Thoughts from Dawn Wallace
In the early 20th century, a Bell Company executive first coined the term “network effect” as a strategy to expand regional telephone services. This principle refers to any situation in which the value of a product, service, or platform depends on the number of buyers, sellers, or users who leverage it.
More recently, this economic theory has been applied to the technology marketplace. In fact, it is commonly referred to as “Metcalfe’s Law,” named after Robert Metcalfe, co-inventor of the Ethernet, the system for connecting a number of computer systems to form a local area network. Essentially, Metcalfe believed that the value of the network was proportional to the square of the number of users. Or, in other words, the value was due to the connectivity between users, enabling them to work together and achieve more than they could alone. Sound familiar?
Metcalfe’s Law certainly abounds in the Flinn-Brown Network. I routinely hear from Fellows that they utilize the Network to solicit fresh ideas, career advice and support, strengthen business connections and to collaborate to advance policy initiatives to address a pressing challenge in their communities.
An excellent example of Metcalfe’s Law in action in the Flinn-Brown Network was recently relayed to me by 2011 Fellow Paul Brierley, executive director of University of Arizona’s Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture. In the midst of a pandemic surge—and the looming annual Yuma vegetable season—he approached Yuma County with seed money for a “back to work” plan that addressed the economic needs of the region while ensuring the health and safety of over 50,000 farmworkers in the fields and packing houses. To help him bring into being a plan for a COVID-19 early-warning and response system built on wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) that had been perfected at UArizona in Tucson, he recruited the following Fellows:
- Diana Gomez (2016), director of the Yuma County Public Health Department, was instrumental in giving advice, finding partners, and creating plans for public-health response to laboratory results;
- Russell McCloud (2018), a Yuma County Supervisor at the time, placed the WBE system on the agenda at the next Board of Supervisors meeting, at which $220,000 was allocated to equip the lab and hire technicians to operate it;
- Gil Villegas (2014), Yuma County’s chief financial officer, assisted in allocating the funding in an expedited manner;
- Supervisor McCloud then reached out to a Fellow in his cohort, Ben Blink (2018), policy advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey, who was instrumental in securing an additional $500,000 from the Arizona Department of Health Services to support a countywide monitoring and response system for all municipalities in Yuma County as well as the county and state public-health agencies, hospitals and schools;
- Representative Joanne Osborne (2012), whose legislative district includes Yuma County, led her fellow legislators to make strong pitches to the governor’s office for the funding and finally;
- Cecilia McCollough (2018), Mayor of Wellton, was one of the first mayors to commit her town to provide samples and act on the results, leading to participation of other cities and towns.
At the conclusion of this project, the WBE system was successful in preventing many outbreaks in agricultural facilities, college dormitories, K-12 schools, and cities and towns across the region. Ultimately, through the power of the Flinn-Brown Network and seven public servants, almost $1 million of financial support was dedicated to a COVID-19 early-warning testing and response system to the entire county. The project has been heralded as a nationwide gold standard of community response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’ve been asked many times by existing, new, and prospective Fellows and external partners how we measure the impact of the Flinn-Brown Network. To a limited extent, we can address the question quantitatively, by using the four demographic measures (geography, gender, race/ethnicity, employment sector) we have tracked since the inception of the program. These metrics illustrate the potential “reach” of the Network, but does not fully relay their contributions toward the public good.
Ultimately, I believe we should measure our impact by collecting and sharing publicly examples of how our Fellows demonstrate their commitment to serve our state and improve the quality of life in Arizona—such as the WBE project and the seven Fellows, who through their shared experience as Flinn-Brown Fellows, trusted each other to work together and leverage their individual contributions to address a devastating societal problem.
To that end, I ask each and every one of you to please share these stories with me—and in turn, I will create a Fellows Impact Page on our website where we will chronicle the collaborations that truly measure the value of our Network and its impact on the quality of life in Arizona today and for future generations.
Flinn-Brown History in Baby-Making
Please join me in congratulating parents-to-be, Chris Glover (2016) and Trista Guzman Glover (2019), on their baby boy due in July 2021. This is the very first baby born to two Flinn-Brown Fellows!
We have also seen a baby boom in our 2020 Fellows cohort in the last year – three Fellows have been blessed with new additions to their families—Dr. Quintin Boyce (girl), Katelyn Harris Lange (girl), Alex Benezra (boy) and Sean Goslar, whose baby boy is due on the last day of Fall Academy!
Past and Upcoming Events and Webinars
Thank you to 2017 Flinn-Brown Fellow Blake Sacha for hosting the April CivEx conversation on the future of election reform in Arizona, co-sponsored by the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. The webinar highlighted Arizona voter demographics and past reform measures before diving into a panel discussion on the future of Arizona’s election reform. Joining him for this well-attended event were Flinn-Brown Fellows Gina Roberts (2019) and Patrick McWhortor (2011).
Please join us Wednesday, May 26 at 2 p.m. for a CivEx conversation on Arizona’s tax structure and its impact on state and local economic development, co-sponsored by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC). Along with representatives from GPEC, this month’s CivEx will feature Flinn-Brown Fellows Christian Price (2012), mayor, City of Maricopa, Fletcher Montzingo (2017), director of fiscal policy, Arizona State Senate, and Trevor Abarzua (2020), vice president of business attraction, Arizona Commerce Authority.
Also save the date for the 2021 Flinn-Brown Legislative wrap-up on June 23. Invitation and details coming soon.
Check out the exciting lineup of CivEx webinars scheduled for the spring on our website.
Describe your work and how public policy impacts how you manage your organization.
I have the privilege of working to coordinate and support our Native student programs and Native faculty at the University of Arizona. I work closely with Enrollment Management, Student Success & Retention Innovation, and Faculty Affairs.
Native American Initiatives was created in January 2020, just before the pandemic impacted our college campuses and communities. I have spent the past year re-orientating myself to all the different units on campus that serve the needs of our Native community.
Prior to this new role, I served as the key liaison between the University and Native Nations and I spent a lot of time on the road. I now have the opportunity to focus more inwardly and give more attention to the needs of students and faculty.
Public policy has been a vital part of my career in higher education. I graduated from the Eller College of Management at UArizona in public administration and earned a master’s degree in American Indian studies, and now I am so close to completing a Ph.D. in higher education.
My academics, coupled with my work experience, has taught me to stay informed and engaged. National, state, local, and tribal communities are evolving, changing, and setting their own policies to meet the needs of their citizens. Native people have a unique status of being citizens of sovereign Nations, in addition to being citizens of a state and the nation. It is my responsibility to know how decisions at every level of government impact our students, impact their families, and the communities they come from. An example is college access and affordability. How do we make college affordable for Native students from rural Arizona? How do we eliminate barriers for students who deserve to go to college? How can colleges and universities get the support they need to continue to serve all students?
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work or community?
I can’t answer this question without sharing my own personal loss of life from the pandemic. My father passed on from the pandemic in November 2020, just a few weeks before the nation started administering the vaccine.
The last time I saw my father was on August 6, 2020 when I drove a 26-foot box truck to the Navajo Nation to deliver a large food donation from a local donation drive I organized in Tucson. He came to meet me at the airport hangar in Window Rock that is the central command post for the Navajo Nation’s resource-supply deliveries. For both of us, this was a much needed visit, because the pandemic made any visit “home” off limits for the safety of the Nation’s citizens.
In terms of my work, many of our Native students had difficulties adjusting to online learning, food insecurity, and financial stressors. Their mental and emotional capacities were tested living and learning in tribal communities that were pandemic hotspots and dealing with fears and isolation of the “invisible monster,” which is how the Navajos refer to the COVID-19 virus.
My community, and other tribal communities, dealt with significant family loss, some losing elders who were caretakers and bearers of the culture. Many of the health-care centers were under-staffed and under-resourced. The Navajo Nation was forced to deal with an inadequate water system and used every means possible to bring clean water into homes that don’t have it.
I am only sharing a small window into what this pandemic has done to our people and to our communities. I try to focus more on how we are overcoming the challenges and the resilience of our people and Native Nations.
How has the Fellows Network been useful to you?
I honestly have not taken advantage of the Fellows Network as much as I should. I read up on the news that comes out so I can learn where some of my cohort Fellows are and what they are doing. Pre-pandemic, I tried to attend several speaking engagements so I could stay connected and keep updated on public policy issues. The Network has given me so much that I never hesitate to volunteer my time to serve on a panel, committee, or even produce a video! I do miss seeing and being among the Fellows and the staff in-person and so look forward to reconnecting and socializing once it is safe to do so.
What do you see as potential opportunities to strengthen civic health in Arizona’s tribal communities?
The opportunities are endless. I’m grateful to the Fellows who are already making an effort and an impact to help tribal communities. Two things immediately come to mind: relationships and infrastructure. Building relationships (and trust) with tribal communities is essential before anything else can happen. One has to be committed to that relationship and not be a “helicopter advocate.”
At the core of our existence as Native people is how we relate to one another and how we care for one another. For too long, tribes haven’t had the best treatment or services by state and federal agencies, for example. When I bring university leaders to a tribal community, they have to be willing to make repeated visits in order to build the trust and a relationship. Dropping-in (helicopter), leaving, and never going back doesn’t do justice when later you want to partner with a tribal community on a business plan or a grant. My advice is to make the investment of time and resources to build relationships with the tribal communities.
Second, there are serious infrastructure needs in tribal communities. Earlier I mentioned the health-care and water resource challenges on the Navajo Nation. These challenges have always existed, but it took a pandemic to elevate them to public-policy makers and then to eventually get the necessary resources to the Nation. We can’t stop the support once this pandemic is over. I’m not an expert on strengthening a community’s infrastructure, but we have to start to tackle some of these big issues as a collective and eventually we’ll start to see significant improvements in the health and well-being of tribal communities.
If you missed a Fellows’ Spotlight, you can view them on the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership website now.
Fellows In The News
Jeremy Babendure (Chandler, 2012) and his organization, SciTech Institute, were awarded a National Science Foundation grant to support computer science in rural and tribal Arizona.
Karen Francis-Begay (Tucson, 2013), Teniqua Broughton (Phoenix, 2013), Reyna Montoya (Gilbert, 2020), Stephanie Parra (Phoenix, 2020), Lisa Urias (Phoenix, 2011), and Zach Yentzer (Tucson, 2020), were featured speakers at “The Arizona We Want: The Decade Ahead,” the release event for the Center for the Future of Arizona’s decennial Gallup Arizona 2020 Survey.
Ben Blink (Phoenix, 2018) was quoted in a Lake Powell Life article about the state’s efforts to address Hopi and Navajo Nation funding issues in the 2022 Arizona budget.
Kevin Bonine (Tucson, 2014) was mentioned in a Travel Awaits article for his work on a Gila monster research project at Saguaro National Park.
Paul Brierley (Yuma, 2011) was interviewed for an ABC15 news story regarding the effects of climate change on farming and food production.
Joel Edman (Phoenix, 2016) was quoted in an ABC15 news story about election bills that have reached the Arizona House floor.
Erin Hart (Phoenix, 2013) was quoted in a AZEDNEWS article regarding the recent updates to the Arizona Education Progress Meters.
Daniel Hernandez (Tucson, 2011) was quoted in a 12News article about SB1457 which would ban abortion due to genetic abnormalities. He was also mentioned in an AZ Big Media article about five gun bills that have been introduced.
Mignonne Hollis (Sierra Vista, 2013) was appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court to serve on the State Bar Board of Governors.
Ashley Hullinger (Tucson, 2020) was the featured speaker at the “Transforming Needs into Assets” webinar hosted by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and Water Resources Research Center (WRRC).
Matthew Isogu (Phoenix, 2016) is now the senior vice president for innovation at Health Current.
Joanne Keene (Flagstaff, 2016) is the new deputy city manager in Sedona.
Erik Lee (Chandler, 2014) was quoted in a KJZZ news story about U.S. energy policies.
Nikki Lee (Tucson, 2018) and her office partnered with Tucson Clean & Beautiful, Trees for Tucson, and Tucson Parks and Recreation to host “Planting for the Future,” an Arbor Day celebration.
Aaron Lieberman (Paradise Valley, 2017) was quoted in The Center Square about SB1752, which provides state tax relief for unemployment aid and federal loans received during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reyna Montoya (Gilbert, 2020) was highlighted in an AZCentral article for her work toward getting SCR1044, which would approve in-state tuition for Arizona Dreamers, on the 2022 ballot.
Alberto Olivas (Phoenix, 2011) was a guest on a KJZZ podcast for a discussion of changes to voting laws.
Kell Palguta (Prescott Valley, 2019) spoke at the Citizens Tax Committee Meeting in Prescott.
Daniel Palm (Flagstaff, 2020) has accepted a new position as associate vice provost for global affairs at the University of Arizona.
Stephanie Parra (Phoenix, 2020) was featured in an AZEDNEWS article about the benefits of school equity plans. She also became a member of the Arizona Ready for School Task Force which was created to address pandemic-related issues affecting Arizona schools.
Jennifer Pawlik (Chandler, 2018) was quoted in a KAWC article regarding HB2123, which would amend suspension and expulsion rules in schools.
Lea Márquez Peterson (Tucson, 2011) was quoted in a Chamber Business News article about increasing solar energy use for low-income housing.
Janet Regner (Clarkdale, 2017) now serves on the Clarkdale Jerome School District Board.
Derrik Rochwalik (Phoenix, 2018) has started a new position as public-affairs liaison for the city of Phoenix.
Keri Silvyn (Tucson, 2011) was a featured speaker at the Tucson Young Professionals Lunch-and-Learn session, “Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century City.”
Nancy Steele (Cottonwood, 2019) was a featured speaker at the Keep Sedona Beautiful “Preserving the Wonder” webinar series.
Benjamin Taylor (Phoenix, 2019) was quoted in a KJZZ news story about the Derek Chauvin trial verdict and has been featured in national news reports discussing the trial. He was also quoted in The Morning Call regarding racial bias in traffic stops.
Raquel Terán (Phoenix, 2018) was quoted in an NBC News article regarding the audit of Maricopa County election results.
Deanna Villanueva-Sauceda (Mesa, 2014) has been appointed by the Mesa City Council to chair the Mesa Redistricting Commission.
Lisa Urias (Phoenix, 2011) is now the chief program and community engagement officer at Arizona Community Foundation.
Risha VanderWey (Flagstaff, 2018) was selected as the new Montezuma-Cortez District superintendent.
Janelle Wood (Phoenix, 2013) was quoted in an Arizona Capitol Times article about SB1452, which would extend Empowerment Scholarship Account eligibility to low-income students and children of veterans. She was also quoted in an azfamily article regarding Arizona police reform.
Career and Professional Opportunities
Arizona Grantmakers Forum is looking for a director of member engagement and operations.
Arizona Students Recycling Used Technology (AZ StRUT) is seeking an executive director.
ASU Enterprise Partners is looking for an assistant vice president for the Office of Strategic Alignment.
The Center for Biological Diversity is hiring for an environmental equity & justice director.
First Things First is looking for a chief executive officer.
The city of Chandler is hiring for a community engagement specialist.
Greater Phoenix Economic Council is seeking a vice president of business development.
Local First Arizona is looking for a coordinator for the Coalition for Farmland Preservation.
Events & Conferences
Voting for the Arizona Capitol Times Best of the Capitol 2021 is open until May 17.
MOMENTUM is hosting a virtual “Pick Your Path” info session on May 22.
Nominations for the 2021 Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Awards are open until May 21.
Arizona Town Hall is hosting a discussion on “Creating Vibrant Communities” on May 26.
The Phoenix Art Museum will hold its next virtual mindfulness session on May 20 at noon.
Did you miss a previous CivEx? Now you can find webinar recordings on our website. View past events.