By Brian Powell
Cheyenne Walsh knows that in the public’s mind, lobbyists are not very well thought of.
But she doesn’t view the role in a negative way, and not just because it’s a career she loves.
“To me, lobbying is really about gathering and passing along information. Nothing is black and white, and if we think it’s a good bill, the other side can go down and share their side,” Walsh says.
Walsh is a partner at Isaacson & Walsh, a lobbying firm in Phoenix started by Don Isaacson more than 35 years ago. The firm that she joined in January 2015 represents clients at the state capitol, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small independent businesses to trade and professional associations.
Walsh counts herself fortunate to work alongside Isaacson. “This is a great opportunity from a mentorship perspective,” she says. “And long term, our clients are engaged and legitimately want to shape good policy in the state.”
Trained as an attorney, the Flinn-Brown Fellow has been honored numerous times for her work. In June, Walsh was named the best female lobbyist under 40 by the Arizona Capitol Times. In April, she was named a Rising Star in Southwest Super Lawyers by her peers for the third straight year for being in the top 2.5 percent of lawyers age 40 or less.
Walsh was first introduced to lobbying as a legislative associate for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, which advocates on behalf of Arizona’s more than 90 cities and towns at the state and federal level.
She had previously served as a legislative intern, a non-partisan position in which she wrote fact sheets for bills and presented before committees. Walsh later worked as a legal extern in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. After earning her law degree, she joined Squire Patton Boggs, where she specialized in environmental, safety, and health issues.
The Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy, which was launched by the Flinn Foundation in 2010 to help develop state-level civic leaders, includes, among other components, 12 full-day seminars focused on the leading issues affecting Arizona. The Flinn-Brown Network today totals 260 Fellows.
Walsh continues to be impressed with the network of Fellows who are interested in learning about policy, as well as running for state-level office or contributing to public policy as an analyst, lobbyist, or in another capacity. For her part, she shared many years’ worth of capitol experience, policy, and politics with others.
“I think Flinn-Brown has a unique role in the state in cultivating people willing to engage the process to make Arizona a better place,” Walsh says. “I met like-minded people who were willing to put in the time to think through these issues before making decisions that impact the state.”
Her civic leadership extends beyond public policy. Walsh is a board member for Valley Young Professionals, a program of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and works with the Boys and Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix through their young leadership initiative, Connect. In her free time, she rides and cares for her horse, Rippy, in the mountain preserves near her Phoenix home.
Walsh was raised in Tucson and graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. She earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Arizona State University, and later a law degree from University of Arizona.
Walsh says she loves the challenge of lobbying, and the preparation required to develop a logical argument and communicate well. She also enjoys when her work allows her the opportunity to interact with other Flinn-Brown Fellows.
“You instantly make that connection,” Walsh says. “There is kind of an instant camaraderie with other Fellows.”
—By Brian Powell, Flinn Foundation