November/December 2023 Network News

December 19, 2023

By Jessica Vaile

Thoughts from Dawn Wallace

Here is my holiday gift to you, Fellows: Watch, nay, binge the two seasons of “The Bear” as soon as you can. It is on Hulu, and if you do not subscribe, sign up just to watch this gem. It will painstakingly break your heart and invoke unimaginable stress levels. Every episode is loud and messy (figuratively and literally) and there are a staggering number of insurmountable issues, but worth every laugh, cry, and heart palpitation.

Set in Chicago, this thought-provoking and intense show initially deals with grief and loss as the main character, a classically trained chef, returns to his hometown to run his recently deceased brother’s failing restaurant, along with a motley crew of inherited employees and dysfunctional family members. The show masquerades as an ode to the culinary arts, but at its core, it is about the malleability of the human spirit to overcome adversity, the importance of interdependences, and quietly and sometimes violently, it exalts the desperate need for purpose in life. The latter is why this beauty of a story caught my attention.

Every character is flawed in some way—driven by their fear of failure and self-doubt or entrenched in their own distorted psychology. The show uses every character’s self-provoked propensity for self-sabotage and what ultimately becomes their respective journeys for personal growth to demonstrate that purpose, at its most macro level, serves as a source of resilience during challenging times. When faced with hardship and, in this case, saving the legacy of a beloved brother and friend, this clear sense of collective purpose inspires perseverance and drives everyone to find their own unique meaning in their struggles. And most importantly, this series exemplifies that shared purpose acts as a common thread that connects the unlikeliest of people. At a micro level, purpose serves as the characters’ catalyst for change and forces them to prioritize what truly matters to them. It gives a new identity, confidence, sense of belonging and a commitment to something more than self.

Throughout the run of the show, there is a persistent refrain: “Every second counts.” In season one, “every second counts” uses the measurement of time as a reminder of life’s most precious purpose—human connection. Into the second season, as each character struggles to find their purpose, “every second counts” thematically changes to a call to live with intention, and that hesitation to act has consequences.

As we bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new, I want to express my heartfelt wishes for you. May the New Year unfold like a beautiful story, each chapter filled with happiness, success, and the fulfillment of dreams. May you find the courage to embrace new opportunities, the strength to overcome challenges, and the wisdom to make every second count.


Fellows Spotlight

Benah Parker

(Gilbert, 2011)

Executive Coach and Author
Level 42 Consulting

Email | LinkedIn | YouTube

As a social psychologist and executive coach, Benah Parker is well known for helping her clients move the needle on desired outcomes. Whether the goal is organizational transformation, professional growth, or personal development, Benah integrates applied psychology to help leaders live a life that is aligned with their dreams.

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

I am a social psychologist and executive coach who helps high-performing leaders identify their blind spots and uncover what’s missing so they can create a life that is aligned with their dreams. 

Public policy impacts me as a resident of Arizona, but also because our elected officials and policy makers showcase such a wide range of leadership skills with so much potential to impact our daily lives and the greater good. As someone who spends my professional life working to help leaders become better, more impactful, and more authentic, I value our civic leaders who are continuously working to develop their leadership capacity.

While policymakers work to effect meaningful change for our communities, the structures in which they work are often designed to maintain the status quo. Navigating these realties and complexities requires leaders who are effective and influential communicators, who engage meaningfully with stakeholders, and who work tirelessly for an outcome that may be years away and result in very little public acknowledgement for the individual champions. This is not an intuitive skill set for everyone. 

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

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” — Aldous Huxley

It is so easy to get overwhelmed when we want to fix the issues we see in our communities. We want to have an impact and make the world better, safer, more accepting, more abundant—but there’s so little we actually control. This quote has always spoken to me because if we focus on becoming our best selves—the best leaders, community members, family members, engaged citizens, consumers, whatever—we can be, the positive ripple effects are limitless.

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

As a member of the inaugural class in 2011, I have been less engaged with the Network in recent years than I might have liked. However, watching the Fellows Network grow over the years has been both inspiring and comforting. While the political divide has grown even wider and more contentious, it is reassuring to witness the thoughtful, intentional leaders from all along the political spectrum joining this Network with the shared goals of understanding complex issues and finding reasonable solutions for our state.  

When I have had the luck to cross paths with more recent Fellows or to re-engage with my own cohort, I am humbled and honored to be associated with leaders of this caliber and character. I am looking forward to connecting more meaningfully in the coming year!

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

I’ve long believed one of our biggest opportunities for strengthening civic health is to help more people see the impact that a few people can have. When individuals realize how much weight their voice can actually carry, beyond simply shouting sound bites or repeating social media-driven talking points, the new engagement contributes to the diversity of thought and the strength of solutions considered. We are all just humans, and as we focus more on what we have in common rather than what might divide us, creating lasting change for the greater good becomes more realistic and attainable.

If you missed a Fellows Spotlight, you can view them on the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership website now.

Leadership Forward – A Better Arizona

Elvy Barton – Episode 3

In the third episode of Leadership Forward for a Better Arizona, we discussed healthy forests with Elvy Barton (Phoenix, 2013), Water and Forest Sustainability Manager at Salt River Project.

Elvy shares her expertise on the Arizona Healthy Forest Initiative and how forest management policy can impact our water supply, wildfires, and the sustainability of our communities.

You can check it out where you find your podcasts or on our YouTube channel.

Next month, we will hear from Paul Perrault, Ph.D. (Phoenix, 2016) and his colleague at the Helios Education Foundation, Janice Palmer, who will discuss the impact of the pandemic on student learning outcomes and historic levels of chronic absenteeism in Arizona.

Fellows Meet Fellows

Thanks to Sarah Smallhouse for hosting the Southern Arizona Fellows at her home on December 11. It was great to see such a good showing of Fellows!

Fellows in the wild! Eric Nielsen (Tucson, 2013), Justice Kristel Ann Foster (Tucson, 2015), Amanda Lomayesva (Tucson, 2015), and Rep. Chris Mathis(Tucson, 2011) bumped into one another at a concert.

Katelyn Harris Lange (Phoenix, 2020), Sophie Allen-Etchart (Phoenix, 2022) and Jerry McPherson (Phoenix, 2022) meet at the Valley of the Sun United Way Breakfast. 

All politics are local! Mayor Kevin Hartke (Chandler, 2014) Mayor Mila Besich (Superior, 2019) and Frank McCune(Phoenix, 2011) at the League of Cities and Towns office.

Techie Fellows Doug Hockstad(Tucson, 2022) and Chris Richardson (Scottsdale, 2022) at the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards.

Mignonne Hollis (Hereford, 2013) and Kevin Volk (Tucson, 2022) at a Chicanos Por la Causa event. 

Joel Edman (Phoenix, 2016), Rep. Jennifer Pawlik (Chandler, 2018), Councilwoman Julie Spilsbury (Mesa, 2023), Gina Roberts (Scottsdale, 2019), and Brian Garcia (Tempe, 2018) served as judges for the Regional We the People Competition. 

Kimulet Winzer (Phoenix, 2011) and Janelle Wood (Phoenix, 2013) caught up at the Omega Psi Phi Founders Banquet.

Nikki Check (Jerome, 2012) bumped into Yavapai County Treasurer Chip Davis (Prescott, 2012) while filing her intent to run for Yavapai County Board of Supervisors.

2024 Legislative Preview

Thank you for joining us on December 13 for the Fellows-only Legislative Preview, featuring lobbyists Meghaen Dell’Artino of Public Policy Partners, Gaelle Esposito of Creosote Partners, Jay Kaprosy of Veridus and our newest panelist, Sabrina Vazquez of Peters, Cannata & Moody. Special thanks to Flinn-Brown Fellow Zach Yentzer(Tucson, 2020) for moderating.

If you have an idea for a CivEx webinar that you would like to host or a topic you would like to learn more about, contact Dawn.

Fellows Field Trips

During the Convention, it was suggested to me that fiel

d trips organized by Fellows, for Fellows might be a great way to network and learn more about the innovative work that is happening in Fellows’ organizations.

I would encourage Fellows outside of Maricopa County to let me know if there are opportunities for Fellows to visit and learn more about what is happening in Greater Arizona. Please let me know if you are interested in providing a field trip opportunity.


Fellows Lists

Each month we will feature a Fellows list for a specific employment sector, public policy area, affinity group, or region. This month we focus on Fellows in Southern Arizona.  

While we try very hard to keep up to date on Fellows’ activities, we recognize that we may have missed someone. Please let Dawn know and we will happily update the list.

Fellows Directory Updates

Help us keep our Fellows Directory accurate and updated!  We update our online directory quarterly and print hard copies twice a year in May and October. Please take a moment to complete this survey with your current information. You can also upload a new headshot to this Google Drive folder.

Please contact Jennifer if you have problems accessing the survey or uploading a photo.

Fellows Book Recommendations

Each month, we feature suggestions from Fellows to create a virtual Network library about public-policy issues, the practice of leadership, professional development, and other areas worth sharing. This month’s recommendation comes from Benah Parker (Gilbert, 2011).

Benah Parker
(Gilbert, 2011)
Excuse Me While I Disappear
by Laurie Notaro

For fun reading, I would suggest anything by Laurie Notaro. She’s an Arizona native writer (though she now lives in the Pacific Northwest) and her essays have had me laughing so much on airplanes that people were worried about me. Her latest collection, which I will be reading soon, is “Excuse Me While I Disappear: Tales of Midlife Mayhem,” though any of her humor books will provide a welcome reprieve!

Fellows In The News

We are happy to promote your work through social media, so reach out if you would like us to recognize a professional accomplishment, event, or program with which you are involved.

Sophie Allen-Etchart (Phoenix, 2022) was interviewed for a KTAR News article about the $1.5 million grant her organization Read Better Be Better received to expand its afterschool literacy program.  

Elvy Barton (Chandler, 2013) was quoted in a Daily Independent article regarding a $288,419 donation EdgeCore Digital Infrastructure made to SRP to support its Resilient Water and Forest Initiative.

Mayor Mila Besich (Superior, 2019) was highlighted in a Silver Belt article about the Regional Economic Development agreement the town of Superior and Resolution Copper signed to drive economic growth in Superior.

Quintin Boyce, Ed.D. (Chandler, 2020) delivered the faculty addressfor the Black African Convocation at Arizona State University.

Teresa Bravo (Tucson, 2023) serves on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Folklife Alliance which produces Tucson Meet Yourself. Watch her commercial here.

Tony Cani (Phoenix, 2014) provided political analysis for a KTAR News story about the 2024 elections.

Blaise Caudill (Phoenix, 2014) recently spoke at the Honeywell Advanced Air Lab about efforts between the public and private sectors to create clean energy solutions in Arizona.

Mayor Becky Daggett (Flagstaff, 2014) was quoted in a Flagstaff Business News article about plans to use art to improve street safety in Flagstaff’s Cheshire neighborhood.

Molly Edwards (Phoenix, 2011) graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Master of Public Administration.

Coral Evans, Ph.D. (Flagstaff, 2011) and Mayor Mila Besich(Superior, 2019) had a conversation on the Mayor’s Community Policy Trust about statesmanship, civility, civic responsibility, and participation.

Adam Goodman (Paradise Valley, 2023) was featured in a Jewish News article about the importance of independent journalism.

Mignonne Hollis (Hereford, 2013) was interviewed for a KGUN9 news story about a grant that the Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation received from the U.S. Economic Development Association to support a new tech hub in Cochise County.

Matthew Isiogu (Phoenix, 2016) was quoted in a Nation World News article about the importance of data collection in addressing health equity.

Gabriel Jaramillo (Phoenix, 2022) was quoted in a State of Reform article about promoting sustainable housing in Arizona.

Julie Katsel (Tucson, 2014) wrote an op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star about honoring Jim Kolbe’s legacy in serving Southern Arizona.

Aaron Lieberman (Paradise Valley, 2017) recently launched Buzze, a mobile app that connects electric vehicle drivers with a network of charging hosts.  

Brendan Lyons (Tucson, 2020) is now Director of Government Affairs, Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.

Debbie Nez-Manuel (Scottsdale, 2017) recently co-signed an agreement to streamline the Navajo membership verification process that determines if the Indian Child Welfare Act applies to an adoption case.   

Joanne Osborne (Goodyear, 2012) was quoted in a West Valley View article regarding the ribbon cutting for the pilot Purple Star School program in Arizona.

Rep. Jennifer Pawlik (Chandler, 2018) was recognized as a Tech 10 Legislator at the 2023 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation.

Rebecca Perrera (Laveen, 2020) is starting a new position as Deputy Assistant Director for School Facilities at ADOA beginning in January.

Gina Roberts (Phoenix, 2019) was a panelist on an Arizona Capitol Times Morning Scoop forum about what Arizona voters can expect in the upcoming election year.

Adelaida Severson, Ph.D. (Gilbert, 2020) was selected for the Great 48 Class of 2023.

Sue Sisley, M.D. (Scottsdale, 2011) was interviewed for an Arizona Capitol Times article regarding clinical trials on the use of psilocybin whole mushrooms in Arizona to treat PTSD and other disorders.

Councilmember Julie Spilsbury (Mesa, 2023) was quoted in a KTAR News article regarding the decision to convert Mesa’s Grand Hotel into a temporary shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Benjamin Taylor, J.D. (Phoenix, 2019) shared his perspective on equality in the justice system on a segment of the Arizona Republic’s AZ I See It.

Pascua Yaqui Attorney General Alfred Urbina (Tucson, 2013) was on a community panel about creating safe spaces for Indigenous men impacted by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) crisis to share their experiences and trauma.

Lisa Urias (Phoenix, 2011) was quoted in a Fountain Hills Times article about the development of an International Dark Sky Discovery Center in Fountain Hills.

Lela Wendell (New Mexico, 2014) is now the Director of the Policy, Research, and Quality Initiatives Division for the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department.

Bradley Williams (Virginia, 2019) and his wife welcomed their baby girl, Charlie Hope Williams, to their family in September.

Heath Vescovi-Chiordi (Tucson, 2023) was named an Emerging Leader by the Arizona Association for Economic Development.

Board and Commission Openings

Serving on a board or commission is a great way to influence public policy on issues where you have expertise or a passion to serve.

The Governor’s Office is seeking applications for the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. Applications are accepted through the standard application.

The Governor’s Office has over 200 boards and commissions. To apply for any vacancy, complete the application on the website. For a list of vacancies, please see here.

County School Superintendents make appointments to vacant school board positions until the next election can be held. The following offices have vacancies on several school boards:

Arizona Together for Impact also helps connect their nonprofit clients with potential board members, and hosts training and information sessions.

Most Arizona counties and cities have boards and commissions with frequent vacancies. Check local websites for more opportunities. To share specific opportunities, contact Jennifer Papworth.

Career and Professional Opportunities

Children’s Action Alliance is hiring a Director of Fiscal Analysis in the Arizona Center for Economic Progress.

Instituto is hiring a Political Manager to execute political projects while engaging our community and strategic partners. The Political Manager will work cross-functionally with Research and Data, Development, Operations, and Communications.

Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is hiring a Government Relations Project Manager to lead local, state and federal intergovernmental relations efforts with MAG member agencies.

Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL) is seeking a Social Impact and Racial Equity Advancement Project Director.

Local First has an opening for a Rural Development Coordinator to support the Local First Arizona Rural Development and Arizona Economic Recovery Center teams in their work addressing rural and tribal economic strategies.

Hispanic Leadership Institute is currently accepting applications for its upcoming West Valley and Pinal County cohorts.

One Arizona is seeking an Executive Director to lead their coalition of nonpartisan nonprofits focused on civic engagement.

Events & Conferences

The Center for American Institutions at ASU offers monthly Engaging Citizenship Luncheons to provide a deeper understanding of critical political and culture issues confronting our nation. Luncheons are designed for active attendee engagement with topic introductions by an ASU faculty member and/or subject matter expert, small group discussions, presentation of discussion outcomes and general discussion. The first luncheon event is Jan. 9 at the Omni Hotel on University Drive in Tempe. Topics and registration are available here

Local First Arizona is hosting a webinar on Jan. 25 to review The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) – What Small Businesses Need To Prepare For.

Arizona State University Center for Resilient Families is taking early registration requests for its 2024 conference, The Power of Parenting: Supporting Children Through Crucial Transitions, scheduled for Feb. 2 in Scottsdale. 

The 29th Annual Arizona Housing Conference: Bring It Home will take place Feb. 27-28 at the Mesa Convention Center.

The Taliesin Business and Policy Forum is hosting a series of conversations on global topics with local implications that began in November with “No Magic Bullet: Understanding and Addressing the Housing Crisis.” There are three sessions in the spring of 2024. See the brochure here.

Season 4 of Marketplace’s How We Survive podcast discusses Arizona water policy, including tribal water rights, the CAP, groundwater in Mohave County, and Rio Verde water issues.