About Just Communities Arizona

What is Just Communities Arizona?

Just Communities Arizona (An initiative of the East Valley Community Foundation, a 501c3), is a volunteer, non-profit organization founded to make the practice of inclusion and justice a reality for all members of our communities.

We believe that each of us has the ability and the responsibility to listen, learn and advocate for justice and inclusion for all people.

Just Communities Arizona honors other organizations that advocate for specific causes and issues related to social justice and sees its role to convene, collaborate and cross-communicate to amplify energy toward solutions across groups.


To support the development of just and inclusive communities within our community and state by:

  • convening people on issues of the day,
  • providing opportunities to learn from each other and develop skills in working across differences,
  • providing a voice for the community related to issues of social justice.

Core Values

In alignment with our mission and vision, JCA’s Core Values are…

  1. Inclusion. We CREATE spaces and places where people from all backgrounds feel engaged and supported. We BELIEVE that inclusion exists when people accept, respect, and value differences.
  2. Integrity. We ACT with honesty and authenticity in all that we do. We EMBODY the practices that we teach.
  3. Effectiveness. With our partners, clients, and other stakeholders, we DESIGN clear and definitive goals. We ACHIEVE those goals in efficient, demonstrable ways.
  4. Relevance. We SEEK current and relatable information that is worth sharing. We SUSTAIN dialogue with communities across the Commonwealth, to keep our work grounded and visionary.
  5. Openness. We DEMONSTRATE transparency, clarity, and honesty. We WELCOME inquiries, ideas, and feedback.

Collaborative Activities

  • Concert Across America to End Gun Violence
  • Unarmed: Valley Voices on Deadly Force Community Forums

Meet Our Team

Rory Gilbert

Executive Director

Meet Rory

Rory Gilbert, M.Ed., SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides diversity, communication and workplace effectiveness consultation, facilitation and training locally and nationally.  She is a certified professional coach and mediator trained in interest-based problem resolution. Rory worked with the Maricopa Community Colleges providing strategic direction to Maricopa’s diversity, inclusiveness and engagement efforts. Rory also served as executive director of the Arizona Region of The National Conference for Community and Justice collaborating with other social justice advocates in Arizona to address racism, hate crimes, white supremacy and health care disparities. 

Matthew C. Whitaker

Co-Founder and Executive Team member 

Meet Matt

Dr. Matthew C. Whitaker is a Co-Founder and Executive Team member of Just Communities Arizona, the Founder and CEO of the Diamond Strategies, LLC (DSC), Editor-in-Chief of MCUVO!CE – MyClickUrban, and the 2016 Arizona Diversity Leadership Alliance (DLA) Diversity and Inclusion Leader Award winner.  He is decorated educator, historian, author, activist, motivational speaker, and founder of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, winner of the 2014 DLA Inclusive Workplace Award, at Arizona State University.  He can be followed here and on Twitter at @Dr_Whitaker and @MCUVOICE, and DSC can be followed on Twitter at @dstategiesllc.

Ramiro “Ray” Villa

Founding Member

Meet Ray

Ramiro “Ray” Villa has been with the Mesa Police Department for over 6 years as the Community Partnership Administrator and is the department’s liaison to the City of Mesa’s Human Relations Advisory Board. He currently oversees the Community Engagement Division and has had other management positions in Mesa and other communities. Ray is a retired Police Lieutenant for the City of Chandler Police Department where he served for 21 years. He was a crisis negotiator for the SWAT Team for 18 yrs. and served most of his career in criminal investigations.

Mary Berumen

Co-Founder and Executive Team member 

Meet Mary

Mary Berumen, BS, provides mentoring and organizational assistance to executive directors of small nonprofit programs, small businesses and organizations. Assist with board development and governance, fundraising, qualitative analysis of programs, employee relations, cultural competency assessment and training. She has worked extensively with municipalities including the City of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa, Arizona in training, diversity, housing and community building.  She has post-graduate training in organizational development and certification and training in mediation, cultural competency, board management, ADA and housing. 


Recent Blog Posts

The latest from Just Communities Arizona.

Making Sense and Making A Difference

In today’s polarized society, this event provides an opportunity to meet with people from across the valley to understand more about who we are and how we see the world in safe and honest conversation. Date: May 17, 2017 Time: 6:30pm - 8:30pm Venue: Mesa Police Fiesta...

Don't Be Shy. Get In Touch.

If you are interested in working with us, send us a message, and we will get back to you as soon as we can!

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