September 2023 Network News

October 2, 2023

By Jessica Vaile

Thoughts from Dawn Wallace

Flinn Foundation Vice President, Civic Leadership, Dawn Wallace.

While I find my bliss in the autumn months, September evokes bittersweet emotions within me. Even though the heat is stifling, summer still represents a temporary escape from the routines and responsibilities of everyday life. The freedom of summer lies not just in the physical sense—road trips, summer camp, and fireworks on the 4th of July—but also in an emotional sense, where worries momentarily fade, and the spirit feels unburdened. 

The reality of September feels like an overwhelming surge of change, happening too swiftly. Like an ending anticipated but not yet envisioned. And sadly, this September, a little too prophetic about the impermanence of life. 

As many of you know, we lost a dear and cherished friend in Darcy Renfro. Fellows in the education policy realm or engaged in Democratic politics are acquainted with her remarkable contributions and the legacy of her enduring work yet to be realized. She was a devoted public servant, an ardent champion for education, a formidable presence, and unquestionably one of the most gifted individuals I’ve ever had the privilege to know in this business. 

We met early in our careers and stayed connected through work and eventually as we bridged the milestone of motherhood. She was both regal and clumsily elegant—she had the sharpest wit and the kindest eyes. She was impeccable in her professionalism, but she had a rebel’s heart. When we were younger, we talked too much about work. As we grew older, we talked too much about our girls. She, like I, shared the belief that a strategically placed f-bomb could overcome any policy stalemate. And if you ever heard her sing, you’d wonder why she wasn’t a rock star. 

I cherish many memories of this extraordinary woman, but one particular day stands out in my heart. I came upon her in a hearing room at the Legislature as she was preparing to testify. She had broken a heel on her shoe, and was preparing to walk to the podium, hobbling ridiculously along the way. With a bit of convincing on my part, we exchanged shoes and she walked to the dais with her normal, graceful stride. It felt like a small moment to me, but apparently not for her, for whenever she’d introduce me to friends or colleagues, she would recall that instance as the moment we became friends—the day we walked in each other’s shoes. 

RIP Ava’s Mom. I’ll miss you.

Leadership Forward – A Better Arizona

This month, we are launching our Fellows podcast! Our inaugural episode features our former Academy duo, Stan Barnes and Chad Campbell, who partnered for several years as the principal facilitators for the Flinn-Brown Academy.

The two illustrate how to bridge political divides and inspire a deeper understanding of the issues facing Arizona, fostering constructive and civil dialogue on the most pressing matters.

They comment on Arizona’s changing political landscape, including ever-changing voter demographics, policy trends, and how they have found ways, despite their differing political ideologies, to come together to find common ground and work toward solutions. You can listen it on Apple Podcast here or any of the platforms below.

Next month, we will hear from Fellow Teniqua Broughton (Phoenix, 2013) about a State of Black Arizona report on Black women’s maternal health and infant mortality rates.

Fellows Meet Fellows

Fellows connect all over the country! Representative Jennifer Pawlik (Chandler, 2017) and Erin Hart (Phoenix, 2013) meet at the Early Childhood Leadership Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.

Eric Gudiño (Phoenix, 2012), David Longoria (Phoenix, 2012) and Dr. Charlinda Haudley (Tucson, 2022) bumped into one another in Washington, D.C.

Zach Yentzer (Tucson, 2020), Elaine Kessler (Gilbert, 2018), and John Winchester (Tucson, 2018) attend the Arizona Chamber Executives conference in Yuma.

Upcoming CivEx

City of Flagstaff Proposition 480

Please join us Wednesday, October 11 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. for a CivEx educational webinar on Flagstaff’s Proposition 480, a citizen referendum on the approved re-zoning of a proposed Northern Arizona Healthcare hospital site. Flinn-Brown Fellows Coral Evans, Ph.D. (Flagstaff, 2011) and David Engelthaler, Ph.D. (Flagstaff, 2022) will introduce the webinar’s moderator, Pastor Jeff Kennedy. He will invite speakers from the Flagstaff region to provide information for voters to learn more about the proposition and relevant issues. This webinar is presented in conjunction with the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance Community Civility Project.


ICYMI – Thank you to Flinn-Brown Fellow and Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission Voter Education Director Gina Roberts (Phoenix, 2019) for facilitating the CivEx workshop on September 27, and for contributions by Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission Executive Director Tom Collins as well as campaign strategy experts Constantin Querard, founder and president of Grassroots Partners, LLC, and Stacy Pearson, co-founder of Lumen Strategies. Participants interested in viewing a recording of the webinar or reviewing the slides from the presentation can find them on our website.

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

Flinn-Brown Convention

Save the Date

Please register for the 2023 Flinn-Brown Convention on Friday, November 3 at the Helios Education Campus, 4747 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, 85018. To see the Convention agenda, please visit our Convention website.

  • Thursday, November 2 – An evening reception for the 2013 cohort from 5:00-6:30 p.m., followed by an all-Fellows reception from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Flinn Foundation.
  • Friday, November 3 – Sarah Rose Webber (Tempe, 2017) has agreed to organize a morning hike for Fellows.
  • We have secured a block of rooms for a negotiated rate at the Fairfield Inn, close to the Flinn Foundation, until October 3. Please reserve your room as soon as possible using the following link.

Annette Zinky (Phoenix, 2013) and Sarah Douthit (Flagstaff, 2013) are hosting a reunion of the two cohorts of 2013 Flinn-Brown Fellows. Please contact them if you have any questions about the fall and spring 2013 reunion.

Directory Updates

Help us keep our Fellows Directory accurate and updated! We will be printing a new directory in October, and we update our online directory quarterly. 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 [ updates] if you have problems accessing the survey or uploading a photo.

Fellows Lists

Each month we will feature a Fellows list for a specific employment sector, public policy area, or affinity group. 

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

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 Fernando Shipley (Globe, 2011).

Fernando Shipley
(Globe, 2011)
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.

Fellows Spotlight

Fernando Shipley
(Globe, 2011)

Owner/Agent, State Farm – Agent Fernando Shipley
Councilman, City of Globe
Governing Board Member, Gila Community College


1. Describe your work and how public policy impacts you.

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. What is your favorite quote?

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. How has the Fellows Network been useful to me?

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.

4. What are opportunities for 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.

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

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.

e 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.

Cynthia Aragon (Washington D.C., 2015) is now the Advocacy Center Executive Director for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Mayor Mila Besich (Superior, 2019) was quoted in an article by the Casa Grande Dispatch on Pinal County’s water conservation strategies.

Teniqua Broughton (Phoenix, 2013), Lea Márquez Peterson(Tucson, 2011) and April Rhodes (Prescott, 2022) are winners of the 2023 Women Achievers of Arizona.

Toni Cani (Phoenix, 2014) provided political analysis on an episode of Politics Unplugged about how the abortion issue may impact the 2024 elections.

Councilwoman Tammy Caputi (Scottsdale, 2019) was quoted in an Arizona Capitol Times article regarding the intergovernmental agreement the Scottsdale City Council approved to provide water to the newly formed Rio Verde Standpipe District.

Congressman Juan Ciscomani (Tucson, 2011) was interviewed for a Herald Review article about his newly launched Veterans Advisory Council.

Ruth Ellen Elinski (Cottonwood, 2014) moderated a marketing panel at the Yavapai College Small Business Summit.

Brian Garcia (Tempe, 2018) is now Senior Manager, Special Projects (AZ) at All Voting is Local.

Buna George (Yuma, 2023) received the Premio Orgullo award at the 32nd Annual Profiles of Success.

Katelyn Harris Lange (Phoenix, 2020) is now an In-Demand Career Strategist with Maricopa County.

Daniel Hernandez Jr. (Tucson, 2011) co-wrote an op-ed in Jewish News Syndicate about attending the Israel on Campus Coalition National Leadership Summit and why he advocates for Israel and Jewish issues.

Dana Kennedy (Phoenix, 2016) was interviewed for a KJZZ podcastabout how Medicare-negotiated drug prices could impact seniors in Arizona.

Audra Koester Thomas (Fountain Hills, 2011) is now Chief of Staff, Maricopa Association of Governments.

Councilwoman Nikki Lee (Tucson, 2018) is now the State and Local Government Cultural Expert at the Arbinger Institute.

Aaron Lieberman (Paradise Valley, 2017) will be on a panel hosted by the Arizona Capitol Times on October 5 speaking on Arizona’s air pollution crisis.

David Martinez III (Phoenix, 2011) received the Premio Misión de Salud award at the 32nd Annual Profiles of Success.

Daryl Melvin (Flagstaff, 2017) is now Vice Chair of the Northern Arizona Healthcare board.

Robert Navarro (Chandler, 2017) is now Administrator, Maricopa County Planning and Development Department.

Joanne Osborne (Goodyear, 2012) is part of a collaboration with Agua Fria, Litchfield, and Dysart school districts and Great Hearts Academies to launch a pilot program for the Purple Star School Certification in Arizona.

Mayor Kell Palguta (Prescott Valley, 2019) spoke at the Susan J. Rheem Adult Day Center on its 40th anniversary regarding the positive impact the center has made on the community since its opening.

Stephanie Parra (Phoenix, 2020) wrote an op-ed in Arizona Capitol Times about holding elected officials accountable and supporting school leaders who are invested in their communities.

Diana Rhoades (Alaska, 2013) wrote an article in Alaska Native News about a $2 million grant the Anchorage Park Foundation received from the USDA Forest Service.

Sarah Rose Webber (Tempe, 2017) was accepted into the inaugural class of Arizona Forward’s Emerging Sustainability Leaders.

Chris Richardson (Scottsdale, 2022) is now a Founding Advisor at Founder Freeway.

Christina Spicer (Phoenix, 2013) was named the recipient of the Phoenix Mercury Believe in Women Award.

Alec Thomson (Phoenix, 2019) was interviewed for an ABC15 news story about the Arizona Lottery winner donation scam.

Lisa Urias (Phoenix, 2011) was quoted in a Fabulous Arizona articleabout celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in Arizona.

Lela Wendell (Phoenix, 2014) was quoted in article from the Mesa Tribune after grant funding from the Department of Economic Security allowed the First Presbyterian Preschool in Mesa to undergo renovations.

Zach Yentzer (Tucson, 2020) was quoted in an Inside Tucson Business article about the renewed partnership between Tucson Young Professionals and United Way of Tucson.

Marge Zylla (Tempe, 2017) is now the Sr. Director, Legislative and Fiscal Affairs for the Office of the Arizona Governor.

Updates are gathered from conversations, press releases, articles, social media, tipsters, and confessions. Have news to share? Send it to Danielle Underwood.

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 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.

Most Arizona counties and cities have boards and commissions with frequent vacancies. Check local government websites for more opportunities. For example, you can review vacancies on the City of Phoenix’s website here, Tucson’s here and Flagstaff’s here.

The Maricopa County School Superintendent has vacancies on several school boards that are vacant. To learn more about the appointment process and the districts, please visit the Maricopa County Superintendent’s website.

The Pima County School Superintendent has vacancies on several school boards. To learn more about the appointment process and the districts, please visit the Pima County Superintendent’s website

Fellows interested in building skills as a board member may want to contact Board Developer Phoenix for additional information or to learn more about private and nonprofit board service opportunities.

Foundation for Nonprofits also helps connect their nonprofit clients with potential board members, and hosts training and information sessions.

Business On Board is holding two training sessions designed specifically for business professionals and community members interested in serving on a nonprofit board. Sessions are scheduled in person in Sierra Vista on October 5, and virtually October 19-26.

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

The Lubetzky Family Foundation is seeking a Program Manager, Futures for the Free World to further refine and expand the foundation’s pilot Global Democracy Ambassador Scholarship program.

The Center for Arizona Policy is seeking a Vice President of Policy to drive the development and execution of the organization’s public policy strategy.

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

Local First has an opening for a Resilient Foodways Program Manager to support Local First Arizona’s food systems work in growing sustainable food programs and implementing comprehensive support for small and Indigenous farmers.

The Nature Conservancy is recruiting for an Accounting and Operations GeneralistMuleshoe Ranch Preserve Steward, and a Landscape Ecologist

CommonSpirit Health is hiring a Grants Program Manager to manage the daily operation of the Grants Management department.

Tucson Electric Power is seeking a Supervisor, Energy Programs to develop and guide programs for TEP’s and its subsidiary companies’ commercial and residential customers. 

Pima County has an opening for a Senior Program Manager to lead its inaugural Office of Policy, Resilience, and Equity Division. 

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

Arizona Foundation for Women (AFW) is accepting applications for their 2024 SHE Leads!™  program.

Events & Conferences

Venture Café Phoenix connects creators, entrepreneurs, investors, coworkers, students, and visionaries at its flagship program, the Thursday Gathering, to build a strong, inclusive and equitable innovation ecosystem. Check out the schedule of gatherings for October 2023.

The Arizona Wind Symphony has season tickets available, with their first concert of the season on October 12. 

Arizona Partnership for Healthy Communities and Arizona Housing Coalition is hosting the webinar, Preserving Communities & Avoiding Displacement, on October 12 from 9:00-10:15 a.m. 

Arizona Citizens for the Arts will hold their 2023 Arizona Creative Excellence Awards on October 19 at Madison Center for the Arts. 

Arizona Impact for Good will host a webinar on Trends in K-8 Chronic Absenteeism October 24 from 12:00-1:00 p.m.

LISC Phoenix Annual Breakfast and Community Awards will be held November 1 at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown.

Arizona Department of Health is hosting the Tribal Opioid & Substance Use Conference on November 15-16 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Scottsdale. 

The Walton Center for Planetary Health will hold the Carbon Summiton November 15-16 at ASU.

Common Sense Institute is hosting an inaugural Free Enterprise Summit on November 14 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort.

Registration is now open for the Mpact: Transit, Mobility, and Community Conference, November 5-8 in Phoenix.