Meet the Council Members
Neal Cash is the Chief Strategy Officer and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Partners, Inc., parent company of Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (formerly Regional Behavioral Health Authority), which was responsible for creating and managing a comprehensive, effective behavioral health care system for taxpayer-funded treatment and other services. Neal has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and administration from the University of Arizona. With more than 40 years of experience in the behavioral health industry, Neal has been involved with a broad spectrum of the community and has championed consumer and family involvement throughout the system of care.
Stacey Cope has enacted her dedication to social justice and harm reduction in the work she has done as an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, supporting formerly incarcerated youth living in group homes, HIV and Hepatitis C testing, education and linkage to care, and in serving one of the top few syringe access programs in the state. She is currently the Southern Arizona Overdose Prevention Coordinator for Sonoran Prevention Works, a local non-profit dedicated to reducing overdose deaths and ending health disparities for Arizonans impacted by drug use. Stacey is a fourth generation Arizonan. She lives in Tucson with her wife and two dogs, where they spend most of their time growing food and exploring Mt. Lemmon.
Ben Davis works as a Behavioral Interventionist for the Tucson Unified School District and is an ordained minister at Grace Temple Missionary Baptist Church. He has lived in Tucson since 1978, and retired in 2007 from Raytheon Missile Systems as a production analyst. He currently is in hot pursuit of Ed.D with emphasis on organizational leadership with Grand Canyon University. He has served on three court benches in Arizona in the last eight years, is an avid chess player, and retired from table tennis competition as one of the top ten players in Arizona. Ben supports constructive programs to benefit all teens in Tucson, AZ. He could eat seafood daily.
Christine Hoekenga is a communications professional with a decade and a half of experience in community outreach, journalism, education, facilitation, and planning strategic communications to reach diverse audiences. For the past five years, Christine has served as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) with the Pima County Juvenile Court, advocating for the best interest of children in foster care and working with a team of social service providers to support families involved in the dependency system. A proponent of the harm reduction philosophy and an advocate for the needs of women, children, and families, Christine is looking forward to helping the Community Advisory Council strengthen the relationship between the Tucson Police Department and the community it serves.
Laurie Melrood is a family services consultant to the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project and local immigrant support organizations engaged in keeping immigrant families together. She is a tour organizer for attorneys, community advocates and social workers seeking information about the border region, and coordinator of a broad binational collaborative effort housed at Pima County Juvenile Court generating practice improvements with immigrant families involved with the child welfare system.
Dahlia M. Rampolla spent 12 years as a Compliance Officer for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Civil Rights Division, investigating cases of discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation. She currently works as Judicial Assistant and Bailiff for the Pima County Consolidated Courts. She holds a B.A. in American Literature from the University of Puerto Rico, and has worked as an English as a Second Language teacher in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Dahlia also volunteers her time at the Gut Check Foundation, and is a member and contributor of the National Language Service Corps (NLSC) providing supplemental language resources to U.S. federal agencies on an as needed basis. She is originally from Puerto Rico and has lived in Tucson, Arizona for the past 16 years with her husband and two sons.
Fred Ronstadt is a fifth-generation Tucsonan and member of a pioneer family. He currently is the Executive Director of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association, which produces the biannual Street Fair. He served as a member of the Tucson City Council from 1997 to 2005, and worked as a Certified Emergency Paramedic, high school teacher, and a financial analyst. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Arizona. He and his wife, Sharla, live in the Downtown area and have two boys, a daughter-in-law and a new grandson.
Anita Simons is the current President of the Arizona Minority Bar Association in Tucson, Arizona. Judge Simons also serves as a Superior Court Judge Pro Tempore for the Maricopa County civil, criminal and family benches. Ms. Simons was a Deputy County Attorney at the Pima County Attorney’s Office from 2007 to 2013. She is a native Tucsonan and graduate of the University of Arizona as well as the James E. Rodgers College of Law. Judge Simons is a graduate of the State Bar of Arizona Bar Leadership Institute Class of 2009 and long-time member of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association as well as the Arizona Minority Bar Association. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Reid Park Zoological Society as well as other charitable and community organizations in southern Arizona.
Emily Verdugo is a first generation USian, and was raised in Southern Arizona. She has lived in Tucson for three years. Emily has served as a Councilmember for the City of Coolidge, worked for the Arizona Democratic Party, and volunteered for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. She is currently a Program Coordinator with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). In her role at AFSC, she challenges the privatization and expansion of our criminal justice system. Emily serves as treasurer of the parent teacher organization at her children’s school, is the team mom of her son’s little league team, and sits on the Tucson Human Relations Commission. Emily holds a master’s degree in Public Management from Arizona State University.