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 DarkSky International

 

JEFF ESPOSITO, Vice President

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.  A Fountain Hills resident since 2012, Jeff has also served in officer positions for the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association, the Neighborhood Property Owner’s Association, and the Fountain Hills Leadership Academy.

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 DarkSky International.

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 her grandchildren’s school, ensuring our children never stop reaching for the stars. Her appreciation of Fountain Hills and the Dark Sky Community designation prompted her involvement 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 as a petroleum geologist/exploration manager, Scott and his wife Diana retired to Salida, Colorado, in 2006. In 2018, they moved to Fountain Hills to be closer to their family. Fountain Hills was chosen because of its International Dark Sky Community status and for being a pet-friendly community. Within a few months, Scott joined the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association board and eventually served as the organization’s president for 2.5 years. Scott joined the International Dark Sky Discovery Center board in 2019 and serves as its “planetarium champion,” with the role of recommending the best options for planetarium architecture and projection systems. Both the above organizations support pursuits about which Scott is passionate: astronomy, astrophotography, and protecting nocturnal wildlife. He is proud to serve on both boards and to contribute to the betterment of Fountain Hills and the surrounding region.

TED BLANK, Board Member

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 moving to Fountain Hills in 2014, he continued his public outreach by frequently setting up his telescopes for the public, providing viewing activities for special events, and offering astronomy talks at the Fountain Hills Community Center.  He recently helped initiate a program for amateur astronomers to become Volunteers In The Park at the Grand Canyon National Park, and serves on the board of the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association as their Education Coordinator. In October 2018, Ted was recognized as a Dark Sky Defender by Dark Sky International.

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. Jerry also served 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 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 also served on the board of the Fountain Hills Cultural & Civic Association. Vicky is the founder of Night Sky Tourist, a local stargazing business with a podcast by the same name.

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 also served two terms as a member of 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

Kevin Beck

Clayton Corey

Lisa Miller

Jay Schlum