Premier Alliances, Inc. is excited to announce the two newest members of its volunteer Board of Directors, Leslie Thomas and Joel Evans.
Leslie joins us after having served on numerous local boards for various business and community service organizations over the years, including the Industrial Development Authority of the City of Sierra Vista, Sierra Housing Resource Partners, and Sierra Vista Habitat for Humanity.
A Sierra Vista resident for nearly a decade, Leslie has made a name for herself in the mortgage industry as the local branch manager for Nova Home Loans, an office she guided from a two-person operation to one which now employs 10.
She became interested in Premier Alliances, Inc. after learning about it from her friend and Premier CEO Rachel Gray.“I felt it was something that I really wanted to do,” she said. “I loved what this organization was doing.”
Joel Evans has lived a life defying expectations, both those of other people and the expectations he had for himself.
Raised in foster care until he was adopted at the age of 6 and moved to Arizona, Joel knew that having mild Cerebral Palsy meant that some people had different ideas of what he would be able to accomplish. From his doctors growing up, to educators in his early childhood, and even employers in his early adult life, Joel has had to face various levels of mitigated expectations — even discrimination — his entire life.
While years of being told he would never reach as far or accomplish as much as his peers would began to affect his own sense of what he could do, as he grew older, Joel’s sense of self-determination only increased, if not to prove to others, than to prove to himself that he was just as capable of accomplishing his personal and professional goals as anyone else.
“I was always an independent person,” Joel said.
For years he defied expectations, whether it was graduating from high school, moving out on his own or learning to drive.
Since that time, Joel’s professional career trajectory has been undoubtedly on the rise. He later found a new job with his current employer, Cochise College, and over the last 15 years worked his was up from a clerk position to overseeing the college’s MOS Credentialing Program on Fort Huachuca.
In the Winter of 2018, he will have attained his bachelor’s degree in Human Services, with an emphasis on psychological studies, another lowered expectation shattered.
“I’m getting my bachelor’s degree and I was told I never would finish high school,” he said.
Looking back on his struggles, Joel attributes them with helping to shape the person he has become.
“I’ve become a stronger person going through those things,” he said. “You just have to learn to stand on your own two feet.”
Joel said he was excited to learn about the services and opportunities provided to individuals with disabilities by Premier Alliances — from employment, to assistance with finding a sustainable living situation and transportation, to coordinating flexible work hours to accommodate someone’s disability — and wanted to help be a part of the nonprofit’s efforts.
“I just was amazed at everything Premier Alliances does,” he said. “Those were all issues that I faced. It’s good that Premier Alliances recognizes all of those factors for people with disabilities. That’s why I got involved. I want to be able to help others with disabilities, and be a part of this mission.”