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University of Phoenix Faculty Member Receives 2023 Diane Lynn Anderson Memorial Award from the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona

By Michele Mitchum

Dr. Gabrielle Ficchi, educator and activist, is a full-time faculty member at the University

University of Phoenix is pleased to share that Dr. Gabrielle Ficchi is one of two recipients of the Diane Lynn Anderson Memorial Award presented by the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. Established in 1990, the award honors individuals in Southern Arizona who exemplify the same qualities that disability advocate and activist Diane Lynn Anderson possessed: active acceptance, respect, compassion, devotion, and caring for people with disabilities. 

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Ficchi as a full-time faculty member here at University of Phoenix and celebrate her well-deserved recognition with this award,” shares Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Christina Neider, Ed.D. “Dr. Ficchi’s work as an educator and advocate in the disability community is incredibly impactful. She has worked tirelessly to bring mental health services to the disability community and their families, and her commitment to bettering the lives of people with disabilities is truly inspiring.”

Dr. Ficchi identifies as a disabled woman and a passionate advocate for equality and justice for the disability community. She holds a full-time faculty position at the University of Phoenix College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, where she specializes in counseling. Dr. Ficchi’s areas of research include disability pride both for individuals and families, independent living, resilience, and disability identity. She is a licensed therapist, as well as a certified rehabilitation counselor.

“One of the most important things about this award is that it honors so many of the great people who have served the disability community, while also recognizing that it is possible for people with disabilities to serve their own community,” states Dr. Ficchi. “Representation matters, and it is so important that people with disabilities have the chance to see others with disabilities serving the community. So many times in our community, others are making decisions for us, and we need to have a seat at the table. Disability rights are human rights.”

Jenny Flynn, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, shared, “It is compassionate leaders like Dr. Ficchi who drive Southern Arizona's progress to become a vibrant and inclusive community for all. Through this award, we celebrate Dr. Ficchi and her ongoing work supporting people with disabilities and their families.”

In addition to her role at the University, Dr. Ficchi works to bring mental health services to the disability community and their families as CEO of her therapy practice, New Perspectives, LLC. In both areas of her work, Dr. Ficchi takes a family-centered approach on disability issues to help raise awareness about the importance family can play in bettering the lives of disabled individuals. Dr. Ficchi was a presenter at this year’s University of Phoenix Inclusive Leadership Summit, where she discussed providing counselors with the tools to implement a new counseling approach rooted in independent living philosophy, and shared how this perspective could increase independence, autonomy, and control for clients with disabilities.

“My parents never let my disability define change what they expected from me,” states Ficchi. As I grew up, I could see that in many ways, my parents were the exception, and their perspective, along with my introduction to disability pride and advocacy, changed my disability experience for the better. This is work is my passion – it's not just a job for me. In our counseling program at University of Phoenix, I get to bring a disability perspective into our core classes,” she shares. “People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world, and I am so lucky to be able to represent our community and to educate the next generation of counselors and advocates.”

Dr. Ficchi has been with the University of Phoenix since 2019.

Learn more here about the Diane Lynn Anderson Memorial Award.

About Community Foundation for Southern Arizona

Since 1980, Community Foundation for Southern Arizona has been a trusted philanthropic partner helping individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofits work together to create an equitable and vibrant community for all Southern Arizonans. Community Foundation for Southern Arizona has supported Southern Arizona with over $230 million in grants and scholarships, stewarding the philanthropic legacy of our community’s generous donors and increasing the breadth and depth of resources available to nonprofit organizations in our region. For more information, visit  

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit