Thoughts from Dawn Wallace
The month of August typically heralds the hustle and bustle of “back to school,” which inevitably touches the lives of most Arizonans–certainly if you have kids, but even if you do not. The longer commutes and traffic remind us that summer is officially over.
In a typical year, the week before school would be a flurry of shopping, happy school-friend reunions, and the silent joy felt by many parents that school is back in session. That is not our collective experience this year—instead, we are all reimagining schooling at home, in some cases reminiscent of the one-room schoolhouse where children of multiple grades are learning together.
I’ve no words of wisdom beyond patience—for our schools, their staff, the teachers, our kids and mostly with ourselves as we navigate this uncharted territory. As a working parent, I’m going to lean on the little village I have created for myself, but more importantly, I’m going to reach out to other parents who have harder obstacles. If you know of any families who need resources and support, the Arizona Department of Education has Resources for Families that are very helpful, particularly for those without or with limited access to technology, broadband, and internet connectivity.
Black Philanthropy Initiative and CivEx
In other news, I want to thank our Fellows Teniqua Broughton and Gail Knight for their presentations during our July CixEx webinar, Black Philanthropy Initiative – Health Care and Education. Hosted by Kim Covington, who leads the Arizona Community Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative, the webinar drew more than 100 participants from across the Flinn Foundation portfolio of programs, including 65 Flinn-Brown Fellows. If you missed it and would like access to the recording and presentation slides, please visit the CivEx past-sessions page of our website.
I also want to encourage you to register for the three remaining sessions of Foresight 20/20: Eyes on Social Justice, a four-part webinar series occurring each Wednesday in August in recognition of Black Philanthropy Month. A link to register is found in the Events/Conferences section below.
Additionally, please save the date for two upcoming CivEx webinars in August and September led by Flinn-Brown Fellows:
- August 26: Inequities in Education with host Teniqua Broughton;
- September 30: Rural Economic Development with hosts Mignonne Hollis and Russ Yelton.
2020 Flinn-Brown seminars
In some disappointing news, we made the very difficult decision last week to postpone the 2020 Flinn-Brown Fellowship seminar series to fall 2021. After many internal and external conversations, including with the 2020 Fellows, it became apparent that in-person convenings of almost 40 people would pose too much of a health and safety risk. However, this does not mean that our new Fellows will be idle. We are planning monthly activities to engage the cohort, including informational webinars on topics pulled from seminar series programming.
As health and safety conditions improve, we will plan small-group social convenings. Our goal is to guarantee this cohort the same Flinn-Brown experience—knowledge acquisition and contextual understanding of public-policy issues, the sharing of ideas, collaboration, and productive dialogue—and use the next 12 months to begin making personal and professional connections with each other and the entire Flinn-Brown Network.
We are preparing for the publication of the annual Flinn-Brown Fellows directory. I encourage you to use the Directory Update form—link at the end of this email—to update your employment or any new affiliations, such as board or commission appointments, or elected office. This is an important tool for making connections across the Flinn-Brown Network.
Speaking of connections across the Network, when you have time, do browse the new Fellows Profiles page on our website.
Finally, we are also 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.
Lisa Urias launched Urias Communications in 2006 to provide strategic advertising, public-relations, and creative services to various Fortune 1000 clients, large nonprofit organizations, and government agencies throughout the U.S. and in Mexico. Prior to this, Lisa spent 12 years in international marketing with the Undersecretary of Energy of Mexico, Alberto Escofet of Alesco Consultores, providing marketing consulting to energy companies within Mexico. She also was the director of international marketing with SRP in Phoenix to market SRP’s technology to more than 70 countries annually.
Lisa received a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and completed the Stanford Latino Entrepreneur Institute program. She has received numerous awards: Arizona Business Magazine’s “Most Influential Women”; Arizona Business Magazine’s “Most Influential Minority Business Leaders”; Arizona Republic’s “13 to Watch in 2013”; and Phoenix Business Journal’s “Most Admired CEOs.”
1. Can you please describe your work and how public policy impacts how you manage your organization?
Public policy impacts all organizations because it shapes a community, state, and nation’s values and priorities. Are we investing in education to drive an educated workforce that can support our businesses and the Arizona economy? Do we invest in technology and high-speed internet that supports our growth and competitive advantage? Is the transportation, water and energy infrastructure sound so our longer-term business investment in Arizona makes sense?
Additionally, in Arizona, we don’t have as many large corporate headquarters, so we remain among the largest small-business states in the nation. That leaves many of us having to rely on government contracts to grow our businesses, since those tend to be the largest contracts available. As a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), we encourage including MBEs in government contracting. Many corporations have their own internal goals, but some local and state government agencies have stopped instituting percentage goals for MBEs. We know that unconscious bias around MBE and women-owned businesses still exists. Those making selections often believe (without any sound justification) that MBEs or WBEs are not able to deliver on larger government contracts. That is clearly not the case. Ensuring we are considered and provided with equal opportunity is critical to the success of our businesses and others like ours.
2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work?
As a marketing and communications agency, COVID-19 has kept us busier than ever, pivoting to supporting our clients with their communications on how they’re responding to this crisis, including what they’re doing to keep their customers and employees safe. Our employees have been working from home since March, and we can manage. However, while it hasn’t been a performance problem, it is definitely less desirable. With teams like ours, synergy comes with working together, brainstorming ideas, spontaneous thoughts to share and continued in-person engagement with our clients. We’re making it work and have learned that we can do a lot of meetings online without having to run around everywhere, but we’re anxious to get back to the office and see one another. The agency’s culture suffers when you can’t be in the same place and connect in person. Plus, I’m just a little lonely! We need one another.
3. How has the Flinn-Brown Network been useful to you?
The Network has been a fantastic way to connect with leaders across the state to address issues you’d like to support or advance. It’s great to know you can email or pick up the phone at any time to discuss an opportunity or challenge with someone who has real impact in Arizona. I love the connectivity it has given us. I often get calls from Fellows, or sit on boards with them, where I can get an update on something they are working on so I can support their needs, or be aware of legislation that I need to support or oppose.
I was in the first cohort. Today, just as designed, we have many wonderful Fellows in elected office, sitting on state boards and commissions, and making a real impact. That alone is useful to me, to our cities, and to the state of Arizona.
4. Can you talk about your community engagement in the discussion of education equity?
As a board member of Greater Phoenix Leadership, Arizona Community Foundation, and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I’m in many conversations about education. What we need to understand is that we have created policies, over time, that favor certain districts over others. The more affluent you are, the more options you have. When you can afford to live in the suburbs, generally speaking, school buildings are beautiful, teachers have better credentials and are paid better, there are more resources, and the quality of education is higher for students.
When you live in barrios and in rural areas, sometimes you don’t have up-to-date books, a math teacher, or even air conditioning. That doesn’t have to be the case. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have quality facilities, educational materials, and great teachers (with commensurate salaries) in our K-12 system to support our investment in education.
Education drives any state’s economic engine. While many like to talk about people fleeing California, that state’s economy is the largest in the U.S. and ranks as the world’s fifth largest economy, and much of that is driven by its University of California (UC) system. California has grown its own technology sector and driven incredible innovation. We can do the same!
Arizona leaders need to consider what we’re doing when we underfund our P-20 education system, and how it impacts communities that are underserved. It undermines everything we want: to ensure we’re giving every Arizonan the opportunity to reach their God-given potential and contribute to this state in meaningful ways. We have an opportunity to do better. And I know the Flinn-Brown Fellows can help drive a meaningful and equitable solution.
Career and Professional Opportunities
The state is looking for individuals who can serve as poll workers on Election Day. To serve as a poll worker, you need to be a registered voter in the county where you will work and complete training. Some employers, such as the state of Arizona, provide civic-duty leave. If you are interested in applying, visit Poll Worker Signup.
The city of Phoenix is looking for a deputy chief information officer. For more information, see Job Description.
Currently, the Governor’s Office of Boards and Commissions is looking for public members to serve on the following boards:
- Arizona State Board of Cosmetology
- Arizona State Board of Barbers
- Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy
- Arizona Board of Funeral Directors & Embalmers
- Arizona State Board of Technical Registration
Events and Conferences
Please join the Arizona Community Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative as it recognizes Black Philanthropy Month, observed every August as a global celebration and concerted campaign to inform, involve, inspire, and elevate giving. BPI is presenting the four-part series, FORESIGHT 20/20–Eyes on Social Justice, each Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. Registration for the three remaining sessions is open to the public.
August 5: Addressing Inequalities of Social Justice in America and Arizona
August 12: The Civil Rights Movement in Arizona from the 1950s to Present
August 19: Recent Trends, Patterns and Drivers of Income and Economic Inequalities in Arizona
August 26: The Road Ahead for Social Justice: Solutions for Economic Equality
The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s Reimagining Today’s Workforce Series presents Back to the Office Strategy: New Ways of Working and Contact Tracing at noon on Thursday, Aug. 13. The presentation will cover contact tracing, explore how employee safety will lead organizations back into the workplace, and review rapid deployment of advanced technology designed for human behavior, privacy considerations, and adoption through organizational change management.
Flinn-Brown Fellows Updates
Cynthia Aragon (Phoenix, 2015) is the Arizona political director for the Joe Biden for President campaign.
Lisa Cagnolatti (Gilbert, 2019) has joined the Valley of the Sun United Way board of directors.
Toni Cani (Phoenix, 2014) is now the deputy state director for the Joe Biden for President campaign.
Brett Rustand (Tucson, 2011) is CEO at Entelligence Federal in Tucson.
Jenny Holsman Tetreault (Phoenix, 2011) was elected to serve a second one-year term as chair of the Valley of the Sun United Way board of directors.
Brad Williams (Irvine, 2019) is now the director of civil space programs at Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc.