ASU Lodestar Center


Ariel Baber talks to fellow participants at a Cogenerational Service Academy session.

Continuing to lead: Public Allies Arizona alums join as an inaugural members of the Public Allies Alumni Council

April 17, 2024 — Public Allies, the national organization that runs the extensive network of AmeriCorps programs across the country that includes the ASU Lodestar Center’s Public Allies Arizona, launched its inaugural Public Allies Alumni Council this February. The group of 26 former Public Allies participants will play a critical role in shaping the program’s future and advancing its mission. Two of the selected alums, Ariel Baber (‘21) and Diali Avila (‘11, ‘13), come from Public Allies Arizona.

The Public Allies program places upcoming leaders into 10-month internships with nonprofit organizations. Public Allies Arizona, a program of the ASU Lodestar Center, administers the program in the Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan areas. Over nearly 20 years, the program has hosted more than 500 participants across Arizona.

In 2019, Ariel Baber was accepted into the Public Allies Arizona program. Now, more than four years later, she is one of the inaugural members of the Public Allies Alumni Council. According to Baber, her time as a Public Ally was “life-changing.”

She learned about the program at an Arizona State University career fair. After connecting with the Public Allies Arizona program director, Baber says she “applied, and the rest was history.”
“I just had this thought of ‘this is where I need to be,’” Baber said. “These are my people and I have to be a part of this somehow.”

After being accepted in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed Baber’s participation. In 2020, she continued the program with Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring “kids’ academic, social and emotional success.” 

“I had an amazing placement,” said Baber. “I had a supervisor who really took the time to coach me every step of the way ... [and] they made sure to bring me opportunities that really helped me develop.” 

Baber also recalls her Public Allies Team Service Project, a community service project planned and developed by the entire Public Allies Arizona class. In 2020, this was a partnership with Tucson Clean and Beautiful and the Tucson Parks and Recreation Department

“That was really one of my first experiences in event management and managing volunteers,” Baber says. 

Baber says she relies on the skills she gained as an Ally in her current work as an Assistant Director of Programs with AZCEND, a Chandler-based neighborhood resource center. It supports community members struggling with food insecurity and other poverty-related issues. 

“I’m surrounded by those who are actively working on breaking that cycle of poverty,” said Baber.

“Serving on this alumni council and serving on other boards and committees only enhances the work that we’re doing.” 

Having gained a strong skillset of time management, personal conviction and ambition through her experience as a Public Ally, Baber was excited for the opportunity to serve as a leader for the national organization. When Public Allies sent out a call for its Alumni Council in 2022, Baber took the opportunity.

“Our alumni network consists of elected leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, communicators, teachers, parents and so much more,” says Chrisal Valencia, Director of Alumni & Strategic Projects at Public Allies. “Whether they’re one or 10-plus years out from graduating our program, each alum brings invaluable perspective. It’s important to us that we continually involve this multi-generational and cross-sector group to keep imagining what leadership looks and feels like now and in the future.”

Baber says she and her fellow alumni are “making sure that [their] voices are a part of the process,” using their lived experiences to advocate for themselves and current Allies. 

“We’re able to take the connections and the history and the experiences and the voices of alumni who have done this work — a lot of them are still doing this work,” said Baber, who later joined the inaugural cohort of the Center's Cogenerational Service Academy. “I’m very excited to continue being a part of the solution.”

Story by Lillian Finley, ASU Lodestar Center

Image: Ariel Baber at the launch of Cogenerational Service Academy in 2023

Learn more about how Public Allies Arizona is empowering the next generation of nonprofit leaders

Public Allies Arizona is changing the face and practice of leadership throughout Phoenix and Tucson communities by demonstrating our conviction that everyone can lead, and that lasting change results when citizens of all backgrounds step up, take responsibility and work together.

It is a 10-month AmeriCorps program that places emerging leaders in full-time, paid nonprofit internships with partner organizations in the community. Our mission is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it.