Debi Chess Mabie has over 25 years of nonprofit program development and leadership experience in a variety of sectors-- including youth and community development, and arts-based economic development. She received a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Wright State University, and a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
She served in the United States Peace Corps from 1989 to 1991. Prior to moving to Tucson with her husband and children in 2010, was the Executive Director of BooCoo Cultural Center and Café in Evanston, Illinois. She was the Development Director of the Loft Cinema for three years. She recently resigned her position as the Executive Director of the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona (formerly Tucson Pima Arts Council) where she helped lead and shape the newly emerging conversation around the role of the arts--and funding for the arts-- in economic development and city planning endeavors.
In 2017 she accepted a two-year University of Arizona School of Social and Behavioral Science Community Impact Fellowship. In that capacity, she is working at the historically segregated Dunbar School. The school was built in 1918 to educate black children grades K-9 in Tucson. Under her leadership, the school is now being redeveloped as a community cultural center.
She is the Board Chair and a founding member of the Tucson Black Film Club, and sits on the board of TEDx Tucson.