During the school year (August through May) FALA’s Board of Trustees meets at 5 p.m. the second 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.
James Yih • Board President
James is an engineer with a passion for art. After earning a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University, James moved to Flagstaff in 2012. He works as a design engineer at W.L. Gore & Associates. He has experience designing medical devices and machines, managing projects, leading small teams, and maintaining shared resources. James has great attention to detail and is always thinking about continuous improvement.
Complementary to his engineering career, James spends his free time exploring various arts. In 2017, having no prior experience, he began learning ballet and modern dance at FALA. He continues to dance several times a week. James has trained in multiple aerial apparatuses, and performed with Flagstaff’s aerial theater company, Dark Sky Aerial. In addition to performing, James volunteers as a stage manager and aerial rigger for the Flagstaff Foundry, a community variety show that includes live music, aerial dance, and stand-up comedy. At home, inspired by color and three-dimensional shapes, James enjoys folding origami and sculpting with clay.
As a FALA board member, James brings an engineering perspective, and an understanding of the importance of art and education.
Dr. Kyle Winfree • Vice President
Kyle moved to Flagstaff during high school, sometime before FALA was formed. He then attended NAU where he completed his undergraduate degree in Physics. After starting a family, and working at the US Geological Survey for several years, he and his family moved to Pennsylvania for further schooling. There, he completed his masters degree in Robotics at the University of Pennsylvania and doctoral degree in Biomechanics and Movement Science at the University of Delaware. Following a post-doc in Nursing, he returned to Flagstaff for a position at NAU. There, he is currently the Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems.
When not at work, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his friends and family in the Flagstaff area. Photography and aerial arts are dear to his heart. Having lived in Flagstaff for over 16 years now, he calls Flagstaff his home, both in locale and in community.
His two daughters both attend FALA, and he is committed to the educational experience of all students there.
Jim Burton • Treasurer
Jim 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
Andy Bessler • Secretary
Andy 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 .
Debra Edgerton • Board Member
Debra Edgerton received her MFA degrees at both the San Francisco Art Institute and Vermont College of Fine Art in Painting and Interdisciplinary Art. She is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society and a lifetime member of the Transparent Watercolor Society. Ms. Edgerton has received numerous grants and awards for her work that include the Arizona Commission on the Arts Project and Career Advancement Grants, the Elizabeth Graham Foundation Grant, the VanDenburg Grant, Contemporary Forum Artist Grant, and the Provost Award for Faculty Excellence in Global Learning. Debra is an Assistant Professor for the School of Art at Northern Arizona University. Her recent watercolor paintings have received numerous awards and has been on exhibit locally, nationally, and internationally. Ms. Edgerton was awarded Master Status through TWSA and had a retrospective of her work Fall 2019 at the Arizona Community Foundation.
Issac Hayes • Board Member
Isaac 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.
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