Become an Emerging Leader.

Make our community — and the world — a better place.

Young alumni in the Emerging Leaders program at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are finding innovative ways to improve communities on a local, national and global scale, while supporting the largest and highly diverse student population within Arizona State University.

Meet young alums like you.

The Emerging Leaders are a diverse group of service-oriented ASU grads that dedicate their time and resources to The College and its future. 

Young woman with blonde and brown hair wearing coral colored shirt

Kara Gasperone

Kara is a two-time alumnus from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with a BS in family and human development and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. She is also a Barrett, The Honors College grad. Kara is a licensed marriage and Family therapist who owns and operates a small group therapy practice specializing in trauma, family treatment and addiction. She is passionate about accessible, unfussy therapy and also provides supportive clinical supervision to interns, associates, and licensed therapists. Kara splits time between central Phoenix and Tombstone with her partner and a sweet rescue pup.

Portrait of Jeffrey Ayres.

Jeffrey Ayres

Jeffrey Ayres, formerly known as Jeff Pendergraph, is a professional basketball player and former Sun Devil. He graduated in 2008 with a degree in economics and a minor in african and african american studies. Throughout his basketball career, he has played for a variety of teams in the NBA, won a championship ring with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, and plays internationally. Jeff is a father of two and spends his time off back in the Phoenix valley. He is dedicated to learning and giving back to others.

Portrait of Jorge Coss Ortega.

Jorge Coss Ortega

Jorge Coss Ortega is one of the first ever designated O’Connor Fellows at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. In 2017, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in political science. He was the 2017 Dean’s Medalist for the school and the 2017 Alumni Association’s Outstanding Graduate for the college. Coss Ortega was formerly a legal assistant for immigration attorney, Alma Montes de Oca. In 2016, Coss Ortega participated in the Arizona Legislative Internship as a Policy Intern for the Senate Democratic Staff Office. He has an expected law school graduation date of 2020 after which he plans to remain in Arizona to pursue his legal career and help students gain access to higher education.

Portrait of Ben Ellis.

Ben Ellis

In September 2013, Ben founded E & G Real Estate Services out of a bedroom in his home. In 2014, he opened an office near the Biltmore and has been recognized as one of the fastest growing ASU Alumni owned companies for the past 4 years, twice in the top 5. Effective 2021, E & G manages approximately $200,000,000 in real estate assets with 35 employees.

Ben is a graduate from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University in 2008 with a major in Communication and minor in Religious Studies. Ben is married to his wonderful wife, Sasha, who allowed for the company to be run out of their home during its first year of operation. They have one rescue dog, named Riley.

Aimee Parker

Aimee Parker is a dynamic professional with a background in communication and a passion for driving change. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications with a Minor in African American Studies from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.

After gaining valuable experience, Parker ventured out on her own to start an agency dedicated to assisting minority business owners in achieving growth through strategic paid social ads. Parker is also a co-founder of a groundbreaking marketing app that leverages artificial intelligence to create customized paid marketing solutions for women. 

Winnie Liang

Winnie Liang, PhD, completed her undergraduate studies in biological sciences from another prestigious university before completing her doctoral degree in molecular and cellular biology at Arizona State University. Her background is in translational and genomics research across areas including Alzheimer’s disease and cancer research.

Liang enjoys volunteering with local organizations such as The Joy Bus Diner, Hunkapi and St. Mary’s Food Bank. She also celebrates her love of the Grand Canyon State’s beautiful outdoors as a board member of Wild Arizona.

Kaitlyn Payne

Kaitlyn Payne received her Bachelor of Science in psychology with a minor in women and gender studies from Arizona State University. She continued her education by receiving her Master of Arts in industrial organizational psychology.

In 2016, Kaitlyn ventured into finance and has held several roles within the industry. She has a passion for helping minorities and women understand the corporate finance world and completes work as a Corporate Champion of PayTech Women.

Kaitlyn lives in Arizona with her husband and their Goldendoodle, Mosby.

Portrait of Steven Slugocki.

Steven Slugocki

Steven Slugocki graduated with a Bachelor of Science in political science and a minor in U.S. history from Arizona State University in 2007. He is one of the founding members of the Dean’s Council Emerging Leaders program in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Slugocki works in small business sales for Wells Fargo and previously served as the elected Chairman of the Maricopa County Democratic Party from 2015 to 2020. He resides in North Phoenix with his wife Megan, also an ASU graduate, and their son Cody. He also serves as Phoenix Mayor Stanton's appointment to the Neighborhood Block Watch Fund Oversight Committee.

Portrait of Amanda Ventura Zink.

Amanda Ventura Zink

Amanda Ventura Zink is a public affairs manager for Waymo, where she helps lead the world's first public education campaign about autonomous vehicles — called Let's Talk Autonomous Driving.

Before joining Waymo, Amanda worked as a reporter and editor for publications in Metro Phoenix and was a public relations director at an agency in Scottsdale. A proud Sun Devil (Class of 2011), Amanda lives in South Phoenix with her husband and two Arizona Animal Welfare League alums, Lt. Barclay (for pronunciation: Barkley — it's a Star Trek thing) and Dabo (for pronunciation: like Cabo — another Star Trek thing).

Join the council

If you want to become an Emerging Leader, please contact The College's Office of Development or email Catie Doster for more information.

Our alumni podcast

The Emerging Leaders helped launch The College's Learning From Experience podcast, which features young alums including several Emerging Leaders members.

Give to The College

Get in touch with a member of our development team, or search funds and causes on The College's ASU Foundation webpage.