Meet the Board of Trustees Officers
Chair Michael McKendrick
Assistant Fire Chief (Ret.), Tucson Fire Department
Mike McKendrick is a native Tucsonan and a 30-year veteran of the fire service. As assistant chief for the Tucson Fire Department’s Operations Division, he was responsible for all the emergency response forces for the City of Tucson. Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in public fire administration from Cogswell College in Sunnyvale, California, and served on the board of the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System for 16 years. Mike also serves as chairman of the board of directors of Tucson Old Pueblo Credit Union (TOPCU), and on the boards of directors for Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona, and B’nai B’rith Manor on Pantano, which provides federally subsidized housing for low-income seniors. Mike’s previous community volunteer work also includes seven years of coaching football and wrestling at Sabino High School, where he was named 2002 Southern Arizona Wrestling Coach of the Year.
Vice Chair Michael J. Brandt
Fire Chief, Northwest Fire District
Assistant Chief (Ret.), Tucson Fire Department
Mike Brandt has served the Greater Tucson community as a firefighter, paramedic and fire-service administrator for more than 38 years. As the fire chief of Northwest Fire District, he oversees fire, EMS and community safety operations, which provide services to more than 110,000 residents of Marana and northwest Tucson, covering over 120 square miles. Mike, a native Tucsonan, began his career at Tucson Fire Department in 1977, advancing through the ranks to retire in 2005 at the rank of assistant chief, where he directed operations in the fire prevention and community safety divisions. He served as assistant chief in all major departments/divisions during his career at Tucson Fire. Before hiring onto TFD, he served in the U.S. Air Force – as a specialist in aerospace control and warning systems – and completed a tour of duty in Southeast Asia, where he was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal. Mike has served as an appointee to the Governor’s Emergency Medical Services Council, is the current chair of the Pima County Fire Chiefs Association, and the current co-chair of the Pima Community College Fire/EMS Advisory Committee. He is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Arizona Fire Chiefs Association, Arizona Fire District Association, Arizona Ambulance Association, Marana Chamber of Commerce, Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce, and local board of the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System. He and his wife, Rose, have six children – and he still finds time to volunteer on the YMCA Board of Managers, and with other civic groups.
Treasurer Vern Babilon
CEO Tucson Old Pueblo CU
Vern Babilon moved to Tucson in January 2013 when he became the new CEO of Tucson Old Pueblo Credit Union (TOPCU). After earning his bachelor’s degree in banking/finance and accounting at Alvernia College in Reading, Pennsylvania, Vern obtained his master’s degree in business/management from Penn State University. He became a certified credit union executive (CCUE) in 1993, and a certified public accountant in 1994. Vern has held positions as a top credit-union executive for the past 25 years – first as CEO in Reading, Pennsylvania, then as EVP/CFO at a large credit union in downtown Houston, Texas. He has also served as a consultant and auditor for many smaller credit unions. Tucson Old Pueblo Credit union – founded by city firefighters in 1935 – maintains strong ties with the firefighting community, which Vern and his staff actively maintain by volunteering with the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation and other events benefiting firefighters. Vern, who is currently serving as GTFF’s treasurer, is also a trustee of the Tucson Police Foundation. Having been involved in a wide variety of community fundraising events over the years (as a sponsor, participant and/or volunteer) Vern especially enjoys participating in running and bicycling events benefiting charities. He and his wife are also one of the first couples to hit the dance floor at the annual Firefighters Ball.
Secretary Gerald M. “Gerry” Bates, Ph.D.
Assistant Chief (Ret.), Tucson Fire Department
Gerry Bates is a veteran firefighter, retiring after 34 years of service with the Tucson Fire Department at the rank of assistant chief. He served as the department’s health and safety officer, and is a nationally published author on occupational, hazardous materials and injury-prevention issues. Gerry is a Michigan native, and holds a bachelor’s degree in history, a master’s degree in educational leadership, and a doctorate in public administration. He is an instructor in the fire science program at Pima Community College, and holds the level of an eighth-degree grandmaster in the martial art of tae kwondo. He also volunteers as a paralegal with the Tucson City Prosecutors Office, and is a docent at the University of Arizona Museum of Art. Gerry married Char, an ultrasonographer, in 1983.
Meet the Trustees
E.A. “Ted” Geare III
Assistant Fire Chief (Ret.), Tucson Fire Department
Ted Geare, a native Tucsonan, served with the Tucson Fire Department for more than 32 years, retiring in October 2005. He earned an associate degree in fire science from Pima Community College, a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Phoenix, and is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy, in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Ted’s activities have included serving on the boards of the State of Arizona Emergency Medical Services Council, the American Red Cross Association, and from 1991 to present, the Comstock Children’s Foundation of Tucson. He has also volunteered with a group of retired firefighters for the last decade restoring antique fire apparatus. The projects have included a 1928 Ahrens-Fox pumper, a 1923 American-LaFrance pumper, and he is currently assisting with the restoration of a 1923 American-LaFrance ladder truck.
Wayne Peate MD, MPH
President, WellAmerica, Inc.
Ex Officio Trustee
Wayne Peate MD, MPH is an occupational medicine specialist in Tucson, Arizona. He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, medical degree from Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, and a master’s degree in public health from Harvard. He has served as an associate professor at the University of Arizona, where he teaches occupational and environmental health, global health and public-health emergency preparedness. He is an investigator for the FEMA 2014 cancer prevention in firefighters three-year grant. Wayne, who serves as a senior advisor to the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation, is the department physician for 24 firefighting agencies in Southern Arizona. He has worked intensively on firefighter health and safety issues, including investigation of MRSA infections, musculoskeletal injuries, and the efficacy of preventive and ergonomic programs in the workplace. He is also president of WellAmerica, Inc., an occupational health facility serving Southern Arizona fire departments and districts, as well as other contracted agencies. He served in the U.S. Army Reserves as a lieutenant colonel.
News Anchor, KOLD-TV Tucson
Dan Marries is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who has been covering the news in Tucson for nearly 17 years at KOLD-TV (CBS). Before coming to Tucson in 1999, he earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communications/broadcast journalism from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. Dan grew up around the fire service: His father, Kurt Marries, is a contract helicopter pilot specializing in aerial firefighting – and during college, Dan spent four seasons fighting fires across the western U.S. with the Bureau of Land Management. He is founding president of Casas Adobes Optimist Club, and in 2008, served on the Pima County Local Emergency Planning Committee, where he coordinated with media outlets as needed to educate the public about the organization and its goals. Dan has also served as vice president of the Tucson Ski Club, and volunteers at the National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans, and for nonprofit Interfaith Community Services. Due to his community involvement, he was named the 2014 Tucson Rodeo Parade Grand Marshal, and has been announcing the Tucson Rodeo Parade for more than 10 years. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two boys.
Bryn Bailer is a native Tucsonan with more than 20 years’ experience in the communications business – as an award-winning newspaper reporter, editor and financial writer in the United States and Czech Republic. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Arizona, she began her newspaper career at the Arizona Daily Star, starting as a political commentary writer and later moving into feature writing, where she covered topics ranging from presidential visits to mental-health issues associated with police work. In 2002, with a growing interest in public safety, she turned in her reporter’s notebook to become media liaison for the county’s Bioterrorism Preparedness Program, overseeing coverage of biodefense-related emergency management issues. In 2007, Bryn left the country to work as a Prague-based staff writer for English-language financial magazine Czech Business Weekly, covering trade, corporate and lifestyle news in the Czech Republic and Central Europe. Now back in the United States, her freelance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Dallas Morning News, nationally distributed public-safety journals Firehouse, Fire Engineering and Police Magazine, as well as international news service Agence France-Presse.
Luis A. Ochoa
Attorney, Quarles & Brady LLP
Ex Officio Trustee
Luis A. Ochoa is a partner in the Tucson office of the law firm of Quarles & Brady, LLP. He is a member of the firm’s real-estate practice group. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1983, and his law degree from the UA in 1986. His practice focuses on Indian law, not-for-profit organizations, and business clients in all phases of corporate operation – including business-entity formation, commercial transactions, and tax- and real-estate matters. Luis is listed in “The Best Lawyers in America” for Indian law, gaming law and nonprofits/charities law. He serves as a senior advisor to the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation, and on the boards of the Blair Charity Group, and the University of Arizona Intercollegiate Athletics Compliance Committee. He is a member of the Tucson Jewish Foundation’s Professional Advisors Group, and the Volunteer Lawyers Program’s Advisory Group. Luis has also served on the boards of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, Tucson Centers for Women and Children, William Morris Foundation, 88-Crime, and the Tucson Crime Prevention Council. He has been recognized for his pro bono legal work as the recipient of the 2002 American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award, the 2001 William E. Morris Pro Bono Service Award, and numerous awards from the Southern Arizona Legal Aid/Volunteer Lawyers Program. They include the 2000 Arizona Community Legal Assistance Attorney of the Year, 1999 Attorney of the Year, 1998 Bankruptcy Clinic Attorney of the Year, and 1997 Bankruptcy Clinic Attorney of the Year.
Fire Chief, Golder Ranch Fire District
Randy Karrer was appointed fire chief of Golder Ranch Fire District in March of 2010. He began his career in 1981, working his way through the fire department ranks with Rural/Metro Fire, Northwest Fire District and Drexel Heights Fire District. He is very active throughout Arizona in a variety of capacities, including serving as chairman of the State Fire Safety Committee. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer appointed him to the board in 2012, and re-appointed him in 2014. Randy has received multiple awards and recognition for his service and expertise. In 2013, he was named “Chief Fire Officer of the Year” by the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association. In 2007, he received the Richard Carmona “Leadership Above and Beyond Award” from the Greater Tucson Leadership Council. In 2008, he received a certificate of commendation from the American Legion for his continued community service efforts. In 2009, he was awarded chief fire officer designation from the Commission on Professional Credentialing, and was reaccredited in 2015. Randy holds a bachelor’s degree in fire-service management from Arizona State University, and an associate degree in fire science from Pima Community College.
Executive Director and Board Member, Canyon Ranch Institute
Jennifer Cabe has spent over 25 years in positions dedicated to improving health and wellness. She now leads strategic and operations functions as executive director and a board member for Canyon Ranch Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit public charity. Canyon Ranch Institute catalyzes the possibility of optimal health for all people by translating the best practices of Canyon Ranch and our partners to help educate, inspire and empower every person to prevent disease and embrace a life of wellness. Jennifer is also a faculty member with the Ohio State University College of Nursing. Prior to joining Canyon Ranch Institute in 2007, Jennifer was vice president of scientific communications for Feinstein Kean Healthcare, where she started and led the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Jennifer previously served in the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) as communications director and speechwriter for Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona. She was awarded the Surgeon General’s Medallion in 2005, which is the highest honor that the U.S. Surgeon General can confer. Prior to joining OSG, Jennifer was a communications officer at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Before joining NIH, Jennifer led communications, wellness and government relations for HealthNet Health Plan in the Pacific Northwest. Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a master’s degree in public communication at American University in Washington, D.C. In addition to her role as a trustee with the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation, she also serves on the boards of several other regional and national organizations.
William I. Nelson, PE
Principal Emeritus, GLHN Architects & Engineers Inc.
William I. Nelson, PE is a principal emeritus in mechanical engineering at GLHN Architects & Engineers, Inc. Bill retired from GLHN in January 2015, after 45 years. He has been principal-in-charge of major utility development projects and physical plant upgrades at the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, University of New Mexico, Colorado College, University of Illinois, University of Chicago, Tucson Medical Center, and Raytheon. In all, Bill has worked on projects at more than 20 universities and major hospital campuses in the West and Midwest. Bill earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona in 1978, and has been active in higher education for more than 40 years. He is a volunteer instructor for the UA Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, where he team teaches a course in HVAC. As an instructor with the APPA Institute (Association of Higher Education Facility Officers) for over 15 years, Bill has taught courses on refrigerants and chillers, basic HVAC systems, and utility master planning. He has also written and delivered more than 20 papers and presentations on utility development planning. Twice yearly, he is the principal facilitator and organizer of symposiums held by GLHN for facilities and central plant personnel at universities in the Southwestern United States. He also enjoys teaching sixth-graders’ Junior Achievement classes. Bill served in the U.S. Army, and was stationed in Naples, Italy for more than two years (1967-1969). He has worked closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs since 1975, when he served as project manager on the clinical addition to the VA Medical Center in Tucson. Bill has audited plumbing, fire-protection and HVAC systems in more than 600 VA buildings across the nation, identifying opportunities for energy conservation. Bill continues to teach, advise GLHN on business-development activities, and spend quality time with Dianne, his lovely wife of 44 years.
Sara Perotti, MSN, NP
Neurosurgery Nurse Practitioner, Banner University Medical Center
Sara Perotti, ACNP-BC, MSN, NREMT-P, CMTE is a neurosurgery nurse practitioner at Banner University Medical Center Tucson, on the University of Arizona campus. A nationally and state registered, certified emergency paramedic since 1997, she is also executive director of the Southeastern Arizona Emergency Medical Services (SAEMS) Council. Sara has 15 years of experience as a helicopter flight nurse, and served as a vice president of the largest EMS helicopter-transport operators in the United States. She is licensed as a national registry certified medical examiner (NRCME) by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). She is also certified by the Association of Air Medical Services as a certified medical transport executive (CMTE). Sara earned her master’s degree at Saint Louis University, and her post-master’s education includes certification as an acute-care nurse practitioner. She is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association. Her advanced certifications include, ACLS, BLS, PALS and ATLS. Sara owns and operates Advanced Clinical Solutions LLC, a medical/clinical consultation company. She was appointed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to the Arizona Emergency Medical Services Council, and continues to serve the state of Arizona in this appointed position. She also serves as vice president of the nonprofit Rialto Theater Foundation.
Andrew B. Kunsberg
General Manager (Ret.), Pima Uniforms
Andy Kunsberg worked in the Tucson community serving both public safety and private business needs for uniforms and equipment. He managed Pima Uniforms from 1975 until his retirement, and has been employed by Fechheimer Brothers Co. since 1972. His local volunteer service also includes serving as a trustee for the Tucson Police Foundation, treasurer of the Builders Lodge 60 (Masonic Lodge), and vice president of the Shyann Kindness Project.
Patty Vallance quietly serves Tucson and the fire-service community as a volunteer, supporter and behind-the-scenes fundraiser for various non-profit organizations, including those that assist firefighters and their families. She authored a children’s book, “Born to Wear Blue,” which teaches youngsters about fire safety and using 911 during an emergency. Patty has been volunteering for more than 25 years, and has received awards for her projects on local, state and national levels – including for work assisting families displaced by hurricanes Rita and Katrina. In 2012, she was honored by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, and named one of 13 Extraordinary Women for Women’s Philanthropy. In addition to volunteering with the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation, she has served on the board of the B’nai B’rith Strauss Manor on Pantano, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and other charitable organizations. She is a devoted mom to two adult children – son Zev, and daughter Noa.
Assistant Chief (Ret.), Tucson Fire Department
As an assistant chief with the Tucson Fire Department, Dave completed his 37-year career in charge of emergency medical services and the 911 communications center. A Tucson resident since 1971 and graduate of the University of Arizona, he served as a member of the Arizona Emergency Medical Services Council, State Trauma Advisory Board, and Pima County Parks Commission. As a founding trustee of the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation, he continues to conduct historical research of Tucson Fire while enjoying UA athletic events, golf and travel. Dave and his wife, Cindy, also follow their three children as they work their way through Texas Christian University, and Georgetown University.
President, International Association of Fire Firefighters 3572
Liaison with Northwest Fire District
Gary Watson currently holds the position of president with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3572. The union represents members from Picture Rocks Fire District, Mountain Vista Fire District and Mount Lemmon Fire District, in addition to those from Northwest Fire – the largest fire district in Arizona. Gary is also a consultant for Pima County Joint Technological Education District (JTED) public-safety education programs.
Fire Chief, Tucson Fire Department
Liaison with Tucson Fire Department
Jim Critchley has served Arizona as a firefighter, paramedic, educator, emergency manager and fire-service administrator for more than 30 years. Hired by Tucson Fire Department in 1988, he promoted through the ranks to the positions of deputy chief of training, operations battalion chief, and operations deputy chief, before being appointed fire chief for the City of Tucson in 2011. Named Chief Fire Officer of the Year in 2008 by the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association, Jim has been an active representative with the Arizona Fire Training Association, Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, Western Fire Chiefs Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. In 2012, as a representative of the WFCA and IAFC, he testified before the U.S. House of Representatives about the need for adequate funding of the United States Fire Administration. Jim, a native Tucsonan, earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Arizona Eller College of Management, a bachelor’s in fire-service management from Arizona State University, and an associate degree in fire science from Pima Community College.
Fire Chief and Regional Director, Rural/Metro Southern Arizona
Jonathan McMahan has 25 years of fire and emergency-services experience, and currently serves as fire chief and regional director of Rural/Metro Fire Department – overseeing fire and ambulance operations in the Southern Arizona and Yuma markets. He began his tenure with Rural/Metro as a firefighter in 2003, progressed through the ranks, and was appointed fire chief in 2013. He holds a master’s degree in executive fire leadership and disaster preparedness, a bachelor’s in public safety and emergency management from Grand Canyon University, and an associate degree in fire science and paramedicine from Pima Community College. Jonathan is a 2017 doctoral candidate in organizational leadership at Grand Canyon University. He holds chief fire officer and chief EMS officer designations from the Center for Public Safety Excellence, membership grade in the Institution of Fire Engineers, and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program in Maryland. He is also a nationally registered and Arizona state-certified paramedic.
Owner, Adam D Technology
Adam Dellos is a Tucson native and graduate of Sabino High School. In 2006, he founded Adam D Technology in order to bring technology solutions to individuals and small companies that needed fast, reliable, trustworthy IT support. His clients include Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs (AZCOPS), Greater Tucson Fire Foundation, Tucson Police Officers Association, United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona, Tucson Celtic Festival, Festival & Events Association of Tucson & Southern Arizona (FEATSAZ), Arizona Police & Fire Games, and the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. The company provides additional assistance in web site development, maintenance and assistance with employee volunteers. Adam has been accepted into The Centurion rookie class of 2015/16, and serves on the boards of the Tucson Computer Society, and Tucson Young Professionals. He joined the GTFF Board of Trustees in 2016. Adam has been active in foundation volunteer work since 2009, providing technical and logistical assistance for Tucson Police Department IT, the 9/11 Tower Challenge, and the 100 Club of Arizona. He has also served as the citizen co-chair for the GTFF HERO program, which provides emergency financial assistance for regional firefighters as a safe, confidential and compassionate resource.
Investment Advisor, Financial Directions LLC
Chris Hambacher earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Arizona in 2004. He worked for several years in administration for the cardiothoracic surgery/transplant office at University Medical Center (now Banner University Medical Center.) Since 2009, he has worked as an advisor and registered principal at Financial Directions LLC, a registered investment advisor. Chris’ past volunteer experience includes serving on the site council for Soleng Tom Elementary School, coaching his daughter for Sahuaro Fast Pitch softball, as well as coaching his son for Pantano Little League baseball.
Esther Sherberg arrived in Tucson in 1975 to take on an administrative position in a new department at the University of Arizona. Until retirement in 1994, she held various posts there, including a year-on-loan to the Arizona Board of Regents to staff a task force studying how to prepare Arizona universities for the approaching new century. A native of St. Louis, Esther earned her bachelor’s degree from Washington University, and did graduate work at the University of Maryland. She worked previously at Washington University, Stanford University and the University of Maryland. Esther has been very active in the Tucson community, and is a life member of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona (and Woman of the Year 1992). She was president of Congregation Anshei Israel 1999-2001, and vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation. She has served on the boards of University of Arizona Hillel, Tucson Hebrew Academy, Jewish Education Tax Credit Organization, and the America-Israel Friendship League. Her favorite pastime is visiting Israel, and she is particularly interested in fostering the partnership between the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation’s “Firefighters Beyond Borders” program and Israeli first responders.
Division Chief (Ret.), Northwest Fire District
Division Chief (Ret.), Tucson Fire Department
Jim Grasham is a 42-year veteran of the Tucson-area fire service. He served 28 years with Tucson Fire Department, and 14 years with Northwest Fire District. He earned an associate degree in fire science from Pima Community College, and is a member of the Arizona Fire Service Hall of Fame. Jim served as a division chief of code administration for Tucson Fire for nearly 15 years. Following his retirement, he served as fire marshal for Northwest Fire District for almost eight years, before becoming the district’s special-project division chief – where he worked in the areas of strategic planning, accreditation, health and safety, and grant writing. Jim has helped area fire departments acquire grant funds in excess of $10 million, enabling them to acquire additional firefighters, equipment and training. Since retirement, Jim has continued to provide grant-writing service to area departments, and is working with area nonprofit organizations to pursue much-needed funding.