Board Members


President: James Sheldahl
Superintendent, Yuma Elementary School District One


Vice President: Miriam Limón
Senior Director of Marketing AEA Federal Credit Union

Miriam Limon has been a Yuma County Education Foundation board member since 2018. Born and raised in Yuma, she graduated from Cibola High School and attended Arizona Western College. She is currently the Senior Director of Marketing at AEA Federal Credit Union, Yuma’s only locally owned community credit union, and has over 15 years of experience in private and public sector marketing. Outside of work, Miriam enjoys going on adventures with her fiancé, Benjamin, and their daughter, Audrey


Board Secretary: Nancy T Blitz
Retired Professor, Arizona Western College

Nancy T. Blitz taught English as a Second Language at Arizona Western College both part-time and full-time from the late 1980s to August 1, 2020. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a B.A. in German, and her M.A. in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) is from Northern Arizona University. She spent two years as a full-time instructor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education/ESL on the NAU-Yuma Branch Campus where she continued to teach in a part time capacity for many years. Over the years, many of the students from her NAU undergraduate and graduate classes were nominees for the Yuma County Teacher of the Year.


Board Treasurer: Tom Tyree
Yuma County Superintendent of Schools

Tom Tyree has served in public education for 45 years. In August of 2003 Tyree was appointed Yuma County Superintendent of Schools and was elected to the position in 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016,  and most recently again in 2020. Prior to assuming his elected position as county superintendent, Tyree served as a teacher, head basketball coach, building and central office administrator in school districts in Yuma and Mesa, Arizona. Tyree is married to Mara Vitolins Tyree (former Miss Yuma County) and has two children, Tiffany and Ryan, both educators in Yuma


Board Member: Laurie Doering
Superintendent, Crane School District

Laurie Doering has been in education for over 33 years and is
passionate about this calling. She moved to Yuma in 1976 and has raised three children in this fine community. She graduated from Yuma High School and went on to graduate from Arizona State University and then received a Masters in Educational Leadership from NAU-Yuma. She has been a school and district level administrator for over 20 years.


Board Member: Helen Coffeen
Principal, Centennial Middle School

Helen Morrow Coffeen arrived in Yuma from California in 1977 to work for the Crane School District.  She has taught third, fifth and sixth grades, and has been an assistant principal and a principal.  She has worked at Viejo, Rancho Viejo, Crane Junior High, Pueblo, and now Centennial Middle School.  She is passionate about providing an outstanding education to our students in a safe fun learning environment that prepares our students for college and careers. She believes an education opens doors of opportunity, gives a panoramic view of the world, and allows students choices to follow their dreams.


Board Member: Michael Sabath, PhD
Associate Vice President and Campus Executive Officer, NAU Yuma Branch Campus

Michael J. Sabath has been in higher education for over 35 years.  A first-generation student who grew up in a military family, he earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, an MPA from California State University-Chico and a PhD from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Dr. Sabath was with San Diego State University for 23 years serving as a professor, division chair, and Associate Dean.  Prior to this, he taught in the School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Columbia and in the Department of Criminal Justice at Indiana University-Bloomington.  He is married to Maria Lourdes Sabath and has three children.   


Board Member: Joann Chang
Director of the Center for Instructional Effectiveness; Professor, Arizona Western College

Joann Chang has taught at Arizona Western College (AWC) since 2010 for the department of Biology and is the current Director for the Center for Instructional Excellence. She obtained her B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Arizona and her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California, San Diego. She has had the pleasure of being a part time instructor for the Engineering department for AWC and is a current part time instructor for Northern Arizona University – Yuma Branch Campus for their Biological Sciences program.


Board Member: Kim Seh
Principal, Orange Grove Elementary School

Kimberly Seh has been an Education Foundation Board member since 2009.  She is currently the principal at Orange Grove Elementary School in Somerton School District #11.  Her educational degrees and certifications include the following: B.A. in Elementary Education, M.A. in Multicultural/Bilingual Education, Early Childhood and Structured English Immersion Endorsement, Principal and Superintendent Certification from Northern Arizona University. After thoroughly enjoying teaching third, fourth and fifth grade in Somerton School District #11, she took the opportunity to serve staff and students as a Staff Developer/Reading Coach in the Crane School District.  Administrative experiences include Principal and Professional Development / Curriculum/ Assessment Director for Somerton School District #11.  


Board Member: Tom Rush
President, Yuma Investment Group

Tom Rush was raised on a farm in Dateland, Arizona with six siblings. Tom studied at Amherst College in Massachusetts and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.   Tom Rush is the founder and president of Yuma Investment Group Wealth Management.  He has been dedicated to assisting his clients in achieving their financial goals for over 25 years. Today the firm employees three Wealth advisors, a Financial Planner and a support staff of nine. The firm provides wealth planning services for individuals, corporations, trusts and retirement accounts totaling in excess of 250 million dollars. Yuma Investment Group Wealth Management’s mission statement is to assist its clients in creating and protecting wealth, ultimately striving for financial independence.  Tom Rush works diligently with his clients to crystallize their financial goals. He then develops a comprehensive plan to achieve these goals.  Because of this "planning" driven approach, he emphasizes long-term relationships which are the cornerstone of his business practice. Tom Rush resides in Yuma with his wife Sandy and their four children: Jackson, Stockton, Savannah, and Houston.  When not working, Tom enjoys his family.


Board Member: Belinda Boblett
School Improvement Director/PD Director, Gadsden Elementary District #32

Belinda Boblett was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona.  She earned a B.A. from Northern Arizona University in Elementary Education, M.A. in Multicultural/Bilingual Education, Early Childhood and Structured English Immersion Endorsements, and Administrative Licensure Certification from Northern Arizona University. She taught and coached teachers in the community for several years and currently is the School Improvement Director/Professional Development Director for Gadsden Elementary School District. Her main responsibility is the overall implementation of district-wide curriculum and assessments, as well as the development and improvement of instructional delivery methods. She has been involved in and chaired a number of committees throughout her career.  Additionally, she has served in various coordinator roles, including District Testing Coordinator and English Language Learner (ELL) Coordinator, has led Sheltered English Immersion initiatives, developed and facilitated Move on When Reading and Gifted/Talented programs, and played a critical role in many aspects of educational professional development and district initiatives.  She believes that all children can learn but each learns in a different way and at different rates.  Mrs. Boblett feels that teamwork is the ultimate way a school/district can be successful in reaching the goal of helping a child attain his/her full potential.


Gina Thompson Photo

Board Member: Gina Thompson
Superintendent, Yuma Union High School District

Gina M. Thompson is currently the Superintendent for Yuma Union High School District. Gina earned her B.A. in English Education / Physical Education from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. She has been in Yuma, AZ since 1989 when she began her teaching career at Cibola High School. After earning her Master’s
Degree at NAU-Yuma in 1995, she became an assistant principal at Yuma High School. In 2006, she had the privilege of becoming the Principal at Kofa High School. In 2012, the Rodel Foundation honored Gina as an ExemplaryPrincipal. Gina is most proud of her two daughters; both Yuma born, Yuma public schools educated, both are KofaKings as well as a UofA Wildcat and NAU Lumberjack. 


Board Member: Shelley Jones Mellon
Owner/Broker, R.L. Jones Insurance Services

Upon graduating, from the University of Arizona with a degree in Business Administration, Shelley became the 4th generation to follow in her family’s business, R.L. Jones Group. Her husband, Colin Mellon, is a 3rd generation Yuma produce farmer. Currently they own their own farm and are active in the management and operations of Mellon Farms, Inc., and a ground application company. Shelley owns and operates the three locations of RL Jones Insurance & MVD Services.  Shelley serves as Chair of the Southwest Arizona Town Hall, Board of Trustees for the Yuma Regional Medical Center Foundation, Chair of the Yuma Education Advocacy Council, Board Member of Expect More Arizona, CEO Council of Expect More Arizona, Advisory Council Bayer America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, Board Member of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Corporation, Director of the Yuma Youth Leadership Council, Director of Yuma Youth Town Hall, Chair of the Yuma Union High School District Bond Campaign and Yuma Union High School District Governing Board Member, Board Member of Yuma County Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, S June Pallack Award Council, Officer of Yuma Up Mentoring Program, Board Member of the Benesche Collection (YRMC Art Heals), volunteer and advocate for Healing Journey, Board Member of Journey Church, Board member of Arizona Town Hall, past Board Member of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce, past Board Member of Rio Colorado Commissions, past member of the Arizona Mexico Commission. Colin and Shelley have three children: Tanner-Graduate of Purdue University, Masters Krannert School of Management, Mckenna-Cornell University, and Walker-Gila Ridge High School. 


Board Member: Baleshka Brenes, Ph.D.
Director of Agriculture Programs University of Arizona -- Yuma

Baleshka Brenes earned her bachelors in Socioeconomic Development and Environment at Zamorano University in Honduras. Soon after she earned her master’s degree in Agricultural Sciences at Texas A&M University Commerce. Dr. Brenes earned her PhD in Agricultural Education and Communications at Texas Tech University.

She is currently Director of Agriculture Programs at the University of Arizona-Yuma where she teaches agriculture courses such as Leadership Principles and Practices and Communicating Knowledge in Agriculture and the Life Sciences. She does outreach in the community and promotes programs in agriculture. She is passionate about working with Hispanics and conducting research on Latino/Hispanic issues. Other areas of interest include acculturation, food safety culture, leadership, and international agriculture.

 


Immediate Past President: Frank Núñez, 
Principal, Gila Vista Junior High School 

Frank Núñez was born and raised in Yuma Arizona. He graduated from Cibola High School and went on to graduate from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, and a Masters in Educational Leadership. He has been a school and district level administrator for 7 years. Prior to being an administrator, his varied classroom experience as a teacher of Spanish, Government, Economics, AVID, Academic Decathlon, and Advanced Placement classes provided him with an invaluable insight on the academic capacity of students, and solidified his belief that every high school student can graduate from college and be career ready.


Shanna Johnson Photo

Board Member: Shanna Johnson
Superintendent/Principal Mohawk Valley School District

Shanna Johnson has been an educator for 28 years. She attended Antelope Union High School, earned her bachelor's degree at NAU in Flagstaff, then returned to teach at Wellton Elementary School where she spent the first 21 years of her career. At Wellton Elementary School she had many roles: second grade teacher, first grade teacher, special education teacher, junior high language arts, and teacher trainer. Shanna is currently the Superintendent at Mohawk Valley School.