These are our community leaders driving the innovation in The Solutions Hub.
CopperPoint Insurance Companies
Vice President, Operations & Business Services
Dan Hernandez began his career with CopperPoint Insurance Companies as a premium auditor in 1995. Since then, he has worked as a claims adjuster, an auditor compliance reviewer and as a team leader for an account services teams. He was a director from 2002 to 2010 overseeing various functions, including CopperPoint's Small Business Center and Customer Contact Centers. Hernandez was named vice president of operations and small business services in 2010. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Arizona and a master's in business administration from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
An entrepreneurial enthusiast, Gabriel Gasca has been part of startup ventures in Nanotechnology, Wireless Communications, Branding/Marketing, Coworking and Software Development. Gabriel blends strategy, creativity and business acumen to achieve extraordinary results in startup and growth stage environments.
Waste Not, Inc.
Kate Thoene is the Executive Director of Waste Not, a hunger relief agency that provides prepared food that would otherwise go to waste to those in need in the Metro Phoenix area.
Kate has worked in the non-profit sector for over 20 years. In addition to her leadership role at Waste Not, Kate is the Board President of the Social Enterprise Alliance AZ Chapter, and serves on the Board of Directors for ONE (Organization for Non-Profit Executives), Re:HELP and on the Association Board for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Kate recently accepted an appointment to ASU’s Community Council and in 2012, she was named one of the Phoenix Business Journals 40 Under 40.
Prior to joining Waste Not, Kate was the Social Enterprise and Employment Director at SARRC where she led a team who operated several social enterprise businesses that generated revenue and provided work experience for adults with Autism. As the Chief Social Enterprise Officer at UMOM, Kate created a social enterprise café and market called Helpings which integrated food service and barista training programs with a social impact business for those experiencing homelessness.
Prior to that she was the Director of Community Kitchen Programs at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, where she worked for ten years. Kate was responsible for sourcing corporate food donations and purchasing and then went on to develop a social enterprise catering business within one of the largest and most successful food bank culinary training programs in the country.
Kate and her husband, Douglas were recognized as one of AZ’s Finest Couples by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. They live in central Phoenix with their 12-year-old son, Adam and several rescue animals.
Knowledge Exchange for Resilience at ASU
Patricia Solís, PhD, is Executive Director of the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience at Arizona State University, a campus-wide effort to link community needs with research innovations, managed in the College of Arts and Sciences. She also holds research faculty privileges in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.
She is Co-Founder and Director of YouthMappers, a consortium of more than 163 universities in 43 countries that creates and uses open spatial data for humanitarian and development needs in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development.
Prior to joining ASU, she was Co-Director of the Center for Geospatial Technology at Texas Tech University and Research Associate Professor of Geography in the Department of Geosciences and affiliated with the TTU Climate Science Center. She served Deputy Director and Director of Research at the American Association of Geographers. Dr. Solís received a BS in Physics, BA in German, and MA in Geography from Kansas State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Iowa where she was a Presidential Fellow.
Solís has developed over fifty competitively funded projects worth approximately $9M promoting innovations in research, education and community collaboration with support from federal agencies such as the US National Science Foundation, the US State Department, NASA, NOAA, US Geological Survey, USAID, and others. Her research focuses on designing experiences for exchanges of knowledge, fellowships, and applications of open geospatial technologies to address socially relevant challenges, from water resource conflict to climate change induced hazards to broadening participation in higher education. Her creative leadership has resulted in the development of collaborative and participatory research methodologies, youth-engaged peer exchanges, new designs for research-centered learning, and the sustained institutionalization of public-private partnerships centered on using digital geographic technologies.
Her international experience includes fostering north-south and south-south academic networks among emerging scholars in sixty countries across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. These efforts have been recognized by the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development as a model program. She also serves as the elected and State-Department appointed President of the Geography Commission of the PanAmerican Institute for Geography and History of the Organization of American States, and has been honored with the designation of National Researcher II from Panama and twice the Enlaces Award for academic collaboration with Latin America. She is named as a Specialist on the Fulbright Commissions’ Roster of Experts and served with the Politecnico Instituto di Milano in 2018. She was recognized as Geospatial Volunteer of the Year for the State of Arizona by the Arizona Geographic Information Council in 2019.
Senior Program Manager
Institute for Sustainable Communities
Valley of the Sun United Way Board of Directors Joined: FY 2018
Emily Mead is a Senior Program Manager on ISC’s U.S Program team. In this role, she supports ISC’s work on the Advancing Community Resilience Partnership in Maricopa County, Arizona. This project—designed and implemented in partnership with the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust—is intended to build community engagement, social cohesion, and resilience. Emily brings her local knowledge and strong experience in economic development, public-private partnerships, and relationship management to this place-based effort.
Prior to joining ISC, Emily was the Community Engagement Director at the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), where she managed relationships with public and private sector partners in 23 municipalities. While at GPEC, she also worked on fundraising and event management and served as Project Manager for the early launch of Velocity, a public-private initiative accelerating the growth of Greater Phoenix. Early in her career, Emily was Manager of Fundraising and Marketing for the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, where she managed partnerships, events, and volunteers.
Emily holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising and Public Relations from Northern Arizona University, a Master of Public Administration from Arizona State University, and a certificate in Strategic Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She is a member of the 2017 class of the Valley Leadership Institute and is an active volunteer for Valley of the Sun United Way and Scottsdale Arts.
Education: Master of Public Administration, Emphasis in Nonprofit Management, Arizona State University, B.S. Advertising and Public Relations, Northern Arizona University
Abby Wilkymacky, founder of Mindflower Studio, is a facilitator, designer, and visual practitioner. Mindflower Studio is a creative consultancy that helps socially-driven organizations define and solve problems through thoughtfully designed and facilitated experiences. Abby is known for her innovative facilitation and human-centered research techniques that drive creative participation in surprising, fun ways. Abby holds a BS in Industrial Design and Spanish from The Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!). As an adjunct professor at Arizona State University, she taught undergraduate and graduate level Industrial Design and Qualitative Research courses.
Outside of her work you may find Abby romping around in the desert, talking to the plants in her garden, playing board games, reading with a cat in her lap, or drawing on her tablet.
Connect with Abby and Mindflower Studio: