SANFP E25: Linda Laird and Ashlie Counts-Jenkins

Barbara hosts two well known hard working Tucson personalities for this episode. Two women working to solve local important causes. Linda Laird for the marvellous ‘Books for Classrooms’ and Ashlie Counts-Jenkins from the Assistance League Tucson Chapter. There are 126 chapters across America. Both organizations do an amazing job for school children albeit books, clothing or a million other things.

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Barbara hosts two well known hard working Tucson personalities for this episode. Two women working to solve local important causes. Linda Laird for the marvellous ‘Books for Classrooms’ and Ashlie Counts-Jenkins from the Assistance League Tucson Chapter. There are 126 chapters across America. Both organizations do an amazing job for school children albeit books, clothing or a million other things.

About ~ Linda Laird 

Books for Classrooms 

Linda Laird was born and raised in Wichita Kansas. She graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology and History from the University of Arizona after rearing four children. 

Laird moved to Tucson in 1971. She became an active community organizer; founding and coordinating the West University Neighborhood Assoc. and working to Bring Back the Trolley; serving on the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission and Tucson Planning Commission.  

She started an historic preservation consulting firm in Tucson in 1982 which worked in a multi-state area. 

In 1989 Laird moved to the City of Hutchinson in her home state of Kansas and served as a city planner and member of the city council. After several years of snow birding, Green Valley became her home nine years ago. 

In her spare time, she writes books about the history of grain elevators. 

Books for Classrooms, is an emerging, all volunteer, non-profit working to improve literacy for children from Kindergarten through 12th grade by providing FREE educator-reviewed, relevant, age-appropriate books that encourage an understanding of diversity, peace, social justice, and the environment to district public schools at no charge. In just three years, Books for Classrooms has provided 47,240 books on diversity, peace, bullying, social justice and the environment to 680 teachers’ classrooms and 31 school libraries whose 18,806 students now see themselves every day in books in their classrooms. 

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Company Phone: (520) 393-0623 

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About ~ Ashlie Counts-Jenkins 

President ALT 

Assistance League of Tucson is a 501(c)(3) public charity that has been serving the Tucson community since 1959.  

We are a member volunteer organization with over 320 members. Last year, we donated over 54,000 hours helping Tucson. We strive to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture that ensures every person belongs, is respected, and is valued as an individual. 

I have been gainfully employed a few times throughout the years – as a budget analyst for the Department of the Navy and part-time in a few different jobs.  

I have volunteered wherever we lived; copy editor/contributing writer for a Navy wives magazine, Wives Club treasurer (twice), PTA treasurer, Parliamentarian, Cub Scout Den leader, teaching English Smocking and Heirloom sewing, Soccer team manager, Ombudsman Coordinator and Editor of the Ombudsman Journal for Naval Services Family Line and Publicity Chairman for the Navy-Marine Corps Ball in Washington, DC.  
I recently finished a term as a Director on the National Assistance League board. 

Ashlie Counts-Jenkins 

COMPANY PHONE (520) 326-8452 






Barbara McClure, Executive Director  
IMPACT of Southern Arizona 
3535 E Hawser Street 
TucsonAZ  85739                                                    
Phone: 520-825-0009

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Barbara McClure wakes up each morning passionate about going to work at a place that improves lives and inspires futures every day! She has been the Executive Director of a Tucson social service nonprofit called IMPACT of Southern Arizona, for ten years. What is it that keeps you passionate about your role Barbara?

Barbara has been a visionary and planner with decades of experience as a small business owner and in nonprofit leadership; her innovative ideas and strategic thinking, along with a talent for bringing the community together, has helped grow IMPACT five-fold in a very short time. Her talents and interests are diverse but all center around helping people, improving the community, bolstering education, building capacity and sustainability, being vocal about the rights and conditions of others, experiencing art, nurturing all inhabitants of your garden, and enjoying life to the fullest. 

And now Barbara is about to experience another exciting chapter in her life with hosting a brand-new Radio Show Podcast here on the Tucson Business RadioX Network starting in November. 

IMPACT of Southern Arizona is a 20 – year old social service nonprofit stabilizing families and seniors, and moving people out of poverty. IMPACT’s programs are designed to stretch household budgets so earned income can be spent on necessities such as improved housing conditions, fuel to get to work, utilizes, and needed medical attention and prescriptions.  Its clients are your neighbors! People come to IMPACT because it is a welcoming place where they are always treated with dignity and respect, and where they find resources, referrals, coaching, and help to attain the skills that can move them forward into self-sufficiency. 

Barbara grew up in Pasadena CA, moved to Long Beach for college, got married and started our family then moved to Seattle area ten years later. Took our youngest son on an 11-month motorhome trip to get to Tucson – Homeschooled for 10th grade. 

We vacationed at a rustic cabin when I was growing up, where we had no phone or television; and spent all our time outside fishing, hiking, horseback riding, listening to old radio shows, playing pool, reading comic books from the local small grocer, and using our imaginations all day long. I always admired the superheroes who defended people and cities like Gotham and Metropolis, so when our three boys were born, we named them after familiar character: Colin (Bryce for an overlay of Bruce Wayne, Kent, and Parker. Our first grandchild was born last year, and as in the family tradition, named Logan, after the Wolverine. I used to always tell them they were my superheroes – and they still are today! 

Barbara loves working with numbers and has always loved math and the organization of things, so accounting seemed perfect, but I soon realized that I if I became a CPA I would have to spend many months inside doing tax returns, and that did not appeal to me as a long–term career! I have a great imagination and enjoy creating things, so thought I should find a better path that might nurture that side of my personality. I was working in the shipping industry in SoCal at the time and fell in love with import and export, so shifted my majors to Marketing and International Business. Those were wonderful fits, and I imagined graduating and moving to the largest port on the planet, in Germany; then, I met my future husband and things took a different turn. 

A little bit about how Barbara got into Nonprofit work: 

All along with my husband and I were always involved in nonprofits and community volunteer opportunities, and often said it was too bad we could not make a living doing those things we loved so much. Leadership roles in PTO, Boy Scouts, Historical Societies, Junior League, Elks, Rotary and more. Then when we moved to Tucson I looked for a local opportunity to impact my community. A Board position was about to open at IMPACT, and my local bank branch manager, Peggy Smoot, suggested I would be very passionate about getting involved in the mission work there. I worked in the Food Bank. 

There are thousands of nonprofits in Tucson. What makes IMPACT Unique is that they bring the community together to stabilize families and move people out of poverty. Our true success lies in partnering with a large number of businesses, agencies, social clubs and other nonprofits. We invest $2.5 million in the community each year, and we do it all with a lean staff of amazing professionals supported by more than 170 volunteer shifts each week! We have put great systems in place to run efficiently, effectively and with a commitment to sustainability and integrity, protecting the community’s investment in our work, striving for perfect audits, being innovative, building capacity and most importantly – treating everyone with dignity and respect. We are an award-winning nonprofit with numerous nods to incredible customer service. Our clients are your neighbors… We improve lives and inspire futures of people living in Southern AZ.  

So, IMPACT is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and you have been at the helm half that time. Share with me the things IMPACT has accomplished over the years, and the things you have planned for this celebratory year.