Our Story: Then & Now

A for Arizona has a vision to build an education system in Arizona that prepares every student to succeed in the competitive global economy and contribute to their local community.

Our story began in Fall 2013, when former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan decided to flip the traditional approach to education policy upside down and see what might happen if we leveraged best practices from the business community to focus intensely on scaling what works in K-12 schools. In collaboration with now Chief Executive Officer Emily Anne Gullickson, the A for Arizona initiative set out in Spring 2014 to learn from Arizona’s roughly 100 high poverty, high performing schools who were quietly laboring and defying the odds.

Over six years, A for Arizona got to know agile, passionate principals and system leaders across the state. Our growing team watched these schools intentionally help high poverty students catch up academically – giving them access to the life choices that only a great education can provide. Our work was built around elevating these educators’ voices, developing policy ideas and research to support and accelerate their investments in the lives of every student.

It has always been our belief that businesses have the obligation, opportunity, and capacity to foster greater student achievement, build an educated workforce pipeline, and protect our future economic vitality. A for Arizona originally harnessed the power and influence of the business community through a strategic partnership with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Arizona Chamber Foundation, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and their member organizations.

Our work continues today as an independent 501(c)(3) organization. As employers, innovators, and investors in the future, we remain committed to ensuring business leaders stay engaged as education champions. We aim to continue to educate and build wider support from the business community on the ambitious, aggressive, and comprehensive education reform possibilities designed from the needs and best practices of Arizona’s exceptional educators

The future is bright in Arizona and it’s time to get back to work.

With a laser focus on sustaining, growing, and expanding excellence, closing the achievement gap is no longer just an aspiration.

Now more than ever, A for Arizona serves as a national and local model for what's possible for students. We champion innovative ideas for student success, investing in and scaling what works to make Arizona the best state in the country at providing all students an excellent education.

John Donahue

Chairman of A for Arizona

Founder &Chief Executive Officer

Emily Anne Gullickson, J.D., M.Ed.


(952) 334-2734


Emily Anne is the Founder and CEO of A for Arizona, bringing a unique background of executive, advocacy, legal, and teaching experience to the organization.

Prior to launching A for Arizona as a stand alone 501(c)(3), Emily Anne served as the Chief Executive Officer at the Arizona Chamber Foundation and Executive Director of the A for Arizona initiative. Emily Anne played a leading role in growing the two-person research shop into a thriving foundation with three major initiatives including A for Arizona, Chamber Business News, and the Arizona Industry Fellows. Under her direction, the Foundation published critical policy briefs and research on topics dedicated to expanding economic opportunity in Arizona such as K-12 education reform, water and the Drought Contingency Plan, and trade with a focus on the USMCA and its impact on Arizona. At A for Arizona, Emily Anne designed, implemented, and facilitated first-of-their-kind initiatives and solutions to rapidly increase the number of low-income students attending Arizona’s top-performing public schools.

Emily Anne was recently recognized by the Arizona Capitol Times as an Inaugural Women Achievers of Arizona – Nonprofit Leader and 2019 Breakdown Breakout, recognition for being one of the sharpest political minds in Arizona under 40. She was identified in 2018 by The Arizona Republic as an educator to watch that’s shaping Arizona’s next generation and was a Greater Phoenix Chamber 2017 ATHENA Young Professional Award Nominee.

Using her experience as an educator, legal advocate, and policy leader, Emily Anne is devoted to changing the narrative of what’s possible for students in Arizona and the nation. She currently serves as an Executive Board Member and Vice President of Membership Initiatives for the Grand Canyon Council Boy Scouts of America and on the Auxiliary Board for notMYkid. She actively serves on the Policy Innovators in Education (PIE) Network Leadership Council and is the only representative from Arizona in PIE’s current national Leadership Institute cohort. Emily Anne is also an inaugural fellow in R Street Institute’s Foundations of Conservative Policymaking Fellowship and was a member of the Fall 2018 American Enterprise Institute Leadership Institute.

Vice President

Katie Dauphinais


(480) 277-7852


Katie Dauphinais serves as the Vice President for A for Arizona and sister organization Great Leaders Strong Schools.

Katie has over a decade of experience in public policy, advocacy, and political operations. Prior to joining the team, Katie served as the Western Regional Legislative Director for ExcelinEd, where she led advocacy efforts on behalf of the organization in eight states in the Mountain West and served as a key partner to A for Arizona. During her tenure, she passed over two dozen bills that resulted in new options and millions of dollars serving over 1.2 million students across the region.

Her professional experience includes senior staff roles on campaigns such as John McCain’s re-election in 2016, federal constituent work for Senator Kyl and Senator Flake, government affairs roles at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry and University of Arizona where she worked on issues such as higher education, immigration, transportation and infrastructure, trade, science and space technology. Additionally, as Federal Affairs Director for the Arizona Chamber, she acted as a liaison for the White House on behalf of the Chamber in a successful coalition effort to pass the United States, Canada and Mexico Agreement (USMCA) and Drought Contingency Plan in 2020.

Katie graduated from Arizona State University and is a member of the Dodie Londen Excellence in Public Service organization, AEI’s Millennial Cohort as well as a graduate of the Oklahoma Leadership Exchange Academy. She is a member of the current Policy Innovators in Education (PIE) Network’s Leadership Institute cohort.

Senior Fellow,School Leadership and Innovation

Tonya R. Strozier, M.Ed., PhD.


(520) 940-3676


Dr. Tonya Strozier has a proven track record in school turnaround, transformation, and improvement. Her educational leadership experience includes magnet, charter, traditional public, and virtual schools. Dr. Tonya is currently the principal of Holladay Fine Arts Magnet Elementary School.

Dr. Tonya obtained her Bachelor of Science in Family Studies from the University of Arizona and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. She also earned a Ph.D. in psychology, technology, and learning from Grand Canyon University.

As an educational consultant and edupreneur, Dr. Tonya has successfully written and launched multiple charter school networks. Through her innovative approach to education, she has garnered multiple federal/state/local grants for schools systems and community organizations. She continues to innovate and disrupt the norm as the founder of No More Failing Schools, a 501c4 organization committed to transforming school leadership and the way in which students learn.

In the community, Dr. Tonya launched the Tucson Alliance of Black School Educators, is a member of the Mayor’s Racial Equity and Justice Advisory Board, peer reviewer for American Educational Research Association (AERA) and an invited scholar at Grand Canyon University’s Reflective Practice Institute. Dr. Strozier is also a member of the African American Advisory Board for the Arizona Department of Education.

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Tuesday Elias


(602) 478-8339


Tuesday is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at A for Arizona. Bringing unique expertise in state and local government and multi-organizational project management, she embodies an enthusiastic and results-oriented mindset.

Prior to joining A for Arizona, Tuesday spent three years in the Office of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. She began her profession on the Governor’s Legislative team, quickly moving to the Policy team and capping her tenure off on the Operations team. Tuesday quickly learned Arizona’s legislative landscape and what it takes to move landmark policy from start to finish. She led or assisted with multi-agency and Executive initiatives, including annual Strategic Planning and Budgeting, Arizona Capitol Copper Dome Restoration Project, AZHiresVets!, Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, State of Arizona Leaders Connect Program, and the 2023 Gubernatorial Transition Process.

Most notably, Tuesday managed and led Governor Ducey’s AZ OnTrack Summer Camp, chaired by Lisa Graham Keegan. As a direct result of statewide collaboration and first-in-the-nation approaches, thousands of Arizona students and families in all 15 counties received an academic and adventurous summer camp experience at no cost.

As a fourth-generation Arizonan, Lumberjack alumna, and former student who benefited from the state’s robust school choice options, Tuesday remains devoted to continuing the Arizona tradition of leading the nation on school choice and bringing high-quality educational freedom to students in the State of Arizona and across the country.

Director of Expansion and Innovation Fund

Bettina Norton


(602) 561-0735


Bettina is the Director of Expansion and Innovation Fund, bringing unique expertise in campaign finance, non-profit compliance, digital media and storytelling to the organization.

Prior to joining A for Arizona, Bettina wore several hats with Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), a nonprofit leadership development organization that inspired and supported a network of civic leaders working to end the injustices in our education system and ensure every child has access to an excellent education. She managed and oversaw the compliance and reporting for 20 Political Action Committees and supported more than 200 political candidates per cycle, ensuring every candidate engaged with LEE remained in compliance throughout their campaign journey.

In addition to her compliance work, Bettina also played a key role in planning and executing candidate video productions in several regions across the US, capturing their unique stories and vision of change. As a direct result of her media work, the organization was able to support candidates in over 40 states with new and innovative ways to promote each candidate and provide intentional support for their campaigns.

Bettina began her journey on behalf of students at Teach For America – Phoenix, developing her non-profit compliance, marketing, and operations expertise. As a native Arizonan, former Sun Devil and youth who benefited from the state’s robust school choice options, Bettina remains devoted to celebrating what’s possible and relentlessly working to ensure every child has access to a high-quality education in the State of Arizona and across the country.

Board of Directors


John Donahue

President & CEOPositive Recovery Solutions

Board Member

Lee Benson

Founder and CEOExecute to Win

Board Member

Derrell Bradford


Board Member

Jennifer Mellor

Chief Innovation OfficerGreater Phoenix Chamber & Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation

Board Member

Amilyn Pierce

Vice President Government AffairsArizona Diamondbacks

Board Member

Luis Ramirez

PresidentRamirez Advisors Inter-National, LLC

Board Member

Aaron Smith

Director of Education ReformReason

Board Member

Janelle Wood

President & CEOBlack Mothers Forum