Board of Directors
Douglas J. Nicholls is the 27th Mayor of the City of Yuma, Arizona. Mayor Nicholls is a civil engineer, a business owner, the head of several organizations and events aimed to spearhead economic development in the region, and is committed to serve the people of Yuma. His greatest joy is being a husband to Danette and a father to their children.
Mayor Nicholls served as a City of Yuma Councilmember (2009) before being elected to the Mayoral seat (2014). He has been re-elected twice and is currently serving his third term as Mayor of Yuma (2023).
Working towards his core mayoral goal of bringing higher quality jobs and creating a strong economy, Mayor Nicholls founded 4FrontED, a Governing Board of mayors and city leaders from Arizona, California, Sonora and Baja California. The 4FrontED Board collaborates to maximize impacts at the global forefront through strategic initiatives for their collective population of nearly two million people. As Chairman of the Board, he and area leaders strategically reach out to industries throughout a larger megaregion in an aim to bring more opportunities and investments, while at the same time promoting potentials for growth and investment.
The Mayor spearheaded the launch of the Elevate Southwest initiative and serves as its Chairman of the Board. Elevate Southwest focuses on bringing higher education to Yuma, along with greater collaboration between higher education and existing/future workforce needs. He believes a community with more accessible higher education opportunities and quality jobs will make for a more robust quality of life for all Yuma residents.
The Mayor is President of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, an organization that includes all 91 municipalities in Arizona and represents the interests of cities and towns before legislature. He serves on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Council (appointed in 2021), on the Arizona Commerce Authority Board of Directors, the Governor’s Interagency and Community Council on Homelessness and Housing, the Arizona Military Affairs Council, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Board of Directors, and the Amberly’s Place Board of Directors.
Mayor Nicholls and Danette raised their family in Yuma, after he graduated with a B.S. in Engineering from ASU and delved into post-graduate studies. He launched his own business in Yuma and is President and Owner of Core Engineering Group, a civil engineering and land surveying firm. He was inducted into the ASU’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame for the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment (2019). He is an ordained deacon at St. Francis of Assisi Parish and an active Rotarian and Elk. He believes the best way to serve in local government is to listen to the needs of Yuma’s residents and families, and to have open communication. You can reach out to the Mayor via email at Douglas.Nicholls@YumaAz.gov with any questions, comments or concerns.
In her tenure with Greater Yuma EDC, she has been directly involved in the creation of over 4,000 new jobs, over 1 million square feet of new industrial space and a capital investment to the region that surpasses $1.5 Billion.
In 2012 Julie was named the Economic Developer of the Year for the State of Arizona. Julie’s career in Economic Development follows five years of local government leadership and eight years of federal government leadership and policy regulations.
Buna George was elected to the Elevate Southwest (ESW) Board of Directors in July 2022. George has served as the Executive Director of the Greater Yuma Port Authority since 2018.
She earned her associate degree in business administration from Arizona Western College and her bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in Urban Planning and Development and City/Urban, Community, and Regional Planning.
She was recently accepted to the UA James E. Rogers School of Law and will begin her master’s in legal studies online this fall.
“I am truly honored to have been approached and selected to serve on the ESW board,” George stated. “Advanced technology platforms allowed me to explore higher education options not offered in Yuma. While there is great value in a brick-and-mortar classroom setting, interacting in person with like-minded individuals allows for refining skills and meaningful interactions. I hope to integrate my leadership skills and experiences as a local and online student to refine the ESW initiative further and highlight the benefits higher education would bring to the local workforce in the Greater Yuma region.”
Joining Arizona Western College (AWC) in July 2016, Corr has focused his early efforts on facilitating student success, increasing access to higher education, creating a comprehensive strategic plan, and fostering a climate of innovation, collaboration and stewardship at AWC.
Prior to assuming the role of AWC’s President, Dr. Corr served as the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Scottsdale Community College (SCC) from 2007-2016. Dr. Corr also held a variety of instructional and administrative positions at three different community colleges in Illinois. All told, he has over 24 years of experience at the community college level.
Paul Brierley is currently Director for the Arizona Department of Agriculture and was previously Vice Chair for Elevate Southwest and the Executive Director of the University of Arizona Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture. As Executive Director for UA Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture, based in Yuma, a public-private partnership between the college and the Arizona and California desert agriculture industry, Brierley was dedicated to addressing “on-the-ground” industry needs through collaboration and research. Brierley also led the effort at the University of Arizona on the Presidential Advisory Commission on the Future of Agriculture & Food Production in a Drying Climate.
Jon was raised in Dos Palos, Ca. where his father taught school and had a small dairy. After graduating from U.C. Davis, Jon served the United States military in Korea. Upon return stateside, he secured a crop advisor job for a local farmer co-op in Yuma, Arizona.
Jon learned to fly and earned an MBA at Peter Drucker on the G.I. Bill. After over 50 years of service to the industry, he is still keenly interested in agriculture, traveling the world to explore its crops, meet its people and renew old friendships.
Previous Chairman for Elevate Southwest. Russell has owned and operated Accurate Automotive Attention for over 30 years. The business has thrived with three locations throughout the Yuma area. He attended Rapport Leadership International’s leadership program and became a master's Graduate.
He graduated from Project CENTRL in 2003, a two-year rural leadership program administered by the University of Arizona. Russell served for 16 years (2005-2020) on the Yuma County Board of Supervisors, including several terms as Yuma County Board Chair and Vice-Chair.
Upon graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Business Administration, Shelley became the 4th generation to follow in her family’s business, RL Jones Insurance. Her husband, Colin Mellon, is a 3rd generation Yuma produce farmer with Mellon Farms, Inc. Currently, they own their own farm and a ground application company. Shelley is a licensed Personal & Commercial, Life & Health Insurance Broker in Arizona and California, and a certified Habitude facilitator. Shelley owns and operates the three locations of RL Jones Insurance & MVD Services.
Shelley serves in many state and local boards currently as Chair of the Southwest Arizona Town Hall, the Yuma Education Advocacy Council, Education Forward Arizona Board of Directors, Board of Trustees for the Foundation of Yuma Regional Medical Center, member of the Foundation of Yuma Regional Medical Center Pediatric Oncology Fund Committee, Yellow Ribbon-Suicide Awareness Committee, Arizona House of Representatives Teen Mental Health AD HOC Committee, Chair, Board Member and Governance Committee of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Corporation, Board Member Arizona Business & Education Coalition, Yuma Union High School District Governing Board Member and many other important boards
Colin and Shelley are grateful to be able to raise their three children on their farm in Yuma. Tanner-Graduate of Purdue University, Masters Krannert School of Management, Mckenna-Graduate of Cornell University, Dual major, Communication and International Agriculture and Rural Development, and Walker- ASU WP Carey Business School and Barrett’s Honor College, Majoring in Economics.
A resident of San Luis, Arizona, Marco “Tony” Reyes serves as Chairman of the Yuma County Board of Supervisors. Reyes attended the Gadsden Elementary School, and Kofa High School in Yuma and has received multiple Certificates from among others; the ALETA Police Academy for AZ Police Officer Certification, UTI Universal Training Institute for A/C Solar Heating Technician certification, Arizona Advanced Real Estate Institute for AZ Real Estate license, Arizona State University, Tempe, for Non-Profit Management Certification, the BOA Development Leadership Institute and multiple Community and Economic Development courses. He served the citizens of San Luis for many years including 10 years as Mayor. He also has served as Executive Director of Comite De Bien Estar, a Community Development Non-Profit Organization focused on Housing and quality of life issues in South Yuma County for the last 35 years.