David Simmons, UBU Founder, Executive Director and Board President; An honors graduate of the University of Montana School of Music, David’s diverse career as an educator, performer, producer, recording artist, inspirational speaker and mental health advocate has taken him to all 50 states, 14 countries and 3 continents. He has served as Education Director and Teaching Artist for Arizona Broadway Theater (Phoenix, AZ), Fort Peck Fine Arts Council (Glasgow, MT), Desert Foothills Theater (Scottsdale, AZ) and as a Teaching Artist for Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center (Phoenix, AZ), Child’s Play Theater (Mesa, AZ), The Wyoming Arts Council, and the Missoula Children’s Theater (Multiple International Residencies). Additional teaching experience includes residencies with the University of Montana (Missoula, MT), Casper College (Casper, WY) and Estrella Mountain Community College (Phoenix, AZ).
Training and Honors: David continued his vocal studies with Kammer Sänger Otto Edelman of the Vienna Statsöper and jazz theory and bass with Dartanyan Brown of Chase, Phoebe Snow and Sly and the Family Stone. He was nominated for the Arizona Governor's Arts Award in Arts Education and currently serves on the Arizona Department of Education Round Table Advisory Committee for Arts Education.
In addition to his professional training and experience David is a thriving survivor of his own suicide attempts a grateful, recovering alcoholic and lives with the diagnoses of major depressive disorder recurrent and free-floating anxiety. This, in addition to his professional training and ongoing partnership with experts in childhood trauma , helps David bring a unique and hope-filled perspective and dedication to his work with The UBU Project's Social-Emotional / Prevention Residencies. Whether in a classroom, coffee shop, rock club, worship space or classical concert hall, David brings a wealth of experience, energy and encouragement to every stage, school or project he encounters. David has one adult son, Niko (currently living in Minneapolis, MN) and he makes his home in the Phoenix West Valley.
Walt Versen, UBU Board Member; Currently part of the management team for legendary Bay Area Soul Super-Stars Tower of Power, Walt's career in the music industry reads like a who's who of classic rock royalty. In addition to his current gig Walt has provided security, management, support and guidance for REO Speedwagon, RATT, Heart, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Right Said Fred and many more. In fact, it can be said that the majority of the line-up for the very first "Live-Aid" mega-concert reads like Walt's early resume.
In addition to his work behind the scenes Walt has ventured onstage as both a featured vocalist and as an actor portraying FDR in the Arizona Broadway Theater Production of Annie (where he met UBU Project Founder and Creative Director David Simmons). The two men instantly struck up a deep and abiding friendship which criss-crosses the lines of colleagues, collaborators, friends and "twin brothers from different mothers."
It was Walt Versen who provided the foundational support and encouragement for David Simmons to create The UBU Project. Walt's consistent (and, at times tenacious) commitment to, and belief in, the work of David and The UBU Project continues to be an integral part of the ongoing growth, success and life-saving impact of UBU.
Marcy Hardge, UBU Board Member/Treasurer: Currently the owner of Rise and Shine Tax Services in Glendale, AZ, Marcy was born in Germany and adopted at 18 months along with her twin. She is a graduate of Independence High School and continued her studies at Glendale Community College. She is certified in five levels of taxation up to, and including, the corporate level and also successfully completed the RTRP test with Internal Revenue Service. In addition, Marcy is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a preferred preparer and has been an independent business owner for over 30 years serving the people of Phoenix’s vibrant West Valley communities.
Renee Ryan, UBU Board Member: A graduate of East Tennessee State University with a BS in Health Education and Dental Hygiene, Rene describes herself as a “human hoping to spread some light into our world.” A highly successful real estate agent since 1986 she also serves her faith community as the Events and Fundraising Chairperson for Coolwater Christian Church of North Scottsdale, AZ. Above all, Renee is a proud mom, wife, friend and soon to be grandma. She currently makes her home in the Northwest Phoenix Valley with her equally wonderful husband Dave.
Rick Mitchell, UBU Board Member/Secretary; A resident of Phoenix, Rick was born in Chicago and moved from one coast to the other and back again over the course of his professional career. He settled in the valley with his wife Sydney in 2003. A graduate of Illinois State University with an MBA from Benedictine University, Rick’s professional career included 23 years with MetLife including roles as a divisional controller and a member of the Board of the MetLife General Insurance Agency. In addition to his work with The UBU Project, Rick currently serves as Executive Director and CEO of the Homeless ID Project prior to which he served on the Homeless ID project Board of Directors for nearly 3 years. Rick has a personal passion for the mission of the UBU Project that is based in values instilled in him long ago.
Cynthia Hardy is a 2016 graduate of Chandler Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute, 2013 appointee to Governor Jan Brewer’s Arizona SERVES Task Force, a current member of Arizona Faith Council, local National Associations of Congregational Christian Churches Ambassador and 2020 Year Round Delegate. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Virginia. She served four years concurrently as a member of the University Arts & Performance Committee and as a Student Senator. In 1995 Cynthia and her family moved to the East Valley after her husband’s United States Air Force tour of duty was completed at Howard Air Force Base, Republic of Panama.
Cynthia has been an active resident and Chandler community leader since 1999. She has held various volunteer positions with the City and nonprofit Boards and Committees for the past twenty years. Currently, she is serving as a City of Chandler Housing and Human Services Board Commissioner and Chandler Gilbert Task Force for preventive training on substance abuse and recovery.
Training: Tax preparer for American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in 2005 to 2006, substitute teacher certificate since 2006; Tax preparation assistance (VITA) for City of Chandler in 2011 to 2012 and CERT certification 2012, earned continue learning education credit hours in diversity education and African American disability and advocacy.
Honors: Portraits of Chandler Community Leaders toured 2014 to 2016; For Our City Chandler Mayor’s Choice Volunteer Recognition Award and the Amazing Women of Chandler Award in Chandler Lifestyle magazine May 2019 edition
I am honored to be apart of UBU Project because of your mission to empower students and adults to embrace wellness through a different concept. And to continue sharing the good news in the community to the undeserved families. I have had the pleasure to be a Board member and a member of ICAN-CCYSA(after school program-ICAN, Improving Chandler Area Neighborhood in 85224 & 85225 and CCYSA-Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse) since 2009 and now ICAN Chandler Gilbert Task Force which includes care of adults for mindfulness, addictions recovery and behavioral health services in the East Valley under the leadership of Ted Huntington, Community Programs Manager ICAN: Positive Programs for Youth CCYSA: Chandler Coalition Against youth Substance Abuse 650 E. Morelos Street Chandler, AZ 85225. Office: 480.821.4207 EXT 414 Website-CCYSA facebook - CCYSA
Rev. Victor E. Hardy dedicates his work with The UBU Project to his parents: Mr. Abraham N. and Francis J.U. Hardy of Portsmouth, Virginia. Who always encouraged him to celebrate and honor his legacy of three generations of Pastors and Civic Leaders by continuing the work of social justice and equality. When Rev. Hardy received his ordination on September 16, 2012, he was elected to Associate Pastor in 2013 then 2014 elected to co-Pastor and recently elected to officiating Pastor of the Congregational Church of the Valley in Chandler, Arizona.
In 1995, he started his local civic journey in Mesa, Arizona marching with Mr.“Big John” Goodie for observance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a legal holiday. In 1999, Rev. Hardy moved his family to Chandler, Arizona where he began his student presentations of Leadership in Training on Diversity; and Unity and Tolerance through the Civil Rights Movement. He also became a volunteer member to: City of Chandler Celebration Unity Planning and Multi-Cultural Festival Subcommittees; Director Chandler For Our City; East Valley Jewish Community Center Diversity Committee; Friends of Chandler Symphony Orchestra and Chandler Center of the Arts and 2015-2016 Chair of Chandler’s East Valley Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. To further the progressive work in Chandler’s social justice movement he Founded with Officer David Woodward and Coach Stephen Carson the Chandler Men of Action(CMOA), an African American Male non-profit organization dedicated to work with African American Male Youths as mentors. CMOA has annually awarded two, five hundred dollars scholarships to assist our young men to continue their pursuit of higher education and training. Also CMOA selects a candidate for the Coy C. Payne Man of the Year honor to an outstanding African American gentleman at the Annual African American Banquet held annually on the last Friday in February for the past three years. Pastor Victor Hardy was awarded this honor in 2019.
An Alumnus of the University of Montana, The Bigfork Summer Playhouse and Missoula Children's Theater, Buddy spent the vast majority of his professional life working at the national level in beverage distribution and marketing. In addition, Buddy has worked in theater, film and television and has volunteered with numerous nationally celebrated non-profit foundations and organizations at the fundraising and event organization level.
Buddy is excited to bring his wealth of experience as a musician, corporate executive and fund-raiser to The UBU Project Board of Directors and is looking forward to building our outreach and impact throughout the state, region and country.
Currently serving as a Sr. Legal Operations Analyst with Trane Technologies fka – Ingersoll - Rand Company, Tim is blessed with expert communication and technical skills, and brings deep experience bridging the gap and serving as a liaison between legal teams and technology support groups. His experience and knowledge make him an exceptional addition to any organization managing legal systems including, litigation case management, forensic collection, legal hold, document review, IP case management, IP Annuities management, Immigration I-9 Control Systems, Ebilling and general matter management and contract management functions. He is a creative individual who is able to work with multiple people in various roles and locations while still understanding the constraints of organizational needs.
In addition to his training and experience holding a Masters of Business Administration – Project Management Specialty St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN and Post Baccalaureate Paralegal Certificate Hamline University, St. Paul, MN. Tim, like David, is a thriving survivor of his own suicide attempt, a recovering alcoholic with 24 years in the program (serving for years as David Simmons' sponsor and advisor as well) and looks at his work in support of The UBU Project as an opportunity to "pay it forward."
Among other duties, Tim will be working in partnership with numerous corporate and education organizations to help bring The UBU Project's message of hope, resilience, self-compassion and empathy into the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN communities and throughout greater Minnesota.