Staff Spotlight

Stefany Paredes

Stefany is CEI's Community Engagement Coordinator and since June has been actively engaged in community outreach within CEI's project areas, making the most of her bilingual (Spanish, English) public speaking skills.
Stefany has an Associate of Arts degree in early Childhood Education from the Tohono O'odham Community College (TOCC), where she started an honors program; was Vice President of Student Senate in 2019; and was President of the TOCC Early Childhood Education Club in  2019-2020.

Starting as a preschool teacher assistant with AmeriCorps, Stefany has accumulated teaching experience and leadership experience in her career to date.   
See for yourself how Stefany has already raised our profile on social media!
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Coming soon:  Stefany is a guest presenter on the topic of high cost small loans and the pitfalls of predatory lending at an upcoming "Bridges" financial literacy class, in Spanish.  

Project Updates

The Preschool Promise (TPP)

Wait, do you recognize the person in the photo? (Hint: her first name is Stefany).
CEI's Board President, Penelope Jacks celebrated with early childhood citizen advocates in a letter this past month stating:

"Your advocacy, work, and financial support have born great fruit. The Pima County Early Education Program Scholarships (PEEPS) has completed its first year, and what a year it has been!"

PEEPS Annual Report Highlights

846 Pima County children have received scholarships and high-quality early education opportunities have been expanded in number and location. 

The Big Picture

Policy change takes time. We began this journey together in 2015, and now we are celebrating. Collaboration, cooperation, flexibility, progressive elected leadership, and lots of local expertise have brought us far in making Pima County a better place -- for kids to grow, for families to thrive, and for our whole community to prosper.

There is always more we can do, and now we know, with our shared patience, persistence, and optimism, we have the tools and wisdom we need.  Visit The Preschool Promise website for more information and to read the latest media coverage about this important program. TPP is a project of CEI.

Consumer Protections

CEI continues our work to protect Arizona Consumers, including support for PROP 209: Predatory Debt Collection Protection Act. 
[ English | Español

The Predatory Debt Collection Protection Act

Proposition 209 is a citizen’s initiative that has survived recent court challenges (CEI was an Amicus to the proceedings) and has officially qualified for the November ballot. PROP 209 increases the protected value of people’s primary home to better match Arizona’s median home value, increases the allowed value of protected household goods and bank accounts, and increases the protected value of vehicles, with all of these amounts adjusted annually for inflation.

In order to help Arizonans avoid being trapped by debt, the Act limits wage garnishment for debt to no more than 10 percent of disposable earnings, and limits the interest rate on medical debt to no more than 3 percent. Many Arizona families are struggling financially right now because of emergency medical debt and predatory debt collection practices. The National Consumer Law Center study No Fresh Start Report, November 2021 grades states' debt collection laws. Currently Arizona scores a "D".

Arizonans for Responsible lending

For more information about our Consumer Protection projects please visit the coalition website at for letters, comments, factsheets, press articles and more.

Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors & Kinship Caregivers (AZGA)

CEI began our collaboration with grandparent’s raising grandchildren here in Southern Arizona in 2008 at the request of the Director of the KARE Center in Tucson.  We were asked to provide technical assistance and training to a group of 8 grandparents who wished to advocate on behalf of their families.

We worked alongside Children’s Action Alliance to do just that. Over these many years we have had the privilege of coming to know many kinship caregivers and their families.  The Southern AZ Grandparent Ambassador group grew into the state-wide Arizona Kinship advocacy group (AZGA) and over many years advocated successfully at the state legislature for more resources to support kinship families. 

The accomplishments have been far reaching and honestly are too many to list in a short newsletter.  Please visit for a detailed summary highlighting this group’s accomplishments and its many champions. We are proud of our partnership with AZGA and Children’s Action Alliance and are deeply grateful for the many years of collaboration.  Although AZGA is no longer a project of CEI, we remain steadfast in our commitment to kinship families everywhere.

CEI Awareness Video

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