Fellow Fernando Shipley: a Gila County public servant

October 9, 2023

By Jessica Vaile

Fellows Spotlight

Fernando Shipley

(Globe, Spring 2011)
Owner/Agent, State Farm; Councilman, City of Globe; Governing Board Member, Gila Community College


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

This past May, I celebrated 35 years with State Farm, of which the last 24 years have been as a State Farm agent in Globe, Arizona. My leadership journey has been an interesting and rewarding adventure. I have served on the Globe City Council for 15 years and four of those years as mayor. I also serve on the governing boards of Gila Community College, Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center, First Things First Gila Regional Partnership Council, and on the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority’s Federal Programs Committee.

Everyone is affected by public policy in every industry or service. There is often a tremendous amount of pressure on decision makers to adopt policies and procedures to address or resolve an issue, but unfortunately, many times those changes also have unintended consequences. Most recently, the state Legislature passed several bills that would have severely impacted the finances of municipalities. Through a coordinated and tremendous effort, advocates for local government control informed our legislators of these negative impacts and our inability to adapt to those changes without severe hardship to our cities and citizens. Fortunately for municipalities, Governor Hobbs understood the impacts of that legislation and vetoed most of those bills. This is why we must remain diligent, engaged, and connected to policymakers.

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

My kid’s favorite quote is: “He who loses his cool, loses.” I made that one up myself, but I am sure I am not the first to come up with some variation. Much of what I do involves interacting with people and my experience is that there are as many opinions as there are people. Of course, it can be frustrating when communications break down. However, once you get heated and upset, all it does is make the other person shut down or write you off. Either way, the result is the same.

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

Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles

It is hard to just pick one but considering the Flinn-Brown audience, I would go with “Gung Ho!” It is an older leadership book by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. I really like it because it focuses on building teams from the bottom up and really shows the power of true teamwork. It also demonstrates that all of us have value and how much can be accomplished when we work together.

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

Let’s start with the fact that I am extremely humbled and honored to be a Fellow. When I first participated in the Academy, I noticed everyone in my cohort was extremely intelligent and had no trouble keeping up with our presenters and engaged them with thoughtful questions and ideas. The ability to process facts and data and then incorporate that into their pre-held ideas or solutions is common among Fellows. Our Fellows just keep getting better and gaining influence. They never stop learning and growing and their willingness to help each other is the most valuable gift of all. If I can ever help a Fellow, I always do and I am certain I am not the only one.

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

We need to focus less on what divides us and more on what unites us. I don’t think just because we would prioritize public policy issues differently, it should translate into whether we are proud of our country. If we truly want to make progress, we need to sit down and talk to each other, not make policy in a silo and then expect everyone to accept it blindly.

When I started Academy, I had the good fortune to spend time with Jack Jewett, the former president and CEO of the Flinn Foundation. I told him, “I am on to you! I know what you are doing. You brought us together in hopes that if we just got to know each other on a personal level, that despite our differences, we would grow to respect each other.” It was true then and it is true now. We must start by respecting each other! Flinn-Brown works, but we need all Fellows to help get those leaders (regardless of what team they represent) to the Flinn-Brown Academy table.

View all Flinn-Brown Fellow profiles here.