Claudia Brings Thought Leadership

Through Her Understanding of STARS Operations, Programs, and People.

We’re pleased to announce the appointment of Claudia Chavez as the new Executive Director. Claudia has been an integral part of the STARS family since joining the organization in 2011. She has held various roles, most recently serving as the Director of Operations, where she gained a profound understanding of the organization’s programs and their incredible impact on participants, their families, and the community.

Claudia Chavez’s journey with STARS began when she made the difficult decision to end her pursuit of an M.D. degree at the University of Arizona. “From a young age, I’ve always aspired to work in a profession that allowed me to serve others,” Claudia shared. “When I redirected my focus towards my next professional step, I was similarly inspired by the Mission of STARS to help some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. After I set foot in the doors of our Osborn location, the passion of the clients and employees resonated deeply with me. I was hired on as a Direct Support Professional in our CommunityWork program and have not looked back since.”

Throughout her 13 years at STARS, Claudia has been shaped by countless inspiring stories within the organization. “A common thread throughout these ‘Tales of STARS’ has been the theme of ‘joy and resilience,’” Claudia reflected. “The work our staff accomplishes is difficult and progress is often incremental. Despite those challenges, day in and day out, driven by a joyful and tenacious spirit, our employees provide a level of care and support to our participants that is unmatched. The same can be said of our participants and their families. All of these stories have helped shape my character and approach to nonprofit leadership and have taught me that where there is will, passion, and teamwork – there is a way!”

The Board of Directors is enthusiastic about Claudia’s new role. Vic Teeters, STARS Board Vice-President, noted, “Claudia brings more than 13 years of experience with STARS to her new role. From her beginnings as a Direct Support Professional to her most recent role as Director of Operations, Claudia has made the mission of STARS her mission. First and foremost, she has sought to ‘improve the lives of individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities.’”

Under Claudia’s leadership, STARS aims to enhance the delivery and sustainability of its services while cultivating a leadership and cultural framework that will drive long-term growth and community impact. Claudia is committed to fostering a work environment where trust, respect, and collaboration are paramount. “By embracing a culture where every voice is heard and valued, in the coming years I want to empower our staff, participants, and families to drive positive change and innovation within STARS,” she stated.

The Board is confident in the future of STARS under Claudia’s leadership. “With Claudia, we see thought leadership. She understands the Operations, Programs, and People of STARS,” said Vic Teeters. “We expect that under Claudia’s leadership, STARS will continue to be synonymous with excellence in programs and services. As the needs of the IDD community change, we believe that Claudia will position STARS to anticipate those needs and be ready to respond.”

As Claudia embarks on this new chapter, she is committed to transforming the organizational culture to prioritize empathy and inclusion. “I envision developing a culture at STARS where every voice is respected, and every contribution is valued. My primary goal in the coming year will be to lay the groundwork for this transformation. This cultural shift is critical because the success of any strategic initiative depends on an empowered, valued, and engaged workforce and support from our most valued stakeholder – the families of our participants.”

STARS looks forward to a bright future under Claudia’s leadership. As Vic Teeters concluded, “As we look forward to our future under Claudia’s leadership, we are certain that STARS is in good hands and that there will be great days ahead.”

A Note From Claudia | July 1st, 2024

Dear STARS Families and Guardians,

As part of my vision, I am focused on strengthening the stability and structure of our existing programs. As of July 1st we are implementing key leadership updates to help us achieve this goal:

Key Leadership Updates:

Hiring of a Site-Based Program Director: Joe Bonanno, an incredibly qualified internal candidate, has been elevated to the role of Site-Based Program Director. With his 13 years of dedication to STARS, Joe will provide immediate support to our DTA, CommunityWork, and Transportation programs. His leadership will be instrumental in enhancing STARS’ service delivery and operational efficiency.

Christine Cervantes’ Continued Support: Christine Cervantes, our recently retired CHRO, will continue to support STARS temporarily as we bring a new HR Manager on board within the next few months. Her expertise and guidance will ensure a smooth transition and continuity in STARS’ HR operations. We are incredibly thankful to Christine for her willingness to continue with STARS!

In addition to providing added support at the leadership level for our existing programs, one of my major strategic goals for the coming fiscal year will be to re-engage with our wonderful families and seek YOUR valuable input on important upcoming initiatives. We plan to host our first DTA family town hall in July, aiming to create a platform for open dialogue and collaboration. Please be on the lookout for a “Save the Date” invitation for this gathering. With your help, STARS will launch a parent/guardian-driven family committee across all programs that will help STARS organize fun events throughout the year, connect guardians to one another for support and sharing of resources/knowledge, and bring joy to community. Your involvement has always been and will continue to be crucial in shaping the future of STARS!

The core and heart of STARS have always been our wonderful participants and families. Please help us continue to live out the wonderful legacy first established by our founding members, “Las Madrinas,” over 50 years ago. Should you be curious to learn more about STARS’ rich history, please take a few moments to enjoy the video below celebrating our 50th anniversary.

I feel incredibly privileged to be given this opportunity to lead STARS into its next phase. I am enthusiastic about the journey ahead and confident that, together, we will achieve great things for our community. My door is always open, and I hope to hear from you soon.

With heartfelt gratitude,



Claudia Chavez
STARS Executive Director

Claudia Chavez

Executive Director

Claudia has dedicated over 13 years to STARS. Throughout her tenure, Claudia has held various roles including:

  • Direct Support Professional
  • Lead Instructor: CommunityWork
  • Vocational Program Manager
  • Director of Compliance
  • Director of Operations (most recent)

In these capacities, she has played a pivotal role in strengthening STARS’ programs and services, implementing effective compliance protocols, and overseeing daily operations to ensure high-quality service delivery. Her strategic vision is inspired by her deep commitment to inclusivity, empathy, and community engagement.

Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Claudia moved to Phoenix at the age of 7. She is a graduate of Arizona State University, holding a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in French. She is the proud mother of a 7-year-old daughter, Ryan, and wife of Janice, a junior high math teacher. In her free time, Claudia enjoys traveling with her family, camping, and CrossFit.


Joe Bonanno

Site-Based Program Director

Joe has been with STARS for 13 years, bringing a wealth of experience and dedication to his new role as Site-Based Program Director. He has served in various capacities, including:

  • Direct Support Professional (CommunityWork & DTA)
  • Community-Based Job Coach CommunityWork Case Manager
  • Compliance Manager (most recent)

Joe’s deep understanding of our programs and his commitment to our mission make him an invaluable asset to our team. His leadership will be crucial in providing stability and enhancing the quality of our services.


Feel the joy

of making a difference at STARS

Share joy through opportunity. Your thoughtful support creates smiles and changes lives. Each day, STARS works to improve the lives of individuals with I/DD. By joining our network of donors, you are partnering with our organizational efforts to continue creating quality opportunities for lifelong empowerment and success.

Is my donation tax-deductible?
Yes. We are a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and your donation is tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S. law.  To claim a donation as a deduction on your taxes, please keep your email donation receipt as your official record.

Your contribution may be tax deductible and/or qualify for the Arizona State Tax Credit.  QCO tax credit can be claimed on AZ Dept of Revenue Form 321. Please reference QCO Code 20117.  Please consult your tax professional.

Donor Portal

Your donations have been an incredible force driving our organization, and we’re grateful for the impact you’ve made. We invite you to visit the STARS Donor Portal. Here, you have the ability to manage your giving activities and contact details—all within a secure and user-friendly space.  Within the portal, you can:

  • Track your lifetime contributions
  • Make one-time or recurring donations
  • Conveniently update your contact and credit card details