Phoenix Union High School Governing Board
Lela Alston (President) was elected to her first Governing Board term in 2008 as an At-Large member and was re-elected in 2012, 2016, and 2020. She served as the Governing Board President for two years-2015 and 2016. Alston currently serves as an Arizona State Senator, currently in a two-year term beginning in 2018. It is her second stint in the State Senate, having served as a Senator for 18 years, from 1976-94. Alston was also a member of the Arizona House of Representatives (District 24), elected in 2012, 2014, and 2016. A Phoenix native and Phoenix Union High School alumnus, Alston taught Family and Consumer Science in the District for 34 years at West, Maryvale, Alhambra, Metro Tech, and Bostrom High Schools. Among her career highlights and recognition, she was instrumental in working with a team to establish the ASU West Campus. She was honored by having the Lela Alston Elementary School in the Isaac District named after her. Alston earned a Bachelor of Science at the Univ. of Arizona and received her Masters from ASU. She has received the U of A Distinguished Citizen Award, named the 2015 O’Connor Institute Statesman of the Year, is an Honorary State Firefighter, and won the Girl Scout World of Children Award. She is a strong advocate for public education and credits her own public education as the reason for her many accomplishments in life. Alston has two children and six grandchildren. Her term expires in 2024.
Stanford Prescott (Clerk) joined the Governing Board in January 2015, after running uncontested in 2014. He retained his seat in 2018 representing Ward 2 in the southwest portion of the District. The Academies at South Mountain and Bioscience high schools are in his ward. A graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainability and a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, he is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee. Prescott has been a community organizer, connecting community members to the government in order to make an equitable policy. He has worked for the Maricopa County Democratic Party and Center for Neighborhood Leadership, leading successful school budget overrides and turning out thousands of new voters. A Phoenix native, Prescott graduated from South Mountain High School where he excelled in Academic Decathlon. He became a Board Member to ensure that every student, regardless of background, has an equal opportunity to quality education. His term expires in 2022.
Naketa Ross was elected to represent Ward 1 in November 2018 and began her first term in 2019, and was re-elected in 2022. Ross is a Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist and has been an advocate for marginalized youth and children aging out of the foster care system. She founded and is the executive director of a research-based trauma-informed program called ResilientMe to help youth build resiliency skills. Ross has been a member of the Department of Child Safety Prevention Advisory Collaborative. Ross is also an alumna of Valley Leadership and Leading for Change. She has a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Ross has been an active member in the Laveen and South Phoenix Communities. She has a daughter attending school in the Phoenix Union District. Ward 1 includes Betty Fairfax, Cesar Chavez, and Carl Hayden High Schools. As a board member, she wants to make a difference in the lives of youth who are at risk of not living up to their full potential. Her term expires in 2026.
Stephanie Parra became a Board Member in January 2015, after running unopposed for the Ward 3 seat. She won re-election in 2018 and 2022. Her ward includes Camelback High School, Central High School, and Phoenix Coding Academy. Parra is the Executive Director of ALL in Education and aims to ensure that individuals from the communities most impacted by education inequities are the ones making decisions for ALL students. As one of the first in her family to attend college, Parra saw first-hand the importance of education and the wonders it can do to develop a child's life and holds a Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and a Master of Education in Higher and Postsecondary Education from ASU. A first-generation American citizen, Parra was born and raised in Yuma, AZ, and is a product of Arizona public schools. She is passionate about ensuring every student in Arizona receives an excellent education and is adequately prepared to succeed in college, career, and life. Her term expires in 2026.
Laura Pastor begins her third term in 2019, running unopposed in 2018 and 2014. She was elected to her first term in 2010, representing Ward 4 which includes Metro Tech, Bostrom, Franklin Police & Fire High Schools, Linda Abril Education Academy, and the Desiderata program. She served as the Governing Board Clerk from 2012 to 2015. Pastor is a City of Phoenix Councilwoman, serving District 4 since first elected in 2013. Pastor is the Community Liaison at Phoenix College, implementing and administering community relations activities. She has also been Director of Early College Programs at Phoenix College. And Director of Achieving a College Education Program (ACE) program at South Mountain Community College. Pastor graduated from ASU with a Bachelor’s in Education and taught junior high school for four years in the Roosevelt and Isaac School Districts. She received a Master’s in Public Administration in 2000 after being selected as one of 30 participants in the Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs (City University of New York) National Urban and Rural Fellowship. Her master’s practicum was with the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education. She also worked with the City of Chicago partnering the cities’ museums with public schools. Her term expires in 2022.
Steve Gallardo was elected to represent Ward 5 in November 2018 and began his second stint as a Phoenix Union Governing Board Member in January 2019. He served as an At-Large member from 2005-2008. Gallardo is also a Maricopa County Supervisor, District 5, first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2016. He has served as both a State Representative (2003-2009) and State Senator (2011-2015.) He was Minority Whip for both houses. Gallardo fought against voter suppression efforts, SB 1070 and led a ballot initiative for state minimum wage reform. Gallardo was an assistant elections director and campaign finance administrator for Maricopa County. A fourth-generation Arizona native, he has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Arizona Civil Rights Advisory Board and Maryvale Village Planning Committee, and has been involved in local and national Hispanic organizations such as NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials) and MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.) He attended Trevor G. Browne High School. Ward 5 includes Trevor Browne, Maryvale and Alhambra High Schools. His term expires in 2022.
Aaron Marquez is the newest at-large governing board member. Marquez—a veteran of the United States Army—grew up in Arizona, served his country through two deployments to Afghanistan, and fought for progressive change in Arizona and across the country. A proud product of Arizona public schools, Marquez began college at the University of Arizona and Mesa Community College before joining City Year, a civilian national service program through AmeriCorps. He worked full-time with City Year for two years running service-learning programs for middle school and high school youth. Before returning to college, he worked on John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. These formative "gap years" instilled in him a desire to serve. He studied International Politics at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. During college, he co-founded ServeNext.org, a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to expanding civilian national service programs. Under his leadership, ServeNext.org played a pivotal role in the development and passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, the largest authorized expansion of national service programs since the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, the mission of ServeNext.org lives on in the work of the Service Year Alliance. Marquez lives in Central Phoenix with his wife, Ivette—an elementary school principal—six-year-old daughter, and sixteen-year-old stepson. His term expires in 2024.