Instructors + Staff

We make the Arizona economics standards accessible and fun to teach! 


Our instructors are drawn from the ranks of retired advanced placement economics teachers and professors within the University of Arizona and Arizona community college system:

Gerald Swanson is Professor Emeritus of Economics, Eller College, University of Arizona. After earning his doctorate in Economics from the University of Illinois, Professor Swanson went on to be nationally and internationally recognized as an expert in the teaching of economics. He has taught numerous specialized workshops in the United States and abroad, and is the recipient of numerous teaching awards. He is past executive director of the Arizona Council on Economic Education and past president of the Academy of Economic Education. Swanson is known for his research and analysis on hyperinflation in South America and Europe. He has written numerous essays on economic issues, as well as scripts for the National Public Television series The Economic Exchange. He is the author of the books Bankruptcy 1995, a New York Times Best Seller, and America the Broke. At the University of Arizona he held the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair of Economic Education.
Steven Reff, M.A. is a Lecturer for the Economics Department at The University of Arizona where he teaches introductory economics to large sections.  Prior to his current position, he taught economics for 30 years in Tucson Unified School District, including 27 years teaching AP Microeconomics and 25 years teaching AP Macroeconomics.  He served a four-year term on the AP Economics Test Development Committee for Educational Testing Services and is a consultant for The College Board, traveling the world instructing teachers on how to teach AP Economics.  He has written an interactive Internet Economics Textbook, and with a co-author has published a workbook Fundamental Models in Economics.  He has won numerous awards for teaching, both at high school and college levels, including: U.S. Presidential Scholars Educator Award by the U.S. Department of Education, 2010; Eller Undergraduate Faculty Member of the Year (Large Class), and; The Eller College Dean's Award for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence (2008, 2013, 2014).
Barbara Ging Gray, J.D. is the Director of Educator Programs at the Thomas R. Brown Foundation, and an instructor in both their programs and those of the UA Office of Economic Education. Barbara taught AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics for 12 years at University High School in Tucson. She has a B.A. in Secondary Education, a Juris Doctorate degree, and an administrative certificate in Educational Leadership. She is also a College Board AP Grader in Economics. During her tenure at University High, Barbara was the recipient of the U.S. Presidential Scholar Educator Award by the U.S. Department of Education, the University of Arizona Eller College Polaris (Outstanding High School) Teaching Award, the University of Arizona “Arizona Cup” Teaching Award, and two Flinn Foundation Outstanding Educator Awards. She is also a member of the Arizona Bar. She is an official volunteer of the Eller College Economics Department.
Megan Kirts teaches AP economics and history at Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson.  She serves as a reader and item writer for the AP US History Exam as well as an instructor of economics professional development for the Thomas R. Brown Foundation and the University of Arizona Office of Economics Education.  She is a current member of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank's Education Advisory Group.  She has won such awards as a James Madison Memorial Fellowship, the 2014 Ed Eisele Award for Excellence in Economics Education, and a Transatlantic Outreach Program Fellowship.


Additional instructors are drawn from regional classrooms. 


Mark J. Sammons, has been coordinator of teacher outreach at the University of Arizona’s Office of Economic Education since 2009, and program coordinator at the Thomas R. Brown Foundation since 2006. Sammons came to Arizona after a thirty-year career in public history museums as an educator, program planner, researcher, curator, executive director, and president. He lectured in the graduate school of history at the University of New Hampshire, and published scholarly works on Black History and other subjects.