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First Things First La Paz/Mohave Region honored with Eddie Basha Award for Leadership and Service


PHOENIX (Aug. 31, 2017) – Community volunteers from the First Things First (FTF) La Paz/Mohave Region were honored Tuesday at the organization’s statewide early childhood conference.

The FTF La Paz/Mohave Regional Partnership Council, made up of local volunteers from La Paz and Mohave counties received the Eddie Basha Regional Partnership Council Excellence Award for Leadership and Service. The region includes cities Bullhead City, Kingman, Lake Havasu City and Parker. Also included is the Arizona portion of the land belonging to the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. The region covers almost 17,000 square miles, with its northern end separated from the rest by the Grand Canyon.

The annual award recognizes one of 28 regional councils from across Arizona for inspiring its local community to come together and promote positive and lasting change on behalf of young children, thereby enriching all of Arizona.

The First Things First La Paz/Mohave Regional Partnership Council was honored with the 2017 Eddie Basha Regional Partnership Council Excellence Award for Leadership and Service at the FTF Early Childhood Summit in Phoenix on Aug. 29. Pictured from left to right, back row: council members Kip Anderson, Kingman; Riley Frei, Bullhead City; Christy Rail, Lake Havasu City; First Things First interim CEO Josh Allen. From left to right-front row: FTF Senior Director Ashley Pascual; FTF La Paz/Mohave Regional Director Vijette Saari; council members: Lori Long, Kingman; Vanessa Sandoval, Fort Mohave; Margee Chieffo, Lake Havasu City; Betsy Lewis, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe; Alisa Burroughs, Bullhead City ;Brandon Basha; FTF Board Chair Nadine Mathis Basha, Pastor Jose Garcia; Parker. Not pictured: council members Debbie Justice, northern Mohave County/Colorado River Strip area and Claudia Gonzalez; Parker.

“I am so proud that our region has been recognized for our efforts to ensure that child care and preschool teachers are receiving constant support in expanding their professional skills,” said La Paz/Mohave Council Chair Riley Frei. He serves as superintendent for both the Colorado River Union High School District and the Bullhead City Elementary School District.

Brandon Basha, the eldest grandson in the Basha family, presented the award to the community volunteers at the FTF 2017 Early Childhood Summit held at the Phoenix Convention Center, Aug. 28-29.

He noted the council’s efforts in creating a new collaboration between the Association for Supportive Child Care, which is the council’s professional development strategy partner, and Mohave Community College (MCC).

Through this joint collaboration, the Council and MCC are now able to provide a clear pathway for early child care professionals to earn a Childhood Development Associate (CDA) credential.

“This partnership reinforces continuous professional development and education for early care professionals, and ensures the region’s young children have equal access to high quality child care no matter where they live in the region,” Basha said.

The Region’s early childhood professionals have responded with eager enthusiasm, and have earned 234 CDA credits to date through MCC.

“As an educator, I know that the more educated my teachers are, the better prepared they are to engage students and support their learning,” Frei said. “Early childhood educators are the ones who are engaging children at the most rapid and crucial time of their brain development. That increased knowledge will lead to more nurturing and supportive teacher-child interactions, which research shows are a hallmark of quality early learning.”

The award is named after iconic Arizona businessman, humanitarian and staunch advocate for public education Eddie Basha, who spent his life championing children and the communities that nurture them. Basha was one of the primary proponents of the ballot measure that created First Things First, a statewide organization that funds early education and health programs to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten, and one of the movement’s most fierce champions.

“(My grandfather) fought tirelessly to ensure that funds were available to support the health and learning of the youngest and most vulnerable among us,” Basha said. “And, he loved to visit early childhood programs and see first-hand how they changed outcomes for young kids.”


About First Things First – First Things First is a voter-created, statewide organization that funds early education and health programs to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten. Decisions about how those funds are spent are made by local councils staffed by community volunteers. To learn more, please visit

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