Meet the Achieve60AZ Team – Christine Thompson
This is the tenth in the series of interviews with people working to increase the attainment rate in Arizona.
Normally, we feature members of the College Success Arizona team. However, we feel it’s also important to get to know other people that are working hard to increase the attainment rate in Arizona. In this segment, we’re featuring the Project Manager for the Achieve60AZ initiative, Christine Thompson. We’re asking Christine the normal “tell us a little about yourself” questions, but also delving a little deeper into her personality, finding out a little more about what makes her who she is.
What is your role with Achieve60AZ?
I am a consultant and Project Manager for the initiative.
What is Achieve60AZ?
Achieve60AZ is an alliance of about seventy organizations that come from the education sector, community-led organizations, business entities, philanthropy – all who have come together around the goal of increasing Arizona’s college attainment rate. The goal announced in 2016, is for sixty percent of Arizonans to have some type of postsecondary credential, or degree, by 2030. And that effort is now in the process of changing the alliance into an organization, which will support all efforts to achieve the goal in the years to come.
How did you come to be associated with Achieve60AZ?
A member of the Achieve60AZ Board approached me and asked if I would be interested in working with the project as Achieve60AZ transitions into its next organizational phase.
What is the best thing about your job?
I am inspired by the cross-sector collaboration that is happening to increase Arizonan’s post high school attainment. Helping to facilitate that collaboration, and translate the mission in to policy and action, is exciting.
Why do you feel increasing Arizona’s College Attainment Rate is so important?
Increasing the educational attainment of Arizonans is key for both individual opportunity and the economic success of the state. Higher education rates are associated with lower unemployment, increased resilience during economic downturns, and higher wages. Higher wages translate into greater economic power and more state and local tax revenues, and higher rates of education are correlated with decreased use of government programs, like social services.
What is your vision for the Arizona of the future?
The Arizona of the thriving, I hope, due to our diversified and skilled talent pool.
If you had a message for a student just beginning their college career, what would that be?
College is a great opportunity to explore. Take interesting courses and participate in different activities. For those like me who are unsure about what they want to do after college, this exploration can help you identify what careers to pursue.
Basic stats (hometown, family, etc.):
I moved to Arizona when I was a small child, so I count the greater Phoenix area as my hometown. I am married with preschool aged twin boys.
What was your First or most interesting job?
During my junior year in college, I was an intern at the Arizona House of Representatives. I hadn’t thought of public policy as a career path until that internship. While the opportunity taught me about politics and the political process, the friendships and professional relationships I developed in that position have lasted decades.
What is your career history?
I have spent my career in public policy and advocacy. After college, I was the executive director of a non-profit that advocated on behalf of university students. I went back to school to earn my law degree, and worked at the University of Arizona College of Law as a development officer. My passion for public policy continued, and I moved back to Phoenix to serve as the lobbyist for the State Bar of Arizona. Having served there for several years, I was recruited to lead government relations for the Arizona Board of Regents, which was an exciting opportunity, as I had lobbied the Board as an advocate just out of college and served as Student Regent on the Board while attending law school. I previously served as Executive Director for the State Board of Education, and currently I am an independent consultant.
What are your hobbies/favorite pastime?
I enjoy gardening and playing outside with my kids.
What is your culinary specialty?
I follow recipes to bake, but I love to experiment when I cook.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
What’s the band you’d listen to for the rest of your life?
What is your proudest moment?
I have a new proud moment every day with my twins.
“When I’m not working you’ll find me?
Playing with my kids.