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RFTS Team

Carlos Aragon, CEO and Founder

Carlos Aragon, 

CEO, Founder

Carlos, a retired Veteran with a tapestry of life experiences, now serves as the CEO and Co-Founder of the nonprofit living in Tucson, Arizona, with his wife (Kira) two stepsons. Born a half-Hispanic, half-Dutch baby in Vacaville, California, his family relocated to Northern Idaho when he was 15, introducing him to a life that valued the outdoors, hard work and resilience. During highschool, he worked as a Chevy/GMC detailer, an irrigation tech at a tree farm, a CAT heavy machinery opperator and finially as an assistant manager of a local restaurant. His quest for purpose led him to join the United States Air Force, where he specialized as an Aerospace Maintenance Crew Chief on the C-130H Combat Talon 2, Combat Shadow and J-Model aircraft. Carlos's military career was marked by his leadership and skills within a Special Operations Group overseas, where his dedication, knowledge, and abilities earned him awards and recognition for mission achievements and leadership. His commitment to building his skills propelled him to accept a Maintenance Operations Command position, overseeing multi-million dollar assets and personell, all while training thousands of service members in first aid as an instructor. However, his ascending career was abruptly cut-short by a career-ending injury, plunging him into a challenging period of loss, depression and chronic pain. 3 years of suffering and turmoil past while he worked hard find joy and purpose, but somthing was missing. The pivotal moment came in 2019 when a simple telescope his wife bought for his son's birthday opened a new universe of possibilities. "When I looked through that toy telescope for the first time, all my problems disappeared. What I saw can't really be explained. But it was beautiful. I felt enchantment and relief flow throughout my soul. I could feel how we are part of a bigger picture then just our own, and that I was going to be ok." Carlos reflects. This epiphany and the impact it had on his families mental health birthed "Reach for the Stars" a unique nonprofit aimed at leveraging the inspirational power of astronomy, STEM and art to foster hope, motivation, and resilience among children and adults facing adversity, from bullying and low self-confidence to even those at risk of self-harm. Driven by a mission more critical now than ever, Carlos - alongside his wife, Kira (co-founder, COO), a committed Board of Directors and volunteers - dedicates himself to nurturing joy, wonder and healing mechinisms into future leaders through the captivating lens of the cosmos and the "awe effect" that it provides. His journey - from an ideal life, to expieriancing severe loss and disability, to overcoming personal despair - underscores the nonprofit's vision: to inspire, heal and empower through the boundless wonders of the universe. Carlos no leads the team who is tirelessly working to expand its reach and impact to as many children as possible. "No child should have to continue suffering when there are powerful, effective ways to help them cope and heal. We must tell the world how RFTS can change, and even save a life, as it did mine." Contact info: carlos@rftstars.com

Kira Aragon,

COO, Founder

Kira Reid Carlos Aragon co-created Reach for The Stars with a vision to empower the low-income community, youth and the public through the uplifting power of astronomy, space, and simple acts of kindness. Kira is a Decorated Combat Wounded Warrior and Retired Veteran, a mother to 2 boys and lives with her husband and organization partner, Carlos in Vail, Arizona. Kira has gone to school for Military Intelligence Studies, Social Work and even has a CDA in Early Childhood. Starting this phenomenal RFTS mission was a simple decision. After combating alcoholism, returning to her core value of giving made the most sense for her "purpose."

She has a love for learning, and signs up for as many courses as she can. She believes learning your EQ will take you far in life, she takes on leadership roles withing the community, learns astronomy, and loves building organizational structure and culture. Kira loves to read and when she has time, can get lost in a great mystery. She gives her whole heart to her family and friends, and all of her time, talent and treasure to the mission. She is transparent with her struggles and uses every mistake to gain a better understanding of herself and how to improve. There is no-better person to direct the mission then her.

-Carlos, CEO

 

“Creating an awe-inspiring space for youth to shine.” -Kira

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Ryan 
Lambert,

Board Chair

 Founding partner of Ameriprise Financial Services - Three Buckets Wealth Management with 20 years of experience leading a team of financial professionals. Founder of Infinitus Mindset, providing personal life coaching services for high performing individuals looking to reach their next level. Ryan is married to his soul mate and goes on many adventures around the Earth with her.  He is a Father to three children, and has a handful of dogs and cats. In his spare time  he's an avid rock hounder, car enthusiast, scuba diver and cyclist.

Ryan owns  an astrophotography telescope and is learning the awe-inspiring hobby. He will also be helping at youth camps on certain dates, as well as helping at stargazing events. He plans on sharing cosmic views through his telescope on the West side of Tucson to grow our outreach in that area.

Ryan will be a great addition's RFTS, and aims to accelerate the trajectory towards achieving mission and impact  goals, 

Erika Hannemann, Treasurer and Grants Lead

Erika Hannemann

Treasurer, Grants Lead

Under  Construction

Cody Peck, Vice Treasurer

Cody Peck

Vice Treasurer

Under  Construction

Shelly Peck, Secretary

Shelly Peck

Secretary

Shelly Peck brings a wealth of experience and a diverse skill set to her role as
Secretary on the board. With a multifaceted background spanning education, crafting,
and community engagement, she embodies the values of passion, creativity, and
compassion.
With over three decades of teaching elementary school students, Shelly has honed her
expertise in catering to diverse student groups, including those in need of extra
assistance to thrive academically. Her specialized approach to educational development
has empowered countless students to reach their full potential, both in traditional
classroom settings and through after-school programs and summer school initiatives.
In addition to her commitment to education, Shelly's creative spirit shines through her
extensive experience as an Independent Demonstrator at StampinUp. With a passion
for crafting and DIY projects, she has not only cultivated her own artistic talents but also
shared her knowledge and skills with others, teaching them how to design cards and
scrapbook pages.
Shelly's dedication to community service is further exemplified by her volunteer
experience, including leadership roles in Sunday school programs and active
participation in the Ronald McDonald House. Through her involvement, she has
demonstrated her integrity and strong leadership qualities, fostering genuine
connections and making a positive impact on those around her.
As Secretary on the board, Shelly's passion for community building, creativity, and
compassionate leadership will undoubtedly contribute to the Reach for the Star’s
mission of promoting mental health and wellness amongst children, youth, and the
community.

Mandie Irby, Board Member

Mandie Irby

Board Member

Mandie Irby is a wife of 20 years and a mother of three daughters. She owns Synergy Tax & Accounting Group specializing in taxes, accounting, and financial coaching. She aims to help people grow in both business and individual financials. Additionally, she holds the position of Vice President of Executive Women’s Internal Nonprofit and is dedicated to bringing people together in her community. She joined the Reach For The Stars board of directors in 2024. Mandie loves running, all things outdoors and woodworking in her spare time.

Amanda Barras, Marketing Committee: Graphic Design

Amanda Barras

Marketing Committee: Graphic Design

Amanda Barras is an Arizona native, originally from Prescott. While still residing in her hometown, Amanda completed her Associate's Degree in Graphic Design, and met her Husband, Daniel. Since then she has spent the last 15 years following Daniel wherever the Army, or government contracts took him. Being a Freelance Graphic Designer allowed Amanda the flexibility to take her work with her wherever needed, while also opening up opportunities. She has worked as a designer and production assistant for print shops, done laser engraving, and vinyl-graphics. Working Freelance has allowed Amanda to remain a stay-at-home Mom for the last 10 years, taking care of their Son, Stone. In 2017, they were able to move back home to Arizona where they landed in Corona de Tucson. Stumbling across a Facebook post of Reach for the Stars, Amanda reached out and has participated in some of the organization's various programs over the last few years.

She is always happy and eager to volunteer for a good cause. Amanda has been lending her time since Middle School, as a member of NJHS, Kiwanis Key Club, then to a “Room-Parent” for her Son's classrooms (Pre-K - 2nd), and now RFTStars Networking and Marketing Committee!

Sandra Johnson

Networking, Outreach Ambassador

Sandra Johnson is an Associate Broker, and Senior Vice President with Indie Realty. Sandra works with her husband, Raymond Smith and daughter Danielle Johnson on the Johnson Smith Team. Sandra has become involved with several local charities and The Arizona Bowl, the only bowl game that donates 100% of their net proceeds to local charities. Connecting people and organizations is one of Sandra’s passions. Reach for the Stars was an immediate standout for her given the passion of founders Kira and Carlos Aragon and the way they serve our community with a focus on helping youth. Sandra has seen the need to invest in our youth and provide opportunities for their growth and there are none more unique or inspiring than RFTS. RFTS has a special place in her heart and you will find her frequently trying to bring awareness to their mission as well as expanding their reach in the community. 

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