PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – A dozen outstanding Central Arizona College alums will become the latest class to be enshrined in Central Arizona College’s Wall of Success.
The 4th Annual CAC Wall of Success Induction Ceremony is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 16, in the Don P. Pence Center for Visual & Performing Arts. The event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. followed by the induction ceremony commencing at 7 p.m.
This year’s inductees include Brent Billingsley, Ken Buchanan, Leslie Carlyle-Burnett, Richard Ervin “Dick” Myers, Michael Halfmann, Tony Jimenez, Dr. Megan McGlynn, Mitch Menchaca, Joe Pyritz, Lionel Ruiz, Kenneth Schein and Alice Wilcox.
Each year Central Arizona College inducts outstanding alums into the Wall of Success and presents each candidate with the Extraordinary Alumni Achievement Award during a ceremony held at the Signal Peak Campus. For the first time the event will be held in the newly-renovated Pence Center.
The first group of honorees was inducted during the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the opening of the Signal Peak Campus on Nov. 14, 2009. A special plaque entitled Wall of Success is mounted in the Student Services Building (M) on the Signal Peak Campus to honor all of the inductees.
Many factors go into selecting Wall of Success members, including but not limited to volunteerism in the community; professional, local, regional, national or international recognition; and accomplishment in their field of expertise.
The following short biographies provide background on this year’s Wall of Success class:
Brent Billingsley is a seasoned technical professional with more than 16 years of experience across a broad range of public works, transportation, community planning, transit, air quality, economic and environmental responsibilities and projects.
As development services director for the city of Maricopa, Billingsley oversees eight divisions within the city organizational structure including Public Works, Transportation, Planning, Building Safety, Engineering, Facilities, Code Enforcement, and Fleet Operations.
Since he accepted his position with Maricopa in 2005, Billingsley has successfully integrated the city into multiple regional, bi-county and statewide plans and strategies.
His professional repertoire includes project management, public works administration, transportation planning, community planning, transit, air quality, Section 208 area-wide water quality, economic development, community development block grants (CDBG), environmental justice/Title VI, information technology management, and population estimation and projection.
He is a frequent speaker on the topics of rural transit, access management, transportation planning, financial assurances, Safe Routes to School, rural infrastructure finance, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.
Billingsley is a graduate of Northern Arizona University (NAU), a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is an A-S-F-P-M Certified Floodplain Manager. He is a proud parent and resides with his family in Pinal County, Arizona.
Ken Buchanan has spent the majority of his professional career serving his community. From his early role as director of parks and recreation for the city of Eloy in the late 1970s, to his current position as town manager for Fountain Hills, Buchanan’s experience spans almost four decades at various governmental levels and includes responsibility in administration, transportation, capital facility improvement, and economic and community development.
His public service career includes positions such as assistant county manager for Development Services for Pinal County; city manager of Casa Grande; and town manager for both Payson and Florence.
A 35-year service award winner with the International City/County Management Association, Buchanan has been a member of the Arizona City/County Management Association for almost 25 years. He had a five-year term on its board and was president of the organization in 1993.
In 2003, the Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce presented Buchanan with the Business Leader of the Year award, while he served as a Greater Casa Grande Economic Development Foundation Executive Board Member from 1995-2004.
Buchanan is a tremendous supporter of education. He served as a Central Arizona College Foundation Board Member from 1999-2012 and was secretary/treasurer for the Pinal County University Foundation from 1995-2006. That organization helped develop the Gloria R. Sheldon University Center (the T Building) at Central Arizona College.
Buchanan earned his associate of science degree in law enforcement from Central Arizona College in 1973 before moving on to Arizona State University where he earned his bachelor of science in community recreation management in 1975 and his master of public administration in 1988. He attended the JFK School of Government Senior Executive Program at Harvard University in July of 2000.
Buchanan has been married to his wife, Debbie, for 36 years, and they have two sons, Ryan and Kyle.
Leslie Carlyle-Burnett received her AA degree from Central Arizona College in 1998 and completed her education at the University of Phoenix in 2011 with a bachelor of science degree in business management.
Since her graduation, Carlyle-Burnett has taken full advantage of her education through a number of leadership roles in the Ak-Chin Community and the broader communities of Pinal County.
Her current position is senior planner for the Ak-Chin Indian Community providing critical input and management of the numerous cutting-edge developments in their community. Among these include the Ak-Chin Entertainment Center opening on Nov. 15.
Carlyle-Burnett’s other community contributions include a previous term on the Ak-Chin Tribal Council where she served as vice chair. She also serves on the Ak-Chin Education Committee and was a featured speaker at the groundbreaking for the new CAC campus under construction in the city of Maricopa.
Carlyle-Burnett serves on the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board that has responsibility for more than 6,000 students.
Her other community work includes being an active participant of Against Abuse, a private non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals and the community to understand the nature and effects of family violence and the resources available to meet the needs of those abused.
Carlyle-Burnett is a rich asset of the Ak-Chin Community, and the broader Maricopa and Pinal County community. She displays a passion for serving to the benefit of all those who come in contact with her. She is an exemplary leader with not only a successful track record, but also a vision for what can be in the future.
Richard Ervin “Dick” Myers was born in Phoenix and moved to Eloy at the age of four. He attended Eloy Elementary and graduated from Santa Cruz Valley Union High School in 1958.
As a Dust Devil, Myers earned varsity letters in basketball and track during his junior and senior years, and he was varsity football team manager two years. He was the second Santa Cruz athlete in the school’s history to run a sub five-minute mile (4:56). His senior year he was the high point man on the track team and competed in every track and field event except for the discus and pole vault. At the end of his senior year, he received a pin for four years of perfect attendance and a Quill & Scroll pin award.
Myers embarked on a career with El Paso Natural Gas Company that started in 1966 and spanned 30 years. He began there as a laborer and clerk while taking night classes in business and welding at Central Arizona College. He advanced rapidly to maintenance and welding and ultimately superintendent of the Topock Mainline District. In his role, he supervised all El Paso operations in northwestern Arizona before retiring on July 1, 1996.
Myers has dedicated his life to volunteering with thousands of unpaid hours to various civic, educational, sports and service organizations. His service includes 12 years to the classes of the 1950’s -1960’s Santa Cruz Valley Union High School Reunion Committee, as well as being instrumental in having the Historic Toltec School designated the Santa Cruz Valley Historical Museum, for which he has served as board president and as project manager for renovation of the building since 2004 .
Myers was a member of the Eloy and Arizona City Volunteer Fire Departments, a reserve deputy for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, vice mayor for the Arizona City Community Council, and president of the Arizona City Chamber of Commerce, and he has served as site steward of the Arizona Historical Preservation State Parks Office since 2003.
Myers won the Outstanding Service Award, Sunland Visitor Center/State of Arizona for 2003; Good Citizen of the Year Award, Eloy Chamber of Commerce for 2006; Volunteer of the Year for the Southwest Archaeology Team in 2009; and Club Member of the Year for 2000 & 2002 – Central Arizona Bow-Hunters Archery Club.
In addition, he competed in the Grand Canyon State Games and took 4th at the 1999 National Senior Olympics in archery. He also won a lace national award in the James F. Lincoln Welding Society welding program in 1974 while a student at CAC.
Myers and his wife, Rosalind, have been married since 1959. They have three children, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Michael Halfmann began his career in pictures by taking a photography class during his junior year in high school. He changed schools to be in his brother’s photo class and ultimately landed at Central Arizona College after graduating from high school.
After a year of working as photo editor for the CACtus, Halfmann accepted a job with the Casa Grande Dispatch starting in the photo lab and working his way up to photographer.
He eventually returned to Tucson a year later to work on his color photo processing skills and was hired to work for Ray Manley Portraits as its color printer. He learned a great deal from the many professional photographers employed by the company and eventually became a portrait photographer and then part owner of the studio.
After 12 years, Halfmann was looking for a change and was encouraged by his brother to become a photo teacher. He applied at Buena High School in Sierra Vista, AZ, and was hired. He took a declining photo program and turned it into an award-winning one during his seven-year tenure.
Halfmann joined every professional organization he could and took leadership roles in many of them. After just his second year of teaching at Buena, he was elected to the state board of directors for Arizona SkillsUSA where he served for 15 years.
From Sierra Vista, he and his wife decided to move their young family back to Tucson where there was an opening for a photo/yearbook teacher at Sahuaro High School. Halfmann was selected for the job and again turned a struggling program into a successful one.
Halfmann currently serves as the chair for the Career and Technical Education Department and the Pima County JTED Coordinator for Sahuaro. He has received numerous honors for his teaching and leadership over the years and continues to work hard to encourage his students to succeed.
Tony Jimenez began his teaching and coaching career in August of 1978 at Santa Cruz Valley Union High School in Eloy, Ariz. After two years of being a Dust Devil, he returned to his hometown in August of 1980 as a teacher and varsity baseball coach of the Florence Gophers. He never left.
Jimenez has been employed with his alma mater’s school district for 33 years. He has served as a teacher, coach, athletic director, dean of students, assistant principal, principal, and interim superintendent, and he currently holds the title of assistant to the superintendent for administrative services and athletics.
Jimenez started toward his long career in education by attending Central Arizona College from 1973 to 1975, graduating with an associate degree and transferring to the University of Arizona. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in August of 1978 and completed his master’s degree in educational leadership in December of 2000 at Northern Arizona University.
Born and raised in Florence, Arizona, Jimenez graduated from Florence High School in 1973 and married his wife Lisa in October of that same year. They recently celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary. They have three children, Suzanne Silvas who is a nurse with the Pinal County Health Department; Annie Valencia, a biology teacher at Florence High School, and Richard Jimenez, an English teacher also at Florence High School. The couple also has five grandchildren – Jared, Jenna, Maya, Ryan and Peyton.
Dr. Megan McGlynn
Dr. Megan McGlynn has dedicated her career to being an educator and youth advocate. Her commitment to her profession has landed her many leadership roles in the community.
McGlynn currently is the president and chief education officer for YESS – Youth Education and Social Services – in Mesa, Arizona.
From 2008 to 2010, she served as the director of quality assurance/risk management at Parc Place Residential in Chandler, while from 2007 to 2009, she was a faculty associate/instructor at Arizona State University in Tempe.
McGlynn spent almost five years with the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections in Phoenix, filling such roles as director of quality assurance and director of special education. She also has served as a transition consultant for adult inmates with disabilities at the Arizona Department of Corrections in Yuma.
From 1992 to 1999, McGlynn worked for Pinal County Special Education in Coolidge as a program coordinator and as a special education teacher for the Emotional/Behavioral Disorders Program.
A 1992 graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in special education with an emphasis in behavior disorders, McGlynn earned her master’s degree in special education with an emphasis in juvenile justice in 1998, and her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction special education with an emphasis in juvenile justice in 2003. Both her master’s and doctorate degrees were awarded by ASU.
Mitch Menchaca, who grew up in Arizona and was involved in the arts throughout school, began working in the nonprofit arts and culture sector since 1999. Currently, he is the chief operating officer for Chorus America, the national advocacy, research, and leadership development organization for choruses and music education.
Menchaca arrived at Chorus America from Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education.
Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., Menchaca was the senior director of programs at the Arizona Commission on the Arts where he provided oversight for the agency’s grant-making and program development. He managed a portfolio of grantees from all artistic disciplines that ranged from professional companies to community groups in every county in the state.
Before working for the state, Menchaca worked for the Casa Grande Valley Historical Society, the city’s community services department, the Arizona Humanities Council, and as Central Arizona College’s public events manager.
Menchaca studied theater at Central Arizona College, earned a B.L.S. with concentrations in arts and public administration at Arizona State University, and completed a festival and event management certificate at the University of Minnesota Tourism Center.
Menchaca is a 2009 fellow and current faculty coach for the Center for Progressive Leadership, a national political training institute that develops diverse leaders who can effectively advance progressive political and policy change.
For almost 30 years, Joe Pyritz has specialized in communicating with the community as a television reporter, anchor, and public relations specialist. His career has spanned 13 years in county government, 14 years in media, public outreach and fundraising, and includes winning an Associated Press Award.
Pyritz joined Pinal County in 1999 where he continues to serve as a communications and community relations administrator for the Board of Supervisors. He represents the board and the county to the media and their constituents.
Pyritz also is the administrator of the county’s government television station – Channel Pinal – and works closely with county departments to disseminate information to public. He is the editor of the county employee newsletter, The County Connection, and he organizes special events, supervisor dedications and groundbreakings.
Pyritz serves as a representative of supervisors to various governmental entities and serves as counsel to the supervisors and county manager on issues pertaining to operations.
From 1990 to 1999, Pyritz worked for KGUN-TV, the ABC affiliate in Tucson where he was a reporter, anchor and photographer.
From 1988 to 1990, he worked for the Marana Unified School District as a special education aide and a junior varsity baseball coach. He was responsible for overseeing and fulfilling the educational needs of children with Down’s Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy.
A 1983 graduate of Central Arizona College with an associate degree in science degree that includes an emphasis on journalism and political science, Pyritz earned his bachelor of science degree in political science with a minor in communications from the University of Arizona in 1986.
Lionel Ruiz has been embedded in Eastern Pinal County for almost his entire life. Born in Tucson, he moved to Sonora, Ariz., at the age of six months and spent the next 29 years in the community except for his four years of service in the United States Air Force.
When the town closed due to the expansion of the local mine, Ruiz moved to Dudleyville where he and his family have lived since 1966.
Ruiz began working for the Ray Mine in 1959 – first for Kennecott, then its subsequent owner ASARCO. When the opportunity to start taking classes at the new local community college occurred, he jumped at the opportunity to attend Central Arizona College and eventually earn his associate of arts degree in business administration in 1973.
While working at ASARCO, Ruiz parlayed his experience in the mine and his CAC degree into a variety of positions, starting as a clerical worker and a cost accountant to eventually winding up as the senior general accountant and then the materials manager.
Education and community service are integral component of Ruiz’s life. He served as a Ray Unified School District Board for 25 years from 1968-93, and spent 16 years as a Pinal County Supervisor representing the eastern, southern and southwest regions of the county – an area covering some 3,300 square miles.
Ruiz has served as chair of the Central Arizona Association of Governments, coached Little League, was a co-founder of the Copper Corridor, and is extensively involved with St. Joseph’s – his church in Hayden.
Ruiz will celebrate 50 years of marriage to his wife Aida in December with his four children – Lionel, Joseph, Sarah and Stephanie – and his nine grandchildren.
Kenneth Schein started down the path of his professional career by earning his associate of science degree in 1975 at Central Arizona College. He then transferred to Northern Arizona University where he graduated with a bachelor of science in forestry in 1977. From that point on, Schein would spend his career roaming the forests of the Southwest, playing a key in their management.
Schein’s first full-time professional position was with the New Mexico State Forestry where he began his career on the Capitan District in Southern New Mexico. Two years later he moved to a staff position in Santa Fe where he spent almost a year before being promoted to district forester for the Chama District in Northern New Mexico. He would spend the bulk of his career high in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains.
As Chama District Forester from 1980 until his retirement in 2003, Schein was responsible for the overall implementation of all Forestry Division programs on the District. The preparation of forest management plans for non-industrial private landowners was a significant component of the workload on the district, as was the inspection of private land timber sales to insure compliance with the Division’s forest practices regulations.
In 1985, Schein attended the State Law Enforcement Academy and graduated as valedictorian of his class, eventually achieving a highly successful prosecutorial track record in areas of natural resource protection over 17 years as an active officer.
Participation in wild land fire suppression activities took Schein from basic firefighter up to the Type 3 incident commander and division supervisor levels. He also functioned as Agency Representative on many Type 1 Team incidents such as the Cerro Grande and Borrego Fires, and he traveled extensively in other Western States fighting fires during their worst fire seasons.
In 1991, Schein was promoted to also manage the Stewardship Landowner Assistance (LOA) Program, and a sister program, the Stewardship Incentives Program (SIP), for the entire state of New Mexico.
Even though he retired in 2003, Schein continued to protect the environment and local communities by fighting wild land fires until his move to Texas in 2006.
Enter any branch of the Pinal County Federal Credit Union and the name of Alice Wilcox – the president and chief executive officer of the non-profit cooperative financial institution – is readily available. But what may not be known is that Wilcox started her climb up the financial corporate ladder as a student at Central Arizona College 20 years ago.
A native of Arizona, Wilcox graduated from CAC in 1991 with an associate degree before moving on to Arizona State University where she obtained a degree in accountancy in 1993. She is licensed as a certified public accountant and in August of 2007 she graduated from Pacific Coast Banking School in Seattle, Wash.
Wilcox’s banking career started at a small community bank in 1975. For the next 13 years she worked in various-sized banks obtaining a broad view of the financial industry. She took a break to pursue her education and held accounting positions in multiple settings including healthcare and government; however, in December of 2004, she returned to her first choice – banking – as senior vice president/chief financial officer at Sunstate Bank in Casa Grande, Ariz.
Wilcox then went on to help start a new bank – Gateway Commercial Bank in Mesa, Ariz. – serving as its executive vice president/CFO from 2007 until 2011 when she returned to serve Pinal County in her present role.
Volunteering at her local church, Wilcox has served as a preschool teacher and on the finance committee. She also volunteers on the Board of United Way of Pinal County and as the treasurer of the Board of Community Outreach of Robson Ranch.
Of the many joys in life, her husband, three children and 12 grandchildren are her greatest.