Click a team member to learn more. Read Full Rachel AjaGoverning Board Member Rachel Aja Governing Board Member Rachel Aja is a native Arizonan, and attended the University of Arizona in Tucson. She has been involved in a variety of volunteer organizations, including the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Program and the Luke Air Force Base Honorary Commander Program. Rachel currently works in government affairs with Cox Communications, and in her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and watching her seven nieces and nephews play and learn. Rachel has volunteered as a Site Leader for Read Better Be Better since 2016. Read Full Sophie EtchartFounder & CEO Governing Board Member Sophie Etchart Founder & CEO Governing Board Member Sophie Etchart was born in Connecticut, but raised and educated in England. She studied Spanish, French and German at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. As part of her degree, Sophie spent her third year of University living and working in Belgium and Spain. Upon graduation, Sophie joined a financial services agency specializing in board-level strategic HR consulting. In 2009 Sophie designed and executed the Private Equity Foundation / Deutsche Bank Leadership Program: a series of instructional workshops and networking events in partnership with INSEAD business school, France. After spending a year on loan to the Private Equity Foundation as a strategic HR consultant, Sophie committed to a full transition into the non-profit sector. Sophie moved to Peru in 2010 to run the education program at SKIP, an international development organization in northern Peru. For 2 years she managed a team of 25 staff and volunteers working with 330 young people aged 3-17. The key component of the program was a comprehension curriculum designed to complement the national public schooling system. This program received a commendation during a site visit by professional contacts at the Bill Gates foundation. Sophie met her husband, an Arizona native, in Peru and moved to Phoenix in 2012. She spent 2 years managing the JA BizTown® team at Junior Achievement. Upon her departure, each member of her team had delivered “outstanding” performance according to standardized quantitative KPI assessments. Sophie had identified the need for basic reading comprehension support during her 2 years at Junior Achievement. The JA BizTown® program serves over 20,000 students per year; an alarming number of whom had neither the focus nor the foundational skills to obtain the most value from the experience. When the “Move On When Reading” law was announced, she decided that the timing was critical to support those 3rd graders at risk of being kept behind. Read Better Be Better is based on the proven SKIP model and adapted to the current environment. In 2017, Sophie was recognized as one of Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 younger business leaders making an impact in the Phoenix area. She lives in the Coronado District of Downtown Phoenix with her husband Andy, her son Cody and two dogs. Contact Me! Email: Sophie@readbetterbebetter.org Direct: 623-404-6022 Read Full Gary LinhartGoverning Board Member Gary Linhart Governing Board Member Gary is a Founding Partner of ViaWest Group, a Phoenix-based commercial real estate investment and development firm where he heads the capital markets activity, overseeing the sourcing of debt and equity for the company’s various investment opportunities, including long-term programmatic and large-scale institutional investment partnerships. Gary earned a BA in Economics from Northwestern University and an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is fluent in Japanese and proficient in Spanish. He is currently active in the Arizona Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), serves as the Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Arizona Chapter and is the Chairman of a ULI national product council. Gary is passionate about improving education in Arizona. He leads a real estate industry advocacy group for Expect More Arizona and is on the board of directors for Read Better Be Better. He lives in Phoenix with his wife Julie and their two sons, Zachary and Matthew. Read Full Carol RhodesGoverning Board Member Carol Rhodes Governing Board Member Carol recently retired from her role as HR Director at Pace, an international provider of technology solutions to the pay TV and broadband industries. Previously, she had worked for companies ranging from large international companies such as Tyco International and Stanley Black and Decker to small local startups in the dot-com and banking industries. Carol earned a BS in Communication Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Following her graduation, she worked at HELP of Southern Nevada, a local non-profit, where she established an educational program that helped prepare disadvantaged women for the workplace. She moved to Reno, Nevada two years later when her husband, Bob, was transferred there. Carol and Bob, a pharmacist, have embraced the flexibility that their careers offered them and have called Houston, Las Vegas, Reno, Dallas and Phoenix home at various times. They returned to Phoenix for the second time a few years prior to their retirement. As an HR professional, she believes strongly that creating a culture of respect, learning, fairness and transparency plays an integral role in the success of an organization. Read Full Patty TateGoverning Board Member Patty Tate Governing Board Member Recently retired as Osborn Superintendent, Patty worked for almost 40 years as a volunteer, parent, teacher and educational leader to help Osborn students succeed. In addition to her commitment to public education, Patty serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and CASA Peer Coordinator, speaking up for abused and neglected foster children in court and supporting other CASAs in this work. She and her husband Don, also a retired educator, are committed to improve the health, security and education of all Arizona children. Read Full Jenny VolpeGoverning Board Chair Jenny Volpe Governing Board Chair Jenny Volpe is executive director of Make Way for Books-the Early Literacy Resource Center for Southern Arizona, a Tucson-based nonprofit organization that serves 31,000 children, parents, and educators each year. Jenny is passionate about helping children gain access to quality educational opportunities and believes in the power of literacy to change lives. In her work with Make Way for Books for the past six years, she has dedicated her time working to ensure that children in our community have access to early literacy services, are prepared to succeed the moment they step into the classroom, and have the chance to realize their fullest potential. Jenny holds a bachelor of arts in literature and education from The University of Chicago and a master’s in education from the Johns Hopkins University. Believing in education as a means to achieve social change, Jenny began her educational career as a Teach For America teacher and taught elementary school for five years before entering the educational publishing world and nonprofit sectors. Jenny has spent considerable time traveling and volunteering in countries throughout Asia and Europe working with children and families in a variety of educational settings. In her role as executive director of Make Way for Books, Jenny is proud to lead a dedicated staff working to ensure that Arizona is a place where all children can succeed in school and in life. Read Full Dawn WallaceGoverning Board Member Dawn Wallace Governing Board Member Dawn has a rich background in education, budget and state government operations. Prior to entering public service, she began her public service career in 1999 as a Senior Budget Analyst for the Arizona Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting for Governor Jane Dee Hull and Governor Janet Napolitano. She then served as Deputy Director of Research Staff in the Arizona State Senate and Majority Policy Advisor for Speaker Kirk Adams and Speaker Andy Tobin. Prior to joining Governor Doug Ducey’s staff in 2015, Dawn was the Director of Government Relations for the Maricopa Community Colleges. Most recently, she worked for Governor Ducey as the Senior Advisor for Education and Strategic Initiatives and as a Special Assistant to the Governor. Dawn also spent over a decade in the private sector, specializing in finance, budget and accounting. She received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in History from Arizona State University and a Master’s in Business Administration from University of Phoenix with an emphasis in accounting. Dawn is an adjunct professor at Northern Arizona University in the Public Administration and Justice Studies Program. Recently, she acquired a secondary teaching certificate and is approved to teach history, government, economics, and business for students in grades 6-12. She lives in North Central Phoenix with her husband Andy and their daughter, Finn. Read Full Jim WidlandGoverning Board Member Jim Widland Governing Board Member Jim Widland is a director of Miller Stratvert P.A., a law firm with offices in Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. His legal practice focuses on representing local and out-of-state businesses and he regularly provides legal advice to nonprofit organizations on a pro bono basis. He received the Business Lawyer of the Year Award and the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Pinnacle Award from the New Mexico State Bar.