PHOENIX—An ambitious new initiative to expand Arizona’s cadre of future state-level civic leaders reached an important milestone on May 20 with a celebration of the inaugural class of the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy. The first 25 Flinn-Brown Fellows were recognized as they concluded an intensive 10-week seminar to enhance their civic-leadership capacity and knowledge of key public-policy issues that impact Arizona.
Now the Flinn-Brown Fellows will begin developing individual civic-leadership plans, drawing on their previous experience and newly refined skills. Some may wish to pursue a new role in the future as a policy advisor, state agency official, or member of a state commission. Other Fellows may choose to run for elective office.
“Participating in the Academy reinforced the accountability and responsibility we all have to help shape the future of our state,” said Fernando Shipley, a Flinn-Brown Fellow who currently serves as mayor of the City of Globe. “Looking toward the future, I am committed to working towards common ground.”
The Fellows will receive support from the Academy well beyond the seminar’s conclusion. Particularly strong guidance will come from the Fellows’ mentors—established civic leaders who have committed to aiding the Fellows as they further develop and implement their individual civic-leadership plans.
The Flinn-Brown Fellows themselves constitute a cross-section of Arizona, representing rural and urban regions of the state, a range of professional backgrounds, and diverse perspectives. Some are currently local elected officials, others are experienced advocates for particular issues, and all are energetically involved in their communities’ civic life.
Over the course of the Academy, the Fellows participated in 12 day-long sessions, each focused on a specific topic such as the state budget, economic development, health care, and education. Among the dozens of presenters at the seminar sessions were heads of state agencies, former legislators, business and nonprofit leaders, and policy experts.
“The most critical issues that confront Arizona today are complicated, intertwined, and hard to resolve without strong cooperation,” said Nancy Welch, director of the nonpartisan Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, which developed the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy.
“Our seminar sessions assembled experts and advocates on all sides of these issues, ensuring that Fellows came away with much greater knowledge and understanding of different points of view,” Welch said.
The Academy is one of three core components of the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, created in 2010 by the Flinn Foundation and the Thomas R. Brown Foundations, respectively based in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. Sponsored by both foundations, the Center is administered by the Flinn Foundation under the guidance of the Center’s Leadership Council.
Other components of the Center include the Arizona Civic Leadership Collaborative, established to leverage and expand the efforts of local civic-leadership programs throughout the state, and a Communication and Outreach program designed to inform organizations and individuals about the importance of civic leadership and increase civic engagement among Arizonans.
The May 20 celebration of the first class of Flinn-Brown Fellows was held at the Phoenix Art Museum. Arizona State University President Michael Crow gave a keynote address at the reception speaking to the Fellows and other guests about why strong civic leadership is vital to Arizona as it prepares to enter its second century as a state.
Patrick Marcus, a Flinn-Brown Fellow who is vice president of engineering at MC Power Systems, said he sees the business he founded intersecting with the choices of policymakers on many fronts.
“The impact of education policy, transportation issues, immigration, and health care all affect my ability to draw employees, form partnerships, attract investment capital, and generate locale-based credibility,” Dr. Marcus said. “All of Arizona’s policies, when properly focused, drive a healthy high-tech growth environment from which my business will directly benefit.”
The second Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy class will be held in the fall, beginning in September. The selection process, which began with written nominations, followed by formal applications, is now underway.
About the Flinn Foundation: The Flinn Foundation is a Phoenix-based, private, nonprofit philanthropic endowment. It was established by Dr. and Mrs. Robert S. Flinn in 1965 with the mission of improving the quality of life in Arizona. The nonprofit philanthropy supports the advancement of Arizona’s bioscience sector, the Flinn Scholars Program, the arts, and the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership.
About the Thomas R. Brown Foundations: The Thomas R. Brown Foundations are dedicated to raising the quality of life for present and future generations through expanded understanding and application of economic principles in private and public decision making. The Foundations are also dedicated to advancing solutions to community problems through strategic grants, research, and policy analysis.