Introducing our 2013-2014 AmeriCorps Public Allies: Kendall, Erin and Steve!

Local First Arizona is proud to welcome some extraordinary talent to the team! Three Public Allies began their terms of service with LFA this week. The mission of Public Allies Arizona is to advance new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation. Allies partner with local nonprofits to build their capacity and effectiveness through direct service, over the course of a 10-month full-time term of service. Kendall, Erin and Steve were vetted from over 60 Public Allies finalists to work with Local First Arizona, to build on the great work we’ve been doing at LFA now for over a decade! Meet our newest team members below:


Steve Russell – Local Food Coordinator I grew up in the North Phoenix and Scottsdale areas, and went to Arizona State for Sociology, Psychology & Communication (Go Devils!). I am passionate about locally grown, healthy, delicious produce and I have been growing a large portion of my own food for three years. I live in Tempe with my dog Beau, and run a small vegetable garden design, install & maintenance business on the weekends!

What does “Local” mean to you? I think “local” is all about keeping Phoenix interesting. Not only do local businesses provide a special flair and atmosphere that you can’t find at corporate stores, they keep money here in the state. As a born & raised Phoenix native, I think it’s so important to make daily choices to invest in local businesses and keep our economy rich and thriving.

Erin Cochran – Rural Development Coordinator I hail from the great state of Wyoming where I grew up in a small town of about 3,500. Upon graduating high school, I attended Arizona State University for one year before transferring to the University of Wyoming. I graduated in 2007 with my bachelor’s in communication and immediately went to work for U.S. Senator John Barrasso in his Washington, DC office. After two years in DC, I returned to Wyoming to work for the Wyoming Education Association until November 2012, when I moved back to Phoenix. In addition to my position with LFA as a Public Ally, I am also working on my Master’s in Public Policy and Administration. Pine trees, happy dogs, a good playlist, and the open road are a few of my favorite things.

What does “Local” mean to you? Given my upbringing in rural Wyoming, to me, “local” has always been synonymous with “pride.” Civic engagement and volunteerism were values instilled in me from a young age. Supporting locally owned business is just one additional piece to that puzzle. It is my belief and my experience that thinking “local” is not only what gives me pride in my community, but is also what allows me to stay connected to my community. “Local” may be a popular movement, but for someone like me who comes from a farming and ranching community, it’s a way of life and a point of pride.

Kendall Creever – Events and Volunteer Coordinator Good day to all Local First Arizona advocates, members and first-timers! I have recently had the pleasure of joining Local First Arizona as a Public Ally through AmeriCorps. I recently graduated from ASU with my Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. Transitioning into the nonprofit sector is very exciting and I look forward to increasing community empowerment through knowledge and awareness to all that Arizona has to offer!

What does “Local” mean to you? What is this buzzword, “local” anyways? Walking past a sign, listening to the radio or even seeing it on television, this word evokes an idea of grassroots and/or small business. At first I thought, “Well it pertains to farmer’s markets and restaurants,” but I soon found it was not limited to just food, though I do love the choices! To me, it is communities reclaiming their areas with unique businesses that can meet the needs and wishes of its residents. The one constant I have found is that local is not static, it’s a movement that can be molded to foster creative solutions in a new economic time.

We are so happy to have Steve, Erin, and Kendall on the team, and are excited to see the work they will accomplish during their time with LFA!