A Tsenjikini Navajo clan member with the Navajo Nation, Debbie Nez-Manuel is the founder of Morning Star Leaders, an Arizona nonprofit which promotes core values of indigenous life through cultural programs and leadership opportunities for Native American youth. A graduate of Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University, Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in social work. As a recipient of the 2016 Arizona Governor’s Volunteer of the Year Award, Debbie was recognized for her tireless dedication to urban and rural Native youth throughout Arizona. Prior to her nonprofit work, Debbie was a Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community public servant, spending twelve years (12) as a social worker providing support, guidance and leadership to various counseling programs for families and individuals, including incarcerated individuals. Debbie has served as a board member for the Hopi Education Endowment Fund and the Arizona Foundation for Women and as Chair of the Parent Advisory Committee for Mesa Public Schools. Though Debbie was originally raised on the Navajo Nation, she resides in Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community with her husband Royce and remains an actively involved mother of three children.
Imelda Ojeda is a social worker, immigrant, and community servant with years of experience working in the social and behavioral health systems. She was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico and after completing high school migrated to Arizona to pursue higher education. She attended Arizona State University where she received a Bachelor's of Science in Psychology, a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Public Administration. Imelda currently works for Phoenix City Council District 5 managing constituents and community engagement. Imelda enjoys serving the community and volunteers at various non-profit organizations and movements, she strives to continue fostering her passion and career in the public sector to address the unique needs of the Southwest population.
Sandra Ortega was born and raised in Southern California. She moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 2012, where she started her educational career as a social worker. She received both her BSW and MSW with a concentration in Planning, Administration, and Community Practice from Arizona State University. She currently works as an Education Liaison for youth in foster care. Outside of her professional work as a social worker, Sandra enjoys hiking, practicing yoga, dancing, and cozying up with her furry pets and a good book.
Crissy Jung is an Arizona-native, proud spouse, and macro social worker. She obtained both her Bachelor's and Master's in Social Work with a concentration in Planning, Administration, and Community Practices from Arizona State University. She has experience in law, behavioral health, housing, and environmental social work. She currently works in Government Relations, Zoning, and Land Use at Quarles & Brady Law Firm, with a heavy focus on planning and policy research. Outside of social work, Crissy develops political campaign websites, is a circus aerialist performer and instructor, and loves spending time with her two pups.
Jennifer Tunning is an LMSW and credentialed gerontologist who received her Master's in Social Work and Gerontology certificate from Arizona State University. She also holds a BSW and a B.S. in Family and Human Development from ASU. In 2015 she was chosen by the AZ Geriatrics Society for the Legacy of Life award for her dedication to gerontological social work and in 2017 was selected by the NASW to advocate for underserved populations in Washington D.C. Jennifer has directed social service and utilization management departments in the Phoenix area and currently oversees the revenue cycle for a recovery organization. She serves as a Village Planning Committee Member for South Mountain and is passionate about harm reduction, community advocacy, and her family.