Arizona Center for Civic Leadership announces 2023 class of Flinn-Brown Fellows

May 22, 2023

By brianpowell

Flinn Foundation program selects 28 Fellows for their interest to engage actively in civic life

PHOENIX—The Arizona Center for Civic Leadership at the Flinn Foundation has selected 28 leaders from across the state as the 15th cohort of Flinn-Brown Fellows. Each brings diverse career and political experiences, policy interests, and perspectives to Arizona’s most prestigious leadership program on state-level policy and politics.

The Flinn-Brown experience begins for the newest Fellows in August with the Flinn-Brown Academy, a rigorous 11-session policy institute offering unparalleled opportunities for professional connections and learning about Arizona policy and politics, facilitated by top state leaders and subject-matter experts. In November, the 2023 Fellows will participate in the Flinn-Brown Convention, an annual day of professional development for the full Flinn-Brown Network.

“The learning and network-building the 2023 Flinn-Brown Fellows will experience this fall will guide their futures as impactful Arizona civic leaders,” said Dawn Wallace, Flinn Foundation vice president, civic leadership. “Each new Fellow is a welcome addition to the powerful Flinn-Brown Network, and we look forward to their contributions as leaders in their communities and as impact-makers addressing the state’s most pressing issues.”

The 2023 Fellows represent eight Arizona counties, with half of the new cohort from beyond Maricopa County, including Flagstaff, Hereford, Lake Havasu City, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Queen Creek, San Luis, and Tucson.

Fifteen of the newest Fellows work in the public sector, with the remaining in private business, nonprofit institutions, and other organizations. They include CEOs and elected officials, school district and university leaders, attorneys, economic developers, and more.

The 2023 Flinn-Brown Fellows, including positions, plus cities and counties of residence, are: 

  • Jose Arias: Vice President-Business Banker, First Citizens Bank, Tucson, Pima County
  • Teresa Aseret-Manygoats: Bureau Chief, Arizona Department of Health Services, Chandler, Maricopa County
  • Vanessa Barchfield: Senior Communications Specialist, Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson, Pima County
  • Elaine Becherer: Director, Special Projects, Office of Enterprise Planning, Arizona State University, Tucson, Pima County
  • Teresa Bravo: Government Relations Representative for Local Affairs, Tucson Electric Power/UniSource Energy Services, Tucson, Pima County
  • Evelyn Burrell, Psy.D.: Clinical Psychologist and Owner, Arise Consultation and Training Services, LLC, Phoenix, Maricopa County
  • Melanie Colavito: Director of Policy and Communications, Ecological Restoration Institute, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Coconino County
  • The Honorable Eddie Cook: County Assessor, Maricopa County Assessor’s Office, Gilbert, Maricopa County
  • Jaime Festa-Daigle, Ed.D.: Director of Student Achievement, Lake Havasu Unified School District, Lake Havasu City, Mohave County
  • Vincent “Vinny” Gallegos: Executive Director, Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization, Prescott, Yavapai County
  • Jesse Galvez: Major, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Gilbert, Maricopa County
  • Buna George: Executive Director, Greater Yuma Port Authority, San Luis, Yuma County
  • Tim Gomez: Director, Government and Community Engagement, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Maricopa County
  • Adam Goodman: Chief Executive Officer, Goodmans Interior Structures, Paradise Valley, Maricopa County
  • The Honorable April Hepperle: Realtor, USA Real Estate and Property Management; Councilmember, Prescott Valley Town Council, Prescott Valley, Yavapai County
  • Gail Jackson: President and Chief Executive Officer, Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, Coconino County
  • Aron Ketchel, J.D.: Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Paradise Valley, Maricopa County
  • Pete Kim: Co-Founder, Media.Monks, Scottsdale, Maricopa County
  • Melissa Kotrys: Chief Executive Officer, Contexture, Phoenix, Maricopa County
  • Adam Leckie, Ed.D.: Superintendent, Casa Grande Elementary School District, Queen Creek, Pinal County
  • Shamia Lodge: Director of Community Engagement, Aventiv Technologies, Surprise, Maricopa County
  • Claire Louge: Executive Director, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, Phoenix, Maricopa County
  • Judy Lynn: Owner/Principal Emergency Management Consultant, Descansa Group, Hereford, Cochise County
  • Noah Mundt: President & Chief Operating Officer, Nexus Integrated Solutions, Gilbert, Maricopa County
  • The Honorable Julie Spilsbury: Councilmember, District 2, City of Mesa, Mesa, Maricopa County
  • Beya Thayer: Executive Director, Yavapai Justice & Mental Health Coalition; Director, Behavioral Health Services, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Flagstaff, Coconino County
  • Gillian Vanasse: Chief Operations Officer, Arizona Department of Child Safety, Phoenix, Maricopa County
  • Heath Vescovi-Chiordi: Director, Economic Development, Pima County, Tucson, Pima County

Launched by the Flinn Foundation in 2011, the Flinn-Brown Fellowship was created to cultivate civic leaders from throughout Arizona by building knowledge, skills, and a flourishing network to find solutions for Arizona’s long-term issues. The Flinn-Brown Network now totals 437 Fellows.

The new cohort of Fellows interviewed with a Selection Committee of Arizona leaders that included:

  • Lisa Atkins: Former Arizona State Land Commissioner
  • Luis Heredia: State Director, Office of Senator Mark Kelly, Flinn-Brown Fellow
  • Stephen Richer, J.D.: County Recorder, Maricopa County
  • Karrin Taylor Robson, J.D.: Founder & President, Arizona Strategies
  • Bobbie Schorr: Grants Director, Thomas R. Brown Foundations Board of Directors
  • Ginger Sykes Torres: State Executive Director, USDA Farm Service Agency
  • Steven M. Wheeler, J.D.: Board of Directors Member, Flinn Foundation

“The Flinn Foundation invests in people and leaders as a means to invest in Arizona. And this new group of Flinn-Brown Fellows embodies the diverse range of thinkers and policy experts we need to keep moving the state forward,” said Tammy McLeod, Ph.D., Flinn Foundation president and CEO. “We thank the Selection Committee for helping us craft this new cohort.”

The application for the 2024 class of Flinn-Brown Fellows will open in February 2024.

About the Flinn Foundation
The Flinn Foundation is a Phoenix-based private, nonprofit, grantmaking organization, founded by Dr. Robert S. Flinn and Irene P. Flinn in 1965 with a mission to improve the quality of life in Arizona to benefit future generations. In addition to the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, the foundation supports the advancement of Arizona’s bioscience ecosystem, the Flinn Scholars Program, and Arizona’s arts and culture sector.

About the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership   
The nonpartisan Arizona Center for Civic Leadership at the Flinn Foundation enhances civic life in Arizona through Flinn-Brown and other civic education, leadership, and engagement programs. Arizona Civic Exchange—CivEx—creates opportunities for the public to become better informed on political and policy topics impacting their communities. The Center promotes civic engagement through the Civic Leadership Collaborative and the Arizona Civic Life Partnership, convening organizations driving public discussion about the importance of civic participation and connected communities to effective civic leadership—and our broader prosperity and quality of life. 

About the Thomas R. Brown Foundations
The Thomas R. Brown Foundations of Tucson is a partner in the Flinn-Brown program. It supports solutions to community and state issues through grants and educational programs in the areas of research and education, workforce development, civic leadership, and economics education.