Brandon Echols is a Service Planning Supervisor working for Arizona Public Service here in the Verde Valley. Before being promoted to Supervisor in 2018, he earned his Associates degree through Yavapai College and worked at four different electric utilities located in Arizona, Texas, and Oregon. Brandon prides himself on hard work, efficiency, and building relationships. His professional career has mostly been in the electric utility industry in various roles such as meter reader, lineman apprentice, designer, and project manager.
Brandon currently resides in Clarkdale, AZ with his wife, Brittany, and their two sons Brock and Brentley. When not at work he enjoys spending time with his family, outdoor activities, and remodeling homes. Brandon is a graduate of Verde Valley Leadership Class XIV and currently serves as President.
Patricia Greer has been with APS since 1990, performing many different positions in her 31-year career. Patty was originally trained as a Social Worker at a local community college in California. She worked for the County of San Bernadino in Adult Protection Services until she moved to Arizona in 1988.
Her passion for the Seniors in her community has been exhibited by the many different board and volunteer positions she has held over the years in the Verde Valley. She has volunteered with St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities, Homeless Coalition, Boys and Girls Club, and local food banks. She loves to volunteer at the Verde Valley Senior Center.
Patty has a passion for our youth. She is a registered Volunteer Girl Scout and is leading her 3rd generation of Future Girl Leaders. She is a registered first aider with Red Cross.
She is a huge nature enthusiast and loves to be outdoors. She enjoys kayaking the Verde River from her backyard. Patty loves her Yorkie Chihuahua mix named Pixie, and her Pitbull Max.
Jussara Coelho Wagner was born and raised in Minas Gerais, Brazil. She lived with three other siblings and her young widowed mother. She learned at a young age the need to be helpful in her family. While still residing in Brazil she received her teaching certification for Pre-School to 4th grade. After arriving in the United States, she lived in the Boston area and held various jobs, ranging from catering to medical assistance. While in Boston, Jussara was involved in the Brazilian community through her church and actively assisted fellow Brazilians as a translator in an array of situations. It was a humbling experience to be trusted with other people’s emotions, medical situations, and family disruptions. She also met people from many parts of the world, from different backgrounds with the same resilience in their paths of struggle.
In 2004, Jussara moved to Cottonwood after her marriage to her husband Gary. Shortly after arriving at the Verde Valley, she obtained her real estate license seeing it as an opportunity to meet new people and get acquainted with the area. She and Gary welcomed their son Isaac in 2006, and daughter Abigail in 2008. Jussara made the decision to stay home and be a constant presence in her children’s lives. While raising her children she went back to school taking classes at Yavapai Community College and later at NAU, graduating in May 2019 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies/Administration. She also survived two battles with breast cancer in the process.
Jussara is also involved with volunteer work through churches, Rainbow Acres—home for adults with developmental disabilities in Camp Verde, her children’s school, and friends. Jussara enjoys cooking, making chocolate truffles, and needlework when there is time. Most of all, she enjoys the company of good friends, family, her husband, and children.
Jussara is a graduate of Verde Valley Leadership Class XIV and currently serves as VVL Treasurer
Ruth Ellen Elinski has lived in the Verde Valley since 2004, and is the Director and a Certified Business Analyst for the Yavapai College Small Business Development Center (SBDC). An entrepreneur, Ruth Ellen has launched multiple businesses and has educational training in accounting, management, budgeting, marketing, and manufacturing. She has additional experience as a non-profit director leading alongside a 20-member Board of Directors. She was a member of Verde Valley Leadership Class XIII, is a Fellow of the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership's Flinn Brown Leadership Academy, is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, and has a degree in Public Affairs and Management from Indiana University. Ruth Ellen is most proudly the mom of two brilliant daughters.
Debbie Breitkreutz was born in Castle Rock, Colorado. Her father’s family have been in that area since the 1900s. 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.
As the Executive Director of Manzanita Outreach, Ben oversees the organization’s efforts to create Yavapai County to be the first food-secure county in the United States.
Prior to relocating to the Verde Valley, Ben managed the operations as Director of Entrepreneurship for an innovative economic development organization in St. Louis, which he led to become one of the largest business plan competitions in the world. He also served as an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Webster University and an Adjunct Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Brown School of Social Work.
Ben earned his Honors Bachelor of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications and Technical Writing from Illinois State University in 2009. In 2014, he earned his Master's in Business Administration from Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, with an emphasis on Entrepreneurial Studies.
Ben and his wife Katherine have two young children. In their free time, they enjoy hiking and camping in beautiful Northern Arizona.
Chell Smart moved to the Verde Valley at four years old and proudly calls Clarkdale her hometown. She works for the Parks and Recreation Department in Clarkdale and is passionate about serving her community through providing recreational opportunities and beautiful parks for all residents. As Clarkdale's new Public Information Officer, she has the privilege of engaging the public through the Town's communications channels.
In her free time, she tries to keep up with her two teenagers and volunteers for local community events and nonprofits. She loves hiking with her pint-sized yorkie, especially anywhere a waterfall is nearby. After graduating from Verde Valley Leadership's Class XV, she's excited to serve on the Verde Valley Leadership Board and looks forward to contributing towards the development and success of the next VVL class.
After spending 4 years as Assistant Director of Human Resources at Yavapai College (YC), Lisa starts her new role as HR Director for Embry-Riddle/Prescott in January. At YC, she managed the daily operations of the core strategic business partner functions of the HR Department and helped guide the planning and execution of HR Initiatives to support the mission of the college. In addition, she served in a leadership role on the College Council and the Academic Master Plan Committee; she was also selected by the President to participate in the AFIT conference this summer. AFIT (Association for Innovation and Transformation) consists of select higher education institutions and is focused on helping those institutions “innovate and transform their organizations in the face of unprecedented challenge and change”.
Prior to working for YC, Lisa was the Human Resources Director at Spectrum Healthcare in Cottonwood where she rebuilt and revitalized the HR department; moving it from a traditional, paper-based transactional department to a strategic business partner with best-in-class HR policies, processes, and technologies.
A long time Verde Valley resident, Lisa formerly served on the board of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce and is a graduate of Verde Valley Leadership (Class VII). She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Vanderbilt University and her MBA from Belmont University. She also holds two human resources certifications—SHRM-SCP and SPHR.
On a personal note, Lisa has a 19-year-old son in school at Webster University, double majoring in sports management and Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys running, martial arts, and volunteering for a local dog rescue.
As the Yavapai College Associate Dean of Lifelong Learning, Linda Shook oversees community and lifelong learning in Prescott, Sedona, and the Verde Valley. In 2019, Shook was named Associate Dean of the Sedona Center and Lifelong Learning for Sedona and the Verde Valley. In 2021, she was promoted to serve as administrator of all lifelong learning programs at Yavapai College.
Prior to relocating to Yavapai County, Shook served as Summer Programs Director at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. Her academic career includes more than ten years at Auburn University, where she served in several positions, including five years as Director of OLLI at Auburn. Her background also includes working for not-for-profits in the arts, social services, and education.
Shook is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. She is a DACUM Certified Trainer from The Ohio State University. In addition, she is an Outward Mindset Trainer from the Arbinger Institute.
She earned her Master of Education degree from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from the University of Alabama. She has completed post-graduate work in Adult Education.
In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors in Arizona via Nordic skiing, trail running, mountain biking, and Pickleball. She is a RYT-200 yoga teacher.
Crisi Clark was born and raised in a small town in North Western Pennsylvania. She moved to Cottonwood in 2005 where she raised her 3 children. She has over 15 years of customer relationship experience including corporate sales, consulting, marketing, and customer retention. Her honesty, perseverance, and dedication have secured her in positions such as Customer Experience Specialist and Assistant Director of Sales.
The history, beauty and sense of community has drawn her to make Camp Verde her permanent home in 2019. She has recently switched career paths to become an Economic Development Specialist. Her goal is to use her knowledge, creativity and relationship skills to assist and empower people and businesses to overcome obstacles and maintain business retention and expansion through viable resources. Crisi also has a great love of the outdoors and trails in the Verde Valley. She is a member of Verde Front and a board member of the Verde Valley Trail Fund. Crisi is passionate about creating awareness of land stewardship in the Verde Valley.
Matthew is a third-generation Arizona native who grew up in Cave Creek. He attended Northern Arizona University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. He worked for 3 years as a Physical Therapy Technician at Barrow Neurological Institute, helping people rehabilitate from neck and back surgeries. Matt moved here in 2018 after starting a new career with APS as a Customer Project Representative, helping customers get power to their dream homes, restaurants, and everything in between.
He is married to his wonderful and supportive wife, Karly. They have one daughter and a second baby on the way. They enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, and everything that the outdoors in our great state have to offer. Recently he completed and graduated Class XV of Verde Valley Leadership, then joined the board of directors to help the program benefit future leaders.