Thoughts from Dawn Wallace
Recently, my almost teenager and I took our first solo road trip. Charged with curating our travel playlist, she produced an eclectic discography that featured her favorite modern artists and her version of the “classics” she thought I might enjoy. Included were iconic songs from the Stones, Beatles, Springsteen and, interestingly enough, Don McLean’s “American Pie.” As we engaged in some car karaoke, we became curious about McLean’s lyrics, and decided to unpack the many historical references (“the day the music died”) that ultimately led us to the 1960’s political and cultural revolution in the U.S.
During our discussion, my daughter revealed that many of the themes from this song resonated with her and her generation (racial injustice, political divisiveness, class struggle). To her surprise, I offered her the soundtrack of my ’80s youth – U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, and Neil Young’s “Rocking in the Free World.” What happened next, through this unexpected musical journey, was a rare moment where the divide of a generational gap—and the complexity of the parent-child experience—evolved organically from the individual lens of perception to a mutual understanding and shared language about the values that were important to both of us.
Much like a misunderstood teen and their out-of-touch parent, there has always been tension between the generations in the workplace. However, with multigenerational work environments now more common, with age differences spanning 20 and 30 years, the impact of this phenomenon is more pronounced. Generally speaking, each of the four generations in the workforce today has their unique motivations, aspirations, and communication preferences, which can be difficult for a manager/leader to navigate. But for all the perceived challenges, key findings in a report commissioned by the World Economic Forum and AARP show there are clear benefits to age-diverse workforces, including increased productivity, workforce continuity and stability, and skills and knowledge retention.
I can’t say I’ve always been enlightened—in fact, as a solid Gen Xer, I’ll admit I’ve struggled in my career with the younger generation’s mindset. Thanks to a precocious teenager and by truly opening my mind and listening to millennial colleagues, here’s what I have learned—that younger and older generations actually share more goals and similarities than differences. And my “revelation” is actually supported by a seven-year study by the Center for Creative Leadership, in which employees of all ages reported similar preferred workplace values such as work/life balance, trust and respect.
Those of you who interact with us regularly know that our team at the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership represents the Gen X, millennial, and Gen Z generations. While I can report that none of us fits the stereotypes of our generations exactly, there is no question that each of us operates from different vantage points. But how do we bridge the gap?
We spend time telling each other about our lives and we give each other grace and flexibility when our lives get in the way. We leverage each other’s strengths, we listen to all of each other’s ideas and answer each other’s questions, we embrace change but hold on to what works, we divide and conquer, we adapt and use technology wisely, we applaud each other’s achievements. And each of us teaches and each of us learns.
By the way, if your organization is deciding on its return-to-work policy and want information on strategies for remote working, I would encourage you to read “Five Key Learnings from Working Remotely,” written by the Flinn Foundation’s president and CEO, Tammy McLeod, about our experiences over the last year.
First Flinn Scholars Summer Public Policy Institute
On June 3-4, we hosted the first summer institute for Flinn Scholars from the classes of 2017-2021. The Flinn Scholars Summer Public Policy Institute, a two-day virtual event, used a modified format of the prestigious Flinn-Brown Fellowship seminar series, where experts in public policy presented on current state-level issues that are of interest to our Scholars, such as state government and budget, K-12, higher education, health care, tribal and rural affairs, criminal justice, election processes, and civic participation. View the agenda here.
Thank you to the Flinn-Brown Fellows who participated: Daniel Ruiz II (2015), Stephanie Parra (2020), Kathryn Leonard (2016), Rachel Yanof (2018), Breanne Bushu (2016), Joel Edman (2016), Alberto Olivas (2011), Jennifer Carruseta (2012), Molly Edwards (2011), William Ring (2011), Sarah Douthit (2013), Benjamin Taylor (2019), Joanne Keene (2016), Paul Brierley (2011), Mila Besich (2019), Paula Randolph (2012), and Gina Roberts (2019).
Save the Date – 2021 Flinn-Brown Annual Convention
Please plan to join us Nov. 12 at the Heard Museum for the annual Flinn-Brown Convention. We will feature keynote speakers and breakout sessions during the day, a lunch program celebrating our 10th anniversary and annual Fellows awards, and an early-evening networking reception in the beautiful Piper Courtyard.
Past and Upcoming Events and Webinars
Thank you to Flinn-Brown Fellows Christian Price (2012), Fletcher Montzingo (2017) and Trevor Abarzua (2020) for participating in the May CivEx conversation on Arizona’s tax structure and its impact on state and local economic development, co-sponsored by our partners at the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
Please join us Wednesday, July 7 at 9 a.m. for a Fellows-only event featuring lobbyists Meghaen Dell’Artino of Public Policy Partners, Geoff Esposito of Creosote Partners, Jay Kaprosy of Veridus, and Lourdes Pena of Triadvocates. These capitol insiders will break down what happened during the 2021 Legislative Session, including legislation, budget, and how the 2020 election impacted topics and issues at the state capitol.
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 publicly recognize a professional accomplishment, event or program with which you are involved.
Fellows Council Book Recommendations
Each month, we will feature book suggestions from our Fellows to create our virtual Network library. This month, our book recommendations from members from our Fellows Council, Daniel Ruiz II (2015) and David Martinez III (2011). Please let us know if you have suggestions as well!
Daniel Ruiz II (2015)
The 9 Types of Leadership by Beatrice Chestnut, Ph.D
David Martinez III (2011)
Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most by Greg McKeown
1. Can you please describe your work and how public policy impacts how you manage your organization?
Working public affairs/government relations is like the perfect mix of going on endless first dates, being a walking encyclopedia and phonebook, and hosting a really large party where no one knows each other. Luckily, I really love first dates and parties.
As a lobbyist, I am really thankful to have the opportunity to solve real problems that directly impact our community by closing the loop with elected officials, decision makers, and key stakeholders. I serve as a problem-solving catalyst for your every day Southwest Gas customer to not only navigate our internal service systems, but the systems of government and public policy that can be wildly confusing and disenfranchising. Likewise, I have the privilege of being able to connect our internal staff with outside stakeholders to problem solve. More, I provide education on what Southwest Gas is doing on key emerging issues within energy like renewable natural gas and carbon-negative energy.
By far, though, my favorite aspect of what I do is being able to genuinely engage with and meet people from all walks of life. People are fascinating to me and being able to meet with so many people, hear their stories, and learn from their lived experiences is what drives me and gives me joy.
As a utility, public policy has a profound impact on how Southwest Gas operates. Every policy that touches the domains of energy, sustainability, labor, infrastructure, and as of this past session, the Arizona Corporation Commission, has a direct impact on how we are able to supply homes and businesses with energy.
2. How has the Fellows Network been useful to you?
The Fellows Network has been the gateway of opportunity for all of my post-graduate school jobs. Through the Network, I either was introduced to individuals involved with hiring for a position, heard about a position, or was offered a position. And now, in my current role, the Network serves as the first place I go to when I have a question about a particular policy or am looking to connect with someone within another organization.
More importantly, though, the Fellows Network has given me the space to meet people and build life-long relationships that have fostered my maturity, fueled my confidence, and inspired my joy. I have met people and built relationships I would have never otherwise met through the Network—from completely different walks of life, parts of the state, and opposite end of the political spectrum, all because of our shared love of Arizona and public service.
My very first session, I felt completely lost. I felt like a huge mistake had been made, that I was way out of my water, and that there was no way I should have been in that room. Over the years, through the relationships built and the opportunities from the Network, I came to own my confidence and own my vision. Now, when I walk into a room, I know I belong. In a very real way, I am the person I am today because of the relationships forged out of this Network.
3. What do you see as potential opportunities strengthening civic health in Arizona?
Just yesterday, I was at the dog park and overheard a group of young professionals talking about their first impressions of Arizona. It seemed that all five of them had recently moved to the state and were each in the process of managing their first day above 110 degrees. The group, made of apparent strangers, were building a community around their new, hot, home. As they left, they exchanged numbers and planned a forthcoming happy hour.
Whereas it can be easy to write this off as young professionals just networking, this actually demonstrates so much about strengthening civic health. According to multiple reports from the Center for Active Design, the Knight Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, and the JPB Foundation, fostering community through shared public spaces that promote accidental, yet essential, meetings is key to improving civic health. In those shared spaces, people build community, learn to understand each other, and ultimately care for each other, despite potential differences, because of a shared love and ownership of community.
Yes, we must continue with traditional civic health initiatives like increasing voter registration and citizen forums. In a state like Arizona, though, where to be born and raised in the state is considered a rarity, we must focus on building these shared public spaces first. We cannot expect a new Arizonan to be automatically engaged and passionate about voting in their city council district or volunteering with a local nonprofit without first providing opportunities for them to know their neighbors and fall in love with the same sunsets, the same mountains, and the same state that we all in the Network have, too.
If you missed a Fellows’ Spotlight, you can view them on the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership website now.
Fellows In The News
Mohamed Arif (Phoenix, 2018) began a new position as director of Medicaid Strategy, Health Equity at Aledade, Inc.
Elvy Barton (Chandler, 2013) was quoted in an Anthem Independent article regarding Arizona fire restrictions.
Michael Beller (Phoenix, 2017) was quoted in a Jewish News article about legislation surrounding the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
Sean Berens (Phoenix, 2016) is now partner at Berens Blonstein PLC.
Quintin Boyce (Chandler, 2020) was quoted in a KJZZ article about how the Arizona Department of Education plans to use discretionary COVID-19 relief funding.
Jaclyn Boyes (Phoenix, 2019) is now the managing director for Per Scholas Phoenix.
Teniqua Broughton (Phoenix, 2013) was selected for the Phoenix Business Journal Most Admired Business Leaders Class of 2021.
Juan Ciscomani (Tucson, 2011) was quoted in a Chamber Business News article regarding the shared achievements of Governor Ducey and Governor Claudia Pavlovich of Sonora, Mexico.
Julie Erfle (Phoenix, 2013) was quoted in a KAKE news story about U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
Deborah Gonzalez (Phoenix, 2012) is now chief academic officer at Phoenix Elementary School District #1.
Matt Gress (Phoenix, 2015) was quoted in a Daily Independent article about the increase in Arizona unemployment benefits. He was also quoted in a Payson Roundup article regarding proposed state income tax cuts.
Daniel Hernandez (Tucson, 2011) was featured in an AZ Central article regarding his decision to run for Congress in Arizona’s Second Congressional District.
Mignonne Hollis (Sierra Vista, 2013) was quoted in an AZBIGMEDIA article about the “Arizona Back To Work” Plan.
Marie Isaacson (Phoenix, 2016) was quoted in a State of Reform article about the challenges of remote policymaking.
Erin Carr-Jordan (Chandler, 2013) was quoted in a KULR8 article about the launch of a new holistic health app called Finding Balance.
Katelyn Harris Lange (Phoenix, 2020) is now a sourcer at Robinhood.
Jennifer Lane (Scottsdale, 2014) started a two-year term as national president of National Charity League, Inc.
Brendan Lyons (Tucson, 2020) is now the director of Business Development & Community Relations at 10-4 Medical.
Kell Palguta (Prescott Valley, 2019) was mentioned in a KNAU article for officially declaring June as Pride Month in Prescott Valley.
Stephanie Parra (Phoenix, 2020) was quoted in a KJZZ article about the recent funding Arizona for Latino Leaders in Education (ALL in Education) received. She was also quoted in a KNAU article regarding language barriers in pandemic-related information and resources.
Paul Perrault (Phoenix, 2016) was promoted to senior vice president of Community Impact and Learning at Helios Education Foundation.
Christian Price (Maricopa, 2012) was quoted in an azfamily article about the city of Maricopa.
Diana Rhoades (Anchorage, AK, 2013) was quoted in an Alaska Public Media article about a bill that would provide funding to extend and improve trail systems.
Benjamin Taylor (Phoenix, 2019) is now the vice president of the State Bar of Arizona. He was also quoted in a FOX10 article about the effects of protests related to George Floyd’s death.
Richie Taylor (Phoenix, 2020) was featured in a KJZZ podcast about recent legislation related to sex education in public schools. He was also quoted in a Daily Independent article regarding teen eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Raquel Terán (Phoenix, 2018) was featured in a KJZZ podcast about the lag in COVID-19 vaccination rates for Arizona Latinos. She was also quoted in a Newsone article about discrimination against Black school board members.
Lisa Urias (Phoenix, 2011) and Arizona Community Foundation recently awarded $250,000 to the East Valley Senior Home Sharing (SHS) Program to develop their housing insecurity proposal.
Career and Professional Opportunities
Aliento is hiring for a leadership development manager.
Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits is hiring for a rural development manager.
Arizona Commision on the Arts is seeking an executive director.
First Things First is looking for a tribal liaison.
Mission of Mercy, Inc. is seeking a chief administrative officer.
New Pathways for Youth is looking for a President & CEO.
Noetic Networking is hiring for a chief executive officer at Dress for Success-Phoenix.
The Northern Jaguar Project is seeking an executive director.
Events & Conferences
The 2021 ENGAGE Nonprofit Conference will be held every Wednesday in August from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
Did you miss a previous CivEx? Now you can find webinar recordings on our website. View past events.