(Phoenix, Arizona) The Boards of Arizona Advocacy Network and Foundation, and Sam Wercinski Kelley, a nationally recognized progressive advocate and leader, announced Sam’s retirement as Executive Director effective February 15, 2016.
Sam recently launched the Sam Kelley Show on 1480 AM KPHX Progressive Talk and will use his two-hour, live program to focus on issues important to Arizona working families and voters. The boards of directors and Sam are equally excited to announce that Samantha Pstross will be the new Executive Director of the Arizona Advocacy Network and Foundation. Samantha is a well-informed advocate on money in politics, voting rights and fair courts. She is already representing the Network in legislative affairs, at public forums, and in the media. Samantha is a shining example of a younger generation ready to change Arizona’s political and policymaking landscape to reclaim government of, by and for the People, not corporations.
“With the Sam Kelley Show airing throughout Arizona, guests and listeners are able to amplify their voices and elevate their advocacy, live from 3 – 5 PMweekdays on 1480AM KPHX,” Wercinski Kelley said. “Leading AZAN and working with advocates from other groups like UFCW99, ITCA, PAZ, PAFCO and Planned Parenthood of Arizona has been a thrill and honor. Together, we have created success locally and nationally. The boards have made a great choice by selecting Samantha Pstross to continue the important work that AZAN clearly leads in Arizona.”
The boards had conducted a national search for the past 13 months. With Ms. Pstross’ leading the organization, Sam is able to retire with confidence that the organizations he has led to new levels of effectiveness, financial stability and stature, will continue to achieve success. As Director Emeritus, he will fully retire from AZAN and focus entirely on The Sam Kelley Show.
AZAN board president Doris Marie Provine thanks Sam Wercinski Kelley for his years of strong, strategic leadership in the challenging tasks lead by AZAN. “Sam has been a great motivator and has a number of important successes to his credit. As AZAN’s executive director he has helped to block bad legislation attacking Clean Elections, successfully fought for voters, and helped to educate Arizona on how to make politicians more accountable to the People. He will continue to be a voice for progressive causes through his new radio program, which is already attracting exciting guests and diverse listeners.”
Other leaders offered these statements on this transition:
Arizona State Senator Andrea Dalessandro: “I admire Sam Wercinski’s commitment and dedication to the rights of voters and to preserving the best things in our society. I think the world of Sam’s work over a number of years, and I look forward to working with AZAN’s incoming director, Samantha Pstross.”
Arizona State Representative Eric Meyer, MD, Democratic House Leader:“Sam Wercinski has been an outstanding advocate for justice in our state as executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network and Foundation. In his new role as host of the Sam Kelley Show, he will continue to be a powerful advocate for progressive causes. He leaves AZAN in the capable hands of Samantha Pstross, the incoming executive director of this fine organization. I look forward to continue working with AZAN and to the success of the Sam Kelley show.”
James McLaughlin, President, UFCW Local 99 and International Vice President: “I have worked for years with Sam Wercinski as director of the Arizona Advocacy Network. He has been among the state’s strongest advocates for the rights of voters and the elimination of corporate money from politics. Now, with the Sam Kelley Show, he can continue his advocacy with a daily radio program while his ground-breaking work on behalf of Arizona’s workers will move forward with Samantha Pstross as incoming director of AZAN.”Maria Dadgar, Executive Directors, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona: “Sam Wercinski has the unique ability to define perspectives from ALL of Arizona’s citizens on matters that support our civil rights as citizens. On all accounts, Sam has been a compelling voice moving us all forward through progressive political advocacy. We look forward to his exciting new endeavor as the host of the Sam Kelley Show which is certain to become a cornerstone of progressive political discussions in Arizona and beyond.”
Jodi Liggett, AZAN board member and VP for Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Arizona: “Sam Wercinski Kelley has been an anchor for the progressive movement in Arizona. The vulnerable in Arizona and their advocates have benefitted enormously from his hard work and all citizens owe him a debt of gratitude for his efforts to continuously improve and strengthen our democratic government. Samantha Pstross comes to AZAN with a wealth of experience on the ground and will provide the energy, inspiration, and motivation to take our mission to a brand new generation of supporters. We enthusiastically welcome her leadership.”
Rebekah Friend, AZ AFL-CIO Executive Director and a member of the AZAN board: "I am deeply proud to have worked alongside Sam for many years and am thankful for all he has contributed to AZAN. I wish there were more people like Sam in Arizona! While I am sad to see him step down, I am excited to have Samantha onboard."
Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which represented the Arizona Advocacy Network in the United States Supreme Court case Arizona v. ITCA. “Sam Wercinski has been a great advocate for voting rights in Arizona and we wish him the best in his future endeavors. We look forward to continuing our longstanding and close relationship with the Arizona Advocacy Network under the leadership of Samantha Pstross.”
About AzAN’s incoming Executive Director, Samantha Pstross:
Samantha is a community organizer and long time advocate for the progressive movement. She has been very active in Arizona politics and served as the Vice Chair and Chair of Legislative District 26 (Tempe, Mesa and Salt River Pima – Maricopa Indian Community). In 2014, she led a successful demonstration, motivating over 150 people to protest against a Tempe pastor who was preaching hate against the LGBTQ community. Recently, she was nominated nearly unanimously by her district to fill the state Senate seat left by Ed Ableser and later for the LD26 House seat. Samantha is a professor at DeVry University where she teaches social and political science.
Samantha has a B.A. in Government from the University of Redlands and an M.A. in international economic and political studies from Charles University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Samantha is young, passionate, and committed to do the hard work necessary to ensure AZAN continues to gain more successful outcomes. She looks forward to continuing the important work that the Arizona Advocacy Network has achieved for Arizona and the nation.
About AZAN: Arizona Advocacy Network works for electoral justice, political rights and full civic participation to achieve government of, by and for the People. Our work includes: strengthening Arizona's Clean Elections system; advocating for full, immediate disclosure of all campaign contributions; promoting anti-corruption and conflict of interest laws including gift bans; guarding voting rights, voter registration and election integrity; defending Arizona’s judicial merit selection system, and protecting Arizona's ballot initiative and referendum processes. Read more atwww.AZadvocacy.org and on Facebook: Arizona Advocacy Network.