Profiles of Success 2019


Recognition for contributing a number of years to Hispanic issues, giving personal time and making a difference to the community.

Liz Barker-Alvarez

Liz Barker Alvarez is Chief Policy Advisor for 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. As Chief Policy Advisor, she is responsible for strategic planning and oversight of FTF’s efforts to build awareness of the importance of early childhood among Arizona’s elected leaders and to work with policymakers at all levels to promote public policy that improves outcomes for young children. Her unit’s work encompasses government affairs, tribal affairs, and statewide media. In addition, Liz advises the First Things First Board and Executive Team on communication/public affairs matters and serves as the primary media spokesperson for First Things First.

Liz brings to her work almost 25 years of communications experience in the education, non-profit and government sectors. She spent six years as Communications Director for the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), overseeing all of the communications functions of a statewide agency responsible for administering more than 50 programs, including Child Protective Services, the Division of Developmental Disabilities, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called food stamps), Unemployment Insurance, Child Care Subsidy and Child Support. Liz served as the primary media spokesperson for all DES programs and advised DES leadership on a variety of sensitive communication issues.

Prior to joining DES, Liz was responsible for communications at Children’s Action Alliance, a statewide child advocacy organization. She also served as Communications Director for the Isaac School District, an urban K-8 district in Phoenix. Liz began her communications career as a newspaper reporter in Arizona and California, garnering several awards for writing and reporting.

Liz earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Arizona and is a Certified Public Manager. She is a graduate of Valley Leadership (Class 22) and serves on the Board of Directors, Public Policy Committee and Early Childhood Funders Collaborative of the Arizona Grantmakers Forum.