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.
Ron Borkan • Treasurer
Ron was born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey. He received his B.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan in 1980 and in 1986 he received his M.S. in Renewable Natural Resources from the University of Arizona. . His graduate work was centered around developing a computer model of recreational use of river trips along the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park. Through this modeling effort, Mr. Borkan demonstrated how changes in the launch schedule could potentially impact campsite use and resulting recreational encounters during these river trips.
Following graduation in 1986, Mr. Borkan went to work for SWCA, Inc. Environmental Consultants, at the time a small biological consulting firm with offices in Flagstaff and Tucson, Arizona. He rose through the ranks from a Field Biologist to CEO. He worked out of four offices (Tucson, Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Portland Oregon) and was on the Board of the company for 21 years, until he retired at the end of 2012.
In 2014 Ron created Ellis Environmental, LLC, a company focused on management and ownership succession for small environmental consulting companies. As part of his consulting duties, he served on the Boards of two firms, Stillwater Sciences for three years and Applied Earthworks for five years. Currently Ron is working a book on the history of SWCA.
Upon moving back to Flagstaff in 2016, Mr. Borkan became involved with several local organizations. He served on the Board of the Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival for 3 years. Currently, Ron serves as a member of the Advisory Board of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, is Vice President and Past President of Creative Flagstaff (formerly Flagstaff Arts Council) and is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Martin-Springer Institute at NAU. While he served a short time on the Board for Heichal Baoranim (now known as Congregation Lev Shalom) in 2016, he resigned from there and formed the Flagstaff Kehilah, a group of over 100 people which fosters Jewish community and learning in Flagstaff.
Mr. Borkan lives in Flagstaff with his wife of almost 34 years, and he has three grown children and two poodles. When not doing his Board work, Mr. Borkan enjoys traveling (#vanlife), hiking, theatre, and opera.
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 National Tribal Air Association (NTAA). Andy provides NTAA air quality policy analysis and logistical support in order to empower tribes around the country with a strong voice in air quality and climate change policy. 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 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.
When not working, Andy enjoys trail running, biking and spending time with his family including his children Noah and Simon and his wife and best friend Erin Widman, proud owner of Flagstaff’s best yoga studio, The Yoga Experience.
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.