July 2023 Network News

August 8, 2023

By Jessica Vaile

Thoughts from Dawn Wallace

Flinn Foundation Vice President, Civic Leadership, Dawn Wallace.

Most of you know that for the last four years, former legislator and House minority leader Chad Campbell, and former legislator Stan Barnes, have served as the political duo in our annual Academy for Flinn-Brown Fellows. 

Last month, Chad answered a public call to service to join Governor Hobbs’ administration as chief of staff. While we are sad to see him leave, we are comforted to know that he will be leading in state government and guiding public policy from the 9th Floor. He will be incredibly missed, as he and Stan have an amazing rapport and are fantastic ambassadors of the Flinn-Brown Network in the community. And year after year, our new Fellows comment that they are one of the best parts of the Academy experience. 

Replacing him was not easy. Stan and Chad provided the highest level of political and policy perspectives through their collective years of experience, and their interaction during Academy discussions also modeled the best practices of civil discourse and dialogue. As we looked for a new partner for Stan, we knew the difference in ideology between the pair needed to be clear, but trust and long-standing professional and personal connections was necessary to create a culture of trust that would spur more honest debate between the facilitators, and among the Fellows as well. I also considered that since our program is geared towards state-level policy, the experience as a former legislator in a position of authority during their tenure was a must, so that our program might be rich with storytelling and real-life examples of our theories of change: connection, collaboration, and consensus-building in state-level service.

I’m happy to announce that former legislator and current justice of the peace Rebecca Rios will now be a part of the Flinn-Brown family. Her name is familiar across the political community, first in her own right as she served in the legislature for nearly 20 years, from 1995 to 2023, beginning in the Arizona House of Representatives, where she became the first woman to hold the title as minority leader. Also, as the daughter of Senator Pete Rios, the first and only Latino president of the state senate. Rebecca and her father are the only father/daughter team to serve together in the legislature.

She was also elected to the state Senate twice and concluded her service as minority leader. She is now a justice of the peace in south Phoenix.

She earned her B.A. and MSW in social work from Arizona State University. Her professional experience includes working as a child and family counselor for the Wayland Family Center, children’s case manager for Community Care Network, director of children’s behavioral health services for the Pinal Gila Behavioral Health Association, and director of community and interagency relations for Empowerment, Inc. Prior to entering elected office, Rebecca was senior government and community affairs advisor for Florence Copper and president of Florence Copper Community Foundation.

Rebecca’s experience and knowledge of public policy will be a great benefit for the new Fellows, as will be her front-row seat to so many of the most impactful historical events in Arizona politics. Please join me in welcoming her as an honorary member of the Flinn-Brown Network!

2023 Flinn-Brown Academy

In the past, we have welcomed Flinn-Brown Fellows from previous cohorts to join us for Academy to either “make up” days that they missed, or just to listen in to the incredible insights of our presenters, speakers, and keynotes. We’re doing so again in 2023. You can find the general schedule here, but if you are interested in a particular policy day, please contact me for specifics.

Rock-a-bye Flinn-Brown Baby 3

I am so happy to announce that Fellows Tony Cani (Phoenix, 2014) and Annie DeGraw(Phoenix, 2013) became the proud parents of Alice George Cani on June 24. Her mom says Alice was born with a full head of hair and the best disposition. Congratulations to Tony and Annie!

For those of you keeping track, this is our third baby born to two Flinn-Brown Fellows. Miss Alice joins 2-year-old Fitz and 1-year-old Justus. Here’s to the toddler years, Fellows!

Fellows Meet Fellows

Julie Katsel (Tucson, 2014) has organized quarterly Flinn-Brown Fellow happy hours for 2023, and the next one is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 11 at Reforma in Tucson.

Watch your email for an invitation from Julie with further details, but mark your calendars now!

If you’d like to organize happy hours for Fellows in your region, please let Dawn know. She will be happy to help connect you!

Upcoming CivEx

August CivEx

Please join us for our next CivEx. Registration and additional details coming soon.

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

Flinn-Brown Convention

Save the Date

We are excited to share that the 2023 Flinn-Brown Convention will be held on Friday, November 3 at the Helios Education Campus. Below are some details from the Convention Planning Committee:

  • Thursday, November 2: Evening reception, beginning with 2023 cohort, followed by an all-Fellows reception.
  • Friday, November 3Sarah Rose Webber (Tempe, 2017) has agreed to organize a morning hike for Fellows.
  • Due to high demand, we are inquiring about securing a block of rooms for a negotiated rate at the Fairfield Inn, close to the Flinn Foundation, for Fellows to reserve.

Annette Zinky (Phoenix, 2013) and Sarah Douthit (Flagstaff, 2013) have agreed to co-host a reunion of the two cohorts of 2013 Flinn-Brown Fellows. If you are interested in participating in the organizing committee, please let them know.

We also invite sponsorship opportunities to help provide a high-quality, professional learning experience for Fellows at the Convention. Sponsors may showcase their support through presentation, reception, and breakout sponsorships, including prominent logo display, brand recognition through social media, and recognition on the event website and program.

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

Fellows Lists

Each month we will feature a Fellows list for a specific employment sector, public policy area, or affinity group. 

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

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 recommendation comes from Mary Venezia (Tucson, 2015) and Sean Berens (Phoenix, 2016).

Mary Venezia
(Tucson, 2015)
The Storm Before the Calm
byGeorge Friedman

Mary Venezia: I read The Storm Before the Calm on the recommendation of a mentor who has very different political ideologies and life experiences than my own, but we always agree on the chaos of current politics and economics impacting many social and cultural issues. Friedman’s latest book is about America’s historical institutional cycles and discusses the opportunity that could come from current challenges, shifts in corporate structures, and longer life expectancies. I’m not a political scientist or economist but I’ve found myself referencing Friedman’s book in my professional world of higher-education enrollment and strategic planning and reminding myself amid this current storm that maybe there will be calm in the next decade!

Sean Berens
(Phoenix, 2016)
The Color of Law
by Richard Rothstein

Sean Berens: I read The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein, several years ago and it knocked me out. Few books deliver such a forceful case for evaluating the systems around us and questioning how they came to be. What begins as a description of the affirmative laws and government policies that have enforced racial segregation in U.S. housing will end with you looking up the redlining maps in your own community. You might just look up the covenants recorded against your own house and in many communities around the state, and you will find that racially restrictive covenants are still on the books. Even though they are now unenforceable, those covenants provide insight into how our cities developed and, indeed, why they look the way that they do today.

Fellows Spotlight

Sean Berens

(Phoenix, 2016)
Senior Counsel
Office of General Counsel, Governor’s Office

1. Can you please describe your work and how public policy impacts you?

I currently serve as Senior Counsel in the Office of General Counsel for Gov. Katie Hobbs. In that role, I work with General Counsel Bo Dul and the rest of the legal team to assist the governor’s staff with anything and everything that they do. Housing and water are a few of my focus areas but our dynamic state provides the opportunity to help with many different subjects from one day to the next. Among other things, the legal team provides analysis of both existing and proposed policy and ensures that the office remains in compliance with its myriad obligations.
Something that has surprised me since beginning this new position is that public policy impacts me viscerally and continuously each day. As an attorney in private practice, I glimpsed the despair and rejoiced in the triumph of my immigration or family law pro bono clients but I now glimpse the human impact of nearly every policy area. In the Governor’s Office, we are blessed to be able to observe the impact of policy on Arizonans in real time. When we are not going out to see folks around the state, they are often coming to us directly to let us know how one policy or another is affecting them. It is impossible not to be moved by the experiences of my fellow Arizonans. Their stories bring home the life-changing daily impact of public policy. The urgency of the problems that they face also makes it very easy to get out of bed and into the office each morning!

2. Do you have a favorite quote that is meaningful to you? Please explain why.

“What’s good for you is good for me and what’s bad for you is bad for me.” -The Refreshments

To me, this is a simple reminder, delivered by a canonical Arizona band, that we are all bound up in a common endeavor, whether we like it or not. It is the same sentiment that animates the Flinn-Brown Network. We may not all agree but we need to get around a table and figure out a plan because we all want to live and prosper in this state.

3. How has the Fellows Network been useful to you?

In addition to enabling friendships that enrich my life every day, the Network has been an amazing tool to enable creativity in problem solving and policymaking. The breadth of the Network ensures that, if you have an idea for a policy solution, you can call a Fellow with expertise in the pertinent field to see if your idea is worth pursuing or if you should go back to the drawing board.

4. What do you see as potential opportunities strengthening civic health in Arizona?

This may be a predictable answer given my current role, but there has been immense turnover on State Boards and Commissions and the Governor’s Office is constantly searching for qualified, engaged Arizonans who will reflect all parts of the state. The governor has also announced several task forces and councils and Fellows are already serving on those. We need people from all parts of the state and all backgrounds to fill these positions. Creating boards and commissions that include the broadest possible range of experience will strengthen our response to all manner of pressing issues.

If you missed a Fellows Spotlight, you can view them on the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership website now.

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.

Clare Aslan, Ph.D. (Flagstaff, 2017) and her NAU colleagues were granted $1 million by the Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program to research the impact of invasive species on threatened and endangered plants.

Elvy Barton (Chandler, 2013) was quoted in a KJZZ article about SRP’s plan to send wood that is removed during forest thinning to a Snowflake power plant to be converted into bioenergy.

Karen Francis-Begay, Ph.D. (Tucson, 2013) was appointed Chair of the Governing Council for the National Institute for Native Leadership in Higher Education.

Mayor Mila Besich (Superior, 2019) was quoted in an article about the status of the Resolution Copper Mining project, which would be built at Oak Flat if approved.

Tony Cani (Phoenix, 2014) was featured on a recent episode of KJZZ’s Friday NewsCap.

Blaise Caudill (Phoenix, 2014) was interviewed for an ASU News article about his ASU journey and role as Gov. Hobb’s Energy Policy Advisor.

Congressman Juan Ciscomani (Tucson, 2011), joined by a bipartisan group of Arizona congressmen, recently introduced a bill to honor former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe by renaming a post office in Patagonia as the Jim Kolbe Memorial Post Office.

Mayor Becky Daggett (Flagstaff, 2014) was quoted in a Fronteras article regarding a proposal to create Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument, which would protect about 1.1 million acres of land surrounding the Grand Canyon.

Carlos De La Torre (Tucson, 2013) was quoted in a TucsonSentinel.com article about Tucson’s waste issue and future plans for the Los Reales Sustainability Campus.

Mayor Tim Elinski (Cottonwood, 2013) won the $10,000 prize for the 2023 Moonshot Pioneer Pitch to expand his company Pin Drop Travel Trailers.

Julie Euber (Tucson, 2022) was quoted in a KGUN 9 article about a partnership between SARSEF and Tohono Chul to create a summer camp for kids interested in natural and environmental sciences.

Katelyn Harris Lange (Phoenix, 2020) wrote a blog post about 10 top Arizona leadership programs.

Adam Leckie, Ed.D. (Queen Creek, 2023) was quoted in a Casa Grande Dispatch article about Casa Grande Elementary School District’s new Center for Online and Innovative Learning, which will focus on computer coding and STEM practices for fourth- to sixth-grade students.

Daniel Hernandez Jr. (Tucson, 2011) was quoted in a KJZZ article about the nearly 3,000 signatures Stand for Children Arizona has collected in support of protecting the 50-50 dual-language model.

Councilwoman Nikki Lee (Tucson, 2018) partnered with the Tucson Metro Chamber to award a total of $100,000 to 11 locally owned businesses for crime prevention.

Magistrate Andrew Hettinger (Page, 2022) has been appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court Committee on Limited Jurisdiction Courts.

Mignonne Hollis (Hereford, 2013) and Mayor Mila Besich (Superior, 2019) were quoted in an AZ Mirror article regarding the $993 million Arizona will receive to invest in building broadband infrastructure and improving connectivity.

Christian Price (Maricopa, 2012) was interviewed for a Pinal Central article about the city of Maricopa’s projected economic growth.

Bill Regner (Clarkdale, 2018) was nominated and selected to fill one of the two private sector representative positions for Yavapai County on the Northern Arizona Council of Government’s (NACOG) Regional Council for a one-year term. He also provided guest commentary in the “My Turn” column in the Verde Independent.

Sam Richard (Phoenix, 2017) was quoted in an AZ Big Media article about how the cannabis sector is growing in northern Arizona.

Ruth Soberanes (Vietnam, 2016) is now a Foreign Service Commercial Officer assigned to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Benjamin Taylor, JD (Phoenix, 2019) was featured in an Arizona Republic article about his journey to becoming the first Black president of the Arizona Bar Association and his hopes of increasing diversity in the bar and inspiring more people of color to become judges and lawyers.

Edgar Soto (Tucson, 2022) was interviewed for a KGUN9 story about bringing minor-league baseball back to Tucson.

Nancy Steele, D.Env. (Cottonwood, 2019) will be retiring as executive director of Friends of the Verde River at the end of this year.

Lisa Urias (Phoenix, 2011) and Sonoran Secretary of Tourism Roberto Gradillas recently signed a pledge to promote tourism in Arizona and Sonora.

Kevin Volk (Tucson, 2022) co-wrote an op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star about benefits of the Pima Early Education Program Scholarships.

Brad Vynalek, JD (Phoenix, 2011) is now the board chair for the Teach for America Phoenix Regional Board.

Updates are gathered from conversations, press releases, articles, social media, tipsters, and confessions. Have news to share? Send it to Danielle Underwood.

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.

Business On Board is holding two training sessions designed specifically for business professionals and community members interested in serving on a nonprofit board. Sessions are scheduled in-person in Sierra Vista on Oct. 4, or virtually Oct. 19-26.

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. Fellows interested in building skills as a board member may want to contact Board Developer Phoenix for additional information or to learn more about private and nonprofit board service opportunities. Foundation for Nonprofits also helps connect its nonprofit clients with potential board members, and hosts trainings and information sessions.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has openings on the Arizona Civil Rights Advisory Board. Applications can be submitted through the online application form.

The Governor’s Office is seeking applications for the Minimum Adequacy Guidelines for School Facilities Committee. Applications can be submitted through the online application form.

The Governor’s Office has over 200 boards and commissions. To apply for any vacancy through the Governor’s Office, complete the application on the website.

Pima County has over 50 boards and commissions. You can request information from the Clerk of the Board to learn more about vacancies and the application process. There are currently vacancies on the following boards:
• Community Action Agency Board
• Historical Commission
• Women’s Commission

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 and Professional Opportunities

The Flinn Foundation is hiring a Conference Center & Guest Experience Coordinator, who will provide the first impression for visitors to our office, as well as manage scheduling for our conference center and serve as its point of contact. Your referrals are welcome.

Health First Foundation Northern Arizona seeks a senior philanthropy officer.

Valley of the Sun United Way is looking for a Chief Community Development and Engagement Officer to lead the implementation of its MC2026 5-year strategic plan and impact agenda. 

KORE Power is seeking a Manager of State and Local Affairs to lead its state, local, and community activities in Buckeye.

The Lubetzky Family Foundation is seeking a Program Manager, Futures for the Free World to further refine and expand the foundation’s pilot Global Democracy Ambassador Scholarship program.

Over Zero is looking for a State Director to build Arizona-specific program strategies that further their mission to prevent identity-based violence.

Mi Familia Vota has an opening for a Civic Engagement Manger to be the Arizona lead strategist in creating a year-round multi-faceted voter engagement strategy.

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU is hiring a Senior Director of Development to lead a coordinated program of fundraising and engagement activities.

USA TODAY is seeking a digital-first Breaking News Editor who can deliver timely, topical breaking news stories.

The Nature Conservancy has positions open for an Energy Policy Advisor and a Stewardship Program Director.

Honeywell is seeking a Director of State and Local Government Affairs

The Greater Phoenix Chamber is hiring a Director of Development & Events to assist with sponsorship procurement and oversee the planning and execution of events. 

The Center for Arizona Policy is seeking a Vice President of Policy to drive the development and execution of the organization’s public policy strategy.

The city of Phoenix has a position open for a Government Relations – Special Projects Manager.

Arizona SciTech Institute is hiring a Program Coordinator to oversee the Arizona Chief Science Officers program.

The application is now open for cohort 4 of the Indigenous Leadership Academy. The application will close on Aug. 4. The Indigenous Leadership Academy is focused on creating emerging leaders in Indian country.

Hispanic Leadership Institute is currently accepting applications for its upcoming West Valley and Pinal County cohorts.

Arizona Foundation for Women’s (AFW) is accepting applications for its 2024 SHE Leads!™ program.

Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL) is seeking a Social Impact and Racial Equity Advancement Project Director.

Events & Conferences

Venture Café Phoenix connects creators, entrepreneurs, investors, coworkers, students, and visionaries at that flagship program, the Thursday Gathering, to build a strong, inclusive and equitable innovation ecosystem. Check out the schedule of gatherings for August 2023. 

The Arizona Commerce Authority and Digital Equity Institute are seeking ideas and input to help inform the creation of Arizona’s Digital Equity Plan. The plan aims to ensure that every Arizonan has internet access, and the devices, skills and support systems required to participate in the digital world. Join a listening session in your community or complete the survey to share your ideas. 

Local First is hosting the annual Rural Policy Forum in Globe-Miami Aug. 2-4 to hear strategies from national experts as well as learn about success stories from around Arizona that give our rural leaders the tools, resources, and relationships they need to face current challenges.  

Registration is open for the Arizona Manufacturers Council’s Summer Policy Institute, relating specifically to environmental policy and sustainability best practices. Speakers and attendees include manufacturers, business leaders and government officials. The 2023 event will take place in Prescott Aug. 24-25.

The 2023 UNITE Annual Nonprofit + Grantmaker Conference will be held on Thursday, Aug. 24 at the Mesa Convention Center.  

The Arizona Department of Housing and Arizona Housing Coalition are hosting the Arizona Housing Forum in Tucson Aug. 23-25. 

Registration is now open for the 2023 League of Cities and Towns Conference, to be held Aug. 29-Sept. 1 at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort.

State of Black Arizona and Greater Phoenix Economic Council have teamed up to launch the third State of Black Business Report for the state of Arizona. RSVP for this Aug. 16 special edition of Regional Report: A GPEC Virtual Series, to hear more about the findings.

Registration opens soon for the 2023 African American Leadership Institute in Phoenix and Southern Arizona.