February 2022 Network News

February 23, 2022

By brianpowell

Thoughts from Danielle Underwood, Arizona Center for Civic Leadership Program Coordinator


When I was younger, my dad would force—I mean strongly encourage—my siblings and me to create Black History Month presentations on an influential Black person we admired. More often than not, I approached this task rather reluctantly. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Oprah Winfrey just as much as the next fifth grader, but didn’t the man understand I had haikus to write and timetables to memorize?

Now, as I near my 25th trip around the sun, contemplating the life that’s long behind, I look back on these moments in gratitude. I guess parents do know what they’re talking about after all.

Growing up in predominantly white schools in predominantly conservative towns, often the only time I learned about anyone who looked like me was when the annual lesson plan on slavery reared its ugly head. Year after year, the images of ancestral agony wrapped themselves around me, suffocating my hopes of ever seeing myself any differently. And before I knew it, this little Black girl had come to associate her Blackness with violence, grief, and sadness. But all my father wanted me to know was that there was so much more to the story. He wanted me to know that our bloodline wasn’t just infected with darkness and oppression but flourishing with brilliance and excellence.

So, this February, as our country commemorates Black History Month, I would like to encourage you to celebrate the “more” to the story. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some helpful tips:

1. Educate yourself and take action: Once you’ve read a book or an article or watched “13th” for the thirteenth time, take it a step further. Ask yourself about any personal biases you may hold toward Black folks and why. How can you address these biases?

2. Support Black-owned businesses: As Dylan Haas writes in this Mashable article, “by diverting your purchasing power to more Black-owned businesses, you’re not only helping to strengthen local Black economies—it can also contribute to shrinking the racial wealth gap, foster more job creation for Black people, and help to hold larger companies accountable in regard to diverse representation.”

3. Give credit where credit is due: If you have a Black colleague who has given you a great idea or helped you take a project to the next level, honor them. Intellectual theft has plagued the Black community for years and must end.

4. Elevate Black voices: Implementing a new DEI strategy is excellent, but we cannot stop there. It is not enough to increase the number of Black people present in an organization. We are not a quota to be met. We are exceptional people with unique perspectives and our voices must be heard not only as lower-level employees, but in C-suites and on boards and commissions alike.

5. Share Black stories: As my father so wisely showed me, there is danger in retelling a single (hi)story. Black people are not a monolith. Our Black stories are just as important as our Black lives, and our Black history is not just in the past, it is in the making.

Additional Thoughts from Dawn Wallace

It is with a sad heart that I share that our colleague and dear friend, Sara Bertram (Larsen), is moving to Durham, North Carolina, and will be leaving the Flinn Foundation for new adventures. While I will miss her dearly, I am very happy that she intends to start a new chapter of her life and very envious of all the wonderful opportunities and experiences in front of her. The good news is that she has graciously agreed to stay until the 2022 Flinn-Brown cohort selection is completed.

In the meantime, we are recruiting a new program manager. Please share this out to your networks and interested parties may apply here.


More than 75% of our applicants are referred to the program by existing Flinn-Brown Fellows. We value your involvement through our recruitment efforts and this year, it is so much more important for you to help us spread the word through your social and professional networks.

We’re holding a few more virtual information sessions leading up to the Feb. 28 deadline. For more information, including application requirements and process, dates/times for our info sessions and other relevant information about the Fellowship, please refer potential applicants to our website.

Our Flinn-Brown Fellows are our best advocates, and we depend on you to help spread the word!

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.


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 Sara Bertram (Phoenix, 2016) and Lenay Dunn (Phoenix, 2017).

Sara Bertram (2016)

Bowling Alone

Lenay Dunn (2017)

The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children

Flinn-Brown Convention


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

Fellows Paul Perrault (Phoenix, 2016) and Josue Macias (Phoenix, 2019) have agreed to be our Convention co-chairs.

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

Fellows Spotlight

Flinn-Brown Fellow Frank McCuneFrank McCune (Phoenix, 2011), Director of Government Relations, City of Phoenix


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

I serve as the director of government relations for the city of Phoenix. In this role, I confer with the mayor, council members, city leadership and department heads to build and represent the city of Phoenix’s legislative priorities for the regional, state, and federal levels of government. In this effort, I work on issues that affect every department of the city. Public Policy influences everything my department does; specifically helping to manage the impact that state and federal policies have on the city. At times, we work to protect the city from unfunded mandates or erosion of our local control, and other times we drive big issues like the renewal of the transportation tax (Prop. 400) to help maintain and develop the region’s transportation and transit programs. Building the bridges of partnerships is the key to getting anything done in this area. It takes the public policy makers, business and community leaders, and neighborhood activists to create from consensus and get meaningful public policy created.

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

“For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
if only we’re brave enough to be it”
— Amanda Gorman, January 20, 2021 (Inaugural Poet)

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

“Credibility” by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. It’s a book about how leaders gain and lose credibility and why people demand it.

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

The Fellows Network is powerful. I have developed great friendships and working relationships that have extended beyond the class year. There is a shorthand amongst the Fellows that allows us to connect with and build trust with one another quickly—which has been a tremendous asset for me in my position. I work with Fellows across Arizona, and know that when we interact, we can both come from a place of shared experience and concern for our state.

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

Arizona is a forward-thinking state rich in traditions, diversity, and culture. With the tremendous growth we continue to experience, we, as leaders, have to focus on expanding and maintaining our infrastructure, which serves as catalyst for our economic development and prosperity. Flinn is helping to address the social connectedness and community engagement required for civic health. As Fellows, we must honor our commitment to be involved in our communities, participate in the process, and take political action.

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 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)

Community College Governing Board
Fernando Shipley (Globe, 2011)

Justice of Peace
Kristel Ann Foster (Tucson, 2015)

Fellows In The News

Elvy Barton (Chandler, 2013) was interviewed for an azfamily.com news story regarding the 10-year plan Salt River Project (SRP) is developing with U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire to protect the Coconino Cragin Watershed and the Tonto National Forest.

Terry Benelli (Phoenix, 2011) was quoted in an Arizona Sports article about a $250,000 grant the Arizona Cardinals and NFL Foundation Grassroots Program recently awarded to Alhambra Elementary School District for the installation of a new turf football field at James W. Rice Elementary School.

Quintin Boyce (Phoenix, 2020) was featured in an azfamily.com news story about his mission to make a difference and provide equal opportunities for students in the Roosevelt School District.

Demion Clinco (Tucson, 2013) provided commentary in AZMIRROR about anti-LGBTQ+ bills.

Sarah Coles (Phoenix, 2017) is now the Program Director of Family Medicine Residency at North Country HealthCare.

Joel Edman (Phoenix, 2016) is now the Co-Director for Communications for Arizona Democracy Resource Center.

Coral Evans (Flagstaff, 2011) was named one of the 48 Most Intriguing Women of Arizona for 2022. She was also highlighted in an Arizona Daily Sun article as a Black woman who has played an important role in Flagstaff’s history.

John Garcia III (Los Angeles, CA, 2012) has been appointed by the Biden Administration to serve as a Senior Advisor for the U.S. Department of Education.

Erin Hart (Phoenix, 2013) was quoted in a 12News article regarding amendments to the length of time substitute teachers are allowed to teach in a school district.

Rep. Daniel Hernandez Jr. (Tucson, 2011) was quoted in a TucsonSentinel.com article about HB2107 which would limit mayors’ power to shut down businesses during emergencies.

Candida Hunter (Phoenix, 2017) has been appointed to the Mohave Community College Board of Governors to represent District 1.

Andy Kvesic (Scottsdale, 2018) was recognized by AZ Big Media as Who’s Who in 2022. He was also interviewed by Voyage Phoenix.

James LaBar (Charlotte, North Carolina, 2012) was quoted in a Charlotte Observer article regarding recent high-rise development in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood.

Reyna Montoya (Gilbert, 2020) was interviewed for a podcast about Arizona’s English-only law.

Mayor Kell Palguta (Prescott Valley, 2019) recently delivered the State of the Town address for Prescott Valley.

Stephanie Parra (Phoenix, 2020) was quoted in an AZEDNEWS article about the MAPA: The State of Arizona Latino Education, Power and Influence report her organization, All In Education, recently released.

Rep. Jennifer Pawlik (Chandler, 2018) was interviewed for an azfamily.com news story regarding the spending cap override deadline for Arizona schools.

Sean Price (Litchfield Park, 2014) is now the Assistant Director of Taxpayer Services at the Arizona Department of Revenue.

Sam Richard (Phoenix, 2017) was quoted in a Prescott eNews article about rapid growth of the recreational marijuana industry in 2021.

Larry Sandigo (Phoenix, 2018) is now serving on the PHX East Valley Partnership Board.

Benjamin Taylor (Phoenix, 2019) appeared on the Dr. Phil Show.

Lela Wendell (Phoenix, 2014) is now the Interim Assistant Director for the newly formed Child Care Division at the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

Janelle Wood (Phoenix, 2013) was recently honored with the Phoenix Suns’ 2022 Golden Standard Award which recognizes African Americans in Phoenix who are promoting excellence.

Russ Yelton (Phoenix, 2012) was recently awarded the AZBio Leadership Award for his past service as Chair of the Board of Directors.

Career and Professional Opportunities


Arizona for Rural Leadership is seeking candidates for Class 31 of their leadership program, Project CENTRL. Over 650 leaders from rural Arizona have completed the leadership program since the first class started in 1983. Apply here.

The Arizona Council of Human Service Providers is hiring a Senior Policy Advocate to facilitate key legislative and administrative initiatives.

Southwest Center is seeking a Education Director to develop and implement educational content for staff, clients, healthcare professionals, community partners and the public.

Arizona Alliance of Community Health Centers is hiring a Grants & Contracts Manager to support all departments with grant writing and administration.

The city of Mesa is looking for a Marketing/Communications Specialist II to join the Arts & Culture team at the i.d.e.a. Museum and the Arizona Museum of Natural History.

The City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture is seeking a Deputy Director to manage the department’s daily operations and percent-for-art projects.

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is seeking a Director of Program Development to join the growing Centers & Programs team.

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

Events & Conferences

Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits is hosting a “Business on Board” four-day virtual workshop for business professionals interested in serving on a nonprofit board. The courses will be held every Tuesday in February. 

The Grassrootz Bookstore is hosting its Second Annual Black History Month Celebration on February 19. The event will celebrate black excellence and showcase local vendors, artists, musicians, poets and activists.

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