Letters From the President 

Southern Arizona beauty!  Lake Patagonia and Mission Garden at the base of A mountain. Birthplace of Tucson.

Dear members of AALL,

I hope that you are having a good day when you read the news from AALL in the Fall 2020 edition of our statewide newsletter. Here we are, living our lives in the year 2020 with a pandemic and other issues and challenges. Every time I look at the news of the world I wonder... what else can go wrong? But, I’ve also been motivated to foster new habits to maintain my physical and mental health these days, like many of you, I would imagine.

There are pressures on us as family members, as professionals in the field of adult ed, and as “citizens of the world” in our communities. There are also opportunities for us to recognize the good that is happening, as we do our good work in adult education and focus on our loved ones when we’re not working. We are also hopefully doing a little more of what we always wanted to do: planting gardens, cooking good food, reading good books, listening to good music, and exercising outside more regularly. I have been spending more time in the kitchen and more time on my bicycle than ever before. It’s keeping me healthy and somewhat sane!

I’d like to share an inspiring reflection from a student that will stay with me for now and beyond the year 2020. I visited one of our ABE classes recently: a beginning level reading and writing course in the evening. They were watching clips from a documentary called Racing the Rez about Navajo and Hopi cross-country runners from two rival high schools in Northern Arizona. A student reflected during the video class meeting that the movie reminded him of a difficult time in his life as a younger man. He said that running was the way he survived that time - it gave him a chance to think and reflect and de-stress. He said, “It was liberating.” 

When we change our views on the world through education (either as a student or a teacher), it can be both transformative and liberating. When we have reflected on the world around us and made a change for the better, we see ourselves differently and we see the world differently and we might even feel a bit empowered, which is liberating. 

Some links for further exploration in case you are interested in Racing the Rez, transformative and liberatory education theory….

PBS Learning Media resources link for Racing the Rez

Have a fantastic day and enjoy reading some articles and announcements to AALL of you in the field of adult education in Arizona. Take care….. Laura

September 2020


Dear colleagues, partners, and friends all over Arizona,

It’s getting to be winter in Arizona. As usual, the changing of the seasons in my hometown of Tucson makes me feel so fortunate to live here. There is so much diversity in our state - natural, cultural, social, political...We live in a place where my maternal grandfather from Minnesota - the son of German immigrants - made a home for his family and became a successful builder who loved art and Mexican culture. I live in a place where I was lucky to spend a lot of my childhood with my paternal grandmother from Italy - who taught me about her culture and traditions while also professing that Tucson reminded her of “the old country” with the mountains and diverse weather patterns. I’m always glad to welcome people to Tucson, to Arizona, to adult education. My grandparents, and my father who got his GED while serving in the Army, are always on my mind when I do so.

Something else on my mind lately is a Pima Community College slogan: Students First. 

As things continue to change and evolve in the field of adult education, and the world 

around us, I constantly try to put students first when making decisions as an educator: 

when discussing curriculum and instruction with teachers, figuring out how to make our 

limited funding go further, networking with partners, raising awareness and advocating

for adult education. Student achievement is a driving force of everything we do, so I’d 

like to give a few highlights of how we put students first in Arizona.

● ADE Institute in September: Ana Chavarin was invited to be the keynote awards 

luncheon speaker. If you were there, you witnessed an adult ed graduate keeping a 

room of hundreds of educators on the edge of their seats with her personal story and 

advising us on how to help students succeed in overcoming their barriers.

● Integrated Education & Training (IET) examples of success: We have 

been implementing a Microsoft TEALS coding class at Pima with students 

getting IT internships as a result, and Northern Pioneer College has a renowned 

Construction IBEST program that has been spotlighted on “

TV”! The Fixers - People's Farm, AZ

● COABE support of student engagement: AALL is still a sponsor of COABE’s conference strand which is now called “Students as Leaders.” As the strand coordinator, I recently reviewed and approved 13 fantastic proposals for the COABE conference that all had student perspectives, voice, and leadership at the core of their objectives. COABE continues to support national Ambassador training for teams around the country, paying for student travel.

● Ambassadors training: Pima will host an Ambassadors Representational Leadership training this month. Students from Pima and Northland Pioneer College along with AALL board members from Rio Salado and Central Arizona College. Ambassadorship is the pinnacle of student engagement with adult learners becoming legislative advocates for adult education while learning skills that will help them be successful in transitioning to higher education and careers.

● Educate & Elevate campaign: Over the last year or two COABE has been promoting awareness and advocacy for adult education nationwide with marketing, publicity, advocacy tools, trips to the Capitol, support for national Student Ambassador trainings, and spotlights of student success… Adult Learner Success stories

● Arizona Adult Literacy Week (Feb) & National Adult Ed and Family Literacy Week (Sept): Stay tuned for 2020 (vision!) focus on students during our two times of the year when we get to push publicity about the good work we do and have student stories and voice be at the center.

As you know, an important endeavor that puts students first and relates in a broad sense to all of the above features of student focused practice is advocacy and awareness raising for adult education programs. Right now, certain programs around the state are strategizing and setting plans in motion to increase enrollment in adult education across Arizona, using funding allocated by the governor’s office. I hope these efforts result in some new best practices and some improvement on old best practices.

In the name of increasing awareness about what adult education does in Arizona, engaging others in efforts to promote our programs, networking to feed our partnerships, sharing successes and best practices, and staying connected ….

PLEASE, spread the word about the value and importance of adult education in our communities. FOLLOW AALL on social media and get your students, colleagues, partners, friends, and family to do so as well! Social media is a powerful tool to stay informed, connected, and have an influence on issues like adult ed programming and funding.

In the next year, Arizona will have another opportunity to increase the state allocation for increased funding to do more of the fantastic work we do in adult education. Read the Awareness Committee update for more information.

Here’s to beautiful winters and holidays in beautiful Arizona!

All my best to you all…

Laura Porfirio




Hello to all our friends and colleagues around Arizona! 

It's my honor to serve the field of adult education in Arizona. I’ve been involved with adult education since I was a student at the University of Arizona studying cultural anthropology with an emphasis on applied linguistics. When I expressed a desire to travel the world, my advisor suggested I volunteer at the nearby adult learning center to get some experience in ESL. I volunteered at El Rio on the westside of Tucson – where I now serve as a learning center manager. After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I started working for Pima’s adult ed program. I have worked as an instructor for ELAA and GED preparation and coordinated Civics, Citizenship, and Professional Learning among other programs. During my tenure as an AALL board member since 2012, I’ve had the privilege of playing a lead role in our nationally acclaimed Ambassadors leadership training program. I have also been raising twin daughters who are now 16 years old and went back to school for a Masters in Education through the UA Department of Language, Reading & Culture. My graduate studies focused on participatory, social-justice oriented practice in adult education classrooms and in teacher professional learning communities.

After some years of promoting advocacy and leadership in adult education by chairing our Awareness Committee and helping COABE implement our ambassador training model across the country, I’m looking forward to my new role this year in AALL. I will continue my work with awareness and advocacy, support other committees – Professional Development, Membership/Website, Finance, Scholarship – and organize more outreach via social media and marketing as well.  My goal as president is to continue promoting participatory practice among our students, staff, and teachers. To me that means helping students take ownership of their learning and become leaders in their classrooms and communities, fostering teachers’ ownership of their own learning and classroom practice, and making sure that AALL members are informed, connected, and actively engaged in our association and statewide community of adult educators and student leaders. My passion for adult ed is rooted in my values around student and staff voice, community, leadership, action and reflection.

Thanks for visiting our website and please stay in touch!

Laura Porfirio




Hello AALL members!

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and is well rested as we start the New Year!

It has been a very busy year so far as your state association works hard to help bring COABE 2018 to Phoenix in March.  A special thanks to Kelly Stewart of the AALL Board and Miriam Kroeger for leading this effort and making great progress! More information about COABE 2018 can be found in this newsletter.  I hope to see you all there March 25th

Another great news to share is the recognition of the Ambassadors program this year through COABE!  Thank you to our Awareness Committee Chair, Laura Porfirio for working hard to promote and help give this program the national recognition it deserves.  COABE is now promoting the Ambassadors program on their own web site as well as offering related student scholarships.  Arizona and AALL leading the way!  I would also like to thank the AALL Board which is now staffed at 16 members from 9 adult education programs from around the state.  A lot of talent and professionals ready to lead the association forward!

Another increase made this year to AALL is in our member base.  A membership which stayed about 150 members has grown to about 300 this year thanks in part to the membership drive at the ADE Institute.  Thank you to AES for your support!

A change that also recently took place is to the AALL Executive Board.  I recently accepted the position of President-Elect for Mountain Plains Adult Education Association and due to the added responsibility to this association and continuing with AALL through a third term, I have stepped down as President of AALL effective January 1st.  I would like to welcome Diane Jackson, who was our President-Elect to the position of AALL President.  Diane Jackson has been on the AALL Board for several years and I know will do a great job representing the association.

On behalf of AALL as we start this New Year, I would like to thank all our members again for the work they do in supporting adult education students in Arizona.  Please remember to also continue sharing your ideas and thoughts with AALL as we move forward so we can better serve you in the future.

Thank you!

Philip Suriano

AALL President



Hello AALL members

Last fiscal year marked the 50th anniversary of the Arizona Association for Lifelong Learning.  Though the association has seen several transformations throughout the years, our start was as the Arizona Adult Education Association (AAEA), one thing has stayed the same, a commitment to improve opportunities for educational growth by promoting and inspiring lifelong learning and adult literacy in Arizona.  In support of our mission, this year AALL hosted a fall and spring conference with themes, Transformative Learning and The Education – Vocation Connection.  We also continue to sponsor Arizona Adult Literacy Week and the awards event which recognizes student learning and contributions made by adult education. 

AALL also represented the state of Arizona at the COABE Capitol Hill days in the fall and spring.  These were opportunities for two of our own board members, Laura Porfirio and Kelly Stewart, to represent Arizona at Washington, talking to legislators and their staff on the importance of adult literacy and education.  Arizona and AALL led the way with this event by being the first state to bring a student on the trip to give our representatives a firsthand account of the difference that adult education is making in their lives.  Our students made a great impression and now COABE is sponsoring students to attend each year through scholarships.

This year also saw the beginning of the ALAN network to help increase awareness and advocate for adult education and literacy within and outside of our member base.  Our awareness committee is working hard to help maintain state and federal funding levels by reaching out to as many people as they can to spread the word on the importance of the work we do and the difference it makes in the lives of so many of our students.

An upcoming event AALL is very excited to be a part of is the 2018 COABE Conference which we will help to host in Phoenix this March 25-28 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.  AALL is working hard to help make this national conference a great opportunity for relevant and timely professional learning to our adult education stakeholders and students.  This will also be a great opportunity to network with programs from across the nation and share our best practices and successes in serving our students.

To help make this conference a success as well as contribute their knowledge and talent to the many other projects AALL is working on, AALL has added 8 new members to its Board.  I would like to introduce them to you now!

Marybelle Aguilar                            ARIZONA CALL- A - TEEN

Bridget Blixt                                    PHOENIX INDIAN CENTER

Wendy Finlayson                             MESA PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Lynanne Lasota                                RIO SALADO

Craig Lefever                                    YAVAPAI COLLEGE BASIC ADULT ED

Elizabeth Martin                               RIO SALADO

Marcela Reed                                    FRIENDLY HOUSE INC.

Patricia Urdialez                                MESA PUBLIC SCHOOLS

They join our current Board members

Lily Beth Brazones                           RIO SALADO

Katy Brown                                       PIMA ADULT EDUCATION

Gail Campbell                                   NORTHLAND PIONEER COLLEGE

Diane Jackson                                   QUEEN CREEK ADULT EDUCATION

Blair Liddicoat                                   RIO SALADO

Laura Porfirio                                     PIMA ADULT EDUCATION

Kelly Stewart                                     RIO SALADO

Philip Suriano                                    RIO SALADO

If you would like to contribute to the support and projects AALL works on to help advance adult education and literacy in the state of Arizona, I would encourage you to consider becoming a member of the Board next year.  Additional representation from other programs is also very welcome!

As I begin my third term as AALL president this year, I look forward to the many contributions our members will make in helping promote adult education and literacy in Arizona.  The work you do for our students and the need for this work is the reason AALL strives to support your efforts.  I hope you will share your feedback and suggestions as to how we can support you better and I look forward to the next year.

Philip Suriano

AALL President




Hello AALL members!

It has been a busy year so far and as your Arizona adult education association, AALL looks forward to continuing the pace in offering quality professional learning and adult education advocacy and awareness! Some of the events AALL was proud to be a part of this year include our fall conference held at Northland Pioneer College, The Ambassadors Training at Queen Creek Adult Education and the recent Adult Literacy Week contest which had a theme this year of College and Career Crossroads!

I would like to thank all of our members for their professional contribution, time and support to help make each of these events a success. I would also like to give thanks to the AALL board who made an extra effort behind the scenes with planning, coordinating and putting a lot of this together.

As the saying goes, “an association is only as strong as its members”, and in recognizing the many talents and experiences our members bring to AALL, I would like to ask you to consider contributing to the association as a board member. A call for nominations to the board just went out and this would be a perfect opportunity to put yourself or another member forward to take a greater part in being involved in Arizona’s adult education and literacy efforts. The ideas, talents, experiences and passion our members have for putting forth adult education in the state is the real success in everything that AALL does and we greatly look forward to having that contribution at the board level! Please consider joining the AALL board and helping us make a difference. Just in case you have any questions about being a board member with AALL or some of the committees you can be a part of, I would like to introduce to you our current AALL board members and officers. Feel free to reach out to us with questions any time.

Philip Suriano: President

Kelly Stewart: Past President

Christine Niven: Treasurer

Aliza Dodell: Secretary

Gail Campbell

Blair Liddicoat

Lily Beth Brazones

Katy Brown

Laura Porfirio

Diane Jackson

An event we are currently putting together and are proud to present is our annual spring conference which will be held in Tucson on May 6th at the El Rio Learning Center, 1390 W. Speedway, 85745. Our conference theme this year is “Skills for Success through Student Engagement” and our keynote speaker will be Cynthia Peters - Editor of The Change Agent - from World Ed / NELRC. The Change Agent has been providing student writing, CCR-aligned lesson plans and content in support of adult education for over 20 years and we welcome Cynthia to our state conference!

Another event AALL is looking forward to and working hard to bring in 2018 is the national COABE conference. We are proud to have Arizona host the 2018 COABE conference and AALL will be helping to provide the theme, presentations, conference volunteers and marketing among other opportunities. AALL looks forward to help bring Arizona adult educators this opportunity for exposer and to network at the national level!

As we move forward in our efforts to promote, support and develop adult education and literacy in Arizona, I hope you will send us your feedback, suggestions, ideas, and maybe provide some of your time on the board. These efforts are what will guide us as your state adult education association and we look forward to hearing from you!


Philip Suriano

2015-16 AALL Board President



Dear AALL Members and Adult Educators in Arizona

AALL is pleased to serve as Arizona’s adult education association in 2014, and we are dedicated to supporting advocacy, communication networks, and professional learning that you can rely on this year.

In 2014, AALL maintains their commitment to lifelong learning by:

1) Tackling the rigors of the new College and Career Readiness Standards and the 2014 GED exam

2) Promoting student transitions from adult education to college and career

3) Developing partnerships that promote thriving families and an educated workforce in our state

As long as we sustain opportunities for adult education, Arizona can increase high school equivalency achievements, state employment rates, literacy rates, and college transition rates for adult learners in our community. We know that individuals with a high school diploma earn on average $9,000 more per year than those without an equivalent credential. We know that annual income continues to increase with post-secondary education. And, we know that parents are a child’s first teacher.  Creating stability and growth for families and the community is dependent on educational access for community members.

AALL is dedicated to bringing our membership together so that adult education professionals can give Arizona’s adult learners a voice. We want to advocate for sustained program opportunities and to operate with the best practices in our field today.

As a professional membership association, our success depends on you! Our board of directors is made up of AALL members who want to support lifelong learning goals in our state, and our membership is made up of educators and program administrators who want to move our state goals forward. Thank you for your commitment to what we do and for your participation.

We hope you will take advantage of our membership opportunities like state professional learning conferences, scholarships for educators and students, adult literacy week grant opportunities, and more. Our website and list-serve offers updates, newsletters, and resources to keep you informed on state awareness activities, professional learning tools, and current events in our field. We hope you enjoy your membership!

Good luck in 2014! Please visit our website often for more information about how you can get involved in your state professional association AALL (Arizona Association for Lifelong Learning).


Kelly Stewart

2014 AALL Board President



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