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Meet the Team

Serving the Tucson community and beyond since 1996

Executive Leadership

Danny Knee

Danny Knee

Executive Director

Danny has two decades experience in the public and non-profit sectors including 14 years in executive management. He earned a BA from Johns Hopkins University in The Writing Seminars.  He also holds Master Degrees in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University and Business Administration from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Business.  He has a wide array of community development and affordable housing experience through his work at the Tucson Urban League and Habitat for Humanity Tucson, organizations where he also served terms as Interim Director.  Danny was a middle school teacher early in his professional career and remains passionate about education from serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Earn to Learn, an Arizona-wide college scholarship organization.  As co-founder of Single Focus Web, a web development company he started with his wife, Cecily, he brings experience as an entrepreneur and small business owner to Community Investment Corporation.  He was named one of Tucson’s “40-Under-40” in 2007 for contributions to his profession and the community. Danny also captained his nationally ranked Division III men’s basketball team at Johns Hopkins. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, he has called Tucson his home since 2004.

Caroline Nelson

Caroline Nelson

Chief Operating Officer

Caroline Nelson, a native Tucsonan, has spent the last 18 years in the financial services industry. She started with Community Investment Corporation in September 2016 and has spent time in each of CIC’s three program areas. Caroline is currently the Chief Operating Officer and oversees the small business lending program. Prior to CIC, the majority of her career was spent working for Northern Trust Bank where she held various positions in the banking and wealth strategies departments. Caroline earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. She is a graduate of the Greater Tucson Leadership program and earned a certificate in Non-Profit Leadership from the University of Arizona.

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Nick Henry

Chief Strategy Officer

Nick is a native Southwesterner but has lived in various parts of the U.S. and Latin America throughout his life.  He earned his degree in physics in 2004 at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR.  After subsequently spending time traveling and volunteering in rural southern Mexico, Nick returned to the U.S. and worked as a translator, researcher, and educator on border and immigration issues in New Mexico, Chihuahua, Arizona, and Sonora.  One of Nick’s great passions lies at the intersection between social issues and food, food policy, and food justice, and so when he was given the opportunity to join the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona in 2010, he leapt at the opportunity.  In Nick’s eight years there, he helped build a school gardening program, and eventually directed their Community Food Resource Center.  In joining CIC, Nick brings a tremendous passion for supporting southern Arizona’s robust community of non-profits and grassroots organizations.   

Leadership Team

Scott Evans

Scott Evans

Director of Family & School Engagement

Scott was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.  While he still misses the fog and cool summers of San Francisco – he has called Tucson “home” for the past 17 years.  Scott joined the CIC team in 2021 and is undoubtedly one of the newest members of the CIC team. Prior to joining CIC, Scott served as the Director of Counseling in Tucson public and private high schools for over 15 years.  In addition, Scott has coached high school sports (baseball and golf) for over 15 years.  

He earned a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Arizona in 2007. Through his prior school counseling work and coaching experience, Scott brings to the CIC table a true passion in the field of education and youth development. Scott understands the integral role a family plays in raising a healthy child and has dedicated much of his adult life to serving children and their families. Scott is excited and committed to helping ALL families explore and understand the Tucson educational landscape. He believes that quality education is one of the greatest gifts our generation can give to our children.   

Scott was fortunate to meet and marry a local Tucsonan with strong Tucson roots.  Together they are (attempting) to raise their two lovely (but loud) children (ages 4 and 6).  It is safe to say Scott’s Tucson roots are now as deep as a Saguaro cactus.  When not working (or chasing his children around)… Scott enjoys time with his family, coaching and occasionally playing any of the wonderful Tucson golf courses.

Patty Gonzalez

Patty Gonzalez

Director of Housing Program

Patty is a customer service expert and has served for over 22 years as a program coordinator to the non-profit organization Family Housing Resources.  New to CIC in 2017, she brings on board a wealth of expertise in numerous areas including management, consultation, housing markets, and home buyer assistance programs.

Patty has worked as a program educator teaching classes on homebuyer education and serves as a certified bi-lingual housing counselor.  She also teaches classes covering a variety of topics including credit, budgeting, mortgages, realtor services, titling, inspections, appraisals, home maintenance, foreclosure prevention, and post-purchase education.

She has spent the past 20+ years building relationships with lenders, realtors and other professionals. In this time, she has also devoted herself to motherhood and family, which keeps her extremely busy with all the events her amazing children and extended family are involved in.  She has committed her life to the pursuit of helping others and is happiest when doing so.

Ami

Amisadai Licea

Program Manager

Ami was born in Long Beach, CA, but has lived in Tucson most of his life. After high school, Ami earned a scholarship to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, German Studies, and a Minor in Latin American and Latinx Studies. While in college, he was involved in a multitude of extracurriculars, serving on the executive board for MEChA, Poder Latinx, and The Latinx Student Union. During his junior year, he had the opportunity to study a semester in Berlin where he immersed himself in the culture and improved his German. Upon his return, he was appointed as the German Academic Exchange Service Young Ambassador at his campus, visiting classrooms and presenting on study and internship opportunities in Germany. Through his college experience, Ami developed a passion for expanding access to higher education, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and spent many afternoons volunteering at the local middle school.  His drive and commitment to education make him a perfect fit for the CIC Bond Compliance Department, where he will meet educators from all different types of schools and will be able to share some of his own experiences with clients. In his free time, Ami enjoys outdoor activities, such as tennis, running, hiking, and simply hanging out with friends.

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Nyssa Miccio

Director of Marketing & Communications

Nyssa was born and raised in Connecticut and moved to Tucson in 2009 to attend the UofA- Go Cats! Nyssa has a background in Marketing with a focus on digital, Events and Communications in both the private and public sectors. She has managed nationally recognized campaigns and partnerships. Her passion for economic development, fostering community and helping others is what led her to joining CIC. She is excited to be apart of the team

In her free time, Nyssa enjoys going to see live music & spending time outside, hiking & riding her motorcycle. She became a ‘plant mom’ in 2020 and has filled her house with indoor plants.

Cassie Price

Cassie Price

Operations Manager

Cassie is a born and raised local Tucsonan. She has a strong passion for horses which began early, at the age of 5. After receiving her bachelor’s of science degree in Race Track Industry from the University of Arizona, she spent a few years in Lexington, Kentucky – the horse capital of the world. As a mother of one, she is choosing happy and is back in Tucson to raise her daughter amongst family. She has a diverse professional background from training horses to assisting in small animal veterinary clinics, and is a licensed insurance agent. In her time away from the office, she enjoys family time and adventure. She can be found riding her horse, off-roading through the Sonoran backroads, or floating down the Salt River.

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Betty Vinall

Business Manager

Betty is the Business Manager at Community Investment Corporation and the owner of Balanced Books LLC; a bookkeeping business specializing in working with non-profits and small businesses.  Betty is a native Arizonan, born in Flagstaff.  She graduated with honors from the University of Arizona.  Betty has always been a community volunteer including Project Graduation, Parent Organizations, Community Foundations, multiple Arts Organizations, and University of Arizona Panhellenic and Gamma Phi Beta sorority.  Betty has worked with Community Investment Corporation since 2004 as their contract bookkeeper seeing the organization grow and change with three Executive Directors.  In 2020 she joined the staff full time as the Business Manager.  Outside of work, Betty loves reading (Book Clubs), hiking, Pilates, jigsaw puzzles, travel, cooking and spending time with friends and family.  Betty still makes multiple trips back to Flagstaff; the Peaks and family continue to call her home.

Carla

Carla Wallace

Director of Bond Compliance

Carla joined CIC in May of 2020 and brings over 15 years of financial industry experience to her role. She has worked as a licensed stockbroker, personal financial adviser, Trust Analyst, and most recently as a Bond Trustee. Her insight from her work as a Bond Trustee is invaluable to helping our Bond Compliance clients achieve success. Carla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics and a Master’s Degree in Accounting. She is passionate about education and an avid reader. Her two sons keep her busy and she loves enjoying the beauty of our Arizona desert and wildlife. Carla has a lifelong passion for travel and worked as a flight attendant while earning her undergraduate degree. Providing excellent client service has been a priority in each of Carla’s professional roles and she looks forward to making a difference here at CIC and planning her next family beach getaway.

Staff

Irasema

Irasema Banuelos

Senior Small Business Lending Manager

Irasema is originally from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, but has lived in Arizona most of her life.  She joins the Community Investment Corporation team with over 25 years of banking experience in which time she attained extensive experience in management, customer service and development of methods to continually improve business operational performance.  Irasema prides herself on her ability to educate clients on products and services that best meet their needs and providing exceptional customer service.  During her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, camping, off-roading and spending time with family and friends. 

Mariela

Mariela Carranza

Community Lending Manager

Mariela was raised and has spent most of her life in Tucson, Arizona. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication. While pursuing her academic career, she helped manage a small local business. She understands the importance of building relationships to invest and encourage growth within our community, and she brings this to her work with CIC’s Eviction Prevention program.  In her free time, Mariela embraces learning new things – sewing, plumbing, upholstery, and wood working are just a few skills she has begun to develop.

Malisa Evans

Malisa Evans

Program Manager

Malisa is a Tucson native who joined the CIC team in January 2017.  She received a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in Education: Curriculum and Technology from Grand Canyon University.  Prior to joining CIC, she taught high school Mathematics in Tucson for over ten years. Along with teaching she was also the Head Coach for Cross Country and Track & Field Coach for a local Salpointe Catholic High School where she led her teams to 5 state championships and was named as Arizona’s Coach of the Year three times. She is an avid distance runner and enjoys hiking the trails of Tucson. If she is not working or coaching, she is spending time with her family outdoors or nestled on the couch watching the next best series on Netflix with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Sara F.

Sara Feld

Business and Legal Associate

Sara was born and raised in Tucson, AZ. After obtaining degrees in Psychology and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, Sara served as a lab manager and research assistant for several memory and cognition-focused labs at the U of A. She conducted research with students, older adults, and those with traumatic or acquired brain injury.

Sara later moved to Portland, OR and earned her J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar. As a public interest law student, Sara was a recipient of the Richard J. Peppin Scholarship for Animal Rights, a Community Service Honors Award, and was recognized as a First Year Moot Court Outstanding Oral Advocate. She was an Associate Editor for Animal Law Review and the President of the Women in Criminal Law student group. She also worked at a public defender’s office and represented her own clients in court.

Sara is excited to join the CIC team because of the opportunity to work with a close-knit and collaborative group of individuals who are all dedicated to making a positive difference in the Tucson community.

In her free time, Sara enjoys volunteering at animal shelters, vegan cooking, and going on hikes with her camera in hand.

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Jessica Ghanooni

Ginette 1

Ginette Gonzalez

Digital Marketing Manager

Ginette is a native and big fan of Tucson. She is an alumna of the University of Arizona and Villanova University with degrees in Classics, and an MBA from Eller College of Management. She has a deep passion for social justice and equity.

Ginette has been working in publishing, copy editing, writing, and marketing for 5 years. At Source Group, she edited and wrote advertising content for clients ranging from “mom and pop” small businesses to international corporations. She led the digital marketing efforts for the University of Arizona School of Art, showcasing the fabulous student and faculty artwork.

Ginette loves to travel and her (second) favorite place in the world is Crete (look it up; it’s gorgeous!). She loves to talk about animated shows, movies, anything for any age audience. Ginette is very food motivated and enjoys receiving snacks. She is the proud mother of one spirited and rambunctious boy and a petite kitty.

Eugene Lopez Huerta

Eugene Lopez Huerta

Program Manager

Eugene was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and recently graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. As an undergraduate, he combined his academic and professional interests to advocate for historically marginalized students. “Multidisciplinary” is a fitting word to describe his career trajectory and approach to community building.

With a background in urban planning and digital communications, Eugene fits right in at Community Investment Corporation. He is always eager to problem-solve independently or collaborate for a team effort. From his perspective, actively helping others is the most rewarding kind of work. Outside of CIC, Eugene enjoys discovering new music and keeping in touch with friends. 

Yolie

Yolanda McCarty

Assistant Director of Bond Compliance

Yolanda is Assistant Director of Bond Compliance and CIC’s longest tenured employee. Her expertise in the post-issuance continuing disclosure process for tax exempt bond financing makes her an invaluable resource for school clients, bond trustees, various industry counsels and other partners.  

Yolanda started her banking career at the age of 16 with Southern Arizona Bank.  Her experiences during a career that spanned 39 years proved invaluable.  Her greatest accomplishment was assembling and managing teams well-known for their focus on the customer experience.  That attention to client needs made her a natural for her initial role as Program Assistant in CIC’s Bond Compliance Department, on to Director of the department and recently taking a step back to support the department as a part time Assistant Director.  This will allow her more flexibility and time to enjoy home life!

A devoted wife, mother of three, and ‘Nana’ to eight grandkids, “Yolie” works hard and plays hard, enjoying travel, beach vacations and family camping trips.

Heather

Heather Moreno

Program Support Associate

Heather is a native of the Southwest. She studied Political Science and Sociology at the University of Arizona. Professionally, she has been involved in secondary education and non-profit work for most of her career. She also has a passion for community organizing, and a long history of mutual aid work at both the local and national level.

In her off-time, Heather enjoys knitting, programming, bad reality television, telling her cat to “drop it”, and the Rubik’s Cube. While working on a western movie, she gave Robert Patrick (the T-1000) a ride from the airport and will tell anyone who will listen. He is not actually made of metal.

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Suzanne Pankiewicz

Program Support Associate

Suzanne grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana.  She received a Bachelor of Science from Indiana University with majors in Business Management, International Business and Human Resource Management.

Prior to joining CIC, Suzanne worked for 10 years as a 911 Dispatcher in Indiana.  Her passion is helping people in difficult times.  She takes pride in providing the best customer service possible.  She started at CIC in the Eviction Prevention Program helping renters with the application process to avoid eviction.  She continues to assist members of the Tucson community by helping first time home buyers obtain a Mortgage Credit Certificate.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family outdoors in the beautiful Tucson sunshine.

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Dzoara Ruiz

Program Support Associate

Dzoara has lived in Tucson for 8 years, she graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Biomedical Science and a B.A. in Spanish Translation and Interpretation. In college, she was an Ambassador for the College of Humanities and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, where she would give presentations, tours to incoming students, and go to college fairs to teach potential students about the majors that are offered by the college. She was given the opportunity by Global Experiential Learning, a UofA program, to travel abroad to Southeast Asia and culturally immerse herself in a service-learning experience to learn about diverse perspectives and the involvement of the U.S. in these countries. One of the many things they did was go to schools and volunteered by helping paint them and donating school supplies. Through this experience, she learned that she is passionate about learning more about her community and finding ways on how she can help give back at home in Tucson. She thinks it is very important for the underserved members of our community to have representation, give them a voice and access to resources that they should have. She also worked as an interpreter, helping underrepresented members of the community with language services during their healthcare visits.

 

During her free time, she likes finding new events in Tucson and being outdoors. She likes watching Netflix, dancing, singing, going out with friends, spending time with family, or game nights.

Brandi

Brandi Szymanski

Rural Lending Manager

Brandi was born and raised right here in Tucson, Arizona. She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology. During her studies, a passion for other cultures took her to Mexico, where she studied Spanish. After graduating Brandi returned to her hometown and worked for the Department of Economic Security within the social services sector, working with under privileged communities. Her work experience has provided her with a strong background in customer service and case management. Her personal and professional background has led her to be passionate about socioeconomic injustice and she funnels this into her work at CIC. She recently joined the Eviction Prevention Team, and is thrilled to be helping the Tucson community once again. Outside of work, Brandi enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, catching live music and the soaking up the great outdoors!

Mario Zuniga

Mario Zuniga

Homeownership Program Manager

Mario Zuniga has spent a majority of his professional life using personal and career experience to help the community overcome financial stress and to provide them with the economic support they need. As a recent immigrant from modest means, Mario understands how economic stress can affect every facet of one’s life as well as the lives of dependents.  While his focus is on helping the community, he also provides services for adults and families dealing with various economic stressors.

Mario knows there is no single approach that works for everyone, so he continues to educate himself on community programs in order to provide the most effective program unique to each situation.  He has experience in bankruptcy and governmental law as well as tax regulation.  This knowledge has provided him the tools to navigate through various levels of governmental policy.

He earned an Associate Degree in Business Management from Pima County Community College and is on his way to a Bachelor’s in Accounting at The University of Arizona. Mario enjoys the simple things in life including food diversity and travel experiences from all around the world

Team work makes the dream work...