Krishan has been employed, since 2006, with Southwestern Environmental Consultants, Inc. (SEC), a civil engineering, surveying & land planning company that has served the Verde Valley for over 40 years. Krishan currently serves as President and Principal Engineer of SEC. Having undertaken progressive responsibilities within SEC, from design engineer to project manager to vice president and to president, has enabled Krishan with the experience and exposure to become a contributing member for a productive and sustainable Verde Valley.

Krishan likes the outdoors, traveling and meeting new people, and being involved in community-based ventures. He loves spending time with his wife, Thushari, and his three energetic boys (who keep him in shape, and continually remind him that he is not as young as he thinks he is). 

Berrin G. Nejad

Board Member - Berrin G. Nejad, Class XI Graduate

Berrin Nejad is the Community Development Manager for the City of Cottonwood, directing Planning and Zoning, Building and Safety, and Code Enforcement Departments since 2013. Berrin has a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and Master’s Degree in Environmental Planning from Arizona State University. She started her career in Arizona and held planning positions in Texas, Idaho, and Kansas. Berrin is originally from Istanbul-Turkey and had the privilege to live in Taiwan and Singapore through her husband’s job which gave the entire family an opportunity to travel and learn different cultures in Asia. Her son Derin is a recent graduate from George Washington University Law and is working as an attorney in the Washington D.C. area. Her daughter Jasmine is working on her PhD in Bio-medical engineering at Colorado State University. Berrin is graduate of VVL-Class XI and is happy being back in Arizona, to call the Verde Valley home.

Dane Wombacher

Board Member - Dane Wombacher, Class IV Graduate

Native of Arizona, and of the Verde Valley, and graduate of Verde Valley Leadership Class V. Married to wife Kathy for 41 years, who was a Class IV VVL graduate, past board member and past President, she persistently 'persuaded' me to apply for VVL citing it as an amazing program and growth opportunity, to which I obviously consented. Now serving my second year on the VVL Board, this program and organization is fast becoming a recognized leadership growth and training entity in the area, with influences reaching statewide.

A 1978 graduate of Northern Arizona University with dual major in learning disabilities and secondary Physical Education, I served 23 years in the Cottonwood - Oak Creek School District in a variety of roles. I co-taught in a 'cross-categorical' resource room at Cottonwood Jr. High School where we serviced a variety of educationally, physically, and emotionally challenged students. Eight years were then spent teaching reading, writing, speaking and critical thinking to Jr. High language arts and gifted education students. 'Research paper grading' bum­ out lead to a nine year stint teaching K-6 physical education to kids at two local elementary schools whose youthful exuberance kept me on my toes and in reasonably good physical shape! Coaching a variety of sports from elementary aged children to high school aged athletes during my tenure as a teacher was also a passion. Following my teaching career, I served as Dean of Students for two years: one year at Dr.Daniel Bright Elementary School and another at Cottonwood Middle School.

In 2001, I left the public education sector going to work for Goettl's High Desert Mechanical Heating, Air Conditioning, and Plumbing as a remodel/retrofit sales consultant. Varied responsibilities have included guiding homeowners through the sales process, quality control audit following system installation, and, of late, an increasing role in marketing and public relations for the company.

Outside of work, I have enjoyed participating in the local church where I have served several terms on the board, and have been part of facilitating study, growth, and care groups for men and in-home small groups. A love of spending time with wife Kathy, adult children and their spouses, and six grandchildren occupies any free time remaining.

Debbie Breitkreutz

Board Member - Aisha Ayazi

I was born in Rome, Italy, to an Afghan father and an American mother. Both of my parents worked in the United Nations, giving me the opportunity to grow up among people from different countries and cultures. I have always considered this to have been a great gift. I attended the European Institute of Design in Rome, Italy, where I acquired my BA in photography. I then attended the International Center of Photography in New York, NY, and specialize in photojournalism. This was a remarkable opportunity for several reasons, including the opportunity to attend with students from all over the world, and study under professors that were also world-renowned photographers. After completing my education for the following ten years, I worked as a freelance photographer for NGO organizations and agencies such as the Red Ribbon Association. The opportunity to work with such organizations and visually help deliver their message to the public was both a humbling experience and an honor. I stopped working to be a stay-at-home mother. In the last three years, I have resumed working at Mussa and Associates and have resumed my own photographic career. I have had the opportunity to photograph both in the US and abroad. In 2015, Photo Pri de Paris awarded me for my photography documenting the poverty in Havana, Cuba.

Jennifer Hernandez, Graduate Class X

Board Member - Sheila Sandusky, Class IX Graduate

​Sheila was born in Minnesota, and her family moved to Tombstone, AZ when she was a toddler. Sheila graduated from Tombstone High School with honors, and was awarded a scholarship to Cochise Community College in Douglas, AZ. Being the youngest of 3 kids, there was no money for continued education, so she worked at Ft. Huachuca, AZ in telecommunications for 3 years before being hired by American Airlines. Based out of Chicago, she was able to travel to many wonderful countries, and most importantly, she was able to send her Mom home to England many times over. Sheila continues to enjoy close ties with her family over the pond.

Taking an early buyout from American Airlines, Sheila then married and move to rural Alaska, a mile away from Knik glacier. There she was a full-time Mom and wood splitter for 5 years before moving to Flagstaff, where she landed a job with the Forest Service and began wildland fire fighting in addition to her regular job.

Sheila specializes in infrastructure such as cell towers, power lines, fiber optics, gas and water lines, and highways. A promotion opportunity at the Verde Ranger District brought her to the Verde Valley in 2007. She chose to live in old Clarkdale after discovering this lovely community while on fire patrol years earlier. Sheila is now a zoned employee on the Kaibab and Prescott National Forests.

Sheila’s desire to learn more about the Verde Valley as a whole is what motivated her to enter the VVLP program as a member of Class IX. Sheila is a past board member of Buena Vista Children Services, and volunteered at the former Teen Center in Cottonwood. Sheila is an insatiable rock hound, and a child and animal advocate. After 30 years of federal service, Sheila is looking forward to an active retirement and volunteering in the community.

Debbie Breitkreutz

Board Member - Brandi Bateman, Class XII Graduate

I was born in West Covina, California and moved to Cornville in 1979. I graduated from Mingus Union High School in 1991. For the next several years I took classes at Yavapai College and NAU, not sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. Once I had the first of three children I knew what I wanted to be...a Mom. I spent many of the next years working only part-time jobs to afford myself as much time as possible with my kids. Once my children were in school I began exploring new options. I opened my own restaurant, Brandi’s Kitchen in 2007. In 2013, I closed my restaurant due significant health concerns and began working for Mingus Union High School District as the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent. My new position has given me the opportunity to become involved in many other organizations such as the Kid’s at Hope Steering Committee, Partners in Education, Matforce Steering Committee and Kiwanis. I look forward to continued growth through Verde Valley Leadership Group Class of XII.



Social Media