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During the school year (August through May) FALA’s Board of Trustees meets at 5:30 p.m. the last Monday of each month. Meetings are open to the public, with agendas and monthly financial reports posted 24 hours in advance on the Governance Posts page.

Board Members

Andy Bessler Board President

Andy Bessler board photoAndy Bessler joined the FALA board in 2022 and works at the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals at Northern Arizona University since March, 2013.

Andy serves as ITEP’s Manager for the Tribal Clean Transportation Program. . He previously worked for ITEP’s Tribal Clean Energy Center organizing solar energy workshops and writing clean energy grants for tribes.

Prior to coming to ITEP, Andy worked over a decade with tribal communities as an organizer for the Sierra Club coordinating campaigns to protect sacred lands and curb climate change. He has also served on the Paatuwaqatsi Run Committee, helping the Hopi community organize a
powerful annual ultra-marathon on Hopi called the Paatuwaqatsi (Water is Life) Run. Andy holds a MA in Applied Cultural Anthropology from NAU and has traveled extensively in West Africa, Mexico, Europe and the US.

Andy enjoys trail running, biking and bee keeping. Andy is the proud father of two boys: FALA graduate Noah and current FALA student Simon .

Jim Burton Vice President

jim-burtonJim is a native Arizonan and grew up in the Phoenix West Valley. In 2002 he joined the U.S. Forest Service to pursue a career in wildland firefighting. In 2004, his career brought him to Flagstaff where he has resided since. Jim has extensive supervisor and manager experience serving as a fire captain and now battalion chief. During this time he has honed his leadership skills through extensive training and education along with experience developing organizations and managing large incidents. He believes in servant leadership through diversity of thought, a culture of trust, unselfish mindset, and fostering leadership.

Jim is a proud husband and father with a wife who is a kindergarten teacher, an oldest daughter who is a preschool teacher, and youngest daughter who has attended FALA since the first 6th grade class. In May of 2022, Jim completed the Norte Dame of Maryland Risk Management Program with the highest honors in his cohort. He also spent 8 years as a commissioner with the City of Flagstaff Open Spaces Commission working on projects at Picture Canyon, Observatory Mesa, and McMillan Mesa. When not working he spends his time with family camping and seeking out new adventures to experience

Elise Vincente Treasurer

Elise VincenteElise Vicente is an accomplished nurse with a passion for improving healthcare outcomes and fostering healthy work environments. Since 2008, she has been dedicated to providing exceptional patient care and enhancing staff engagement. Her expertise lies in nursing leadership.

As a member of the Board of Directors for FALA, Elise brings her extensive experience in team management. She aims to contribute to FALA’s goal of developing safe and inclusive learning environments for students and supporting the well-being of educators.

Elise holds a master’s degree in nursing leadership, which has equipped her with the skills to drive positive change within healthcare organizations. Currently serving as a Clinical Nurse Manager for Northern Arizona Healthcare, Elise plays a pivotal role in optimizing patient experiences and ensuring high-quality care.

With a strong commitment to the local community, Elise is eager to expand her community involvement through her FALA board position. Her commitment to nursing excellence, coupled with her leadership skills, community engagement, and support for safe and inclusive learning environments make her a passionate advocate for the well-being of both students and staff.

Beyond her professional responsibilities, Elise finds joy in gardening, reading, spending time with her family, and exploring the captivating landscapes of Arizona.

Isaac Hayes Secretary

isaac-hayesIsaac is a proud stay-at-home father of a one-year-old daughter living in Flagstaff currently completing a Master of Arts degree in Library & Information Sciences from the University of Arizona. Prior to moving to Flagstaff in 2017, he taught foundational math and technology in both high school and middle schools in California. Isaac has also served as a volunteer teacher at the Hope Tutoring School in Leupp, AZ. He taught math and computer science to Navajo students ranging from four to sixteen years old. One of his favorite parts of the tutoring program was meeting the families of the students. During these meetings, he was able to hear about the impact he had on the students directly from families. It allowed him to connect with the students in a real, meaningful way with those closest to them and to see the impact of their learning experiences on the larger community.

He has also served as the Director of Youth Ministries at the Flagstaff Federated Community Church where he worked with several FALA students and witnessed the positive effects of the school on the lives of the students and their families.

Sanjam Ahluwalia Board Member

Sanjam Ahluwalia is a Professor in the Department of History and Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Northern Arizona University. She has lived and worked in Flagstaff for over two decades, and joins the FALA board as a parent and community member with a lifelong commitment to education. FALA’s Habits of Heart and Mind resonates deeply with her own philosophy of education. In joining the board she looks forward to connecting and contributing to the FALA community to make it a welcoming and enriching place of learning in Flagstaff.

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