Governing Board

Rachel Aja

Government & Regulatory Affairs Manager, Cox Communications
Governing Board Member, Read Better Be Better

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.

Sophie Etchart

Founder & CEO
Governing Board Member, Read Better Be Better

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.

Jonathon Gonzales

Family & Health Administrator, Catholic Charities
Governing Board Member, Read Better Be Better

Jonathon is currently the Family and Health Administrator with Catholic Charities Community Services Westside Head Start Program. Previously, he was the manager for Phoenix Children’s Hospital Center for Family Health and Safety. Jonathon worked as the State Director of the Arizona Head Start Association (AHSA) to strengthen member agencies and partners who enhance the lives of young children and families by serving as the unified voice of the diverse Head Start/Early Head Start community through advocacy, collaboration and education.

Jonathon has served as the inaugural Regional Director and with South Phoenix Regional Partnership Council with First Things First. He led his council through the needs and assets, strategic and funding plan processes that required consistent re-evaluation to ensure the meeting of organizational benchmarks. He developed or co-developed several flagship strategies that included family resource centers, dental screening re-imbursement, and community outreach.

In the past, he worked as the Director of Community Outreach with Children’s Action Alliance and Prevention Specialist with Maricopa County Tobacco Education and Prevention Program. He is an alumnus of Brophy College Preparatory and holds a master’s degree from Arizona State University. Jonathon is in the current class of Valley Leadership Institute, Class 39. He serves in the Arizona Army National Guard as a First Lieutenant and Executive Officer with the 3666th Support Maintenance Company. He is a servant leader who thrives on serving his community and working with other valley leaders to work towards better outcomes for children and families.

Jonathon is married with 3 children ages 22, 20, 15.

Gary Linhart

Founding Partner, ViaWest Group
Governing Board Member, Read Better Be Better

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.

Dr. Karen Ortiz

Vice President & Program Director of Early Childhood Education, Helios Education Foundation
Governing Board Member, Read Better Be Better

Dr. Ortiz’s work revolves around building and strengthening early childhood systems to promote language acquisition and emergent literacy for children birth through age eight. In this role, Dr. Ortiz works in conjunction with the Foundation’s community investment team to identify partnership opportunities and implement the Foundation’s strategic early childhood education investment goals in Arizona and Florida.

Dr. Ortiz brings more than 25 years of academic and professional experience in early childhood education. In addition to practical experience within school districts and classroom settings, she served as an early childhood policy advisor to Arizona’s Governor Janet Napolitano and was Director of the State Board on School Readiness. Dr. Ortiz has helped lead statewide and national initiatives impacting children ages birth to eight and their families. Dr. Ortiz is a graduate of Arizona State University and holds Doctoral and Master degrees in Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education. She holds undergraduate degrees in business and nursing.

Andrew Steele

CEO, BeckonCall
Governing Board Member, Read Better Be Better

Andrew is a tireless entrepreneur that thrives on building the businesses behind disruptive technologies that affect people’s lives every day. He brings over two decades of experience building businesses in the software-as-a-service, mobile, and enterprise software sectors, and has contributed to multiple successful exits via M&A and IPO that have collectively created over $1B in shareholder value.

Andrew is currently the CEO of BeckonCall – a cutting edge clinical communication platform that automates care team communication workflows and reduces communication cycle times by as much as 90% – that he launched in 2015 in partnership with Scottsdale, AZ based Neurologist, Dr. Jeffrey Becker. He has led the company from initial product launch through expansion across 19 states and a quarter of a million cases handled on the platform.

Under his leadership, BeckonCall won the prestigious Arizona Innovation Challenge and received a $250K grant award from the State of Arizona, and was selected as portfolio company of Jumpstart Foundry, a preeminent healthcare technology startup accelerator and seed fund based in Nashville.

Andrew earned a BBA in International Finance & Marketing from the University of Miami, where received the Henry K. Stanford academic scholarship, and is an alumnus the executive MBA program at the J. Mack Robinson School of Business at Georgia State University, graduating Cum Laude with a concentration in Corporate Finance & Strategy.

He is active in multiple local and industry organizations, including serving on the advisory board of the HEALab Healthcare Entrepreneurship Accelerator Lab at Arizona State University, providing mentorship through roles with the Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Innovation Challenge and Venture Ready Programs, serving on the Board of Trustees and as a technology advisor for the Foundation for Blind Children, and as a Steward for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation at Taliesin West.

Andrew lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife Erin.

Patty Tate

Former Superintendent, Osborn Elementary School District
Governing Board Member, Read Better Be Better

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.

Jenny Volpe

Executive Director, Make Way for Books
Governing Board Member and Secretary, Read Better Be Better

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.