ASU celebrates 2 cohorts of Leadership Institute participants

ASU Leadership Institute - Class 3 Graduation

ASU Leadership Institute Class 3 graduation.


Each year, the Arizona State University Alumni Association accepts a cohort of up-and-coming and current leaders into the ASU Leadership Institute. In fall 2019, the Alumni Association welcomed Class 2, made up of 24 members, to Old Main to begin the personal and professional leadership development program.

The ASU Leadership Institute supports individuals in growing professionally in their network, personally in their leadership and connects them back to their alma mater. The monthly Innovation Days provide an in-depth look inside the university and its institutional objectives to demonstrate excellence, access and impact. Additionally, participants take part in other engagement opportunities at ASU including reviewing scholarships, volunteering at ASU Cares and attending presentations.

In spring 2020, the immersive program was brought to a halt as the world figured out how to navigate COVID-19. But a pandemic could not stop this group of Sun Devils from crossing the finish line of this program together and in-person. On June 8, 2021, the Alumni Association was able to reconvene the members of Class 2 to celebrate their graduation from the ASU Leadership Institute and honor the group of rising leaders.

“Every year, I watch the participants from the ASU Leadership Institute create a bond as a cohort,” said Alissa Serignese, vice president of the ASU Alumni Association. “But Class 2 continued to stay connected during the pandemic, checked in on each other and really became a close-knit group. We were so glad we could properly celebrate them with an in-person celebration, even if it took longer than any of us could have imagined.”

In spite of the pandemic, the Alumni Association moved forward with the leadership program. The process of interviewing potential members took place virtually, and the association was able to welcome 20 new members as part of Class 3 for a hybrid experience beginning in fall 2020.

“We had to rethink how to continue offering an immersive program during a unique period of time,” Serignese said. “By August, we were able to invite Class 3 to join us safely on campus following ASU’s Community of Care protocols or provide them the ability to participate via Zoom. By doing this, we were able to include participants from other states and continue to connect this group together as one unit.”

On June 4, 2021, the members of Class 3 celebrated their graduation from the ASU Leadership Institute in-person and via Zoom. Even in a hybrid atmosphere, their experience as a cohort and in the program was nothing less than immersive, engaging and innovative as the program adapted to the times.  

Graduates of the ASU Leadership Institute Class 2:

  • Alka Arora-Singh, Maricopa Community Colleges.
  • Shawn Banzhaf, ASU Pat Tillman Veterans Center.
  • Kristin Bean, ASU Alumni Association.
  • Jon Benninger, Informa Exhibitions.
  • Timothy Climo, Shamrock Foods Co.
  • Bill Conti, Landings Credit Union.
  • Eric Cylwik, Sundt Construction Inc.
  • Michael D’Elena, North & Co. Real Estate.
  • Yolanda Facio, Maricopa Small Business Development Center.
  • Sonia Gomez, Cesar Chavez Foundation.
  • Justin Hodge, Muscular Moving Men.
  • David Humble, Tempe Police Department.
  • Melissa Kowalski, ICAN: Positive Programs for Youth.
  • Holly Linder, Linda Klauer PLLC.
  • Barbara Lloyd, ASU University Real Estate Development.
  • Cameron Monkelien, Fairlife.
  • Aaron Myers, Wells Fargo Bank.
  • Richard Nakazawa, McAfee.
  • Craig Prichard, Shotzoom Software, Brushfire Interactive.
  • Nikki Riordan Ripley, city of Tempe.
  • Claudia Schroeder, Wells Fargo Bank.
  • Jen Scrivner, Goodmans Interior Structures.
  • Bianca Vargas, St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance.
  • Susan Whetten Udall, English as a Second Language instructor.

Graduates of the ASU Leadership Institute Class 3:

  • Ryan Berns, Merrill Lynch.
  • Marlon Booth, Arizona Department of Corrections.
  • Sherry Brooks, Sherry Brooks Photography.
  • Danica Cullins, Informa Markets.
  • Joseph Denoncourt, Denver Public Schools.
  • Casey Francis, AmeriCorps VISTA.
  • Nika Gueci, ASU Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience.
  • Carmen Holback, ASU W. P. Carey School of Business.
  • Russ Myers, Kitchell Contractors.
  • Andrea Nelson, The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch.
  • Athavan Rajasundaram, DWL Architects + Planners.
  • Mindy Rich, Arizona Autism.
  • Curtis Smith, Sundt Construction.
  • Linda Snider, Grossmont College.
  • Mario Solorzano, Insight Technology.
  • Justin Travillion, Lauren's Institute for Education.
  • Steve Trussell, Arizona Rock Products Association, the Arizona Mining Association.
  • Leticia Vidaña, ASU Pat Tillman Veteran Center.
  • Denise Waters, Northshore School District.
  • Kari Workman, ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

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