Board Member Biographies
Our Board of Directors has the general responsibility of the growth and oversight of the organization.
Their primary responsibility is to ensure the Higher Ground meets the financial needs to fully support the community. They raise funds for the operational needs of Higher Ground.
They also assist in advising, developing, and overseeing policy, programs, and direction, and assist with the leadership and general promotion of Higher Ground a Resource Corporation to support the organization’s mission and needs.
The Founder and Executive Director, has guided the formation and growth of Higher Ground from day one. He is the visionary who, after seeing the need in his own family, decided to start Higher Ground as a way to help kids in their homework. Coming from the Philippines when he was 18, he understood the need to break the poverty mentality from the youth and empower them to believe that they can achieve their dreams no matter what obstacles are in the way. Growing up in a dysfunctional family as a child, his vision goes just beyond seeing the organization grow. His heart is closely tied with the kind of youth Higher Ground serves and leads both the organization and youth in a direction guided by his intellect and passion. His wife Barbara Azarias and 2 sons, serves alongside with him in Higher Ground. Jansen is actively involved in all aspects of Higher Ground, with his main focus on Program Development, Staff/Volunteer Development and Recruitment, Community Relations and the marketing aspect of the organization. He is also directly involved in mentoring the kids as he believes that the only way to truly find out what is effective is to be with the people you serve.
Senator David Bradley - President
Dave has been an Arizona resident for over 50 years. Raised in Phoenix with his four brothers and sister, he attended high school in Tucson. After earning his degrees while serving in the Navy he returned to Tucson where he currently lives with his wife Debbie D’Amore and daughter Brooke a freshman at Cal State Berkeley.
He has three grown sons, Brian, Nathan and Sean and daughters-in-law and six grandchildren. Dave has been active in his faith community of St. Michael and All Angels in Tucson for over 18 years.
Dave was a member of the Arizona State Legislature from 2003 to 2011 serving District 28 in Tucson. He served on Health, Human Services, Banking and Insurance, Higher Education and various adhoc committees during his tenure. Currently he is serving his first term in the Senate, serving on health, education and judiciary.
He has received numerous awards for his advocacy of children and families during his legislative career and had the reputation for being a reasonable, thoughtful and articulate legislator who reaches across the aisle to work in the best interest of Arizona. Dave is consistently endorsed by business groups as well as environmental advocates because of his ability to understand and work with others no matter what their perspective maybe on particular issues.
He is a Navy veteran, having served eight years in Iceland, Spain and the east coast in communications with the Naval Security Group. Dave is part of Operation Free a group of military veterans dedicated to freeing the United States from its foreign oil dependency and encouraging non fossil fuel clean energy resources be implemented and expanded throughout the United States but particularly on all military installations here and abroad. Dave was the Chief Executive Officer of La Paloma Family Services, Inc., a nonprofit child welfare agency for over 18 years. He has been working in child welfare and mental health services for over 30 years, practicing as a licensed counselor and administrator throughout southern Arizona. He currently serves as the Chief Development Officer of La Frontera Arizona, Inc., here in Tucson.
David holds degrees in management, psychology and counseling and is often asked to speak to various groups about these topics as well as legislative issues confronting the State of Arizona.
Mr. Bradley is the author of Management by Essay a compilation of essays written to his staff over a ten year period of time and Pursuits of Justice, a collection of speeches, editorials and essays written during his tenure in the legislature.
Barry Richardson - Secretary
Our Secretary, has been a supporter of Higher Ground for many years. Both of his sons attend Higher Ground and are active in the Jujitsu program. Barry has 20 years of leadership experience, with expertise in project/program management, operations, logistics, engineering, and production.
An expert at designing, developing, and implementing detailed plans and projects that meet or exceed all customer requirements within budget, and on schedule. Experienced at coaching and inspiring associates to use their own unique skills and talents in a collaborative fashion that helps the whole team perform at the highest level.
Enjoys the challenge of taking a project through full cycle development, from new business opportunity, through design and integration, to implementation. Seeing a team develop and execute successfully through all phases is exciting and very rewarding to Barry.
With his unique leadership skills and relentless pursuit of excellence, he brings enhanced project and operations performance to Higher Ground.
David Reilly - Board Member
Our Treasurer, has been in support of Higher Ground since Jansen and him first met at his gym. He offered to train Jansen's students in jujutsu for free at his own gym. He was also directly involved in fundraising for Higher Ground using his martial arts connection to put together an expo with UFC BantamWeight Dominick Cruz. David Reilly is the owner of Undisputed, one of Arizona's largest mixed martial arts facilities. Undisputed has literally doubled in size since his involvement and now works with both Pima Middle and High Schools, teaching boxing to federally funded students. David has a background in business and has worked as the CEO for Athletic Clubs and The Incubator Group before purchasing Undisputed.
Victoria Wilson - Board Member
Victoria founded Generation Financial, LLC in 2005. Her experience in the financial industry began in 1994 and concentrates her area of expertise in working with families in their pursuit to meet their financial and estate planning goals, and additionally with business owners with succession planning and comprehensive employee retirement benefits.
Her expressed vision for Generation Financial is a full-service, independent financial planning firm with a holistic approach to the management of clients' assets and expectations. Victoriadraws from a collective group of trusted tax and legal professionals to create comprehensive financial plans. With access to some of the top economic and investment professionals in the nation, Victoria is part of a skilled group of advisors that have received national recognition through the firm's Broker/Dealer, Geneos Wealth Management, Inc. Geneos Wealth Management Inc, a privately held and independent firm, has been voted the #1 Broker/Dealer in the United States: 2004, 2005 and 2010; a prestigious award voted on by peers and advisers and awarded by Advisor Magazine. You can read more about Geneos Wealth Management in the book by George T. Diochock, "Yes! We Did It! Successfullly Combining Family and the Broker Dealer Business".
Victoria currently holds the following Securities and Advisory licenses with FINRA: Series 7, Series 63, Series 66, Series 31 and Series 24. Victoria is additionally licensed for Life Insurance, Long-Term Care and Disability Insurance.
Victoria has been residing in Arizona since 1992 after graduation from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and has completed her course work with the Certified Financial Planning School of Standards.
Currently, Victoria has been volunteering for primarily children's charities including the 20/30 Club, Tucson Rotary, Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Sonoran Arts League, and the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson. Currently Victoria is the Vice President of Finance for the Clubs in Tucson and has overseen the Foundation since 2003.
Ken Heeter - Treasurer
Ken joined the board of Higher Ground in April 2016. He was a Certified Public Accountant for 40 years before retiring his license in 2011. His work experience includes public accounting, real estate development and management and 22 years in wealth management and family office services. He co-founded Cornerstone Advisors, Inc. of Bellevue, WA in 1983 and served as Chief Operating Officer before his retirement in 2005. He has spent winters in Oro Valley since 2005. Ken served on the Board of Directors of the Stone Canyon Community Foundation in Oro Valley for six years serving first as Secretary and then Treasurer before joining the Higher Ground board.
Simeon Wagner - Board Member
Simeon Wagner, a 68 year old African American born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, joined the board of Higher Ground in 2016. He attended the University of Minnesota and Metropolitan State University. Simeon has worked primarily in the area of criminal justice programming and human services, specializing in Youth Services. He retired from the Hennepin County Juvenile Probation Division after 29 years of service in 2006. He has been a member of the Minnesota Governor’s General Crime Victims Advisory Council and a member of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches Core Advisory Council. He has been a Chair for the Minnesota Corrections Association and for the Wilder Elementary School Advisory Council. In 2006 he relocated to Tucson with his wife.