Allyn R. Wright, President
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2020
Allyn R. Wright has spent 30+ years in different levels of Fire Safety and Security. His career began in New Haven, CT assigned to several nationwide task forces where he received numerous awards and honors. During his tenure in the Fire Service, he rose to rank of Assistant Chief & Chief. Prior to his appointment as Assistant Chief, he was appointed as Internal Affairs Officer and Captain of the Arson Squad. He received his Arson Investigation training and certification from the Connecticut State Police/State Fire Marshal’s Office, the National Fire Academy (FEMA), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center/U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Mr. Wright is a certified Expert Witness in the field of Arson Investigation and is a former Special Deputy Sheriff for the State of Connecticut – New Haven County.
Mr. Wright was appointed to the Arson/Fraud Task Force for the U.S. Secret Service for the South-Central Region of Connecticut, and the FBI/Arson Task Force-New Haven dealing with (Church Bombings). He was also assigned to the U.S. Secret Service Presidential Detail as a Fire, Safety and Security Liaison for former Presidents, Vice President, First Ladies, and Families. He provided critical technical knowledge and equipment to ensure the success of all protective missions in order to have a safe and secure environment. He was appointed by Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut’s 3rd District U.S. Representative to participate in the Citizen’s Alert Forum in conjunction with Homeland Security. He was a former Director of Security for the United States Department of Labor – Job Corps in Connecticut.
He is also an Adjunct Professor for the Connecticut Criminal Law Foundation, Inc. at the New Haven Police Academy – Arson Awareness/Preservation of Evidence. He was also a presenter at the University of New Haven – Arson Investigation. Mr. Wright has also provided critical technical knowledge for the national well-known forensic expert Dr. Henry C. Lee, former Public Safety Commissioner for the Connecticut State Police on numerous investigations.
Mr. Wright has volunteered as a Safety, Security Advisor for the National Special Olympics Summer Games in New Haven, CT. He has given several presentations on Fire, Safety and Security issues to the Elderly, Insurance Companies, Public Schools, Churches and other Civic Organizations within the private sector.
Since retiring from the Fire Service, he has focused all of his experience and expertise in the field of Fire, Safety and Security Management as a Security Advisor and Private Investigator. He is currently providing Consulting, Protection and Investigation in the field of Corporate Security for Celebrities, Attorneys, Legal Staff, Clients, Witnesses, Fortune 500 Companies and for Intelligence Options LLC., New York, NY. He has also volunteered as a Fire, Safety and Security Advisor for the Compassion Central Disaster Relief Team “Hurricane Katrina” Biloxi, Mississippi. Mr. Wright is a licensed Private Investigator in the State of New York.
Dale Adams, Vice President
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2020
Working within the venue management and live event touring industry for over the past 40 years, Dale Adams has crafted one of the most unique and diverse industry portfolios around. Currently, Adams is the General Manager of the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona while continuing to oversee all non-concert bookings and new product event development for ASM Global.
Dale began his career in the multi-venue Lakeland Center complex in Lakeland, Florida. He also held the title of Vice President and General Manager for such venues as the Pontchartrain Center (Kenner, LA) and the University of Massachusetts, Mullins Center (Amherst, MA). Later he opened the18,000 seat Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico and then the 19,000 seat Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Dale was also employed by Feld Entertainment as a Disney On Ice touring General Manager overseeing various ice show tours worldwide. In addition, Dale held a key role for Feld as the Director of North American Routing & Tours overseeing all touring and business operations for as many as 15 separate touring entities, including both Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney On Ice.
Dale’s background also consists of experience as the lead Project Development Manager and Vice President for Leisure Management International, domestic and international, public assembly facility consulting and, in a separate stint, as the Senior Vice President of Booking for Premier Exhibitions.
Dale is a past President of Glendale Rotary, an Honorary Commander at Luke AFB, and a recent graduate of the Citizens Academy. Dale also taught classes as an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts and, additionally, as an instructor and Regent at the IAVM School of Venue Management. Adams is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management (1980).
Lance Wilson, Immediate Past President
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2019
Lance R. Wilson is an experienced Chief Information Officer, Management Consultant and Executive Coach with over 30 years of experience. As an executive leader, Lance has built upon his early academic training as a PhD in Sociology to provide deep insights into organizational design and effectiveness issues. Lance has vast experience leading a global information services workforce and fostering effective teamwork with local and remote teams. As an effective Chief Information Officer, Lance was instrumental in providing technology solutions to complex business issues across a wide variety of industries.
In retirement, Lance continues to mentor senior technology leaders to enhance their careers as both business executives and technology leaders. Lance also volunteers with the Minneapolis St Paul Airport Police to identify and deter criminal activity around the MSP campus.
Carissa Vanitzian, VP Secretary
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2007
Carissa’s 43-year career as a professional journalist began after she earned a B.A. in journalism from California State University, Northridge, where she minored in Latin and history. Her subsequent career in broadcast journalism led to employment in seven TV stations, including KNBC-TV, Burbank, Calif.; KCAL-TV, Hollywood, Calif.; and KTLA-TV, Hollywood, Calif.
Through the years, she held every job in the newsroom, including news director, elections producer, prime-time news anchor, and newscast producer. She also coached news and weather anchors.
A move to Phoenix in the 1990s led to a video producer job at Salt River Project. There, she scripted and produced more than 1,000 videos, incorporating the journalistic principles of accuracy and information gathering.
Her specialty has always been interviews, having interviewed nearly 4,000 people—including two U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Carissa is a gold-level Vitalant donor of whole blood and platelets, in addition to regularly supporting local food banks, four Valley museums, and Phoenix-based performing arts organizations.
Annette Tanori, VP Treasurer
Graduated Citizens Academy Class 2020
Annette is a Senior Operations Manager at Silicon Valley Bank, where she helps guide SVB's global real estate portfolio strategy. She graduated from the University of Arizona (UA) Eller College of Management, obtaining a BA in Business Administration. She also earned a MA, in economics, from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
In addition to her professional endeavors, Annette is also very passionate about higher education and is an adjunct faculty member, in economics, for several colleges and universities. She also serves on multiple non-profit boards in the Phoenix Valley, including the rizona Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Western School of Science and Technology.
Donald Becka, Director Of Compliance
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2017
Following graduation from the Illinois State Police Academy, Don served the citizens of Illinois for twenty-one exciting and challenging years throughout Northern Illinois and the Chicago Metropolitan area. During the Vietnam conflict Don was inducted into the US Army serving in the Military Police Corp. Upon returning to the Illinois State Police following military discharge, Don was assigned to the Illinois Governor’s Office to provide executive security services to a variety of Illinois Diplomats. During this period Don served as head of Executive Security for the Secretary of State and Auditor of Public Accounts Offices providing security services for Illinois Delegates attending National Political Conventions in New York, and Miami, Florida. As Shift Commander Don led a team of 27 State Police Officers providing law enforcement services to over 4.5 million residents within the Chicago suburbs.
Following twenty-one years of Public Service, Don gained additional experience in strategic planning and corporate real estate leadership while serving the real estate interests of Bank of America, McDonald’s Corporation, Washington Mutual Bank, Tosco Marketing Company (through brands; BP Oil, Exxon, 76 Products-Unocal, Circle K) and Shurgard Limited Real Estate Partnerships. As Senior Vice President and Director of Transactions and Investments for Bank of America, Don held responsibilities for a wide range of internal and external strategic corporate real estate planning, leasing, realignment, and sale-leaseback activity throughout the Western US. Don holds a bachelor’s degree from Lewis University, a CCIM Designation and is a Mentor for Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics MBA Program, as well as Arizona State University’s National Science Foundation I-CORP program in Tempe Arizona. Don maintains a solid connection to his personal and professional growth through excellence in people, process, and self. He is a member of numerous professional and community service organizations.
Don is an effective communicator with a keen intellect, strong work ethic and strategic focus, “driven to results.” His open and communicative leadership style has been extremely effective in motivating teams and delivering results to superiors. He has demonstrated the ability to advocate innovative approaches to team management and accountability in non-controversial ways.
Cary Peskin, Director Of Technology
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2018
For more than 30 years, I held senior level positions in the Information Technology (IT) field. My last appointment in the Public Sector was Associate Commissioner and Chief Information Officer for New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the largest municipal developer in the United States.
Prior to joining HPD, I held a number of senior management IT positions with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority including Director of Surface Transit Systems with the New York City Transit; Chief Information Officer for Long Island Bus; and, Director of Technical Services and Support for the MTA Bridges and Tunnels where I was the senior member of the technical team responsible for the design and implementation of E-ZPass, the largest electronic toll collection system world-wide.
I was the recipient of New York City’s Excellence in Technology Award for the best City-wide application. In addition, I held the position of Vice Chairperson of New York City’s Municipal Data Processing Council from 2004 – 2007; an organization comprised of more than 50 New York City’s CIOs.
Since retirement, I have been sharing my expertise and IT knowledge with students at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC). In 2012, I received the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty award. I earned an AA degree, BBA Degree in Accounting and Finance, and coursework leading to an MBA. Over the years I have taught and authored a number of Computer Science courses at EMCC.
I am an IRS certified tax preparer, instructor, and site coordinator for VITA/TCE (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance/Tax Counseling for the Elderly).
Aaron Ling, Director Membership & Alumni Relations
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2011
Aaron is an experienced Senior Program Manager with over 15 years of experience in the defense and aerospace industries. He has a mechanical engineering degree from Arizona State University and an Executive MBA from the Quantic School of Business, as well as several professional certifications including a PMP and CSM. In addition to his professional work, Aaron is a licensed real estate agent. Aaron is also dedicated to community service and has volunteered with various organizations including the Make A Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Melissa Dus, Director Membership & Alumni Relations
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2020
Melissa Dus is an Arizona native who attended Arizona State University and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Communication. Ms. Dus participated in the Arizona Legislative Internship program and worked for the Arizona Secretary of State’s office. She went on to work as a Secretary of State staff member in the Elections Division and handled a variety of duties in that role including processing statutorily required elections, lobbyist and petition documents. Melissa went on to work as an Advance to Governor Jan Brewer staffing her at numerous events throughout the state and in Mexico. She returned to the Arizona State Legislature working with the respected government relations firm, Public Policy Partners, with numerous clients such as Cox Communications and the Arizona Technology Council. Melissa then transitioned to the private sector working in community relations for a microwave technology company. Currently, Ms. Dus is an Enterprise Senior Account Executive for Cox Business and has worked with the company for over eight years. She supports her government customers including the FBI, education, and non-profit and customers while they assess their complex telecom needs and assists them in selecting the best solution to meet their unique requirements. Melissa is also a licensed Arizona realtor, a notary public and canine foster parent for local dog shelters. She enjoys staying active outdoors, volunteering in the community, attending ASU football games, traveling with her husband, enjoying local cuisine and hosting friends and family for holidays.
Steve Scott, Director Membership & Alumni Relations
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2015
Steve graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a degree in Business Administration. He also achieved the designations of Certified Financial Planner from the College of Financial Planning and a Certified Investment Analyst from Wharton School of Executive Education.
Beth McRae, Director of Communications
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2013
Beth McRae oversees The McRae Agency as CEO with 30-plus years in the public relations, social media and marketing industries. She specializes in strategic planning; news media, community and public relations; social media and online relations; and marketing communications in various industries, including retail, franchises, consumer products, and business-to-business industries.
She has worked with a variety of clients, including Google, Nextel/Sprint, Sunny Delight, Red Bull, CBRE, Piper Jaffray, Z Gallerie, Skanska and Cushman & Wakefield, including franchises such as Massage Envy and The Joint. Beth has received more than 45 awards for her public relations and marketing campaigns, including the Bank of America Enterprise Award.
Beth is a graduate of Valley Leadership and a member of the Junior League. She was named a 2011 Trendsetter for lifetime achievement in civic and charitable contributions. She has served on boards ranging from the Arizona Humane Society and HomeBase Youth Services, to the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society. She is on the boards of Barry and Peggy Goldwater Foundation, JUMP, Instant Signature, The EAT Community and NuCure Naturals. She has previously been appointed to the Governor’s Commission to Prevent Violence Against Women and is a founder of Las Palomas, a women’s group that has raised over $1 million for women's and children's charities. She is an editor/writer at Women of Wisdom Magazine.
Beth earned a Bachelor of Science in journalism, with an emphasis in public relations and advertising, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in marketing from Texas Christian University where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and Delta Sigma Pi. She received a master's degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Hannellie Mendoza, Director
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2014
Hannellie’s professional expertise stems from over 25 years of experience working for small, medium and large organizations in the technology industry. She has served in various sales, marketing, research, finance and management roles, gaining deep and comprehensive understanding of business and management.
Hannellie has an Masters in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and a Certificate in Accounting & Finance – three areas that give her a well rounded approach to managing projects and businesses.
Hannellie is an active volunteer in various professional development and civic organizations, among them as Commissioner for the Scottsdale Human Relations Commission, Chair for the District 3 Toastmasters Speakers’ Bureau and Asian Corporate and Entrepreneur Leaders (ACEL). Hannellie is an alumni of Scottsdale Leadership Class 30.
Richard Shaw, Director of Donations/Sponsorship
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 1995
Richard Shaw has a diversified, international business experiences across several industries, including retail, most types of real estate, finance, privatization, marina development, entertainment property, consulting, and related legal work. Consulting experience includes US and foreign privatization, corporate governance, and training Former Soviet Union business consultants for Harvard University/USAID. Experience includes complex business and public policy problem solving inside challenging legal, business, and political environments. Business focus has been founding or co-founding several startup companies, with substantial international and 3rd world experience.
Business experience includes 5 million square feet of retail property development, mortgage finance and real estate consulting. Co-founder of Shooters World, Phoenix, one of the largest private indoor shooting ranges in the US, Owner, Cowtown Range, a private shooting facility that provides training for US Special forces, Navy SEAL teams, and a large number of federal and state police agencies. Co-owner, Rock Springs Café, a large restraint, bakery & entertainment venue near Anthem, on I-17. Other international experience includes real estate in Mexico, United Kingdom, and co-founder, Black Sea Investment Group, Kiev, Ukraine.
Legal practice has been limited to dispute resolution and transaction structuring. From May 2009 to December 2020, served as Chairman, Liquidating Trust Board, Mortgages Limited (a one billion-dollar Arizona bankruptcy case) on behalf of Federal Bankruptcy Court.
Jack Nelson, Director of Events: Phoenix
Graduated Citizens Academy Class of 2016
Experienced Vice President AND Board member with a demonstrated history of working in the public safety industry. Skilled in Crisis Management, Government, Train the Trainer Certified, Law Enforcement, and Emergency Management. Strong professional with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) focused in Business Administration, Management and Finance, from University of Missouri-Columbia.