Veronica Cruz Mercado

Veronica Cruz-Mercado is a Tucson marketing professional and small business owner. As a sixth generation Tucsonan, Veronica cares deeply about her community and the people in it.

A former journalist, Veronica has written for The Arizona Daily Star, #ThisIsTucson, La Estrella de Tucson and the Santa Fe New Mexican. She has previously worked in community engagement and outreach at the University of Arizona, and in administration for performance art venues.

Veronica volunteers as a member of El Rio Vecinos, a Girl Scouts troop leader and for her daughter’s school PTA. She has previously volunteered for Literacy Connects and the Arizona Student Media Advisory Board. She spends her free time in the kitchen testing paleta recipes, and in the community either participating in service projects or supporting local vendors, artists and makers at pop-up markets.

Nick Hilton

Nick is a community builder who has spent the past decade working in the public sector. He is currently an Assistant Director for Government and Community Relations with the University of Arizona where he is responsible for several philanthropic initiatives to give back to the community. Prior to that, he worked with nonprofits, governments, and advocacy organizations to support and educate the public. He is a proud graduate of Greater Tucson Leadership’s Lead Tucson Program and spends his free time gardening, hiking, or sampling tacos around town.

Samantha Munsey

Samantha, a lifelong resident of Southern Arizona, found her passion for journalism in her hometown of Bisbee. After studying at the University of Arizona, she joined the Arizona Daily Star, where she held various roles during her nine years there, including digital editor, product developer, and online producer. She also served as the first digital producer for #ThisIsTucson.

Recently, she assisted as a project manager for News Revenue Hub, a nonprofit organization helping news outlets achieve financial stability through tech and audience strategies. Her responsibilities included expanding and maintaining membership programs for local, national, and nonprofit newsrooms. Samantha has presented for the Institute for Nonprofit News and participated in the Google Audience Lab.

When not in community journalism, she enjoys exploring the Sonoran Desert with family and friends.

Abigail Okrent

Abigail Okrent is a public interest lawyer, currently writing local environmental rules for Pima County.  Her legal career began in northern Arizona, as a civil legal aid lawyer for low-income clients on the Navajo and Hopi nations.  She worked as a Pima County public defender for 7 years, where she became aware of the Luminaria through its heartbreaking and necessary coverage of jail deaths. 

She engages in local activism in many ways, including in her role as a chair of the Southern Arizona chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, as a volunteer on the RTA’s Citizen Advisory Committee, and as a monthly donor to multiple local organizations including the Luminaria.

Irene McKisson

Irene McKisson is the cofounder and Principal Executive of Arizona Luminaria. Before that she spent 18 years in local news at the Arizona Daily Star where she started as a designer and copy editor and became the General Manager of Niche Audience Development, co-founding and editing #ThisIsTucson. She is a past ONA speaker and member of the Women’s Leadership Accelerator cohort; a participant and speaker in Google News Initiative programs including the Google Audience Lab, GNI Innovation Challenge and GNI Startup Boot Camp with LION; she is a GNI fellow in the 2022 class of the Media Transformation Challenge at Poynter and among the recipients of a 2019 Tow Center for Digital Journalism research grant. She has been an adjunct instructor at the University of Arizona for six years teaching editing.

Former board members

Adam Lopez Falk, A fifth generation Arizonan, Adam Lopez Falk joined the Arizona Community Foundation as Community Program Officer in August 2021. In this role, Adam advances ACF’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work by deepening connections to Latinx, Black, Indigenous, and all People of Color-led nonprofits, with a focus on Central and Southern Arizona and the borderlands of Arizona and Sonora.