March 2021 Network News

March 25, 2021

By Matt Ellsworth

Thoughts from Dawn Wallace

Dawn Wallace

In 2011, the original vision of the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership imagined that building leadership capacity in Arizona should be paired equally with robust civic learning and community outreach to build a groundswell of support for civic life, and with resources for statewide collaborations to link statewide or local leadership initiatives.

In 2021, we are compelled to ask ourselves if we have realized this vision, and beyond the Foundation’s own self-reflection, an integral part of our evaluation has been outwardly focused on policy and political leaders, community partners, and the Fellows themselves. Here is what we have learned:

  • The Center’s reputation is based primarily on its civic leadership mission, specifically, the Flinn-Brown Network.
  • There has been limited effort to effectuate the civic health ecosystem that welcomes every day citizens to engage politically, drive advocacy and policy or promote the tenets of the democratic process in their local communities.
  • While we have especially celebrated state-level elected office among preferred destinations for Fellows, we have seen broader progress in Fellows seeking local elected office, key executive roles in the non-profit sector, and state-level administrative leadership.

What do we have to look forward to for the next decade? We aim to reconnect, with fidelity and equal attention, to the Center’s original vision—to educate, inspire action and build new generations of civic leaders—and through this work, to improve the quality of life of every Arizonan. So, how will our future work be different?

The Center’s primary goal will always remain stronger civic leadership and the integration of the Flinn-Brown Network into all public policy roles that influence matters impacting the state’s future. However, just putting our thumb exclusively on the leadership development scale will have limited effect. Achieving our broader goals requires strengthening the broader ecosystem, especially around civic engagement. Therefore, the Center will operate as a true center for excellence focused on civic engagement and leadership.

LogoRecognizing that leadership is one component of the civic-engagement continuum, civic literacy and education will be a greater priority in our portfolio of CivEx programming. 


To fully realize the vision of a strong and thriving democracy, our collaborative work with other civic organizations will concentrate on advancing a shared, data-driven goal to increase participation in all aspects of civic life. 


This spring, the Flinn-Brown Fellowship celebrates its 10th anniversary. With over 385 Fellows, the Flinn-Brown Network stands out in the state in reputation and influence. The Flinn-Brown Fellows lead at every level of government, in business and industry, and in the nonprofit sector, especially in healthcare and education.

The question of what outcomes we want for the next 10 years is a critical one – it’s a question that will drive our recruitment, our application criteria, our selections process, and programming. As we look ahead, we will continue to be stalwart in amplifying and connecting the work of our Fellows in the Flinn-Brown Network as they reach the highest levels of public-policy development and political discourse.

Welcome Danielle!

We are excited to share that we have a new team member at the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership. Danielle Underwood has joined our team as program coordinator.  

Danielle’s creative and digital communications knowledge paired with her administrative and operations experience make her a stellar addition to our team. Danielle is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds a bachelor’s degree in radio, television, and film with a concentration in screen writing. While in Chicago, she shared her passion for music and singing as a member of the Northwestern Community Ensemble. She not only participated in the choir but also helped organize the choir’s well-attended annual concerts. 

Danielle is an Ohio native from the Cleveland area. Following her graduation in 2019, she came to Arizona to be near her parents who relocated to Mesa. 

Please give Danielle a warm welcome when you meet her virtually or in-person at an upcoming event.

Civic Health Progress Meters Partnership – Steering Committee

Last month, we announced a partnership with the Center for the Future of Arizona to activate the Civic Health Progress Meters. The Civic Health Progress Meters define, track, and measure Arizona’s progress on civic participation and connected communities, and offer the opportunity to frame conversations and prompt action by individuals and organizations throughout our state.

On March 5, at the first meeting of the Civic Health Steering Committee, the members explored the data of the Civic Health Progress Meters, discussed the importance of shared meaning, language, and definitions when we talk about civic life, and how to build community and collaboration.


Past and Upcoming CivEx Webinars

Thank you to 2013 Fellow Teniqua Broughton, who hosted the second of her three-part series on educational equity along with Dr. Heather Carter, executive vice president, Greater Phoenix Leadership, and 2020 Flinn-Brown Fellow Dr. Quintin Boyce, Ed.D., superintendent, Roosevelt Elementary School District. This session highlighted the social conditions that impact educational attainment using the case study of the ongoing collaboration between Greater Phoenix Leadership and the Roosevelt Elementary School District. You can view the CivEx recording here.

If you missed the March 17 webinar led by 2020 Fellow Reyna Montoya on the future of Dreamers in Arizona, watch here.

Check out the exciting lineup of CivEx webinars scheduled for the spring here, starting with the March 31 event on the state of Arizona nonprofits.

Finally, we are always more than happy to help promote your work through social media, so please reach out to me if you would like us to publicly recognize a professional accomplishment, event or program with which you are involved.

Fellows Spotlight

Dawn Wallace

Daniel Hernandez, Jr.
State Representative
Legislative District 2
Arizona State University Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions

LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook

1.  What suggestions would you have for Fellows interested in running for office?

I would suggest reaching out to sitting elected officials, particularly those that are Flinn-Brown Fellows. Many of us would gladly sit down and discuss what you’re looking at running for. One of my favorite hobbies is helping people explore running for office. I have far too often seen mediocre elected officials run with no competition while spectacular people stay on the sidelines because they aren’t familiar with the process and are afraid of making a mistake. Whether it is a school board, municipal, county or state office, we need as many people willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work to make an Arizona better for all of us. Never discount your own ability to create change in your community just because you don’t fit the mold of those who are in office.

2. Tell us about the bills you are sponsoring this year and how it impacts your constituents?

This session obviously COVID-19 relief is at the top of my list. I’m a co-sponsor on a bipartisan and critical piece of legislation that several Flinn-Brown Fellows have been involved in. It reforms and increases our unemployment insurance program in Arizona.

Additionally, I worked with the fabulous director of the Arizona Commission for the Arts and 2013 Flinn-Brown Fellow, Jaime Dempsey, on a bill (HB2755) for a one-time $5 million emergency appropriation for the arts. So many sectors of our economy are struggling, but by working with Jaime, I’ve learned how acutely the Arts have been impacted. This bill had passed the House with wide bipartisan support.

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

It is incredibly helpful because I’ve gotten to learn more from subject matter experts which has helped inform my decisions as a policy maker. I love meeting Fellows so if we haven’t connected send me a note and we can grab coffee or I can give you a tour of the state house. I’m honored to serve in the House with several members and am constantly working with other Fellows on legislation and community partnerships.

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

Fellows In The News

Jeremy Babendure (Phoenix, 2012) was quoted in a PR Newswire article regarding the 2021 Arizona SciTech Festival.

Michael Beller (Phoenix, 2017) is now the director of analytics for Valor Global.

Stacey Button (Columbia, Missouri, 2011) was mentioned in a Columbia Tribune article on her organization’s work to create equity through economic opportunity.

Nikki Check (Jerome, 2012) was mentioned in a City Sun Times article about her contributions to Jenelle Bonifield’s new book, “AZ Uncorked, The Arizona Wine Guide.”

Erin Hart (Phoenix, 2013) was quoted in a KJZZ story regarding Expect More Arizona’s recent survey results about the concerns of rural Arizona voters.

Rep. Daniel Hernandez (Phoenix, 2011) was quoted in a recent KVOA News 4 Tucson story on two legislative bills advocating for mental health education in schools.

Brittney Kaufmann (Phoenix, 2014) and Joanne Osborne (Goodyear, 2012) were recently quote in an Arizona Capitol Times article regarding HB2523, which would allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees.

Elaine Kessler (Gilbert, 2018) has been nominated for the Governor’s Arts Awards in the category of Artist. Winners will be announced March 26. Good luck Elaine!

James LaBar (Charlotte, North Carolina, 2012) was recently quoted in an article published in The Charlotte Observer about businesses that have thrived during the pandemic. 

Amy Love (Phoenix, 2019) is now outreach director for Senator Mark Kelly’s office.

Aaron Magezi (Phoenix, 2019) is now the deputy chief administrative officer/ deputy county executive in El Dorado County near the greater Sacramento area.

Reyna Montoya (Phoenix, 2020) was quoted in an Arizona Public Media article about S.C.R. 1044, which would approve in-state tuition for Arizona Dreamers.

Kell Palguta (Prescott Valley, 2019) hosts a weekly podcast update for Prescott Valley.

Stephanie Parra (Phoenix, 2020) was quoted in an ABC15 news story on the MAPA report detailing the disparities in Latino education in Arizona. She was featured in an AZ Family news story about ALL in Education helping parents navigate distance learning.

Naketa Ross (Phoenix, 2019) was recently quoted in an AZ Central article on HB2728 which could keep children in foster care until they are 21 years old.

Fernando Shipley (Globe, 2011) was appointed to the Gila County Provisional Community College District Governing Board.

Jami Snyder (Phoenix, 2013) was quoted in an EHR Intelligence article on Arizona’s health information exchange and the integration of social determinants of health to that system.

Nancy Steele (Cottonwood, 2019) was elected to the Northern Arizona Council for Arizona Forward for this year and  co-authored an article in the December issue of Green Living Magazine.

Benjamin Taylor (Phoenix, 2019) was recently quoted in an ABC15 news story on groups in Arizona that are working to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in communities. He was also was elected to Secretary-Treasurer for the State Bar Board of Governors and will also serve on the Task Force on Warrants and Jury created by Chief Justice Robert Brutinel of the Arizona Supreme Court.

Coral Evans (Flagstaff, 2013) and Janelle Wood (Phoenix, 2013) were featured in an AZ Central opinion article about influential Black Arizonans making a difference in Arizona.

Careers & Professional Opportunities

Aliento is seeking volunteers to assist more than 200 applicants who are applying for DACA for the first time! You can assist applicants in organizing and completing their documents and participate in virtual orientation and training sessions conducted by Aliento. No experience is needed, just an interest in volunteering. If you are interested, you can register here.

Find other jobs in the public sector with Government Jobs and azstatejobs.

Events & Conferences

Nominations are open for the Arizona Capitol Times Best of the Capitol. More information.

The Wexford Virtual Grand Opening Celebration takes place on March 30 at noon. Learn more.

The Center for the Future of Arizona will be releasing the latest data and key findings from its decennial Gallup Arizona 2020 Survey on April 21. Register here.

Did you miss a previous CivEx? You can find webinar recordings on our website. View past events.