April 2022 Network News

May 5, 2022

By Jessica Vaile

Thoughts from Dawn Wallace

In the mid-1970s, my family immigrated to the United States. I have very few happy memories of living in my birth country or leaving it. However, one charming memory persists to this day from our 14-hour transatlantic flight. Using all the food and airline swag at their disposal, the flight attendants on that flight delighted in keeping a bored 4-year-old busy by teaching her English. In case you are wondering, my first words: “yes” and “no.” 

Excellent first words – especially when you consider how much power they yield. Yes is synonymous with opportunity and potential. It is word that exudes positivity and connection. No is equally powerful when focus is needed and limitations are necessary to achieve one’s goals. 

I have a love-hate relationship with these two words. The power of yes has led me to my proudest professional accomplishments. When I started my career in the highly competitive, cutthroat corporate culture in the late 1980s and throughout my policy career in government, the shortest path to promotion was taking every single task or project available. Unencumbered by other distractions, I made the power of yes work to my advantage. 

Unfortunately, as a result, saying yes to any job, worthy of my talent or otherwise, became an operating norm, and transitioned to a value statement for self and others. Over time, this mindset endured and transformed into resentment when faced with equally important priorities such as family life or self-care. This paradigm is harmful as it stands, but paired with a personality trait rooted in sociotropy, it can derail a healthy work-life balance. 

For those who are risk-adverse, saying yes can be traumatic. For people pleasers, saying no can be debilitating. If you do too much of one, the other can be difficult to master. Warren Buffett described the difference between successful people and really successful people as “really successful people say no to almost everything.” At the crossroads of any decision-making, Buffett is challenging ambitious people to balance accomplishment with personal contentment to remain focused on what truly matters. 

Fifty years after learning my first words, I still struggle to be intentional and purposeful in their use. I’m not sure I’ll perfect myself to Buffett’s ideal, but I’m comforted by the fact that the generations who have followed mine continually prioritize personal well-being and work-life balance so that they can realize both the power of yes and the power of no. 

We have our 2022 Flinn-Brown Fellows!

We will be announcing the 2022 Flinn-Brown cohort on Monday, May 16. We would love your support in helping us spread the word through social media and your networks. 

Welcome to the Team!

Please welcome Jennifer Papworth as the new program manager for the Center. Jennifer comes to us from Arizona State University’s Office of Government and Community Engagement, where she was the Federal Relations Manager, responsible for cultivating relationships between the Arizona congressional delegation and ASU leadership and faculty. She is also an alum of ASU, with a bachelor’s degree in Public Service and Public Policy. 

Prior to her role with ASU, Jennifer served as the district representative for Congressman Raύl Grijalva, supporting his constituents in the West Valley portion of CD-3.  She has also served as a school board member for the Avondale Elementary School District, a board member for the Agua Fria Food and Clothing Bank, chaired local bond/override committees, and presented as a guest speaker and moderator for several community conversations. 

Rock-a-bye Flinn-Brown Baby 2.0

I am so happy to announce that Fellows Benjamin Taylor (Phoenix, 2019) and Jaclyn Boyes (Phoenix, 2019) became the proud parents of Justus Paul Taylor on April 27. At a whopping 8lbs, 6oz, Justus is the second baby born to two Flinn-Brown Fellows, but the first born to two Fellows in the same cohort. Congratulations to Benjamin and Jaclyn! 

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 officially recognize a professional accomplishment, event, or program with which you are involved.


Past and Upcoming CivEx Webinars

CivEx: The Road to Proposition 400 Extension

Please join us Wednesday, May 25 at 2 p.m. for a CivEx hosted by Flinn-Brown Fellows Audra Koester Thomas (Phoenix, 2011) and Mayor Kevin Hartke (Chandler, 2014) on the prospects for extending Proposition 400, a half-cent sales tax for transportation. The webinar will be hosted by Cheryl Lombard, President and CEO, Valley Partnership, with special guests Senator Tyler Pace and Tim Bourcet, Vice President of Government & Community Affairs, Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

Audra Koester Thomas
Audra Koester Thomas (2011)
Kevin Hartke
Mayor Kevin Hartke (2014)

Also, mark your calendars for Wednesday, June 29, at 2 p.m. as Fellow Erin Carr-Jordan (Chandler, 2013) hosts a deep dive into how the state is addressing its focused approach to achieving digital equity, including leveraging technology to connect the under and unconnected and improve process efficiencies. She will be joined by a panel of state and national organizations engaged in strategic initiatives to expand access and value and participation through increased connectivity.

If you are interested in seeing any past CivEx sessions, please check out our CivEx page.

Fellows Book Recommendations

Each month, we feature suggestions from Fellows to create a virtual Network library of books about public-policy issues, the practice of leadership, professional development, or other areas that would be a worthy share. This month, our book recommendations come from Michelle Hess (Buckeye, 2013) and Eric Gudino (Phoenix, 2012).

Michelle Hess
Michelle Hess (2013)
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
Talking to Strangers
by Malcom Gladwell
Frances Sjoberg
Eric Gudino (2012)
No Ordinary Time
by Megan Kate Nelson

Flinn-Brown Convention


We are excited to share that the annual Flinn-Brown Convention will be held this year at the Desert Botanical Garden on Friday, Nov. 4! 

Fellows Paul Perrault (Phoenix, 2016) and Josue Macias (Phoenix, 2019) have agreed to be our Convention Co-Chairs, and Fellows Patrick Tighe (Phoenix, 2019), Candace Park (Gilbert, 2018), Kate Ali’varius (Phoenix, 2012), and Pearlette Ramos (Avondale, 2018) have also joined the Convention Committee. 

 If you would like to participate on the planning committee, please let us know.

Fellows Spotlight

Michelle Hess

Michelle Hess (Buckeye, 2013)
Executive Director, Leadership West Inc.


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

I have the privilege of two roles that are impacted by public policy—one as a Councilmember for the city of Buckeye and one as the executive director of Leadership West. As a member of the city council, our job is to set policy, pass the city budget, and create strategy for our long-term planning. During the pandemic, Buckeye, Leadership West, and many of you learned that as leaders, we needed to be adaptive, flexible, and receptive to the ever-changing environments around us. We can have all our local planning set in place, but if public policy at the state or federal level change, those can have a drastic impact on the city level. During the last state budget session, the funding formula for cities and towns was changed and we are still waiting to see the exact impact that will have in each of our communities.  During the last legislative session, it was more important than ever that we stayed in constant communication with our city staff, our fellow cities, and our state representatives. Communication was everything. We had some good and hard conversation with our legislators with the pros and cons to the proposed change.  We did our best to share what we perceived as possible unintended consequences of the proposed changes. They on the other hand shared what was at risk with no changes. If we are going to have good public policy in Arizona, it is up to us to create good working relationships with all parties.  It is just as important to foster our communication skills to enable us to have hard and meaningful conversations. Finally, it is our job as leaders to foster humility. Our way may not be the best, we may not have all the answers, and there may be things we miss. These are some of the tools that we teach in my other role at Leadership West. We believe in 4th quadrant leadership. A 4th Quadrant Leader is an individual with a highly developed set of leadership skills combined with an equally developed Civic Ownership Mindset. The Civic Ownership Mindset is the highest manifestation of Love of Community. It’s about selflessly taking action to protect, promote and give back to the people and businesses that make up a community. Think William Wallace. Joan of Arc. Ghandi.

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

“Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” — Andy Stanley.

With all the problems and issues in the world, it is tempting to get overwhelmed and default to inaction. This quote has helped me tremendously in my leadership. As one person, I have limited time and resources. I wish I could meet with everyone, meet every need, and solve each problem, but I can’t. What I can do, is be intentional with the one. I can help solve that one issue or mentor that one person; I can do for that one issue or person what I wish I could do on a larger scale. This has helped to focus me and to ensure that I don’t overextend myself.

3. Is there a book you would recommend to the Fellows?

A good friend of mine recently gave me the book, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know, by Malcolm Gladwell. This friend knew that I meet a lot of people and that this book could help with natural assumptions we have when we meet people. Here is a quick one sentence from Storyshot about the book, “Talking To Strangers helps you better understand and accurately judge the people you don’t know while staying patient and tolerant with others.” Many of our Flinn Fellows are engaging with strangers daily and for that reason, I would recommend this book.

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

Hands down, the Network. As the executive director for Leadership West, I have been able to rely on my Fellows Network for guest speakers and presenters for our program. I have been able to collaborate with Fellows in getting things accomplished for my city and the region. Personally, I have benefited from the network as a place for support. Some members of my cohort have been the few people that I can have an honest conversation about leadership fatigue, failures and more.

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

At Leadership West, we believe and teach that an individual’s engagement can help the community or hurt the community – but it’s still ‘engagement.’ Those seeking to benefit themselves by engaging in the public sphere don’t necessarily make things any better, yet they are civically engaged. What society needs – what Arizona needs – is more individuals that become civically engaged with the right mindset—the Civic Ownership Mindset. The term ‘ownership’ refers to stewardship, not possession.

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

Fellows Running for Office

We are excited to share that we have many Flinn-Brown Fellows running for office in 2022. If you would like to have your name included, please let Dawn know.

Aaron Lieberman
 (Paradise Valley, 2017)

Naketa Ross
 (Phoenix, 2019)
Matt Gress (Phoenix, 2015)
Representative Joanne Osborne (Goodyear, 2012)
Senator Raquel Terán (Phoenix, 2018)
Representative Jennifer Pawlik (Chandler, 2018)
Representative Morgan Abraham (Tucson, 2014)
Representative Chris Mathis (Tucson, 2011)
Janelle Wood (Phoenix, 2013)

Juan Ciscomani
 (Tucson, 2011)
Representative Daniel Hernandez, Jr. (Tucson, 2011)

Vice Mayor Becky Daggett
 (Flagstaff, 2014)
Mayor Kevin Hartke (Chandler, 2014)
Mayor Kell Palguta (Prescott Valley, 2019)
Mayor Mila Besich (Superior, 2019)
Mayor Cecilia McCollough (Wellton, 2018)

City Council
Trista Guzman Glover
 (Mesa, 2019)
Councilman Fernando Shipley (Globe, 2011)
Councilman Matthew Herman (Casa Grande, 2019)
Shane Leonard (Higley, 2019)

Community College Governing Board
Fernando Shipley (Globe, 2011)

School District Governing Board 
Stephanie Parra (Phoenix, 2020)
Christine Thompson (Phoenix, 2017)
Ruth Ellen Elinski (Cottonwood, 2014)

Justice of the Peace
Kristel Ann Foster (Tucson, 2015)

Special Districts
Ben Graff (Phoenix, 2011)
Alexandra Arboleda (Phoenix, 2018)

Fellows In The News

Morgan Abraham (Tucson, 2014) wrote an op-ed in Tucson Sentinel about utilizing the $5 billion budget surplus to increase education funding.

Stacey Button (Columbia, Missouri, 2011) was quoted in a Columbia Tribune article about local workforce development programs that will receive American Rescue Plan funds. 

Erin Carr-Jordan (Chandler, 2013) is now the Managing Director of the Digital Equity Institute in addition to her role as Social Impact Officer Principal for EdPlus at Arizona State University.

Carlos De La Torre (Tucson, 2013) was quoted in a tucson.com article regarding a study that shows Tucson could use the natural gases from Los Reales landfill to fuel the city’s buses.

Vice Mayor Kara Egbert (Sahuarita, 2015) was mentioned in an optics.org article about the expansion of UK-based company PowerPhotonic Inc. into Sahuarita. 

Julie Erfle (Phoenix, 2013) wrote an opinion piece in Havasu News about the overturning of the voter approved Invest in Education Act.

David Garcia (Phoenix, 2011) and Erin Hart (Phoenix, 2013) were quoted in an azcentral article about how COVID-19 has magnified issues for students in English language learning programs.

Diana Gomez (Yuma, 2016) was interviewed by the Kresge Foundation about ways the Yuma County Public Health Services District has learned to creatively address the most pressing public health issues affecting Yuma County.

Mayor Kevin Hartke (Chandler, 2014) and Audra Koester Thomas(Fountain Hills, 2011) were quoted in a Santan Sun News articleregarding Maricopa Association of Governments’ (MAG) plan to address freeway bottlenecks and other high priority transportation needs.

Lisa Schnebly Heidinger (Phoenix, 2012), a descendant of one of the first families of Sedona, was interviewed for a KGUN9 news storyabout the history of Sedona.

Rep. Daniel Hernandez, Jr. (Tucson, 2011) wrote an opinion piece in tucson.com about investing in clean energy technology to build healthier communities and fight climate change.

Ricky Hernández (Tucson, 2018) was recently appointed the new Chief Financial Officer of Tucson Unified School District.

Mignonne Hollis (Sierra Vista, 2013) was featured in an Arizona Public Media article regarding the rollout of Infrastructure Investment and Job Act funds in rural Arizona.

Brittney Kaufmann (Phoenix, 2014) wrote an op-ed in Arizona Capitol Times about investing in solutions to address health professional shortages.

Dana Kennedy (Phoenix, 2016) was quoted in a Fronteras articleregarding a new Arizona law that prohibits convicted felons from running nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

Nikki Lee (Tucson, 2018) recently spoke at the Stand with Ukraine peace rally hosted by the University of Arizona’s Department of Russian & Slavic Studies.

Aaron Magezi (Boston, 2019) is now pursuing a Master in Public Administration at Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.

Debbie Nez-Manuel (Scottsdale, 2017) was interviewed for an azcentral article regarding the impact of the new voter ID law on the Native American community.

Rep. Jennifer Pawlik (Chandler, 2018) was interviewed for an ABC15 news story about SB1159 and Arizona’s teacher shortage.

Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson (Tucson, 2011) recently spoke at the Southern Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce mixer at Eastern Arizona College.

Mayor Christian Price (Maricopa, 2012) was interviewed by inMaricopa.com to discuss HB2674 which would implement “by-right zoning.”

Jessica Rigler (Chandler, 2019) is now the Staff Vice President for Population Health and Innovation at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

Gina Roberts (Phoenix, 2019) was interviewed for a KJZZ articleabout Arizona’s legislative and statewide primary debates which are hosted by Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

Ryan Smith (Mesa, 2013) was quoted in an azcentral articleregarding the recent lifting of the mask mandate for Phoenix-area airports.

Adelaida Severson (Gilbert, 2020) was featured as an alumni highlight in ASU Cronkite News.

Christina Spicer (Phoenix, 2013) was quoted in an AZBigMedia article about the Girls Can Build initiative which is partnering with the Girls Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine Council to create a mobile building space to be operated by the Girl Scouts.

Thea Wilshire (Globe, 2011) was featured in an Arizona Silver Belt article about the opening of the Silver King staircase trail.

John Winchester (Tucson, 2018) is now the Director, Government and Community Engagement at Arizona State University.

Career and Professional Opportunities

Applications for Leadership West Class 29 are now open. Leadership West is the only program that offers a behind-the-scenes look into issues in the West Valley. The 150-hour Flagship Program is designed to transform already exceptional individuals into 4th Quadrant Leaders who generously utilize their knowledge, collaboration, and skills to make life better for everyone in their organization, community, and region. Apply here.

The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits is now accepting speaker applications for its annual ENGAGE conference on August 25 and the virtual IDEA conference on October 19.

Nominations for the 2022 Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards are open until May 9. The awards recognize non-elected public servants who have made immeasurable efforts in advancing The Arizona We Want. Learn more about awards criteria and submit nominations here.

Arizona Community Foundation is seeking a Director of Policy and Public Affairs to represent the foundation with local, county, state, and federal elected and agency officials to positively influence policy outcomes that further the foundation’s impact across Arizona.

Arizona Forward is hiring a Development and Membership Managerto design and implement the organization’s membership growth and retention strategy.

The City of Tempe is seeking a Chief Diversity Officer to develop and maintain an environment that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels throughout the city. 

The University of Arizona is seeking a Senior Director, Marketing and Communication for the Eller College of Management.

More employment opportunities in the public sector can be found at https://www.governmentjobs.com/.

Events & Conferences

YWCA is hosting its annual Stand Against Racism campaign April 28 – May 1.

The Northern Arizona Mayoral Roundtable, featuring Flinn-Brown Fellow and City of Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski, will be held on Wednesday, May 11 at 11:30 a.m. at the Prescott Centennial Center. Register here.

Bolder Advocacy is holding a virtual workshop on What Nonprofits Need to Know About Lobbying in Arizona on May 17. Register here.

Local First Arizona is holding its 15th Annual Rural Policy Forum in Winslow on August 3-5. Updates on event details can be found here.

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

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