By Brian Powell
As a college student, Amanda Stone went door-to-door in polluted neighborhoods, providing information and guidance to families affected by contamination.
She was then a community-outreach intern with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Today, more than two decades later, Stone is the Chief Policy and Legislative Affairs Officer for the state agency, which exists to protect and enhance public health and the environment. As the liaison to the Arizona Legislature, Stone works with the governor’s office, legislators, and stakeholders on specific bills and the agency’s budget.
Stone has had a fascination with the environment since she was a small child. Stone’s father was an archaeologist with a private consulting firm, and by age 7, Stone was helping him conduct surveys and clean and catalogue artifacts around Arizona. On one occasion, the family went to Michigan to conduct excavations.
“I grew up here, have spent my whole life in Arizona, and have seen both the areas not cared for well and areas of the state that have been cared for,” Stone says. “It’s really satisfying to me to know I’m doing work to protect people and enhance their quality of life by having some small role in creating a safer environment.”
Stone’s move into her current role last year happened about the same time she participated in the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy, which was launched by the Flinn Foundation in 2010 to help develop state-level civic leaders. The Academy is now recruiting for the Fall 2016 cohort to join the roughly 225 Fellows throughout the state.
Stone says she enjoyed the robust conversations and the detailed information about state policy that was presented during the Flinn-Brown seminar series.
“What really came to the forefront is that everything is connected,” Stone says. “Every decision made as a public servant is going to impact, in some way, people living in this state. It’s important to understand the intended and unintended consequences of our actions.”
Stone’s initial exposure to Flinn-Brown preceded her application for the Academy. She was then the Southern Regional Office Director for ADEQ, and received a call from Flinn-Brown asking her to be a seminar presenter. The Academy made a strong first impression.
“I was impressed with the level of interest and education and enthusiasm of the audience,” Stone says. “They were very engaged and it made me want to apply.”
During the 2016 legislative session, Stone’s first in her new role, she helped to advance two bills that were passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey.
One bill provided for the continuation of the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program, which Stone says is an important tool to improve air quality throughout the state. The second will allow her agency’s water- and wastewater-operator certification program to be self-sufficient and ensure that for any repairs or newly installed piping, the most protective lead-content standards are being used, Stone says.
Previously, Stone served as Southern Regional Office Director and Waste Programs Division Director, among other roles. She joined ADEQ in 1993 following her graduation from Arizona State University, where she majored in geography. She has managed Superfund sites—the same contaminated sites that as an intern she would visit to keep residents informed—and underground tank leaks at gas stations. She has also served on many national policy development committees.
Today, Stone stays in Phoenix during the legislative session and returns to Tucson the rest of the year to work out of the agency’s southern Arizona office, which is responsible for six counties, including the Arizona-Mexico border region.
Stone says the relationships and connections she made during Flinn-Brown will likely be of great assistance down the road.
By Brian Powell