Leadership Team

President & CEO, Joanne Thomson

Joanne Thomson developed a deep commitment and passion for charitable work in the nonprofit field early in her career and grew committed to helping people who have: intellectual and cognitive disabilities, dementia, survived a stroke, mental illness, and Parkinson’s Disease. Thoughtful in her leadership style, she strives to enrich the lives of community members and makes positive changes in how we care for our loved ones. Through her guidance, Benevilla’s programs and services have thrived. The number of persons served throughout the years has been on the rise. The Adult Day Services were transformed into Life Enrichment Programs to better serve the needs of the future customers.

She is an Aging Services CARF Surveyor (since 2014) and travels around the U.S.A. and Canada to assess other aging service providers’ best practices. She has overseen the operations of Benevilla since 2012 and prior to that, she supervised one of the Life Enrichment Programs (since 2007). Joanne Thomson was born and grew up in Reno, Nevada and attended California State University, Chico where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation Administration with the option of Therapeutic Recreation in 1999. She was awarded top recreation therapy student of the graduating class.

Joanne, the Benevilla Board of Directors, and the Executive Leadership team have a deep appreciation for how nonprofits seek to improve the quality of life in our community and plan to lead the organization to meet the needs of the Baby Boomer generation and help them age in place gracefully.

Vice President of Development, Sara Villanueva

Sara Villanueva is originally from Vermont and graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Human Services Administration from the University of Arizona. Sara began her career as the wellness coordinator for Emeritus Assisted Living at their corporate offices in Seattle, WA. After returning to Arizona for family and sunshine, Sara continued her career in the health and senior care field as Regional Director of Sales & Marketing for the United Healthcare hospice division. Most recently, prior to joining Benevilla, Sara was a Development Director with Sun Health Foundation for 6 years. As a Certified Fundraising Executive, Sara loves building relationships with donors and has a love for connecting their passions with Benevilla programs to make a true difference in the community.

Vice President of Program Operations, Courtney Allen

Courtney Allen is a native of Arizona. She went to Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri and graduated with a Masters Degree in Recreation Management and Double Bachelor’s Degree in Corporate Recreation and Recreation Management. Courtney has been working with Benevilla since she graduated with her Master’s Degree in 2006, where she started at the Restorative Life Enrichment Program as the Activity Therapist.

Director of Marketing, Taylor Gurney

Taylor Gurney was born in Omaha, Nebraska. She attended Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Cronkite School of Journalism. Previously, Taylor worked as the Marketing Manager for a small local business and started a freelance marketing and communications business servicing six different clients in the valley. With a passion for the non-profit sector and the world of communication, marketing and design, Taylor began working with Benevilla in early 2015 and looks forward to creating innovative ways to share the mission and impact of Benevilla with the community.

Director of Human Resource, Tricia Smith

Tricia Smith grew up in northwest Phoenix, Arizona.  After completing her studies in Business Administration at Intermountain Bible College, she began her career in human resources in 1980 as a Human Resource Specialist.

Tricia has worked in the engineering manufacturing field for over 27 years.  She has been an active member of the Society for Human Resources since 1995.

Benevilla Board of Directors

Conrad Graff
Board Chair

Shannon Arriola,
Board Vice Chair

Gary Frisch
Board Treasurer

Debbie Flores
Board Secretary

Delaine Donohue


John Bridgford

Merlyn Carlson

Arlene Dixson

Birt Kellam

Harriett Doolittle

Lora Johnson

Pastor Kim Sterner

Dick Stuckey

Patricia Lewis Finnell

Dr. Carol Struck

Larry Vering