President- Rachelle Morris
Rachelle Morris, M.Ed., currently serves as Executive Director of Education for Graduation Solutions. She was formerly the Vice President of Operations for Student Choice High School, an alternative education high school charter district extending across 8 cities throughout Arizona. Serving in these positions has afforded Rachelle the opportunity to lead organizations to positively impact young adults in Arizona needing a champion while offering a flexible pathway to their high school diploma. Rachelle is a second-generation Arizona native having grown up on the west side of Phoenix in Peoria. After graduating from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Education, Rachelle began her teaching career in the Peoria and Dysart school districts, but ultimately grew roots in the Litchfield Elementary School District. It was there she was mentored into school leadership which led to her pursuing a Master of Arts in Education in Administration and Supervision. She cut her teeth as an assistant principal in the Creighton and Madison districts serving at Title-1 schools. While at Rose Lane Elementary, she helped to achieve their distinction as the 2009 National Distinguished Title 1 School for Arizona and while at Papago Elementary, she authored and was awarded the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant bringing $500,000 to her district over 5 years. Rachelle then went back to Litchfield to become the principal for Scott L. Libby Elementary School to fill the big shoes of two previous National Distinguished Principals. During her seven years of leadership, she led the school to increase their school ranking to become the 12th highest performing K-8 school in the state for 2018. Other distinctions earned during this time included A+ School of Excellence for 2016, NCEA Higher Performing School in 2013 & 2014, and the ADE Achievement in Action Award in 2014. Most recently, Rachelle earned the distinction of being a National Certified Principal Mentor through NAESP. Having been an educator for 25 years, Rachelle is proud to continue serving the underprivileged communities in her state!
Past President – Wayne Tucker
Wayne Tucker, M.Ed., is the Superintendent of PPEP TEC High School, a network of six alternative high school campuses stretching across Southern Arizona. The mission of PTHS is to provide innovative, high quality educational opportunities to students whose needs have not been met by traditional schools and who are at risk of disengaging from the educational system. Wayne began his academic career as a biology student in his home state of Florida but transferred to Bennington College, in Vermont, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, concentrating in epistemology and cognitive systems. Some years later, he earned a Master of Secondary Education degree from the University of Arizona and has been devoted to the study of Alternative Education throughout his entire teaching career.
President Elect – Chris Dickinson
Chris Dickinson, currently serves as the Executive Director of Corporate Marketing & Recruitment for Grad Solutions. Chris has worked in the education field since 2004, focusing primarily on programs and policies designed for disconnected/opportunity youth. An Arizona native, Chris earned his degree in Visual Communications, Marketing, and Graphic Design in 2001. As the Executive Director of Corporate Marketing & Recruitment at Grad Solutions, Chris oversees multiple groups within the corporate suite of organizations. Chris focuses on leading various teams to find new and innovative ways to connect with disconnected/opportunity youth. Outside of work, Chris enjoys spending time going to concerts and traveling. Some of the most exciting travel adventures Chris has experienced so far include: walking on the Great Wall of China, a 30-mile bike ride along a small peninsula in the Corca Dhuibhne region of Ireland, paragliding off a cliffside in the Swiss Alps, and experiencing a Roman hot spring in Budapest.
Secretary – Binky Michele Jones
Binky Michele Jones, M.Ed., currently serves as Senior Vice President for Ombudsman Educational Services a subsidiary of Chancelight Education. She has over 30 years of experience in educational and business administration. She earned her Bachelors degree in Secondary Education and a Masters degree in Educational Administration from the University of Missouri Columbia. For the Arizona Alternative Education Consortium, she has held the roles of President Elect, President, and Secretary. She also serves as Co-Chair for the Opportunity for Youth Education Momentum Action team. Additionally, she serves on the Alternative Accountability Technical Assistance Committee (AATAC) for the Arizona Department of Education. In 2012, she was awarded the Servant Heart, Chancelight’s highest honor to recognize exemplary leadership and operational excellence.
Treasurer – Shannon Smith
Timothy Andrew Smith, Ed.D., Is the president and CEO of Learning Matters Educational Group, a leading charter school organization in Arizona and California. Dr. Smith is the founder of E-Institute Charter Schools, an online high school with satellite high school locations in the West Valley and Calibre Academy, an “A” rated K-8 traditional school in Surprise, Arizona. Dr. Smith is also the founder of Taylion High Desert Academy in San Bernardino County, California. Dr. Smith is an advocate for the educational needs of nontraditional students and has been a leader in the Arizona charter school movement since 1996. Dr. Smith has served as the treasurer of AZAEC since the organization was first established in Arizona. Dr. Smith earned a Global Executive Doctor of Education from the University of Southern California, a Global MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Korean Language and Asian Students from Brigham Young University.
Board Member – Cyndi Cubillas
Cyndi Cubillas is a Tucson native and has been working in alternative education at Southern Arizona Community Academy for 21 years as administrator, registrar and student advocate. She currently holds the distinction of serving as their Director of Student Affairs. During her time at SACA, she has been the faculty sponsor to numerous student clubs, including the popular YLM (Your Life Matters Suicide Awareness & Prevention Peer/Community Outreach) and TSP Avengers (high school chapter of the The Sanctuary Project Animal Advocacy and Rescue). In January of 2020, Cyndi was the recipient of the Speak Up, Stand Up, Save–a-Life Educator Difference Maker of the Year for the State of Arizona. She is currently working with local mental and behavioral health alliances in her community to help create a YLM curriculum for other schools and educators to implement on their campuses. Cyndi has recently become a certified trainer for Youth Mental Health First Aid to assist in the movement to help bring awareness to other educators about this topic and to reduce the stigma surrounding it. Aside from her work within the school setting, one of Ms. Cubillas’ passions is being on the softball field as a player and/or coach. As a Master Level Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches College, she has coached at the high school, college-prep, NJCAA and NCAA levels. Another love of Cyndi’s is animals and in 2011, Cyndi was one of the Co-Founders of The Sanctuary Project Animal Rescue, where she was the Director of Rescue and Placement. Cyndi has a strong passion for investing in the lives of her students and players and is doggedly determined to find resources in our community to help them see their worth and develop their potential. “I believe in the power of teamwork and I am honored to be a part of the AEC team!”
Board Member – Michael Goto
Born and raised in Arizona, Michael Goto has been a part of Ombudsman Educational Services for over seven years and currently serves as Regional Vice President. After earning his Bachelors’ from Arizona State University, taught primarily Senior Government at the high school level while earning Masters’ Degrees in Instructional Technology then later Educational Administration. As a former Google Educator and now Microsoft Innovative Expert, his passion is using technology to bridge the achievement gap and strengthen real world classroom collaboration and relevance. Michael’s educational experience ranges from classroom educator, coach, student council advisor, peer mentor, administrator, to local and national policy advocate. As a National Board Certified Teacher he provides candidate support through the Az K-12 Center and is a member of the Arizona National Board Network. He resides in the west valley with his wife and four kids along with their dogs, cats, guinea pig, and tortoise.
Board Member – Chris Meehan
Chris Meehan, M.B.A., currently serves as Chief Operating Officer of Eastpointe High School. Chris is first and foremost a husband and father. Chris and his family currently reside in Phoenix. Along with his wife Tara, they have two children Kamden (age 7) and Addyson (age 5). Prior to moving to Phoenix, Chris and his family lived in Chicago for about a year. While in Chicago, as well as
the previous 12 years, Chris worked in the energy industry. Most recently he was the Vice President of
Operations for an independent power producer. He was responsible for managing and leading
approximately 500 people throughout the organization. This is where Chris learned and discovered his passion for leading and encouraging people to their highest potential. He has been recognized nationally, on several occasions, for his impact on the industry as well as the overall greater community. He continues to stay active in the industry on a much smaller scale through leadership and operations consulting opportunities. At Eastpointe High School, he has brought his previous passion for working with people to working with at-risk students. Chris attributes his leadership skillset to his upbringing in a small rural community. Growing up he had a passion for sports, education and community. He is a true believer that authentic relationships build trust, resulting in everlasting impact on people and the community. With the responsibility of Eastpointe High School’s operations, he is in a unique position to build these authentic relationships with many teachers, students, and the community.
Board Member – Steve Purkiss
Steve Purkis, M.Ed., has lived in Arizona for most of his life spending that time in either Scottsdale, Flagstaff, or Tucson. Currently residing in Tucson, he serves as the Lead Teacher and Principal for PPEP Tec High School’s Celestino Fernandez Learning Center, a grade 9-12, Alternative, and Title-1 high school. Steve received a Master of Secondary Education in 2005 followed by a M. Ed. in Educational Leadership and Administration in 2018. He then received his Principal’s Certification the same year. Within his sixteen years of education, Steve has taught for the first eight years and has been in administration since serving in all Title-1 schools with two being designated as Alternative Education schools.