April 2024 Network News

May 1, 2024

By Jessica Vaile

Thoughts from Dawn Wallace

Mark Twain famously claimed that there’s no such thing as an original idea. 

Back in my younger, more precocious days, I might have dismissed this as the ramblings of an older generation clinging to relevance. But now, in my prime time, I find myself resonating more with Twain’s wisdom, often asking my Gen Z kid, “Do you really think your generation invented anything?”

Twain’s quote is not as bleak as it sounds; it suggests that everything we come up with or create is influenced by something else, or in other words, while it may seem like we’re having a stroke of genius or inventing something entirely new, we’re actually drawing from existing ideas, personal experiences, or knowledge in some way. It’s a statement that challenges the notion of pure originality with the upstart nature of human innovation.

Twain likens ideas to the same old pieces of colored glass in a kaleidoscope seen through new and curious combinations. This manifests in the many ideas, products, and concepts in the consumer marketplace that are recycled and repackaged, advancements in science and technology (abacus to quantum computers), and in the arts where covers, remixes, and reinterpretations are commonplace. In all cases, tributary in its obvious expression, but perhaps more subtly as a dialogue between the past and the present. 

Case in point. Beyonce’s recent cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” in which she adds a modern twist to the classic. What started in 1973 with “I’m beggin’ of you, please don’t take my man, please don’t take him just because you can” ended in 2024 with, “I’m warning you, don’t come for my man, don’t take the chance because you think you can.” 

Dolly herself praised the rendition with a quick witted, “Beyonce is giving that girl some trouble and she deserved it.” Embracing change can be difficult, especially when it challenges the cultural norms ingrained within a generation. However, reflecting on the evolution of “Jolene” over the past 50 years serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of an ongoing dialogue between past traditions and present modernisms. This dialogue is crucial for our society to find a balanced equilibrium where we can coexist and thrive. 

Fellows Needed for Arizona Judicial Nominating Commissions

The Governor’s Office is seeking civically engaged Arizonans to appoint to the trial and appellate court judicial nominating commissions. The commissions consist of both attorney and non-attorney members and include the statewide Commission on Appellate Court Appointments as well as trial court appointment commissions for Maricopa, Coconino, Pima and Pinal Counties. Current positions for which they need applicants are listed below.

Commission on Appellate Court Appointments
8 non-attorneys (from all counties in the State)
3 attorneys (from all counties in the State)

Maricopa County Trial Court Appointments Commission
7 non-attorneys (all supervisorial districts)
4 attorneys (all supervisorial districts except district 1)

Pima County Trial Court Appointments Commission
10 non-attorneys (all supervisorial districts)
3 attorneys (supervisorial districts 2, 3 and 5)

Pinal County Trial Court Appointments Commission
10 non-attorneys (all supervisorial districts)
5 attorneys (all supervisorial districts)

Coconino County Trial Court Appointments Commission
7 non-attorneys (all supervisorial districts except district 1)
2 attorneys (supervisorial districts 2 and 4)

If you are interested in this position and have questions, I can connect you to the Governor’s Office of the General Counsel for more information.

  • Non-Attorneys can apply here.
  • Attorneys can apply through the State Bar here.

Fellows Running for Office

For more than a decade, the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership at the Flinn Foundation has offered the Flinn-Brown Fellowship: the premier statewide civic-leadership program for experienced Arizona leaders to expand their knowledge, put their connections to use, and make a difference in their communities by expanding their public service with destinations that include state and local elected office. 

For a list of Fellows running, see here.

2024 Flinn-Brown Convention

We are excited to share that the 2024 Flinn-Brown Convention will be held on Friday, August 16, at On Jackson, 245 E. Jackson Street in Phoenix.

Save the dates will land in your inbox next week along with the link to nominate a Fellow for the 2024 Flinn-Brown Awards.

  • Pre-Convention Reception on Thursday, August 15, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the FOUND:RE hotel. We will celebrate the 2014 cohort on their 10th anniversary and invite all Fellows to join us for an informal get together to launch Convention!
  • We will also be securing a block of rooms at the FOUND:RE for out-of-town Fellows or local Fellows who attend the reception the night prior and want to shorten their commute on Convention Day.
  • A nature walk is scheduled for Friday, August 16 on a Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Trail, hosted by Sarah Rose Webber (Scottsdale, 2017). More details to come.
  • Fellows are also organizing an informal happy hour after the Convention concludes at the Duce, 525 S. Central Avenue in Phoenix.

If you have any questions, please let Dawn know.

Fellows Spotlight

Edgar Soto

(Tucson, 2022)

Vice President, Pima Community College
Pima County Board of Supervisors Candidate, District 3

“The experience I got from Flinn-Brown was a game changer for me, because I felt like I could talk about things at a new level. I had information and I knew where to get information. It really forced me to dig deeper into understanding major problems and challenges and where they’re rooted; it taught me how to be a better problem solver.” – Edgar Soto

Edgar Soto is a native Arizonan, born and raised in Tucson. His family has been in Pima County for generations, before it was even part of the United States. He likes to say, “We didn’t cross any borders, the borders crossed us.” 

Soto’s deep roots in his community, including serving the past 27 years at Pima Community College, have led him to run for the Pima County Board of Supervisors in District 3 this November. 

Soto served in the Marine Corps where he learned values that he still carries with him today. After serving time in the military, he went on to be an educator and a baseball coach, keeping his community ties close. 

When Soto was young, he was severely “pigeon-toed” which proved to be a thorn in his side as he tried to succeed in sports. As he got older, his father encouraged him to keep working. He would help young Soto do push-ups and workouts around the house. The experience led Soto to have a tenacity not everyone can find in themselves and a deep appreciation for those who supported him. 

Soto went on to coach with USA baseball for four years and was the head coach for the Junior National team in 2002.

“The people we come in contact with are so important. If I had little league coaches that made me hate the game of baseball, I probably wouldn’t have kept playing,” Soto says. “One of the things I’ve always tried to share with people is find what you love to do, and then keep doing it. You don’t have to be the best at it, but keep doing it.”

Soto has been with Pima Community College for 27 years, the last seven as vice president. Throughout his time with PCC, his favorite task has been overseeing the different grants that help underserved students succeed. 

“I think they’re the lifeline for first generational, low socioeconomic, and all students that might not have access to what they need to succeed,” Soto says. “We have achievement gaps; we have socioeconomic gaps and people want to just tell you to pull up your bootstraps and get it done. These gaps exist for a reason. We’ve had laws that have created some of these gaps and now we’re trying to create situations where we fill gaps.”

Soto first had the idea to run for office after he delivered the eulogy for his good friend, Rudy Gallego. Gallego was a Vietnam veteran and an esteemed community leader in Tucson. He realized that “compassion and serving the vulnerable” were pillars he had to uphold. 

Being a veteran, coach and educator has taught Soto a lot about how to be a strong leader and how to advocate for those in need. Soto believes good leadership comes from listening and trust. 

“People think you’ve got to know everything when you’re in a leadership position, but really, you’ve got to listen and give people what they need to be successful,” Soto says. “Sometimes the best thing you can do as a leader is get out of the way. People want to be seen, heard and valued. And it’s our job, as leaders, to let that voice be heard and be seen.”

Soto wants to focus on economic development and bringing good jobs to Arizona if he is elected. Working as an educator, he’s seen firsthand how talented and skilled students leave Arizona because they can’t find employment. 

Soto’s experience with Flinn-Brown helped him find his passion for addressing those issues. 

“We had some robust conversations with Flinn-Brown. People had some challenges with each other, and I loved it, because I feel like when we left there, we were different people,” Soto says. 

If you missed a Fellows Spotlight, you can find them here.

Leadership Forward – A Better Arizona

Lea Márquez Peterson: Episode 7

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson (Tucson, 2011) talks about her early career as an entrepreneur in Tucson and how that led to her leading the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and eventually being appointed, and then elected, to the Arizona Corporation Commission. The first Latina elected to statewide office in Arizona also shares her thoughts on energy reliability, Arizona’s energy policy, running for statewide office, her current re-election campaign, and the value of the Flinn-Brown Network in the seventh episode of the monthly Leadership Forward for a Better Arizona.

You can listen on our YouTube channel, Apple Podcast, or any of the platforms below.

In May, the podcast will feature Dr. Nicholas Vasquez (Chandler, 2016) who will share his perspective on the intersection of medical practice and public policy, the impact of social determinants of health from the viewpoint of an emergency room doctor, and why playing chess can feed the soul.

Fellows Meet Fellows

Phoenix Fellows Jaime Dempsey (2013) and Lisa Urias (2011) were seen all over Arizona recently, with visits to Sierra Vista Fellows the Honorable Gwen Calhoun (2012) and the Honorable Alesia Ash(2015), Cottonwood Fellow Mayor Tim Elinski (2013), Flagstaff FellowMayor Becky Daggett (2014), and connecting with Gail Jackson(Flagstaff, 2023) in Camp Verde.

Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo (Mesa, 2014), David Martinez III(Phoenix, 2011), Amy Love (Phoenix, 2019), and Gina Roberts(Scottsdale, 2019) gathered at the Flinn Foundation for the launch of Arizona Town Hall’s report, “Voting and Elections in Arizona.”

Fellows are first-and third-place winners at the first ever Fellows Trivia Night! Huge thanks to Katelyn Harris Lange (Phoenix, 2020) for organizing such a great event at The Green Woodpecker and to Sophie Allen-Etchart (Phoenix, 2022), Paul Brierley (Phoenix, 2011), Kimulet Winzer (Phoenix, 2011), Sarah Rose Webber(Scottsdale, 2017), The Honorable Naketa Ross (Phoenix, 2019), Derrik Rochwalik (Phoenix, 2018), David Martinez III (Phoenix, 2011), the Honorable Eddie Cook (Gilbert, 2023), Fletcher Montzingo (Phoenix, 2017), Ben Blink (Phoenix, 2018), and Jesse Galvez (Gilbert, 2023) for attending. Our very own Dawn Wallacejoined too!

 Paul Perrault, Ph.D. (Phoenix, 2016), Quintin Boyce, Ed.D. (Chandler, 2020), and Erin Hart (Phoenix, 2013) were at Helios Education Foundation for College Signing Day.

Barbie Icons Ben Blink (Phoenix, 2018), Paul Brierley (Phoenix, 2011), Mayor Kevin Hartke (Chandler, 2014), Mignonne Hollis(Hereford, 2013) and Erin Carr-Jordan (Chandler, 2014) want you to know that Flinn-Brown Fellows are Kenough!

Flinn-Brown Fellows share fabulous fashion sense! Blaise Caudill(Phoenix, 2014) and Nate Rhoton (Phoenix, 2015) at One-n-ten’s Fresh Brunch.


Please register to join us on Wednesday, May 15 at 2 p.m. for a CivEx webinar featuring election-year insights from nationally recognized polling expert Mike Noble, founder & CEO of Noble Predictive Insights, a nonpartisan public opinion polling, market research, and data analytics firm in Phoenix.

Noble will offer data-driven perspectives on voter behavior, the intricate and sometimes unrecognized drivers of political shifts now underway, and emerging trends crucial to Arizona’s key 2024 elections, including the presidential, congressional and state-level contests, as well as top issues voters will address through ballot initiatives.

If you have an idea for a CivEx webinar that you would like to host or a topic you would like to learn more about, contact Dawn.

Fellows Field Trips

We are delighted to share that Flinn-Brown Fellow Sarah Rose Webber (Scottsdale, 2017), Deputy Director at Arizona State Parks and Trails, has planned a Fellows Field Trip to Arizona’s newest state park! Please join Sarah and our Verde Valley Fellows,Tim and Ruth Ellen ElinskiNikki Check, and Bill and Janet Regner, for a welcome breakfast at the park ranch house followed by a guided tour/river trail hike of the Rockin’ River Ranch in Camp Verde on Friday, May 10. Breakfast will be served at 9:30 a.m.

We will soon be announcing two more field trip opportunities for the summer!

Fellows are encouraged to suggest or offer opportunities for Fellows to visit and learn more about what is happening in greater Arizona. Please let Dawn know if you are interested in providing a field trip opportunity.

Fellows Lists

Each month we will feature a Fellows list for a specific employment sector, public policy area, affinity group, or region. This month we focus on Fellows in Running for Office

While we try very hard to keep up to date on Fellows’ activities, we recognize that we may have missed someone. Please let Dawn know and we will happily update the list.

Fellows Directory Updates

Help us keep our Fellows Directory accurate and updated!  We update our online directory monthly and print hard copies twice a year (July and December).  Please take a moment to complete this survey with your current information. You can also upload a new headshot to this Google Drive folder.

Please contact Jennifer if you have problems accessing the survey or uploading a photo.

Fellows Book Recommendations

Each month, we feature suggestions from Fellows to create a virtual Network library about public-policy issues, the practice of leadership, professional development, and other areas worth sharing. This month’s recommendations come from Edgar Soto (Tucson, 2022).

Edgar Soto
(Tucson, 2022)
The End of the World is Just the Beginning
by Peter Zeihan
Thank You for Being Late
by Thomas L. Friedman

“These books talk about big forecasts for the world, all these big problems. It makes you think about how we can potentially solve these problems as a society, by working together and being innovative using technology.”

Fellows In The News

We are happy to promote your work through social media, so reach out if you would like us to recognize a professional accomplishment, event, or program with which you are involved.

Kate Ali’varius (Phoenix, 2012) was appointed to the Board of Directors for Mission MSA.

Teresa Aseret-Manygoats (Chandler, 2023) spoke to KJZZ about AZDHS’ new campaign to raise awareness around naloxone (Narcan) and prevent opioid overdoses.

Elvy Barton (Chandler, 2013) is quoted in a Fronteras article about Apple’s partnership with the Salt River Project to help the company with sustainability projects throughout Arizona.

The Honorable Mila Besich (Superior, 2019) shares her memories of the 2021 Telegraph Fire in an ASU News article about how the Boyce Thompson Arboretum has partnered with ASU to document the arboretum’s history through innovative projects.

Paul Brierley (Phoenix, 2011) is featured in a Farm Progress profile covering his professional accomplishments.

Toni Cani (Phoenix, 2014) joined Jim Sharpe on a KTAR News podcast to discuss what was to be expected from the Arizona presidential preference election.

The Honorable Tammy Caputi (Scottsdale, 2019) is highlighted in an Arizona Digital Free Press article along with the other Scottsdale City Council candidates.

The Honorable Nikki Check (Jerome, 2012) debated incumbent Donna Michaels in Sedona for the Yavapai County District 3 Democratic nomination. An article from Sedona Red Rock News has a recap.

The Honorable Juan Ciscomani (Tucson, 2011) is quoted in an Eastern Arizona Courier article discussing a $1.2 trillion package to fund projects in Graham and Greenlee counties.

The Honorable Becky Daggett (Flagstaff, 2014) is quoted in an Arizona Republic article about the $3.3 million Flagstaff City Council approved in March to build 139 affordable rental units in downtown Flagstaff.

Molly Edwards (Phoenix, 2011) is now a doctoral candidate in Northern Arizona University’s political science program.

Buna George (Yuma, 2023) is a 2024 Herstory Award recipient from ABWA Yuma.  

Chris Gibbs (Safford, 2012) was named Eastern Arizona Lifestyle’s 2024 Most Influential. Read more here.

Diana Gomez (Yuma, 2016), the Yuma County Director of Public Health, was featured on an episode of KAWC’s Arizona Edition to discuss COVID-19 as it stands today.

Deborah Gonzales Ed.D., (Phoenix, 2012) is quoted in an ABC15 article discussing the move away from online school after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Honorable Matt Gress (Phoenix, 2015) is quoted in an AZ Mirror article discussing bills surrounding sober living homes and their licenses.

Elyse Guidas (Phoenix, 2019) is quoted in a Bee News article about Northern Arizonans now being able to buy fresh produce online using their SNAP/EBT cards.

Erin Hart (Phoenix, 2013) has been appointed by the Arizona Board of Regents to an 18-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee to find the next president of the University of Arizona. Read more here.

The Honorable Daniel Hernandez Jr. (Tucson, 2011) proposed and went on a trip to Israel with 17 state representatives.

Mignonne Hollis (Hereford, 2013) wrote an op-ed for the Herald Review about the Bisbee-Douglas International Airport and its importance to Cochise County’s economy.

Jenny Holsman Tetreault, J.D. (Phoenix, 2011) is highlighted in a Phoenix Business Journal piece for her Outstanding Women In Business 2024 award.

Dana Kennedy (Phoenix, 2016) is quoted in an Arizona Republic article highlighting Arizona’s new law to reform assisted living facilities.

The Honorable Nikki Lee (Tucson, 2018) is quoted in a Daily Wildcat article discussing the resignation of Tucson City Council member Steve Kozachik.

JP Martin (Phoenix, 2017) is quoted in a PolitiFact article discussing voter registration verification.

David Martinez III (Phoenix, 2011) is quoted in an Arizona Digital Free Press article announcing Vitalyst Health Foundation’s 2024 Spark Grant and System Change Grant winners.

The Honorable Lea Márquez Peterson (Tucson, 2011) joined Governor Hobbs and executives from Arizona Public Service, Longroad Energy, McCarthy Building Companies, and US Bancorp Impact Finance to cut the ribbon for Longroad Sun Streams Complex in Maricopa County. Read more here.

The Honorable Jennifer Pawlik (Chandler, 2018) is quoted in an AZ Capitol Times article discussing proposed legislation on student discipline policies in Arizona.

Paul Perrault, Ph.D., (Phoenix, 2016) joined Mark Brodie on KJZZ to discuss how college degrees affect employment in Arizona. Listen to the story here.

The Honorable Christian Price (Maricopa, 2012) is now the Chief Economic Development Officer at the city of Maricopa.

Lisa Schnebly Heidinger (Phoenix, 2012) is quoted in an Arizona Republic article discussing how Sedona got its name.

Adelaida Severson, Ph.D., (Gilbert, 2020) and her family are honored in a piece from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication regarding the creation of the Severson Cronkite Media Global Experience Fund.

Sue Sisley, M.D. (Scottsdale, 2011) is quoted in a Washington Postarticle about marijuana research.

The Honorable Christine Thompson, J.D. (Phoenix, 2017) is now the Director of Arizona Together for Impact.

Alec Thomson (Phoenix, 2019) announced in a press release Arizona Lottery’s continued partnership with the National Forest Foundation to upgrade potable water in Payson.

Lisa Urias (Phoenix, 2011) spoke at the Western Woman of Distinction Luncheon in Wickenburg about the “Arizona rebrand” AOT is working on. Read more here.

Heath Vescovi-Chiordi (Tucson, 2023), received the 2024 Economic Developer of the Year Award for a Large Community from Arizona Association for Economic Development and was quoted in articles from the University of Arizona and Innovation News Network about University of Arizona’s investment in quantum innovation and the economic impact it will have.

Janelle Wood (Phoenix, 2013) wrote an opinion piece on Arizona’s ESA program for the Mesa Tribune.

Richard Yarbough (Glendale, 2018) is quoted in a KTAR News article about virtual reality technologies advancing into Phoenix classrooms.

Board and Commission Openings

Serving on a board or commission is a great way to influence public policy on issues where you have expertise or a passion to serve.

The Governor’s Office is seeking applications for the Arizona Historical Society. There are vacancies for representatives from Apache, Coconino, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Pinal, and Yavapai Counties, and two at-large seats. Applications are accepted through the standard application. The Governor’s Office has over 200 boards and commissions. To apply for any vacancy, complete theapplication on the website. For a list of vacancies, please see here.

Most Arizona counties and cities have boards and commissions with frequent vacancies:

Check local websites for more opportunities.

To share specific opportunities, contact Jennifer Papworth.

Career & Professional Opportunities

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust is seeking candidates for its 2024 class of Piper Fellows. The Piper Fellows Program offers nonprofit leaders in Maricopa County the opportunity to design professional development plans that support growth and renewal. Up to six Fellowships are awarded annually. They are hosting a virtual information session on May 1.

Greater Phoenix Leadership has positions open for Director, Community Infrastructure & Special Projects and Social Impact and Racial Equity Advancement Project Director.

The Nature Conservancy is seeking a Climate Program Project and Partnership Manager in Arizona to identify and advance meaningful partnerships.

Stand for Children is hiring an Arizona School Board Engagement Director to develop and execute an effective outreach and impact plan.

Maricopa County is hiring Homeless Initiatives Program Manager to manage the county’s homelessness projects and programs.

Mi Familia Vota is accepting applications for a Civic Engagement Manager to be the Arizona lead strategist in creating a year-round multi-faceted voter engagement strategy.

The Goldwater Institute is seeking a Major Gifts Officer.

The Children’s Action Alliance is hiring a Director of Early Childhood Policy.

The Marshall Foundation is seeking a new Executive Director with a talent for building and maintaining relationships, a business mindset, a strong work ethic, and a proven commitment to equity, especially in higher education.

The SciTech Institute has positions open for an AZ STEM Ecosystem Project Manager and a Chief Scientist International Program Coordinator.

One Arizona is seeking an Executive Director to lead their coalition of nonpartisan nonprofits focused on civic engagement.

Events & Conferences

Central Arizona Project is holding a stakeholder rate briefing both virtually and online on May 9.

Arizona Impact for Good, formerly Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, is hosting The Impact Summit in Tucson on May 15.

Local First Arizona is accepting suggestions for topics and presenters at the 17th Annual Rural Policy Forum on August 7-9 in Clarkdale. Registration will open later this spring. 

The Arizona Office of Tourism will be hosting the 2024 Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism on August 21-23 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. Learn more here.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Manufacturers Council will have the Summer Policy Summit in Flagstaff August 22-23.

League of Cities and Towns annual conference will be at the Arizona Biltmore August 27-30. Sponsorship registration is open now. Participant registration will open later this spring.