About the Nexus

Based in ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, the Action Nexus on Homelessness is a team dedicated to connecting efforts across siloed systems and agencies in Maricopa County in order to improve service delivery and maximize effectiveness, bringing ASU resources to bear in the pursuit of lasting solutions.  

The good news is, agencies working toward ending homelessness in Maricopa County are already collaborating. The Human Services Campus and its partner agencies are a national model in collective impact. However, there is room for greater communication, alignment and shared action among the diverse agencies needed to solve housing and healthcare insecurity.

The Action Nexus’s task is to connect existing efforts, identify opportunities for system alignment, boost existing efforts and identify opportunities for new solutions, engaging ASU in research and applied solutions. We are currently asking providers what training could help to boost the quality of service provision. If you have a project you would like to work on with ASU, please contact us.

Contact: actionnexus@asu.edu

Who we are

Shana Ellis headshot

Shana Ellis, Executive Director

Shana Ellis has more than 25 years of experience in non-profit management in the areas of aging, disabilities, fundraising and incubation of new programs.  Most recently, she was a Vice President of Programs and Services at Area Agency on Aging in Phoenix, Arizona, overseeing programs that enable seniors to enrich their quality of life and remain as independent as possible.

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Prior to her work at Area Agency, she was the President/CEO of The Centers for Habilitation, helping individuals with disabilities through employment, housing, transportation and socialization programs.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems/Business and a master’s degree in Public Administration, both from Arizona State University. She has served on many non-profit boards that focus on youth, transportation, disabilities, leadership aging and homelessness.

Additionally, Shana served eight years on the Tempe City Council, with two years as Vice Mayor. She is a graduate of Valley Leadership, has received the Don Carlos Humanitarian Award for community service and was honored by the Phoenix Business Journal as an Outstanding Woman in Business.

Krickette Wetherington headshot

Christine “Krickette” Wetherington, Project Manager

Christine "Krickette" Wetherington joined Watts College after serving more than three years as a Director of Community Impact at Valley of the Sun United Way, where among her responsibilities was the oversight the organization’s work in ending homelessness on both the individual and systemic levels.

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Prior to United Way, Krickette spent 2 ½ years as executive director of Hope Village Arizona, an intentional intergenerational community of children adopted out of the foster care system, their families and active seniors. Her work experience also includes four years as executive director of the Gilbert Community Action Network, and nearly eight years before that as director of programs for Community Services of Arizona, Inc.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree in Social Work from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Additionally, Krickette was a 2019 fellow in ASU’s Knowledge Exchange for Resilience program and a graduate of the American Express Leadership Academy at ASU. She has served on several non-profit boards that focus on anti-poverty programs, homelessness and community development, as well as the National Association of Social Workers, Arizona Branch and Gilbert Leadership Program.

What we do

Creating the conditions for everyone to thrive means that we all need to work together. When it comes to preventing and ending people’s homelessness, that means government agencies, nonprofits, neighborhood associations, businesses and others working across such diverse areas as shelter, health, education, employment, transportation, criminal justice and community development, need to collaborate on solutions.

There are currently numerous councils, committees and task forces whose mission is to share information, discuss potential solutions and plan joint effort. However, member agencies’ scarce resources are already devoted to the complex work of serving the homeless on a day-to-day basis. It is not uncommon to find a month has passed between such meetings and when participants reconvene, nothing has progressed. If we are to see any action to come from these collaborations, it needs to be somebody’s job to drive its progress. There need to be resources specifically allocated to the mundane work of coordination and secretariat to link and join across sectors.

Somebody — a team or person — needs to be accountable for moving on the agreed actions. In short, improvements in the state of homelessness in Maricopa County demand a dramatic boost to system capacity.

We leverage the convening power of the Maricopa County Regional Continuum of Care, the Governor’s Goal Council for Homelessness, the Phoenix Community Alliance Housing and Social Advancement Committee, and the Greater Phoenix Leadership Council Affordable Housing and Homelessness Committee, to name a few, and serve as a neutral backbone organization.

The Watts College Action Nexus shares information and coordinates across these groups, identifies opportunities for system alignment, provides policy analysis, harmonizes data, provides training to boost the quality of service provision, and applies ASU’s resources to co-creating solutions. Further, we support the Human Services Campus as the critical entity addressing homelessness in central Phoenix.

We know that ending homelessness requires diverse agencies to work together, and that collaborating requires resources. The Watts College Action Nexus (the Nexus) connects the dots among supporting agencies to work together to end homelessness in Maricopa County. We believe that together can transform the opportunity ecosystem of Arizona into a national model for ending homelessness.


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