Meet Our Board members
JOE BILL, President
Joe moved to Fountain Hills in 1987 to help open Mayo Clinic-Scottsdale. He participated in the successful effort to get Fountain Hills incorporated, which led to his appointment to the first Town Council in 1990. Although his degrees are in physics and math, his professional career was in marketing and health care administration, mostly with Mayo Clinic. He was also an Adjunct Professor in ASU’s strategic planning Masters program. His appreciation for the nighttime universe began when he received his first telescope in 6th grade. Adult astronomy camps furthered his desire to preserve the beautiful skies above Fountain Hills. He and his wife Nancy formed and led the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association in its successful goal to help Fountain Hills receive its prestigious designation as the world’s 17th International Dark Sky Community in 2018. He was recognized as a Dark Sky Defender by the International Dark Sky Association.
TED BLANK, Vice President
Ted’s passion for amateur astronomy began when he first saw the moons of Jupiter through a telescope in the Sierra Nevada mountains. He is a past President of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society and is currently a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. He was the first to receive the 250-hour award pin for public outreach from the Sidewalk Astronomers of America, a nationwide public service organization. After purchasing a home in Fountain Hills, he co-founded the Fountain Hills Astronomy Club and continues to help organize their monthly public viewing sessions in Centennial Circle. He also serves on the board of the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association. In October 2018, Ted was recognized as a Dark Sky Defender by the International Dark Sky Association.
NANCY BILL, Treasurer
Nancy Bill always appreciated being able to see the night sky and nocturnal animals while growing up in Wisconsin, living in the country in Minnesota while working at Mayo Clinic, camping in the Southwest, or living in Fountain Hills. Although her careers as a medical lab manager and later as a CPA kept her busy, she always found time to volunteer. Nancy co-chaired the bond campaign to build Fountain Hills High School and chaired the Strategic Committee for the Fountain Hills incorporation effort. She also volunteered time as a McDowell Mountain Conservancy steward and as an officer of the PTO Board, Library Board, and Golden Eagle Foundation. Over the past several years, she’s been devoting her time to preserving Fountain Hills’ unique dark skies. She was recognized as a Dark Sky Defender by the International Dark Sky Association.
APRIL SESSNER, Secretary
April Sessner is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a degree in Social Work. She has lived in Arizona for over 35 years along with four generations of her family. After a career in the medical industry, she moved to Fountain Hills from Scottsdale and quickly became active in the community. She is a board member of the Fountain Hills Cultural and Civic Association, a graduate of the Fountain Hills Leadership Academy, co-chair of the In-Home Concerts Committee, and volunteers at Mesa Public Schools. Her appreciation of Fountain Hills and the Dark Sky Community designation prompted her to become involved with the International Dark Sky Discovery Center. “Space has the ability to produce a triple bottom line, or ROIII: Return on Investment, Innovation, and Inspiration.” – Robert C. Jacobson, Space Advocate
SCOTT ADAMS, Board Member
After completing a 31-year career in petroleum exploration with Chevron Corporation, Scott and his wife Diana retired to Salida, Colorado in 2006. There, he volunteered on local theater, radio station, and science organization boards, and for five years managed a collaboration with the Colorado Symphony (Denver) to bring classical music to Salida. In another “universe,” appreciating the sensational night skies of rural Colorado, Scott took up the hobby of astronomy, purchased telescopes, and volunteered as an evening astronomy host. Scott and Diana moved to Fountain Hills in 2018, with Fountain Hills’ status as an International Dark Sky community as a key factor in choosing this community. He joined the Dark Sky board in 2019 and has been its president for 2 years.
KEVIN BECK, Board Member
Kevin and his wife Cindy have been residents of Fountain Hills since 2010. Kevin received an MS Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1980 and has held several engineering, marketing, and management positions all over the world. He retired in 2022 as President/CEO of Sumitomo Chemical Advanced Tech. He is a Commissioner on the Fountain Hills Strategic Planning Committee and volunteers for several industry and local organizations. Kevin has always had a passion for our Dark Skies and is a “grateful” amateur astronomer/photographer using his Celestron1100® telescope at his home in Fountain Hills. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our beautiful town and unique dark skies than through the educational opportunities that will be provided by the International Dark Sky Discovery Center.”
JERRY BUTLER, Board Member
Jerry moved to Fountain Hills in 1999 after a 40+ year engineering career, serving as a principal in a national design firm. Recognizing that success begins with careful planning, he immersed himself in the Town’s 2005 strategic planning process, later serving on its first Strategic Planning Advisory Commission. In 2018, his many Fountain Hills accomplishments were acknowledged when he was inducted into the Lower Verde River Hall of Fame. In addition to being on the Board of Directors to promote and develop IDSDC, Jerry also serves on the Board of Directors of the Fountain Hills Cultural and Civic Association and the Fountain Hills Sanitary District.
VICKY DERKSEN, Board Member
Vicky moved to Fountain Hills in 1997 where she and her husband, Mark, raised their family. She taught naked-eye astronomy to local high school students which led to her involvement with the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association. She joined that board in January 2017 and helped with the process of getting Fountain Hills designated as an International Dark Sky Community in January 2018. She now serves as the Vice President of that organization. Vicky is a graduate of Class 1 of the Fountain Hills Leadership Academy and served on that board for three years. She is also on the board of the Fountain Hills Cultural & Civic Association where she held the role of Membership & Marketing Director. Vicky is the founder of Night Sky Tourist and hosts a podcast by the same name.
JEFF ESPOSITO, Board Member
Jeff retired in 2017 after 38 years in the field of building technology automation as related to commercial design-engineering and construction. Originally from the Chicago area, his career opportunities allowed him to live in a half dozen US locations. Always interested in the night sky, each move (mostly west) seemed to give him a little better view of the stars and a rising interest in knowing more about them. But it wasn’t until he moved to Arizona in 2006 that the heavens really opened up and he bought his first telescope. Jeff also serves as Treasurer for the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association, is President of the Neighborhood Property Owner’s Association board, and is a graduate of the Fountain Hills Leadership Academy.
WALT FRANKLIN, Board Member
Walt and his family have happily lived In Arizona for over 50 years. He is the retired CEO of Cheese and Dairy Products Ltd., a sales and marketing company based in the Valley. Prior to arrival, Walt graduated from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and held a variety of national marketing and product development positions with firms in the environmental control and consumer products industries. As an avid promoter of civic engagement, Walt has served in numerous roles over the years including President of the Civic Association; Founder and President of the Community Center Advisory Commission; Founder and President of Vision Fountain Hills; and is a member of the Lower Verde Valley Hall of Fame. “The IDSDC presents a unique opportunity for our community to bring the magic of the Dark Sky Universe to our World and the World to our Community. I cannot imagine a more wonderful or worthwhile project to support or be involved with.”
ALAN MAGAZINE, Board Member
Alan’s career was in Washington, DC where he retired as CEO of the Health Industry Manufacturer’s Association. Prior to that, he was President of the Council on Competitiveness and served as Director of Intergovernmental Relations at the US Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, Magazine served on various US and regional governmental commissions and was on staff at the International City Management Association. From 1971-1979, he was an elected member of the Fairfax, Virginia County Board of Supervisors while earning his PhD from the University of Maryland. He was recently re-elected to his second term on the Fountain Hills, Arizona Town Council. In retirement, Alan is an award-winning nature photographer and is happily married to Cynthia Penrose Magazine.
CHANDRA MERICA, Board Member
Chandra is a long-time Fountain Hills resident, and she fondly remembers many nights viewing the sky with her family. She is the proud mother of two sons and two rescue greyhounds. She is on several boards and is active with many charitable organizations including Fountain Hills Crisis Response Team, Fountain Hills Sister Cities, Golden Eagle Education Foundation, Arizona Adopt a Greyhound, and many other organizations. She is enthusiastic about reducing light pollution and helping Fountain Hills retain its dark sky designation so everyone can enjoy the wonders of our expansive celestial sphere. Chandra is a graduate of ASU and continues to be a self-learner on many topics and hobbies. She has held multiple senior leadership positions in the healthcare industry with well-known organizations including Banner Health, Aetna-HDMS, Dignity Health/Tenet Healthcare-owned Arizona Care Network, and Equality Health. Currently, she is busy running her businesses and giving back to the community.
TONY PISTILLI, Board Member
Tony earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1973, and a Master’s in Business from Rensselaer Hartford in 1980. His career path moved to Phoenix with America West Airlines followed by a move to the Bay Area to help United Airlines manage a fleet expansion in 1991. He retired to Fountain Hills in 2007 and volunteered with Junior Achievement and Boys & Girls Club. He is a past president of the Rotary Club of Fountain Hills, Treasurer of the Club Foundation, and currently serves as President of the FH Automobile Club. Tony is also a member and docent of Mesa’s Commemorative Air Force, serving as a tour guide and making presentations on aviation. His interest in astronomy followed him throughout his career and he now serves as one of the local “Star Dudes” where he helps with star parties and gives science presentations. He has performed historical western music shows with the OK Chorale for over 10 years in over 250 shows.
GEOFF YAZZETTA, Board Member
Geoff first became interested in astronomy when he saw Comet Hale-Bopp as a third grader and has been fascinated with everything the night sky has to offer since. Originally from Los Angeles, Geoff was a frequent visitor to both the Griffith and Mount Wilson Observatories and would coordinate star parties for his friends during the Perseid meteor shower every August. While in LA, he worked as District Director for LA City Councilmember Paul Krekorian and then moved to Fountain Hills in 2021 to pursue multiple business ventures with a lifelong friend. He was thrilled to learn of the plan to build the International Dark Sky Discovery Center and its mission to provide tremendous educational opportunities for people of all ages. Geoff joined the IDSDC Board in the spring of 2023 and looks forward to seeing the project through to its completion. Geoff also serves as a Commissioner on the Town’s Strategic Planning Advisory Commission, is the Chairman of the Fountain Hills Cultural and Civic Association’s Civic Affairs Committee, and was a member of the Fountain Hills Leadership Academy Class 6.
PAST BOARD MEMBERS