March 2022 Network News

April 5, 2022

By Jessica Vaile

Thoughts from Dawn Wallace

In the summer of 1995, alongside nearly 1,000 people, I attended a very special naturalization ceremony—my own. I remember so many intense feelings—everything between an overwhelming sense of relief and finality juxtaposed with a sense of something between hope and rebirth. 

But in truth, my strongest memory of that day is not of how I felt, but of a 94-year-old man who waited a lifetime to become an American citizen. I recall his story vividly: As a young man, he escaped from his war-torn country with the hope of building a life of purpose and prosperity for himself and his family. He used the term “freedom” multiple times during his testimonial—his freedom from oppression, fear, and persecution—but also the freedom he believed was the rising tide of his American Dream. 

I’ll confess that I did not think much about freedom that day. While my parents also left their birth country under similar concerns, I’d lived much of my life under the streaming banners of freedom. For this lovely, genteel man, freedom was a difference between life and death. In contrast, at the tender age of 25, for me, it was a name change, the right to vote, and a passport. 

Over the last few years and particularly the last few months, I’ve heard “freedom” invoked in a variety of ways—in the context our constitutional rights of speech and assembly, reactions to pandemic conditions, and more recently, the war in the Ukraine. 

My objective and logical mind strongly accepts that freedom is a relative term. Its meaning and emotional connection are entirely constructs of the mind that conjures its name. However, my judgmental heart struggles with the ease in which the ideal of freedom—born to safeguard a free world—has been commandeered purely to connote individualistic choice. 

ike many of you, I’ve watched the people of Ukraine and its leaders fight valiantly against a violent and despotic regime. I’ve heard the desperate calls for freedom from its leaders and in the voices of its people. Perhaps it is my own weakness, but I cannot reconcile those voices I hear with those who invoke freedom when speaking of insignificant yokes that are temporary and minor inconveniences meant to protect the health of our communities. To the latter, my unforgiving heart says—please, please exercise your choice but do not diminish the just meaning of freedom that has followed humankind throughout history. Please reserve freedom for a more reverent purpose—the fundamental right of a society of people to live under their own banner of self-determination and authority – as we are seeing in real-time with our friends in Ukraine, who are truly fighting a real war for the right to democratically govern themselves and preserve their culture, language, and way of life. I hope you join me as I stand faithfully for freedom as I STAND WITH UKRAINE.

2022 Flinn-Brown Fellowship

I’m happy to report that we received 85 applications for the 2022 Flinn-Brown cohort. We are particularly pleased that this year these applications arrived from accomplished leaders from 10 of 15 counties in the state. We continue to draw interest from all levels of government and the nonprofit sector, and our applicants include a diverse set of voices from different communities, cultures, and ideological backgrounds. Our recruitment from the private sector was strong in the areas of economic development, law and public safety, and healthcare; however, we have room for improvement in our recruitment strategies to engage leaders from other industries and jobs for the program. 

I want to extend my gratitude to the Fellows who assisted us in reviewing applications for the 2022 cohort of the Fellowship: Kate Ali’varius (Mesa, 2012), Alesia Ash (Sierra Vista, 2015), Tony Boone (Sierra Vista, 2019), Nicole Fries (Phoenix, 2020), Serida Fong (Scottsdale, 2017), Trista Guzman Glover (Mesa, 2019), Peter Huisking (Sierra Vista, 2015), Erin Carr-Jordan (Chandler, 2013), Bill Kovacs (Scottsdale, 2016), Chris Kyselka (Gilbert, 2014), Michelle Hess (Buckeye, 2013), Chad Marchand(Tucson, 2011), Christian Osmena (Phoenix, 2020), Stephen Pawlowski(Phoenix, 2012), Jill Pernice (Phoenix, 2020), Janet Regner (Clarkdale, 2017), Tomas Robles, Jr. (Phoenix, 2019), Stacy Reinstein (Phoenix, 2012), Larry Sandigo (Phoenix, 2018), Nancy Steele (Cottonwood, 2019), Mary Venezia (Tucson, 2015), and Rachel Yanof (Phoenix, 2018). 

On April 18-19, the Selection Committee will choose 25 individuals for the new cohort. We will announce on May 16.

Upcoming CivEx Webinar 

Join us Wednesday, March 30 for a CivEx conversation on how Arizona is reimagining strategies to improve access to and affordability of child care—all through the lens of quality early-education programming. Hosted by Flinn-Brown Fellows Stacy Reinstein (Phoenix, 2012) and Lela Wendell (Phoenix, 2014), this webinar will give participants foundational data on supply and demand, new federal requirements and funding opportunities, the critical connection between child care and our state’s economic health, and the overall goal of increasing equitable access to high-quality care for Arizona’s children. Please register here.

If you are interested in seeing any past CivEx sessions from 2021, please check out our CivEx page.

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 Illya Riske (Phoenix, 2014) and Frances Sjoberg (Phoenix, 2012)

Illya Riske (2014)
Washington Black
Washington Black
by Esi Edugyan

Flinn-Brown Convention


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

Fellows Paul Perrault (Phoenix, 2016) and Josue Macias (Phoenix, 2019) have agreed to be our Convention Co-Chairs, and Fellows Patrick Tighe (Phoenix, 2019) and Candace Park (Gilbert, 2018) have also joined the Convention Committee. 

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

Fellows Spotlight

Frances Sjoberg

Frances Sjoberg (Phoenix, 2012)
Principal Attorney, Economic and Community Development Unit, Navajo Nation Department of Justice


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

I very recently left private practice at Lewis Roca to work in-house as a principal attorney for Navajo Nation Department of Justice’s Economic and Community Development Unit. In this capacity, I serve at the pleasure of the Navajo Nation’s Attorney General and am a managed person rather than a manager within the organization. In this context, I aim to lead by providing great service to the excellent colleagues and leaders I work with. 

Prior to my move to Navajo DOJ, I worked as outside counsel for the Navajo Gaming Enterprise and with Navajo leadership to help negotiate the 2021 Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compact, along with representatives from 19 other Arizona tribes, Gov. Doug Ducey’s office, and the Arizona Department of Gaming. I continue to assist the Nation with Compact implementation. I also advise on election matters, and work with the Division of Economic Development on initiatives to facilitate, finance, foster, and further business and economic activity on the Navajo Nation. This comes in many forms, including pandemic recovery, capacity building, land acquisition, and pursuit of small business funding opportunities.  

Public policy is critical to every facet of my work. I advise on legislation, support intergovernmental negotiations, and coordinate teams to further policy objectives. I like a heavy lift, to work on projects with roadblocks and adversity, and to find a win-win in even the most intractable problems.

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

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
–from Marge Piercy’s “To Be of Use”
You can find the whole poem here.

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

“Three Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West” by Megan Kate Nelson

This book is a carefully rendered war history of the American Southwest in the 1860s based on letters, diaries, records, oral histories, photographs, and maps. From this source material, Nelson creates a vivid narrative from the perspective of many diverse individuals, providing a nuanced picture of this painful and pivotal time in the New Mexico and Arizona Territories, Apachería, and Diné Bikéyah.

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

I am just smitten with the Flinn-Brown Fellows. So knowledgeable, interesting and committed to the public good. Individuals in the Network have been a go-to source of information and inspiration for me. When I meet Fellows in the course of my work, I know I can trust them, even if we’re representing adverse interests. This baseline trust, especially in adversity, gives me faith in an ability to accomplish things that might otherwise seem impossible.

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

The Vetted Idea: Focus on Primary Elections

For several months, I have been talking to a bipartisan group of Fellows and likeminded peers who are concerned about the character of our leaders and candidates for elected office. It has become clear we need to put our effort into a few key primary races to strengthen honorable candidates with the integrity to speak up for what’s right, not what’s easiest, most self-preserving, or most likely to curry favor with an influential demagogue. If you’d like to be involved in discussions about bellwether state primaries, or have a desire to roll up your sleeves and help, let me know.

The Unvetted Idea: Reluctant Candidates

Perhaps misquoting Maricopa County Supervisor Tom Galvin: “In times like these, public service has never been less appealing, or more important.”  Even if you’re reluctant, if you feel in your gut you could do it, run for office. Or seek out and support reluctant candidates with character, integrity, and courage to change the script, even (especially) when it means speaking out against actions of people within their own parties. We probably don’t need more career politicians. We do need thoughtful, everyday leaders willing to serve just long enough to leave their offices better than they found them.

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)

School District Governing Board 
Stephanie Parra (Phoenix, 2020)
Christine Thompson (Phoenix, 2017)

Justice of Peace
Kristel Ann Foster (Tucson, 2015)

Fellows In The News

Karen Francis-Begay (Tucson, 2013) was highlighted in an article in the Daily Wildcat about University of Arizona’s ranking as the top institution to award doctoral degrees to Native Americans between 2016 to 2020.

Mayor Mila Besich (Superior, 2019) was interviewed for a WSUF news story about protests against the Resolution Copper Mine.

Ashley Bridwell (Phoenix, 2019) was featured in a New York Times magazine article regarding traumatic brain injury and domestic violence.

Blaise Caudill (Phoenix, 2014) is now serving on the PHX East Valley Partnership Board.

Jaime Dempsey (Phoenix, 2013) was quoted in a Gila Herald articleabout the renewed partnership between Arizona Community Foundation (ACF) and the Arizona Commission on the Arts to support Arizona artists.

Randi Dorman (Tucson, 2014) was featured in a Forbes article about the Tucson Gastronomy Collective, a project she is leading that will highlight Tucson’s “City of Gastronomy” designation by UNESCO.

David Garcia (Phoenix, 2011) wrote an article in THE Campus about how academics can use their research to inform policy decisions.

Elyse Guidas (Phoenix, 2019) was interviewed for an ABC15 news story about how Farm Express, a mobile farmers market, has helped fill a grocery store gap in Tempe.

Rep. Daniel Hernandez Jr. (Tucson, 2011) and Rep. Morgan Abraham (Tucson, 2014) were highlighted in a news story regarding their call for increased solar energy investments and climate initiatives to fight climate change.

Aaron Lieberman (Paradise Valley, 2017) was highlighted in a U.S. News article about his proposal for free Pre-K.

Alberto Olivas (Phoenix, 2011) was quoted in an ASU News articleabout how the Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service has helped students become more civically engaged.

Mayor Kell Palguta (Prescott Valley, 2019) wrote an article in the Consular Newsletter on Economic and Tourism Affairs about two annual events Prescott Valley hosts to celebrate Latino heritage.

Mayor Christian Price (Maricopa, 2012) was quoted in an article regarding the groundbreaking of an affordable housing apartment community in the city of Maricopa.

Pearlette Ramos (Avondale, 2018) will be honored at the 28th Tribute to Leadership Awards on March 30.

Sam Richard (Phoenix, 2017) was quoted in a Tucson Weekly articleabout SB1715, which would ban Delta-8, an unregulated hemp-derived medicinal alternative.

Jessica Rigler (Chandler, 2019) will give the opening and closing addresses at the 7th Annual Arizona Cord Blood Conference on April 7.

Cynthia Seelhammer (Queen Creek, 2016) was quoted in an ASU News article about the Marvin Andrews Fellowship in Urban Management which allows students interested in local government management to work directly with city and town managers.

Jami Synder (Phoenix, 2013) was highlighted in a State of Reform article regarding her recent speech at the Hertel Report’s 2022 State of the State.

Benjamin Taylor (Phoenix, 2019) was interviewed for an ABC15 news story regarding Brittney Griner’s arrest in Russia.

Alfred Urbina (Tucson, 2013) was quoted in a Bloomberg Law article about how the lack of federal judges and resources in Northern Arizona impacts tribal communities.

Career and Professional Opportunities

Aliento, an organization founded by Flinn-Brown Fellow, Reyna Montoya (Gilbert, 2020) to serve DACA students and their families, is hiring for four positions, two of which are executive level. Learn more here.

ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation is seeking a Director, Professional Development Education to manage and develop a variety of continuing education programs.

Arizona Sustainability Alliance is seeking an Executive Director to advance the organization’s mission and lead the staff, programs, and fundraising efforts.

The city of Tucson is seeking a Housing Authority Administrator to oversee the city’s Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Programs.

The Office of Economic Initiatives at the city of Tucson is looking for a Business Navigator to support small businesses in Tucson.

Valley of the Sun United Way is hiring for multiple positions, including Vice President, Individual Donor Engagement and Public Policy Director

The city of Buckeye is looking for a leader with a passion for local government to be the next Assistant City Manager. Learn more here.  

Protect Democracy is conducting a search for candidates in Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan to fill a new State Policy Advocate position.

Spaces of Opportunity, a 19-acre hub of wellness and health that includes incubator farms, family gardens, on-site farmers market, and community gathering space in South Phoenix that helps families have affordable access to healthy food and active living, is looking for its first Executive Director. Learn more here.

More employment opportunities in the public sector can be found at

Events & Conferences

Heather Wilson, former Secretary of the Air Force and Congresswoman from New Mexico, is speaking at ASU today in the Civic Discourse Project Series, this year on the theme of “Renewing America’s Civic Compact.” Her public lecture, “Lessons Learned and Tough Choices in Leadership,” is at 5 p.m.on March 29. More information is available here.

The 28th Tribute to Leadership Awards will be held March 30 at the Croft Downtown. Tickets can be purchased here.

Artlink is hosting its 34th annual Art Detour through March 31. The celebration features a variety of art activities and events as well as local artists and arts and culture organizations. View the events calendar here.

Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and Arizona Community Foundation are hosting a virtual conversation on affordable housing on Arizona’s tribal lands on March 31.

The 9th Annual Civic Learning Conference, Destination Democracy: Civics in the Driver’s Seat, will be held on April 2 at Desert Willow Conference Center.  

Learn more about the importance of K-12 education to economic developers during a panel discussion hosted by the Arizona Association of Economic Development on April 12. Register here.

The annual Arizona Bioscience Roadmap event on the progress of Arizona’s bioscience sector will be held virtually on April 20. Register here.

ASU Lodestar Center’s 23rd Annual Forum on Nonprofit Effectiveness on April 20 will focus on Service and Volunteerism to Build a Stronger Arizona. This interactive in-person convening will connect fellow nonprofit professionals, and sector leader and attendees will leave the forum with fresh ideas and tools. Register today.

Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits is hosting a four-part series, Making A Difference Through Board Service, to bring awareness to the duties and responsibilities of serving on a nonprofit board. The next session, Board Leadership, will be held on April 21.

SAVE THE DATE: Local First Arizona is holding its 15th Annual Rural Policy Forum in Winslow on August 3–5, 2022. You can get updates on event details here.

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