Arizona leaders earn 2021 Flinn-Brown Awards

November 12, 2021

By Chris Farrington

The Arizona Center for Civic Leadership has honored five of the state’s most dedicated and impactful leaders with the 2021 Flinn-Brown Awards.

The five winning Flinn-Brown Fellows include statewide and local office holders and leaders in higher education, economic development, and city government. The Fellows received their awards Nov. 12 during the annual 2021 Flinn-Brown Convention at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

This is the fourth cohort of Flinn-Brown Award recipients, which were first honored in 2017.

The five Fellows honored during the 2021 Flinn-Brown Convention are:

Jack Jewett Award:
Lea Márquez Peterson, 2011

Lea Márquez Peterson’s impact is felt statewide through her current work addressing energy affordability as chair of the Arizona Corporation Commission. Being a statewide office holder is just the latest achievement in her long career of service. Peterson also worked to unite and advance the state’s interests through her leadership of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber and Greater Tucson Leadership. Her extensive list of service on boards and commissions further demonstrates the depth and breadth of her work in Arizona.


Network Builder Award:
Paul Brierley, 2011

In 2020, Yuma County was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening the lives of residents and the billion-dollar agriculture industry. Paul Brierley, executive director of the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture, worked with state and local authorities to launch a wastewater-testing project at an agriculture site to prevent outbreaks and the spread of COVID-19 in the area. After a $500,000 grant from the Governor’s Office, the program expanded across Yuma County with twice-per-week wastewater-sample testing, in partnership with the Yuma County Public Health Services District, the University of Arizona and the Arizona Department of Health Services. 


Arizona Champion
Northern Arizona:
Joanne Keene, 2016

Joanne Keene has been a Northern Arizona champion throughout her career, from her positions in Coconino County, to Northern Arizona University, to her new role as the deputy city manager for the city of Sedona. Joanne has also had a statewide impact by chairing the State Fair Board and holding numerous volunteer positions, including with High Country Humane. Keene’s dedication to engaging people in public affairs has been clear through her work. She has been very active in the Flinn-Brown Network, particularly in recruiting more applicants from Northern Arizona. 


Arizona Champion
Central Arizona:

Mila Besich, 2019 

Superior Mayor Mila Besich showed tremendous leadership during the Telegraph Fire. She was in constant communication with the public about their safety and the efforts to combat the fire. Besich also took leadership and public-policy steps regarding resources for the community and efforts to mitigate fires. Besich continues to be a champion for rural towns and highlights their uniqueness and charm to help protect the livelihood of rural Arizona. She is also a consistent contributor to Flinn-Brown news and panel discussions.


Arizona Champion
Southern Arizona:

Mignonne Hollis, 2013 

Mignonne Hollis is dedicated to making an economic impact not only in Southern Arizona and rural areas, but around the state through her professional and volunteer work. She co-writes a weekly newspaper advice column for the Sierra Vista Herald/Review, serves on Canyon Vista Medical Center board of trustees, chairs the public-policy committee of the International Economic Development Council, and serves as the president of the Arizona Association for Economic Development. She has also served on the statewide Arizona Commerce Authority Board and has been appointed to the National Small Business Association Advisory Board and International Boundary and Water Commission. Hollis is the founder of Aerospace Arizona Association, which formed the UAS Center for Innovation at the Benson Airport. 


The 2021 Flinn-Brown award winners were nominated by their peers and selected by the Flinn-Brown Fellows Council— nine Fellows that assist in the center’s planning and programming, promote the statewide Flinn-Brown Network, and help recruit future Flinn-Brown Fellows. 

The Jack Jewett Award is named for the retired Flinn Foundation President and CEO, who led the organization from 2009 through 2017 and envisioned the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership.

The 2020 Flinn-Brown Fellows completed the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy in October. There are now nearly 400 Fellows in the Flinn-Brown Network.

Stay updated about future application timelines, as well as additional Arizona Center for Civic Leadership programming and news, by joining our email list.