Vicky Derksen – President
Vicky grew up under dark skies in the panhandle of northern Idaho where she remembers frequently seeing the Northern Lights and the trail of the Milky Way. She moved to North Phoenix in 1995 where the only remarkable thing she remembered seeing in the sky was Comet Hale-Bopp. She moved to Fountain Hills with her husband in 1997 where her two children were born, raised, and homeschooled. During their high school years, she taught naked-eye astronomy to a class of 18 teenage students in the local homeschool group. Vicky is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Fountain Hills Leadership Academy in 2016. She serves on the boards of the International Dark Sky Discovery Center and the Fountain Hills Cultural & Civic Association. She has also served as a Sister Cities Advisory Commissioner with the Town. She is the author of the blog Night Sky Tourist and is the host of the podcast by the same name.
John Craft- Vice President
John is a native Arizonan who returned to his home state 24 years ago and settled in Fountain Hills. He has a BS/MBA and devoted his professional life leading business and strategic planning in the health services industry. Since his retirement, John has been involved in numerous community civic and social projects, including FH Pickleball Club (co-founder), Vision Fountain Hills (co-chair), Leadership Academy (co-chair), Town of FH Strategic Planning Advisory Commission (7 years and 3 years as Chair), and volunteered at two Dark Sky Festivals. John’s motivation for joining FHDSA is driven by his ongoing interest in preserving our community’s natural environment which includes sustaining our International Dark Sky Community designation, and raising community awareness and support for the future of dark skies in Fountain Hills.
DJ Willard- Treasurer
DJ moved to Fountain Hills with his wife Karen upon retirement in 2010. Growing up in a very dark, rural area of New York on the Canadian border exposed him to the beauty of the Milky Way and shooting stars. After a career in strategic planning and business analysis, DJ’s interest in astronomy and dark skies was only fully realized after retirement. Two Astronomy classes at Scottsdale Community College, the purchase of an 8” SCT, and being a member of the East Valley Astronomy Club has kept him busy with the stars since. DJ and his wife are active hikers and also enjoy golf. The hiking led him to fall in love with the Grand Canyon. He has hiked the Grand Canyon multiple times, and always enjoys the “extra” stars in that sky. DJ is active in the community of Fountain Hills as a member of the Trailblazers, helping to build the wonderful trail network in the FH Preserve. He also serves as a Commissioner on the McDowell Mountain Preserve Commission for the Town of Fountain Hills. He has assisted with the Christmas Poinsettia Tree project in each of the last two years. DJ attended the Fountain Hills Leadership Academy in 2019. He is currently working with other members to organize the upcoming FHLA Class.
Cynthia Magazine – Secretary
Cynthia moved to Fountain Hills in 2006 after years of contribution in other cities across the country. She worked in management at Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, CA, Kaiser Permanente and United Health Care in Washington, D.C., and was a volunteer and board member for Habitat for Humanity. While living in Alexandria, Virginia, she founded the Habitat for Humanity ReStore there. Since moving to Fountain Hills, she became the co-founder and co-chair of the Fountain Hills Liberal Ladies, served as president of the Fountain Hills Friends of the Library, and graduated from Class 2 of the Fountain Hills Leadership Academy. She also formed and chaired a 20-member Political Action Committee, Save our Town, after creating a project for the Leadership Academy. Cynthia is also a Commissioner for the Strategic Planning Advisory Commission.
Scott Adams – Past President
After completing a 31-year career in petroleum exploration with Chevron Corporation, Scott and his wife Diana retired to Salida, Colorado in 2006. There, he volunteered on local theater, radio station, and science organization boards, and for five years managed a collaboration with the
Colorado Symphony (Denver) to bring classical music to Salida. In another “universe,” appreciating the sensational night skies of rural Colorado, Scott took up the hobby of astronomy, purchased telescopes, and volunteered as an evening astronomy host at a local viewing site. He enjoys sharing “backyard” astronomy experiences with the public. Scott and Diana moved to Fountain Hills in May 2018 to be closer to family and grandchildren in Phoenix. Fountain Hills’ status as an International Dark Sky community was a key factor in choosing this community. Scott is enthusiastic about the FH Dark Sky Association’s mission and is honored to be a board member.
Peter was born and raised in Pennsylvania, attending Penn State University where he earned a degree in BioMedical Equipment Repair. He moved to Arizona at the age of 21 with big dreams and little money in his pocket. Twenty-seven years later, he considers himself a true Arizonan. He is a husband and a proud father of two boys. He has dedicated his entire adult working career to his job at HonorHealth in the BioMedical Engineering Department. He is a musician at heart and has played many large shows where he loves to entertain. His favorite family activity is camping and pulling out the telescope on clear nights to check out the stars and planets. Peter can specifically remember tearing up the first time I saw Jupiter and Saturn. He is committed to helping our skies darker once again!
Joe has been a resident of Fountain Hills since 1987. He actively participated in the effort to obtain voter approval for incorporation, which led to his appointment to the first Town Council in 1990. His professional career was in health care administration and he has served in many different volunteer leadership roles in Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, and Phoenix. He served as an Adjunct Professor at ASU and taught strategic planning in their Masters program, authored the book Climbing the Ladder Less Traveled, and claims that his 15 minutes of fame was when he was bitten by a rattlesnake. Ever since his first telescope as a Christmas present in sixth grade and his later attendance at astronomy camps, he has appreciated the wonders of the nighttime universe and the beautiful skies above Fountain Hills. In October 2017, Joe was recognized as a Dark Sky Defender by the International Dark Sky Association, one of only five named internationally per year.
Nancy has always appreciated being able to see a beautiful night sky whether it was while growing up in Wisconsin, living in the country in Minnesota while working at Mayo Clinic, camping in the Southwest, or living in Fountain Hills for 30 years. Although her careers as a lab manager and later as a CPA kept her busy, she usually found time to volunteer for various organizations and causes such as co-chairing the effort to bring a high school to Fountain Hills. Now that she is retired, she is devoting her time to her love of the dark skies by helping to preserve them in Fountain Hills and by frequently enjoying night viewing. She loves being reminded that no matter what happens during the day, the wonders of the universe are there every night. In October 2017, Nancy was recognized as a Dark Sky Defender by the International Dark Sky Association, one of only five named internationally per year.
Ted began to be passionate about amateur astronomy when he first saw the moons of Jupiter through a telescope from the high, clear air of the Sierra Nevada mountains. He is a past President of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society and is currently a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. He was the first to receive the 250-hour award pin for public outreach from the Sidewalk Astronomers of America, a nationwide public service organization. After purchasing a home in Fountain Hills, he co-founded the Fountain Hills Astronomy Club and continues to help organize their monthly public viewing sessions in Centennial Circle.
Jeff retired in 2017 after 38 years in the field of building technology automation. Originally from the Chicago area, his career opportunities allowed him to live in a half dozen US locations. Always interested in the night sky, each move (mostly west) seemed to give him a little better view of the stars and a rising interest in knowing more about them. But it wasn’t until he moved to Arizona that the heavens really opened up. So much that soon after arriving in Tucson in 2006, he made his first astronomy investment by purchasing a 6” SCT. Entertaining family and friends with the rings of Saturn or the moons of Jupiter is always great fun and Fountain Hills is the perfect place to do that. He and his wife Barb arrived here in 2012 and love living here and the town’s commitment to preserving the dark skies. Jeff is currently active with a number of local organizations and is especially excited to be a part of the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association and the opportunity to continue the great work done to date but eager to be a part of future endeavors.
Mark grew up in Phoenix and Tucson, moving to Fountain Hills in 1997 for his job as an educator. After ten years of working in the energy-efficient lighting industry, he started his own company, Dirk Brothers Custom Lighting & Electric. While doing business in Flagstaff in 2014, Mark grew interested in learning about lighting that met Dark Sky standards. Living in Fountain Hills and learning classical astronomy with his children developed his deep love for the night sky. He is committed to helping preserve our dark skies in Fountain Hills for his children and future grandchildren.
Lisa has dedicated much of her life to the education, inspiration, and entertainment of others about the natural world. As an avid birder and naturalist, Lisa understands the importance of maintaining dark skies for owls, bats, and other native wildlife. After moving to Fountain Hills with her young family in 1993, Lisa has fond memories of waking her daughters at 2 am and, bundled against the cold with hot chocolate in hand, watching meteor showers from the comfort of her own backyard. Lisa is thrilled to continue her conservation efforts as a member of the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association to keep our sky dark for other children to experience and enjoy.
Dave Perry has been a science and space buff his entire life. He started by looking through telescopes at an early age and building and flying model planes and rockets, to supporting high-tech companies building aviation and space products over a 30-year career. His experience also includes marketing and technical presentations to professional and public audiences on a variety of technical and marketing products. Dave now resides in Fountain Hills and is able to pursue a better understanding of the heavens and share that with others through stargazing nights and community programs. He has his own telescope and will be adding space photography to his repertoire. He was recently selected as a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.
Staten Island NY native Tony Pistilli began his interest in astronomy during his university studies, graduating from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1973 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering & Applied Mechanics and later a Master’s in Business from Rensselaer Hartford in 1980. After his wife Sandy bought him a telescope—a Criterion 6” Newtonian Reflector with Clock Drive— he began exploring the night skies in Vernon, CT on COLD, minus 20-degree nights, shooting his first photos of the planets. Tony’s career path next moved to Phoenix with an assignment to help America West Airlines build its maintenance program and manage its fleet expansions into the Pacific and European markets. During this time, Tony’s love for astronomy grew. Upon retiring to Fountain Hills in 2007, Tony picked up his 10” Orion Newtonian Reflector and began serious viewing of our Dark Skies, and converted his home to Dark Skies standard lighting. Tony has always been an active volunteer in his communities. Here in Fountain Hills, he volunteers with Junior Achievement and the Boys and Girls Club and is a current and past president of the Rotary Club of Fountain Hills. Tony is also a “Purple Jacket Navigator” at Sky Harbor Airport and a member of Mesa’s Commemorative Air Force.
Past Board Members:
- Debbie Clason
- Clayton Corey
- Craig Gimbel
- Don Harvel
- Jackie Miles
- Jerry Miles
- Lisa Miller
- Kim Robertson
- Jay Schlum