Debi Chess, Calline Sanchez Elected Newest Members of the TAA

Debi Chess

Debi Chess, of the University of Arizona, and Calline Sanchez, of IBM, were elected at the Tucson Airport Authority’s Annual Meeting Monday (January 27) as new members of the authority, which is responsible for operating Tucson International Airport (TUS) and Ryan Airfield (RYN).

Chess is Community Impact Fellow and Director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs in the Office of Equity, Inclusion Title IX at the University of Arizona. She joined UArizona in 2017 when she accepted the Fellow appointment by the College of Social and Behavioral Science to steward development of historic Dunbar School into the Dunbar Pavilion: An African American Center for Arts and Culture. The former school, completed in 1918, was Tucson’s segregated school for African-American students.

Since arriving in Tucson in 2010, Chess was previously Executive Director of the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona and served as Director Development, Education and Outreach for the Loft Cinema.

She credits much of her philosophy and success around community engagement she developed while serving in the U.S. Peace Corps from 1989-1991 in Jamaica.

Chess also serves on the Tucson City Planning Commission and is currently Board chair and a founding member of  the Tucson Black Film Club. She is also on the Board of TEDx Tucson and active in Women at the Top.

Chess earned a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her undergraduate degree in social work from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

Calline Sanchez

Sanchez is Vice President of IBM WW Systems Lab Services & Technical Universities, which she has held since 2001. In that position, she has taken on additional responsibilities for IBM projects, most recently leading a a team of engineers and scientists who developed the most advanced storage system in IBM’s DS8000 series of high-performance, high-capacity storage systems.

A graduate of the University of Arizona where she earned a Master of Business Administration in Finance and two Bachelor’s degrees, in Information Technology and Business Communication, Sanchez has continued to serve on the Eller College of Management’s Board of Advisors since 2009. Her other community involvement includes serving on the boards of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, Desert Angels, Southern Arizona Leadership Council the Rialto Foundation, and the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona as well as being a member of Angel Charity for Children.

With Chess and Sanchez, the TAA now consists of 58 active members. Current bylaws set membership at up to 60 women and men who reside within the service areas of TUS and RYN.

Established by state charter in 1948, the TAA is a non-profit self-sustaining organization initiated by local business leaders after Tucson city officials determined operating an airport would be a costly expense of taxpayer dollars. The TAA receives no local tax dollars and has no taxing authority. Instead operations are funded through fees paid users of the airports.