2021-2022 Executive Board

President

Julia Wallace Smith is a writer and editor who enjoys turning complex, technical information into understandable and compelling information. Currently employed with Gainwell Technologies, Julia works closely with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration to plan and develop communications and reference materials for Indiana Medicaid providers. Julia has worked in many industries, including healthcare, finance, commercial, and manufacturing. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi and is certified as an Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) through the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Julia enjoys traveling to new places and spending time with family, friends, and her two adopted dogs.

Executive Vice President and President-Elect for 2022-2023

Jenn currently works at VirTra, as a Marketing and Sales Administrator. Along with over 5 years of experience in the meetings and tradeshow industry, she loves reading and editing new research articles in the communication field. She has published one scholarly article on her own, but is always looking for a new topic to explore! She currently has her MA in Communication from Johns Hopkins University. In her free time Jenn can be found: discovering new restaurants, hiking, reading, or trying to get her new puppy used to the outdoors!

Vice President, Finance & Secretary

Shelley Nelson, MBA, brings more than 15 years of professional experience in strategic marketing planning, community involvement and marketing communications for nonprofits, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. Her passion is seeing people experience a brighter future than they may have imagined. Shelley loves creating marketing and communications plans that bring new and established audiences closer to the organization’s mission. She uses the power of storytelling to drive awareness and response as well as double donations, move products and sell out events. In her free time, Shelley enjoys teaching in her role as Adjunct Faculty, serving as a Children’s Leader in Bible Study Fellowship, decorating and swimming.

 

Vice President of Professional Development and Events

Resourceful and innovative professional with proven results in international strategic marketing, events, communications and partnership management. Targeted expertise in banking/finance, high tech, insurance, pet industry, consumer, business-to-business and customer relationship marketing programs. Recognized ability to develop targeted brand management strategies, including creative advertising, direct mail, public relations, social media, executive positioning and identity programs. Experienced in international business negotiations, strategic plan development and travel.

Vice President of Communications

Hollie Costello serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Make-A-Wish® Arizona, the state chapter of the 501(c)(3) international wish granting organization, Make-A-Wish®.

Hollie graduated from University of Arizona in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and started her career as a city reporter for the Casa Grande Dispatch. After moving to Phoenix in 2000, she worked as the Editor-in-Chief for three trade publications, merging journalist ethics and copy writing expertise with marketing and advertising requests.

In 2004, she joined Banner Health as Senior Public Relations Specialist for Banner Estrella Medical Center, the first all-electronic hospital built by Banner Health. Her talents in events, writing and public relations moved her around the Banner system, eventually landing at Banner Desert Medical Center.

Hollie was ready for new opportunities when the position at Make-A-Wish Arizona came to her attention in August 2011. She was excited to be able to use her skills to advance the mission of the non-profit while growing brand awareness and supporting the chapter departments.

Hollie was born in St. Louis, but has been a resident of Tempe for the past 21 years. She is a member of the International Association of Business Communicators, a graduate and Past President of Tempe Leadership and a graduate of the American Express Leadership Academy at the ASU Lodestar Center.

Vice President of Digital Communications

Jack is currently a Digital Marketing and Sales Technology Specialist at Tide Rock Holdings – a growth platform for B2B businesses. Combining his marketing and sales knowledge, Jack is now driven to help companies bridge the gap between the two. In addition, He is also in charge of web development at Parcell Media. Jack graduated from Arizona State University with a BS in Marketing.

Vice President of Chapter Marketing and Public Relations

Schwegman has provided strategic public relations and marketing communications counsel to clients for more than 20 years. With a diverse industry background that includes both client and agency-side experience, she has a proven track record for promoting visibility and awareness for some of the world’s most innovative companies. Schwegman loves helping CEOs find their voice and creating one-of-a kind media tours. She has also initiated product placement in commercials, major motion pictures, Vogue and on the catwalk at Fashion Week. Over the years, Jennifer has been privileged to help a variety of companies with their communications initiatives including such fine brands as Lawson, PeopleNet, Robert Half, and Rollerblade. Known for developing and managing campaigns that meet and exceed objectives while capturing the attention of media and analysts, Schwegman’s outstanding rapport with top journalists and producers has helped her earn unprecedented coverage for clients. A former editor of Bingo Business, Schwegman has also been published in a variety of business and trade publications.

Schwegman graduated with bachelor’s degrees in International Business, Economics and German and a minor in Music from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is a member of the International Association of Business Communicators, where she has volunteered her time in leadership roles with the local Phoenix chapter. She is past board chair of the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Theatre of Dreams and founder of First Forum, an association of technology leaders committed to building a vibrant and inclusive technology ecosystem in the state of Minnesota.

Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Schwegman loves BBQ, and biscuit and gravy. A lover of all things outdoors, she’s often on the trails running or hiking (working off the biscuits and gravy). In her spare time, the relatively new Valley transplant enjoys exploring Arizona with her husband, Mike and Shih-Tzu Shelby.

 

 

Vice President, Professional Development

Leslie Beckhoff has spent most of her 30 years in Public Relations navigating the world of communications in Corporate America. She spent 20 of those years with the DuPont Company in numerous roles including two years in the corporate media relations office and leading critical communications planning and execution in the worldwide Specialty Chemicals business. Working with manufacturing operations in the Northeast, she delivered internal communications and community outreach support with an emphasis in environmental and labor issues.

In addition, she did a short stint with The Dallas Morning News, and an agency in Dallas before becoming the Director of Media, Marketing and Promotions for the U.S. Olympic Committee’s local organizing committee for the U.S. Olympic Festival-’89 in Oklahoma City.

Leslie has a B.A. in Government and Economics from the University of Texas at Austin.

 

VP of Finance & Secretary Elect

Heather Thornton brings fifteen years of dynamic professional experience in developing and implementing internal and external strategic communications that support brand-building and business objectives for complex organizations across corporate and social sectors, including Fortune 100 companies, and in-house and agency capacities. She balances creative and critical thinking to help clients and teams harness the power of communications, PR, and marketing to support organizational goals and reputation.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Wagner College and working for global firms and brands in New York City, Heather relocated to her hometown of Phoenix in 2013. Since then, she gained nonprofit experience and homed in on purposeful work with missions that align with her values of community development and environmental sustainability–she feels strongly about and is deeply engaged in the advancement of Arizona. Notably, Heather was the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for the local Arizona Cactus-Pine Girl Scouts Council for nearly seven years. In November 2021, she assumed the Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications position for the Center for the Future of Arizona with great excitement to develop its brand and marketing/communications functions. She also serves on the board of Phoenix Music Conservatory, a 501 ©(3) providing free and low-cost music lessons and programs for K-12 kids.

Heather is adventurous and will try almost anything at least once. She is an avid foodie and home chef and has been developing some technical skills through a classic French culinary course in her free time. She has a background in musical theatre and the arts and replenishes energy by seeing shows and visiting galleries and museums. Heather resides in Moon Valley with her husband and loves being outdoors, whether relaxing, hiking, swimming, playing tennis or badminton.

Vice President of Communications Elect

Dr. Alanna Vitucci serves as the Director of Public Relations for Universal Technical Institute. Alanna graduated from William Woods University with a BA in business administration, as well from the University of Phoenix with an MBA in Global Management and a DBA from Northcentral University. She has more than 25 years of communications experience, including crisis management, public relations, internal communications, social media, corporate culture and organizational leadership. She has led communications teams at Zovio, Vertex Education, Early Warning Services, Northcentral University, University of Phoenix, Countrywide, American Express and Phillips Petroleum. She currently teaches public relations and media writing for the University of Arizona Global Campus as an adjunct faculty member.

Past President

Nicollette is Vice President of Cybba Phoenix, where she strategizes, implements and analyzes digital media campaigns, across various verticals including consumer packaged goods, higher education, and e-commerce. Nicollette has a master’s degree from Syracuse University in Digital Advertising, and has been working in the media industry for over 7 years. Typically, you will find Nicollette with two coffees in hand.