Meet the Nina Scholars Staff


 Maricopa Scholarship Coordinator: 
Leona Morales (480) 731-8460

  IUPUI Program Director: 
Charles Johnson (317) 278-7878

 Ivy Tech Program Manager: 
Andrea Thomas (317) 921-4617

Jo Ann Martinez

Program Director
(480) 965-6495 | (602) 496-1771 |

Jo Ann López Martínez grew up in Parker, AZ.  She attended Arizona State University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a minor in Chicana/o Studies followed by a Master of Education degree in Higher Education.  Her first professional experience led her to work as a Program Advisor at Mesa Community College where she also briefly taught Introduction to Chicano Studies and Sociology of the Chicano Community.  Later, she returned to ASU and led the Barrett Summer Scholars program,  a summer residential camp for gifted Arizona middle school students, then as a liaison for ASU Preparatory Academy Phoenix, a charter school in partnership with ASU, and followed by serving as the Program Director of the Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program. Currently, she supports students of the ASU Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars program.  She looks forward to making an impact on future first generation college students, their families, and their communities, and on continuing my crusade in promoting higher education!  She is married and has two children.  She recently completed a Doctor of Education degree in Leadership and Innovation from ASU.

Cynthia Alaffa 

Graduate Student Worker 
(480) 727-6561 & (602) 496-2646 |

Cynthia Alaffa was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She recently graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Social work as a first-generation student from Arizona State University. During her undergraduate years, she had the pleasure of being involved as an ASU Nina Scholar and ASU Bridging Success student worker. As a student worker, she worked as a peer mentor, assisting students on the transition into the university setting. She enjoyed connecting with the students and helping them understand how to overcome the challenges they would face as college students. As an ASU Nina Scholar she had the privilege of sitting on the advisory board council allowing her to grow and develop her leadership skills. Sitting on the board also allowed her to provide insight and feedback from a scholar’s perspective, helping the program grow and improve.

Cynthia is currently a Master of Social Work Advanced Standing student in the Policy Administration and Community Practice concentration. She hopes to soon add the Master of Higher Education to her portfolio as well. Her focus is on create innovative programming for that helps high school students succeed in high school and beyond. Cynthia is passionate about educating herself on the different issues and needs of the community she serves. She also has a passion for creating change for underprivileged youth who do not have a voice of their own. She is expected to graduate in May of 2020 with her Master’s in Social Work and December of 2020 with her Master’s in Higher Education.


 Tiffany Thornhill

Graduate Student Worker 
Nina Scholars Course Instructor 
(480) 727-6561 & (602) 496-2646 | 

Tiffany Thornhill was born and raised in Portland Oregon, moving to Arizona in July of 2011. She received an Associate’s Degree from Glendale Community College, and her Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Arizona State University. Tiffany has a strong passion for policy, advocacy, racial injustice, behavioral health, mental illness, substance abuse, and those living with dual diagnoses. As an undergraduate intern, she provided case management and supportive services for the City of Phoenix housing department. While there she gained valuable knowledge and experience about working 1 on 1 and in group settings with clients. She ran a mindfulness and progressive relaxation group for senior citizens in the Senior Housing Village. The goal of the group was to equip them with meditation skills to foster, cultivate, and maintain their inner peace.

During Tiffany’s undergraduate journey she was both a Maricopa Nina Scholar (Cohort 15) and an ASU Nina Scholar (Cohort 17). She is now working as a Graduate Assistant for the ASU Nina Scholars Program. Tiffany is currently in the Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Adult Direct Practice Program, as well as, the Master of Public Administration Program at Arizona State University, and is set to graduate in May of 2021. Tiffany will be completing 2 internships during her graduate degree program at ASU. She is interning with a local human trafficking agency, assisting African survivors of human and sex trafficking. As well as, interning with Native American Connections - Patina Wellness Center, working with clients overcoming mental illness and substance use.

Tiffany is passionate about being a voice for anyone being oppressed, especially those experiencing oppression for the way they were born, and those living with mental illness. It is Tiffany’s belief that no one should have to suffer behind choices they did not make for themselves. Tiffany is determined to: BE THE SOLUTION!