AZ Humanities Board Elects New Chair and Vice Chair and Welcomes New Members
The Arizona Humanities Board of Directors is excited to welcome Dr. James Blasingame and Edgar Olivo to the positions of Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, and Dr. Tamika Sanders and Crys J. Waddell to member roles.
Executive Director Brenda Thomson remarked, “We are more than delighted to have these talented people join our leadership team. They bring both creative skills and business acumen.”

Newly-elected chair, Dr. James Blasingame said, "For nearly fifty years, Arizona Humanities has provided a welcoming venue for exploring, understanding and making sense of our shared human experiences. From celebrating the knowledge and culture of our twenty-two Indigenous nations, to documenting the historical experiences of our veterans, to celebrating children and literacy on El Día de Los Niños, El Día de los Libros, all Arizonans are welcome to join each other in learning, discussing and reflecting on this great place and its wonderful people."
Learn more about AH's new officers and board members here.

New Officers
Dr. James Blasingame
Dr. James Blasingame is a professor at Arizona State University with a focus on young adult literature, Indigenous curriculum, censorship, secondary reading and writing pedagogy, preparing pre-service teachers, and cowboy poetry. He also works with the ASU chapter of the US State Department’s International Leaders in Education Partnership, for which he helps visiting teachers from around the world to create professional development modules to use with teachers in their home countries.

Dr. Blasingame is also the executive director of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English, and has served as its president and co-editor of The ALAN Review, a journal devoted entirely to young adult literature. Dr. Blasingame has published over 100 interviews with poets and authors of young adult literature and over 200 book reviews in VOYA, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, The ALAN Review, and English Journal.
Edgar Rafael Olivo
Vice Chair
Edgar Rafael Olivo is an award-winning bilingual business communication expert, international corporate trainer, author and speaker whose work is regularly featured on Univision, Telemundo, CNN Latino, NPR, Phoenix Business Journal and many other media platforms across the country. He founded Compass CBS, a computer and business school that delivers innovative leadership and training solutions to top businesses in North and Latin America in order to help grow and develop strong, harmonious, productive and inclusive work communities.

A passionate advocate for economic development, community, culture and education. Edgar has invested much of his philanthropic efforts as an executive board member for grant-giving organizations, social-arts focused charter schools, financial advisory boards, and social justice projects. Edgar is the son of Mexican immigrants in the United States and is the eldest of eleven siblings. When he is not working, you can find Edgar on his ranch in Northern Arizona searching for fossils and assisting his husband build his natural history museum.
New Board Members
Dr. Tamika Sanders
Dr. Sanders is the Talent Development Manager at Silicon Valley Bank. Dr. Sanders has over 10 years of experience working with schools and businesses in the areas of teaching, training, curriculum design, public programming, strategic planning, and professional development. She has a PhD in Higher Education, a Master’s in Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Her work revolves around bringing a diversity of real-world perspectives into programming initiatives and creating strategic community partnerships that can generate revenue and provide access to resources and opportunities for marginalized groups. Dr. Sander’s work in the community earned her an invitation to speak at the TEDx Phoenix Salon about community sustainability in 2012, a Community Luminary Award in 2014, and a nomination for the 2015 Humanities Rising Star Award for individuals using creative approaches to engage the public in humanities topics. Her goal is to continue using the arts to break barriers, inspire youth, and create social change.
"As a Poet and Storyteller this quote has always resonated with me, so I strive to tell my story and help others find their voice!  

'There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.' -Maya Angelou."
Crys J. Waddell
Crys is the Creative Strategist/ Chief Operating Officer at Hustle PHX. Hustle PHX is a non-profit that serves under-resourced areas in Arizona by providing intellectual, social and financial capital to entrepreneurs. She is the appointed Vice Chairperson for the Arts and Culture Commission for the City of Phoenix. The Commission is a critical voice in promoting the importance and value of arts and culture experiences for all Phoenix residents. Crys Waddell is a servant leader. Crys’s extensive background in all things creative has lent itself to a variety of creative, community-building projects that have fostered tremendous change in marginalized communities. She is also a member of the A.A.W.E.G.C.(African American Women’s Empowerment Giving Circle) which is a part of the Black Philanthropy Initiative to advance equity, health, education, leadership and social justice for African-Americans in Arizona. Crys graduated from California State University of Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater Arts and Dance. She is a mixed media artist, who loves to use her artistic talents volunteering her time to communities in Arizona and throughout the U.S.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the AZ Humanities Board. I look forward to helping cultivate cultural experiences that promote shared human experience throughout Arizona."