As Local First Arizona continues to build our presence across the state, we found it necessary to add to our team in northern Arizona. Thus we are pleased to welcome Ruth Ellen Elinski to the Local First Arizona team as our new Northern Arizona Director. Cara Corbin, who formally held that title, will now be LFA's Northern Arizona Business Liaison, splitting her time between Local First Arizona and the Flagstaff Downtown Business Alliance to build up Flagstaff's repertoire of events and campaigns celebrating local businesses. Ruth Ellen will be headquartered in the Verde Valley, and will focus on all of our programs and events in the northern Arizona area. Having spent the last 10 years living in the region, Ruth Ellen is ready to get to work building Local First Arizona's brand and membership across northern Arizona. Be sure to follow her activities at the LFA Northern AZ Twitter account. Get to know her in our introductory Q&A: Tell us a bit about your background:
I moved from the midwest to Jerome, Arizona in 2005 as a small business owner. For 6 years I operated a small leather accessory manufacturing and retail sales business. While in Jerome, I was part of the founding team of artists and business owners that initiated the Jerome ArtWalk, which continues today every first Saturday. In 2008 I sold my business and after a brief stint managing one of the area winery tasting rooms, transitioned into a Director role of a leading non profit organization. Based in Flagstaff, I advocated for and engaged communities around children, youth and family support, prevention and education services.
I have lived in Old Town Cottonwood with my husband for over 10 years. We are slowly renovating and remodeling a 100 year old historic home, a miner's shack hauled down the mountain from Jerome after the mine closed. It is a work in progress. We love exploring our national forests, parks and rural communities in a vintage 1952 Happy Home trailer with our two young daughters.
What drew you to Local First Arizona?
As a previous small business owner, I know the unique challenges of day to day business operations and the critical importance of connecting and networking with other community based businesses to ensure profitability and success. I find the work of LFA so important to healthy economic growth, but more importantly to healthy families and communities. I am passionate about enriching rural communities and the lives of those living in them.
What is your favorite local business and why?
I am a huge fan of refurbished things. Old items that are refreshed or rejuvenated with some TLC, polish, paint or otherwise. There is a great little gallery in Old Town called Cartwheels, previously North Bend Studio, that I just love to wander through. They have old refurbished furniture, and rusty chairs, and other creative art works from Arizona artists. It's a wonderful collection of older items renewed, some rarely seen, and eclectic art from down under.
Tell us about one of your life's passions:
I grew up on a certified tree farm in southern Indiana, and though as a young person, grudgingly weeded long rows of sweet corn and tomato plants every summer, I now enjoy growing my own small home garden as time permits and as the horn worms allow. I am passionate about growing my own food.