Board of Directors
YCNHA Board Chair
R.L. Jones Insurance
Upon graduating, from the University of Arizona with a degree in Business Administration, Shelley became the 4th generation to follow in her family’s business, R.L. Jones Group. Her husband, Colin Mellon, is a 3rd generation Yuma produce farmer. Currently they own their own farm and are active in the management and operations of Mellon Farms, Inc., and a ground application company. Shelley owns and operates the three locations of RL Jones Insurance & MVD Services. Shelley serves as Chair of the Southwest Arizona Town Hall, Board of Trustees for the Yuma Regional Medical Center Foundation, Chair of the Yuma Education Advocacy Council, Board Member of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Corporation, Director of the Yuma Youth Leadership Council, Director of Yuma Youth Town Hall, CEO Council of Expect More Arizona, Chair of the Yuma Union High School District Bond Campaign and Yuma Union High School District Governing Board Member, Board Member of Yuma County Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, S June Pallack Award Council, Officer of Yuma Up Mentoring Program, Board Member of the Benesche Collection (YRMC Art Heals), volunteer and advocate for Healing Journey, Board Member of Journey Church, Board member of Arizona Town Hall, past Board Member of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce, past Board Member of Rio Colorado Commissions, past Board Member of Expect More Arizona, past member of the Arizona Mexico Commission. Colin and Shelley have three children: Tanner-Graduate of Purdue University, Masters Krannert School of Management, Mckenna-Cornell University, and Walker-Gila Ridge High School.
Prison Hill Brewery
Chris Wheeler is a 4th generation "Yuman" and serial entrepreneur. He is the Owner of Prison Hill Brewing Company, Alchemy Wine Food and Spirits, and The Copper State Taproom. Prior to this, Chris was the Executive Director of the Yuma Family YMCA, where he stayed until completing the construction and expansion of a new facility. He attended the University of Arizona after graduating from Kofa High School in 1991 and received degrees in Psychology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Chemistry and before moving on to persue graduate studies in Neuroscience. After college, he Co-founded Pacific Biomedical in San Diego, where he was the Chief Operating Officer. He serves and has served on many boards in Yuma including theYuma Chamber of Commerce (past Chair), Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area (Vice Chair), Downtown Yuma Merchants Association (President), Yuma Rotary (past President), Nexgen Leadership Council, Yuma Education Advocacy Council, Prison Hill Liquid Foundation (Founder and Chair), Yuma Area Non-profit Institute, and Yuma Heat Swimming (past President). When he is not working, Chris enjoys spending time with his friends and family, traveling the world to eat amazing food, enjoy unique beers, and attend music festivals. More than all of his professional and volunteer work combined, he is a proud father to his son, Devon, who is presently attending the University of Arizona.
Thomas D. Rushin is a Yuma, Arizona native who has had a lifelong interest in the history of our community, and he is a Youth Advocate. Tom has over 50 years of experience in the field of education. He has been a teacher, coach, principal, associate superintendent, consultant, superintendent, and retired as the superintendent of Yuma Elementary School District Number One in 2008. In addition to serving on the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Board of Directors, Tom currently serves on the following boards and commissions: The City of Yuma Historic District Review Commission, The Arizona School Facilities Board, The Rio Colorado Chapter of the Arizona Historical Society, The District Committee of the Boy Scouts of America, and The Association of Learning Environments Southwest Region. His passion for improving learning environments for future generations has led him to use his leadership skills and prior experience to plan schools that meet the needs of learners in the 21st century.
YCNHA Board Member
Greater Yuma Economic Development
Amber moved to Yuma in 2016 after her husband received orders to MCAS. She began as a substitute teacher at YPIC before taking on a full time position as an Economic Development & Data Exploration Specialist at the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation. Amber's background-and passion- is in history and research. She earned a B.A. in History from Old Dominion University, a Paralegal Certificate from Loyola University Chicago, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in History at Arizona State University. Yuma has a very unique history that is celebrated through the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. She is proud to be a part of a community that embraces and preserves its heritage.
YCNHA Board Member
District Director of Southern Arizona Yuma Girl Scouts of America
Emilia Cortez is a member of the Yuma Regional Partnership Council. She serves on the regional partnership council as a representative of the health community. Emilia is currently the Director, Yuma County Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. She is known for being an energetic and effective community volunteer, an enthusiastic advocate for early childhood education and youth development. Emilia served as a Dental Health Program Coordinator for University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, which hosts the First Smiles Program funded by the Yuma Regional Partnership Council. Emilia strongly believes that having leadership in thought and vision is not enough to make one a leader. It is the small personal gestures that indicate a true concern for both a person’s coworkers and a commitment to the overall goals of a given work group. She has more than 10 years managing experience in organizational leadership and relationship building with clients and team members. Experience in working with avid diverse youth development, with local youth clubs for ten years.
Mayor Doug Nichols
City of Yuma
Douglas Nicholls was reelected as the 27th Mayor of the City of Yuma, Arizona in August 2017, to begin his second term in January 2018 after serving his first term from 2014. Mayor Nicholls is committed to the Yuma community through the belief that quality communities are developed when opportunities to success are open to everyone through quality jobs, superior education and robust quality of life.
Mayor Nicholls is spearheading many efforts to enhance and grow the Yuma community. His efforts include the campaign to increase civic pride and tell the Yuma story in the United for Yuma campaign. He also leads efforts to develop economic development advancements throughout the greater Yuma community through enhanced regional coordination and the 4FrontED coalition to work with partners within Yuma County and our neighboring cities in Mexico. His vision for higher education in Yuma in the University of Yuma Campus concept is invigorating the discussion and planning for greater higher education in Yuma. Recently, he spearheaded the collation of mayors along the Colorado River communities called Colorado River Mayors Association, bringing together eight Arizona mayors of river cities to address items of regional significance.
He was raised in Yuma and attended Yuma High School. In 1994, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Arizona State University and continued post-baccalaureate studies in Transportation Engineering. He married his high school sweetheart, Danette, in 1995. They have grown their family to four children.
Jonathan Lines was raised in Yuma, Arizona, where his family settled in the 1930s. Jonathan’s forebears settled in Pima, Safford and Thatcher, Arizona, where they worked as ranchers and miners since 1880. Jonathan’s western roots run deep, as does his love of Arizona and his hometown of Yuma.
Jonathan’s high moral standards, work ethic, commitment to excellence, and natural born leadership skills have been crucial to his success in family, business and community involvement. A strong defender of the U.S. Constitution and particularly the 2nd Amendment,, Jonathan enjoys time at the range and teaches gun safety to young shooters. Jonathan is an avid outdoorsman, and has proven to be a fine and respected leader among Yuma County Republicans.
Jonathan is involved in many local organizations that serve his community; 11 years on the National Advisory Board for Johns Manville, a Warren Buffet Company, is a member of the Boy Scout District Council for 14 years and currently serves on the Executive Board of the Arizona Grand Canyon Council. He has also served on the Yuma Rotary Board and the Caballeros de Yuma, a civic group fashioned after the model of the Phoenix Thunderbirds, serving as chairman of the Balloon Festival, Major League Baseball, Midnight at the Oasis, the southwest premier Classic car show and was featured on the Speed Channels "My Classic Car".
Jonathan served as the Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party from 2017 – 2019. Prior to leading the state party he chaired his county party for three terms and served as the Arizona Republican Party Treasurer.
Jonathan also serves on the Arizona-Mexico Commission and is the Chairman of the Arizona State Fair and Expositions.
Jonathan is married to Rosalie from Provo, Utah. They have 11 children, 8 boys and 3 girls.
Associate Vice President of Workforce Development
and CTE at Arizona Western College
YCNHA Board Member
Reetika Dhawan is the Associate Vice President of Workforce Development and Career and Technical Education at Arizona Western College in the SW corner of Arizona. Reetika emigrated to the United States from India in 2007 as a high school math and physics teacher, and soon found her way to community college teaching, and then leadership. Reetika holds Bachelor’s degrees in Math, Physics, Chemistry and Education, and Master’s degrees in Physics and Applied Math. Reetika identifies with the ambition and drive of our second language learners, our bi-cultural students, and students who dream of all they might accomplish with a chance at higher education. Reetika truly embodies the spirit of AWC’s mission and vision, which speak of transforming lives, creating thriving communities and eliminating poverty.
Reetika is motivated to lead in the unique “Transfer and Trades” space that 2-year colleges occupy because the shared mission of degrees and certifications. Reetika works to leverage the expertise of the college faculty, her relationships with industry and economic development partners, and peer colleges, as well as federal and private granting agencies to create powerful systemic change that reimagines how agile a college can be in the service to the regional economy.
Dr. Linda Elliott-Nelson
Rio Colorado Chapter, Arizona Historical Society
YCNHA Board Member
Dr. Linda Elliott-Nelson retired as Vice President for Learning Services at Arizona Western College. She previously served as Strategic Partnerships/Vinculación, the Dean of Instruction, Division Chair of Modern Languages and Professor of Spanish at Arizona Western College. Her prior work experience also involved several years in the international business sector.
Dr. Elliott-Nelson earned a Ph.D. in Education from Walden University, an M.B.A. and an M.A. in Spanish from Arizona State University, and a B.A. degree from Northern Arizona University. Her activities have included co-founding the Yuma Youth Town Hall; founding and coordinating the Gifted Summer Academy for 4th – 8th graders; co-coordinating the Binational Conference on Education with Baja California, Mexico; serving on the national Modern Language Association Committee on 2-year Colleges; and evaluating employee Spanish language proficiency for the City of Yuma. She was honored with the Heart of Yuma Philanthropist of the Year 2022 in Yuma County, the Shirley Agnos Legacy Award from Arizona Town Hall in 2022, the Arizona Women in Higher Education Woman of the Year in 2021, the International Athena Leadership Award in 2019, the Outstanding University/College Educator Award from the Arizona Language Association in 2000 and the Teacher of the Year from Arizona Western College in 1999.
Dr. Elliott-Nelson has presented internationally on community outreach and engagement, regional collaboration, partnerships, accelerative learning techniques, and community college trends. She served as the Chairman of the Board of Arizona Town Hall during 2015-2017, Chair of Arizona Women in Higher Education Executive Board during 2019-2020, Co-chair of the AZTransfer Steering Committee and Chair of the Arizona Community College Chief Academic Officers, and currently serves on the boards of the Yuma Orchestra Association, Arizona Town Hall, Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, the Arizona Community Foundation of Yuma, the AHS Rio Colorado Chapter, and the Yuma Regional Partnership Council as well as the steering committee for Southwest Arizona Town Hall. In 2021, Governor Ducey appointed her to the Arizona Historical Society Board. Her current activities focus on community engagement, education, and development in the Arizona/California/Sonora/Baja California mega-region.
President Pilkington Construction Co.
YCNHA Board Member