Business Institute Faculty Bios

Business Institute Faculty Bios

Ms. Song began her professional career as a Financial Analyst at Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. in Burbank, California. Her main responsibilities included preparing and peer auditing financial statements for movies and television shows. Upon relocating to Arizona, she worked as a Staff Accountant for AAM, LLC. in Phoenix.  AAM provides property management services to homeowners associations and commercial properties.  Her main responsibility was preparing financial statements for HOA's. Her next position was a Senior Accountant for McLane Company, a grocery distributor in Goodyear, Arizona.  Her responsibilities included general ledger accounting and preparing the financial statements for the Sunwest Division. She made a career change to teaching at EMCC in 2010 and she's so happy she did! She teaches accounting and general business courses: ACC105, ACC111, ACC115, ACC121, ACC230, ACC240, GBS205 and GBS221. Ms. Song has a Bachelors in Business Administration with a Major in Finance from Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton, Fl. She earned her MBA upon relocating to Phoenix. She is writing her dissertation for her PhD in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction from Grand Canyon University. She currently lives in Goodyear with her daughter.

Ms. Davis-Ragland’s is in her 16th year at Estrella Mountain Community College engaging with students in the classroom, outside of the classroom and online.  Clarissa has taught and currently teaches Accounting/ACC, General Business/GBS, Management/MGT, and Society and Business (SBU200), courses. She has also enjoyed teaching Entrepreneurship (EPD), Customer Service Management (CSM), Leadership (LDR) and Small Business Management(SBS).  During her faculty tenure at EMCC, she has held several leadership roles (e.g. Division Chair- Occupational Education, Faculty Program Director for 1) Business Institute, 2) Honors Program, and 3) Phi Theta Kappa).  During the last 10 years, Clarissa has worked closely with students, faculty, staff and the Southwest Valley community to establish student success programming such as the Business Institute Orientation, Entrepreneur/DECA Club, Business Lab, SBS Shark Tank, VITA Internship, Accounting Honors section, Business Institute Advisory Board, and the Entrepreneur Club’s Small Business Expo & Marketplace.  Clarissa believes that: Together (students, faculty, staff, community), we make a critical connection with students, using academics and student success programming, to transform today's students into future leaders! Prior to her tenure at EMCC, Ms. Davis-Ragland was an employee, for more than a decade at the fortune 500 companies of Xerox Corporation (PA and VA) and American Express Company (AZ).  She also taught as adjunct faculty for Rio Salado Community College through a partnership with American Express. Ms. Davis-Ragland earned a Legal Assisting Certificate (CCL), Phoenix College, a B.S. Political Science, Arizona State University; M.B.A. Grand Canyon University and is in the 2nd year of her EdD - Higher Education Leadership and Management degree, at Walden University.  She is a recipient of the the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), a certified first level Toastmaster (CTM), alumni of the Hispanic Leadership Institute-West (HLI-W) and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Clarissa celebrates 32 years of marriage and the Ragland’s have two daughters, seven exceptional grandchildren, and two grand-dogs, Duke and Simba.  Ms. Davis-Ragland teaches accounting, general business, and management courses and is working on her doctorate.

Dr. Sylvia Ong's education and certifications include:  (1) Ed.D. in Higher Education & Leadership, (2) M.S. in Accounting, (3) M.B.A. with an emphasis in Finance, & (4) B.S. in Management.  The last two degrees are from A.S.U. (go Sun Devils!).  She was a C.P.A. for 12 years, but let it expire in 2016, since she no longer has time to practice accounting.  

Dr. Ong has taught, as both a residential and adjunct faculty, for over 30 years at six, different colleges within the Maricopa District and those six colleges are MCC, CGCC, SCC, GCC, PVCC, and now EMCC.  She found it interesting that each college has it's own unique organizational culture, but yet, all have the same mission of helping students reach their educational/workforce goals.  However, each college approaches that goal differently.  The four, different subject areas she has taught are: Accounting, General Business, Management, and Marketing. Her corporate work experience includes about 15 years of increasing responsibilities from being a bookkeeper to an accountant, a banker, and an entrepreneur of small businesses (rental property management and freelance educational writer), and most of this occurred concurrently while she taught as an adjunct faculty.  She currently teaches ACC111 - Principles of Accounting, ACC230 - Uses of Accounting Information I (both in-person & online), ACC240 - Uses of Accounting Information II, and GBS205 - Legal, Ethical, & Regulatory Issues in Business. Dr. Ong's instructional philosophy can be summed up in two words, "Students First."  She has always been and always will be student-centered.  Whatever she can do (within reason) to help students succeed and reach their educational goals, she will try to do.  As she tells students on Day 1, she will do what she can to help students learn, but they have to meet her at least halfway by studying, studying, and studying.  She thoroughly enjoys teaching and hopes it shows to everyone, not just the students. 

Mike Pineda, was hired as the newest residential Business Faculty. Prior to joining EMCC as a residential faculty member, Mike was employed as a small business analyst with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), located in EMCC's SouthWest Skill Center. Mike worked with individuals to develop and grow their business in the West Valley cities of Avondale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Buckeye, Glendale and Surprise. Mike was also an instructor at Rio Salado Community College as part of their Small Business Start Up program. Mike and his wife owned a small business from 2008 to 2012.  Mike is very involved in his community as he was elected to the Avondale city council in 2016. In addition, Mike serves on the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Economic Development Council, WESTMARC Board of Directors and is part of the Avondale Council Subcommittee for Boards & Commissions.  Mike holds certifications in Profit Mastery, GrowthWheel and as an SBDC Counselor. Mike has a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix and a Masters in Secondary Education from Grand Canyon University. Mike is also currently pursuing his MBA at Grand Canyon University with a projected graduation date of Feb 2021.  We look forward to having him share his entrepreneurial expertise with our students, faculty, and community members.

Dr. Joseph M. Blake Jr., completed his groundbreaking research in 2013 entitled, 'Financial Literacy's Influence on Faith Based Epistemology: A Case Study of Arizona Church Members.' The insights from this research led Dr. Blake to create an Actionable Financial Literacy Decision Model (AFDM), a design that helps organizations, their members, and individuals to maximize their full financial potential. In fact, he wrote an article based on his research and received "The Distinguished Paper Award' at the Mustang Journals International Academic Conference held in Las Vegas, NV on Feb 6, 2014. Also, he is an Investment Advisor Representative, a passion developed over an extensive 20-year career as a part-time and full-time advisor. He formed a team that cultivated more than $3.4 Million in assets combining more than 450 customer accounts. Dr. Blake is a Financial Administrative Specialist, (FAS) for the Department of Veteran Affairs. Dr. Blake is a subject matter expert for internal and external customers in operational issues and on exercising program responsibility. As a FAS, Dr. Blake reviews and interprets all aspects of complex benefits programs and payment functions to assess compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.  Judging the adequacy of internal controls and assists management regarding internal checks and balances.   Dr. Blake partnered with his wife and started a small business Blake Media LLC, in which they developed digital marketing strategies for small to mid-sized companies. In fact in 2012 BlakeMediaLLC sold a web-domain to Target Brands Inc., a Fortune 500 company!  Dr. Blake is a Veteran, served 12 years, ten months, and eleven days (someone was counting) in the United States Air Force as a Fire Protection Supervisor. During his tour of duty, he was awarded two US Air Force Achievement Medals for excellent performance and a US Air Force Commendation Medal for outstanding individual performance.  He currently teaches in our Small Business Management program, which is offered every Fall semester.  

Michelle Breaux has been at EMCC since August 2007 and currently teaches mathematics, introductory engineering, and Business Statistics for our business program.  Prior to teaching, she worked for Verizon Communications gaining experience as a telecommunications network engineer, an engineering project manager, and as a supervisor of facilities administration in the Outside Plant Construction department.  Ms. Breaux also worked as an intern in the Optoelectroncis Division at Hewlett-Packard in San Jose, California between her junior and senior years of college. Ms. Breaux​'s classes embrace creativity and require critical thinking, collaboration, and active student engagement on a daily basis.  Students in her classes learn by doing.  Ms. Breaux challenges students to discover and construct their own learning, to think for themselves, and to work together to understand concepts in the classroom as well as outside the classroom. Though many students struggle with math, she firmly believes all students can succeed in mathematics if they are willing to put in the hard work required to understand and master the concepts.

Rosalind Gaddy has 25 plus years of professional business experience; including managing her own business and leading business teams in the Financial Services Industry. Ms. Gaddy currently holds 8 different industry licenses in addition to having 2-Associate Degrees from Estrella Mountain Community College and a Bachelors Degree from Northern Arizona University.  One of Ms. Gaddy's goals is to have a Masters Degree accomplished by 2019 in the field of Business Management and Leadership.  Ms. Gaddy is also a University Counselor at Grand Canyon University in the Colangelo College of Business and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.   She teaches general business courses here at EMCC.  

  • Business Institute Adjunct Faculty at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC):
  • Lead Instructor for Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd – Supervisory Management
  • Lead Instructor for Albertson’s LLC Cohort - Retailing Management and Merchandising
  • Lead Instructor for EMCC/SWSC - Arizona’s Workplace Employability Standards
  • Lead Instructor for Small Business Success (SBS) Series - Development of Business Plans
  • Served as Club Advisor for the EMCC Entrepreneur Club.
  • Teaches Human Resource Management, Business Organization and Management, Small Business Marketing and Advertising, Internet Marketing for Small Business, Small Business Operations, and Small Business Customer Relations.
  • Military Veteran; retired from the United States Air Force:
  • Structural Training Instructor specializing in Air Base Operability Training
  • Provided annual combat support training to over 1,500 USAF active duty, Air National Guard and Reserve Civil Engineers for four consecutive years
  • Mentored hundreds of military personnel experiencing personal hardships, financial difficulty, and goal setting to align their personal and professional goals
  • Possess strong interpersonal, communication, leadership, and management skills

Fred’s business career spans over 50 years to include Banking (Branch Manager), Insurance (Life Insurance Sales), Hospitality (Resort Manager at the Wigwam Resort), and currently Education (Business Faculty).  Banking taught him about money; insurance, sales; hospitality, customer service and quality.  Education has given Fred the opportunity to impart his experiences in business to students who have a desire to become managers and entrepreneurs in their own right. Fred’s education credentials include B.S. in Marketing and M.B.A. from Arizona State University and M.Ed. from Northern Arizona University.  He also is a product of the Maricopa Community College system earning an A.A.S. in Middle Management from Glendale Community College.  All of his educational pursuits were as a working adult. After teaching as a Residential Faculty at EMCC for more than 23 years, Fred retired in 2017.  He returned in the spring of 2018 as an Adjunct Faculty member.  Currently he is a full time faculty member for the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020 (aka – One Year Only).  Fred has taught a wide array of business courses over his tenure at EMCC to include Accounting, General Business, Hospitality, Small Business Marketing and Customer Service.  The enjoyment of teaching is “connecting the dots” of classroom learning to the “real world.”  EMCC’s credo, “Your Success is Our Success” has endured and is the primary reason for his returning to Estrella to share his successes and failures.

Joseph Pizzillo moved to Arizona from Maryland in the summer of 1986. Actually, he was in Arizona for a business trip in March prior to the move and fell in love with the state. Mr. Pizzillo has over 25 years of professional experience within the world of accounting and finance. Dr. Pizzillo's experience ranges from being a Chief Tax Auditor for a local government to a Budget and Research Manager for the City of Goodyear. Most of his experience is in the state or local government arena. All of Mr. Pizzillo's post high school degrees were earned by going to school at night. He has a BS in Accounting and an MBA. Mr. Pizzillo's hobbies include going to the movies, playing golf and riding his motorcycle. Mr. Pizzillo truly enjoys sharing his experiences and knowledge with those seeking career and educational growth.  Mr. Pizzillo teaches mostly accounting classes during the days and on Saturdays.

Stephen Scott is currently the Compliance Manager, Civil Rights Division, Office of the Attorney General. He manages Compliance Officers who investigate allegations of discrimination in the Employment, Housing, Public Accommodation and Arizonans with Disabilities Act areas. For more than 25 years, Mr. Scott has been a supervisor, leader, mentor and manager of people and resources in the Military and Public sectors. His focus is on people and he is a recognized problem-solver. He is a Military Veteran; retired from the United States Air Force.  Mr. Scott teaches general business and management courses.  

Brian Gill earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA) Degree in Finance from The University of Iowa and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) Degree from DePaul University in Accounting. Also, Mr. Gill is a licensed CPA in Arizona and has over twenty years of experience in the accounting field. In addition to being a member of the EMCC faculty, he is also currently employed as a Senior Financial Analyst at a large healthcare company in the valley.  Mr. Gill is originally from the Chicago-land area, but voluntarily relocated to Phoenix in 1999 to enjoy the warmer weather. Mr. Gill has been married for 18 years and they have a teenage daughter and 3 cats. Mr. Gill enjoys playing tennis and listening to music. Mr. Gill teaches evening accounting classes.

Ms. Kristjana Richter has been teaching a variety of Business and Accounting courses over the past 10 years for several educational institutions. Prior to and during that time she has been a small business owner as well as spent several years doing taxes. She has a Bachelors in Business Administration with a focus in Finance and Accounting as well as a Masters in Management Marketing. During her time at EMCC, she has developed the following courses: GBS233 Business Communication, MKT110 Marketing & Social Networking, and SBS204 - Small Business Marketing and Advertising. Her goal as an educator is to foster learning. She does this by not only teaching information but by changing the way students think and learn by creating curiosity. She is very passionate about teaching and feels this carries over to her students by getting them excited about learning. She has taught the following courses at EMCC: GBS151 - Introduction to Business, GBS250 - Legal & Ethical & Regulatory Issues in Business, GBS233 - Business Communication, ACC111 - Accounting Principles I, ACC230 - Uses of Accounting Information I, ACC240 - Uses of Accounting Information II, MKT100 - Marketing & Social Networking, MKT271 - Principles of Marketing, & SBU200 - Society & Business.

Monica Sul has over 20 years in the financial services industry. She has had many roles during her career which include customer service, employee training, and several years as a team leader. The current position she holds is a Quality Assurance Advisor where she ensures accuracy of transactions and helps to ensure state and regulatory rules are followed. Monica received her BA in Communications from Arizona State University, and an MBA with Emphasis in Leadership from Grand Canyon University. Monica holds several licenses from FINRA and several professional Designations from Life Office Management Association, Inc. In 2020 Monica obtained her Anti Money Laundering certification.

Monica started teaching at Estrella Mountain Community College in 2012 in the Behavioral Sciences Dept where she taught Communication and Public Speaking. She later started teaching in the Occupational Education division where she taught General Business, Legal and Business Ethics, Business Math and Communication in the Workplace. Monica was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to develop online courses during her time in the Occupational division. Monica’s passion is education and truly enjoys teaching.

Ms. Paula Livingston began her professional career as a Unit Manager working for Citigroup in the Credit Card Division. She was responsible for the creation and posting of daily, month-end and correcting journal entries for credit card payments. She was also responsible for compliance with account principles and standards for the department. In addition to that she worked with Merchant Sales, handling all transactions and needs of the company using credit cards issued by Citigroup.

Upon relocating to Arizona, she switched to the Mortgage Industry and managed all business operations for the company in addition to processing mortgage loans.

After spending some time at home with her small child, she switched careers entirely and moved into higher education. Ms. Livingston started as a Secretary at Scottsdale Community College and used her accounting background to balance all of the accounts handled out of the administration office, prepared budgets, created forecasts and assisted with strategic financial planning for the college. Her role expanded there and she began working with the Accreditation Process, College Strategic Planning, Compliance, Grants, and Workforce Development.

In 2018 she became the Dean of Instruction at Estrella Mountain Community College working closely with the following divisions: Math, Physical Science, Life Science, Instructional Computing, Nursing, and Occupational Education (STEM, Nursing & Allied Health, CTE programs)

She is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. In Spring 2019, she taught her first face-to-face accounting class and absolutely fell in love with teaching.

She has a beautiful daughter who lives in Gilbert with her husband who had their first baby this year. She enjoys being a Glam-ma.

Ms. Quinn began her career in accounting fifteen years ago at a small firm in Michigan. She expanded her horizons by practicing accounting in 5 different states (Michigan, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Arizona). She worked in many facets of public accounting such as tax preparation, financial statement preparation and financial analysis and reporting.

Upon relocation to Arizona, she co-founded and owned a construction company in 2013 and held the title of Chief Financial Officer until January 2017.

With lessons learned from my earlier accounting experiences, She was able to launch and operate two successful private accounting practices serving individuals, local businesses and nonprofit organizations.

She is thrilled to teach at EMCC to help, not only business majors, but anyone with the potential of owning their own business and assisting students to better understand the business financial environment. A fundamental understanding of accounting will be very beneficial to anyone operating in the business world.

She currently lives in Buckeye, AZ with her family.

Najmah has worked for Maricopa Community Colleges since 2004 serving in many roles, and on many committees. Currently, she works for Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) as an Instructional Designer/Technologist. She provides technology training and support to faculty and staff. Additionally, Najmah assists in overseeing the design and development of new and existing courses.

Prior to working for EMCC, Najmah worked at Rio Salado College for 10 years as the Coordinator of Distance Learning where she led multiple teams in the Course Production department. Additionally, she worked in the Grants department where she was responsible for locating funding opportunities for the college.

She’s also been an adjunct faculty since 2007 teaching in the Instructional Computing and Business division. Najmah has a finance and banking background as well. She’s worked for Macy's credit department for many years, as well as Charles Schwab.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading and most importantly, spending time with her 2 daughters.

Dr. Heather Weber brings over 19 years of higher education experience to her role as Vice President of Administrative Services at Estrella Mountain Community College. As the Chief Financial and Operations Officer, Dr. Weber provides executive-level leadership for the college’s Administrative Services functions including Business Services, Facilities Management, Human Resources, Information Technology Services, Auxiliary Services, and College Police. Prior to her role as Vice President, Dr. Weber served as a Dean of Workforce, Math-Science. As an instructional leader for both credit and clock-hour programs, her leadership efforts focused on the development and implementation of structured pathways and transfer programs that meet regional economic and workforce needs. Her areas of responsibility included programs such as Energy, Networking Technologies, Nursing, Public Safety, Cybersecurity, Computer Science, Culinary, Teacher Education, Business, Science, Math, Physics, and Engineering. Dr. Weber has conducted extensive research on classroom design and student engagement in post-secondary institutions. and serves as a national speaker and writer on the subject of how classroom design contributes to student learning and engagement. She holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.