9 Queens: Empowerment through Chess

9 Queens is dedicated to empowering individuals and communities through chess by making the game fun, exciting, and accessible.

Player Spotlight


Varga Luna

(playing for 4 years)

“I became interested in chess when I was about four. I like chess bc you get to have fun and learn some things. You get to be more patient. You get to focus and concentrate. ”

About Us

Board of Directors



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Gina Macaluso – PRESIDENT

Gina Macaluso joined the School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS) as the assistant professor and program manager for the Knowledge River program (https://sirls.arizona.edu/kr/) in 2013. Knowledge River is a Tucson-based educational experience within SIRLS that focuses on educating information professionals who are committed to serving the informational needs of Latino and Native American populations. Since its inception, Knowledge River has become the foremost graduate program for training librarians and information specialists with a focus on Latino and Native American cultural issues.A former public librarian for over 27 years, she has held various positions in adult, children’s and young adult services in small, medium and large libraries, branch management and administration. As member of American Library Association’s Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA), she served on the Youth Participation Committee, Organization & Bylaws Committee and the Teen Website Advisory Committee.  She is a current member of the Arizona Library Association (AzLA), former chair for the Arizona Librarians for Young Adult Services division, and the current chair for the AzLA Service Awards Committee.

Vicki Lázaro became one of 9 Queen’s biggest cheerleaders in 2009 when she attended Chess Fest at the Hotel Congress.  Vicki’s initial motivation was to encourage her daughter to play chess by learning how to play together at the free lessons 9 Queens gave at the event.  What ended up happening was Vicki was so impressed with the organization, from the logo to the people involved, that she began volunteering. Today she is the Interim Treasurer and has proudly served as the President of the Board of Directors for 2011-2013 and Interim Executive Director in 2013. Vicki’s background is in executive sales, networking, merchandising and art.  She has a Fine Arts Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and currently creates one-of-a-kind raku fired ceramic sculptures out of the pottery studio at the Tucson Museum of Art. She is a full-time Mom to Max and VargaLuna, both avid chess players and 9 Queens groupies.


Ingrid Trebisky


Ingrid Trebisky – SECRETARY

Ingrid Trebisky is an Assistant Manager and Librarian Supervisor at the Woods Memorial Library in Young Adult Services. She has worked at the Pima County Public Library for over 15 years and held positions in adult, children’s and young adult services in small, medium and large libraries. She was involved in setting up the first 9 Queens Chess tournament with Pima County Public Library in the Joel D. Valdez Main Library and facilitated the initial partnership between 9 Queens and Pima County Public Library. She currently is the liaison for Pima County Public Library and 9 Queens Chess Library Tournament Series. Her father taught her how to play chess when she was a little girl and she taught her little sister. They had many games together until one shocking day her sister beat her in a game. As a mom she was a chess coach at her youngest son’s elementary school for several years and enjoyed teaching kids how to play chess and participating in the SACA scholastic chess league. She believes chess is a wonderful intergenerational game that improves reading skills, memory, concentration, problem solving, planning and foresight.



Lee LaFrese – Board Member

Lee LaFrese has been involved in chess for over 40 years as an expert level player, tournament director, organizer and youth instructor. He became involved with 9 Queens because he is supportive of their mission and believe’s that chess can be a very powerful force in a young person’s life. Lee worked at IBM for 32 years where he was a Senior Technical Staff Member in the Systems Technology Division. He is now retired from IBM and working as a Senior Consultant for IntelliMagic, an IBM business partner. Lee is a past president of the Southern Arizona Chess Association and was chief organizer of the 1997 National Elementary Chess Championships held in Tucson which attracted over 1700 players.



Yurika IsoeYurika Isoe – Board Member
Yurika Isoe has been serving on the Board of Directors for 9 Queens since her sophomore year at University High School and now attends the University of Arizona as a Biology Major. She started playing chess in 2nd grade at her elementary school’s chess club and has fallen in love with the game ever since. Participating in interscholastic chess all throughout her education, she wanted to bring the community that has fostered her personal growth to children and teens around Tucson. She has been involved with 9 Queens through teaching in 9 Queens after-school programs, volunteering at Library Chess Tournaments,  running the Kirk-Bear Canyon Library Summer Chess Club and volunteering at other outreach functions.



Ann Price – Board Member
Ann Price, AIA, MBA is a Registered Architect and has been involved in building design and construction in Tucson since 1993. Ann has enjoyed the game of chess recreationally since childhood, and began volunteering with 9 Queens after attending one of the library tournaments. She earned her MBA from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management in 2012, and believes that chess is a great way to develop important business skills, like strategic thinking abilities. Ann is proud to serve as a member of the 9 Queens Board of Directors since 2011, and served as Interim President in 2013.



Aiya Cancio – Youth Board Member

A sophomore at Catalina Foothills High School, Aiya Cancio happily joined the 9 Queens board in 2013. Since her start in chess at age 9, Aiya has been either a participant or volunteer in numerous 9 Queens events. In fact, at 9 Queens’ very first Chess Fest in 2008, Aiya won the “Top Girl Finisher” prize, earning her the “Chess-on-the-Fly” grand prize, a weekend chess/fly-fishing retreat in New Mexico with her family and founding member, then executive director, Jean Hoffman. In the 2012-2013 school year, Aiya served as an assistant instructor with a year-long 9 Queens sponsored “Chess-in-the-schools” program at a Title IX K-2 Southern Arizona school. She also is a USCF nationally recognized club tournament director and currently works with the Southern Arizona’s Chess Association’s Scholastic League. Aiya has since gone on to improve her chess ability immensely, earning the coveted role of Arizona State Representative in the annual Susan Polgar Girls’ Invitational (SPGI) for the past five years. In 2013, Aiya also earned the privilege to play in the National Girls’ Invitational Tournament in Madison, Wisconsin at the United States Chess Federation’s (USCF) US Open, also representing Arizona as the highest HS female finisher in the 2013 State Championships.



Kendra Cass

Kendra Cass, Executive Director,  native of the San Francisco Bay area, has been an educator for the past 15 years ranging from K-12 teaching, arts education, social justice and media literacy. She earned her BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a Master’s in Teaching from New College of California with a focus in Family Literacy and International Teaching Collaboration in El Salvador. Kendra began bringing her own children to 9 Queens Family Nights and soon after became a volunteer and board member. She is a strong supporter of 9 Queens mission of empowerment of our girls through chess  and a believer in the benefits chess offers in the arenas of math and science. Kendra is honored to serve as a member of 9 Queens and remains committed to the vision of accessible education for all!

9 Queens National Advisory Council
Lorelei Anderson-Francis
Minnette Burges
Susan Dubow
Pascal Charbonneau
Sean Farrell
Randolph Frazier
Paul Gold
James Grip
Gina Olsen
Moses Perez
Lisette Sacks
Greg Shahade
Sheila Tobias
Jenelle Wallace
Josh Waitzkin

Meredith Kupinsky

Quinta Peterson

Jacquelyn De Sa