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Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy

Flinn-Brown: For Experienced Civic Leaders Aiming to Serve Arizona

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Flinn-Brown, which begins with participation in a 12-session seminar series, helps experienced leaders from all perspectives and walks of life to succeed in Arizona state government as policymakers, staff experts, decision makers, and advisors.

Drawn from the diversity of Arizona in all its forms, and from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, these leaders are anticipated to become state-level:

  • elected officials;
  • agency executives;
  • members of boards and commissions; or
  • policy advisors.

Together, they ensure that we have state-level leaders to guide us through complex challenges. The honorific “Fellow” acknowledges the significant experience and expertise that participants have, the commitment they make to public service, and membership in a special group of Arizonans.

Flinn-Brown at a Glance

  • Unique in Arizona: An ambitious mission with statewide scope.
  • For experienced civic leaders: Expectation of every participant achieving state-level public service in three years.
  • Powerful network: The Flinn-Brown Network, nearly 300 strong, supporting Fellows in continuous growth over long term.
  • All points of view welcome: Participants from across the political spectrum and nearly every sector—from very conservative to very liberal; representing business, education, academia, nonprofit, and government sectors.
  • Intense non-partisan seminars: Built on recognition that solutions require deep knowledge of policy, politics, and networks; 12 Fridays and Saturdays, with 100 percent attendance expectation. (No cost to participate; all sessions at Flinn Foundation in Phoenix; travel/accommodations provided for participants from outside metro Phoenix);
  • Civic leadership assessment tool: Offering Strong Foundations, a distinctive tool to gauge civic-leadership strengths and challenges, building personalized roadmap toward state-level service.
  • Long-term support: Beyond Academy seminar series: connections, learning events, and support, including communication about state entities’ demand for leadership talent and Fellows’ availability.

The Flinn-Brown Experience

State Government is Big and a Bridge between Local and Federal

  • Vital roles in Arizona’s prosperity, safety, environment, and quality of life;
  • $40+ billion enterprise;
  • More than 30,000 employees, from Departments of Corrections and Public Safety to Economic Security, Education, Health, and Water Resources.

Learn and grow from hearing many perspectives and rigorous study of facts and figures

Conservative, liberal, or independent, Fellows often say how much they learn from the seminars and other events, and that they benefited most from hearing numerous perspectives on issues, particularly from those they didn’t agree with. Discussion of different opinions catalyzes reflection, deeper understanding and, often, new opinions. The experience is intense, challenging, and rewarding—all in preparation for engagement as a decision maker, policymaker, board or commission member, or staff expert.

Flinn-Brown Network

Network Facts

  • Approximately one third of Fellows from each of the business, government, and education/nonprofit sectors;
  • More than half of Network members have achieved or advanced in state-level leadership;
  • Expertise in everything from arts to zoning can be found in the Network.

Gain from connection to nearly 300 Arizonans who share the Flinn-Brown experience and commitment to public service

Effective leaders have strong, multi-faceted networks. Fellows turn to Flinn-Brown colleagues for information, advice, positions, collaboration, teamwork, careers, and more. Substantial emphasis is placed on each Fellow strengthening the statewide Network.


Seminars, support, events, and a robust statewide Network

The Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy prepares Fellows to help govern and contribute to public policy. It provides information, connections, and support with a focus on the intersection of policy, politics, and networks. The seminars present facts and figures about Arizona’s people and issues and the realities of governing today through presentations from the state’s foremost leaders and experts representing many points of view; discussions; readings; and projects.

Presenters include highly experienced elected and appointed officials, judges, executives, scholars, and other experts. Meet some of our past presenters.

The attendance expectation is 100 percent. If circumstances make missing one day unavoidable, a Fellow may make up a seminar session in the next series.


Expand your public service with state-level achievement in three years

Flinn-Brown calls on Fellows to achieve state-level civic leadership within the next three years as elected officials or as agency executives, advisory board or commission members, or policy advisors. Fellows also are expected to stay involved with Flinn-Brown and to contribute to the Network, complete an annual survey, and recommend competitive applicants, among other activities.

Selected Flinn-Brown Topics

  • State Budget
  • Fiscal System
  • K-12 Education
  • Tribes in Arizona
  • Higher Education
  • Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and Health Systems
  • Corrections
  • Courts
  • Transportation
  • Water Resources
  • Human Services
  • Rural and Urban Interests
  • Arts and Culture
  • Military Affairs
  • Energy Resources
  • Leading by Example

2018 Flinn-Brown Activities

The application for the Spring 2018 Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy is now closed. Thank you for your interest.

Candidate Interviews at the Flinn Foundation January 24-26, 2018
Notification of Selection Early February
Cohort Meet and Greet Thursday, March 15
Session 1: Who’s Who in Arizona Government Friday, March 16
Session 2: Arizona’s Budget: Revenues, Expenditures, and Choices Saturday, March 17
Session 3: Healthy Arizona and the Healthcare Landscape Friday, March 23
Session 4: Corrections: Constants and Changes Friday, April 13
Session 5: K-12 System, Finance, and Status Saturday, April 14
Session 6: Postsecondary Education—Systems, Barriers, Benefits, and Costs Friday, April 20
Session 7: Media, Policy, and Politics and their Effects on Choices Saturday, April 21
Session 8: Moving People, Power, and Economies Friday, May 4
Session 9: Water, Land, Nature, and People Saturday, May 5
Session 10: Justice Systems and Courts Friday, May 11
Session 11: Support Systems for Arizonans: Human Services Saturday, May 12
Session 12: Project Reports Friday, May 18

Sample Seminar Agenda

Arizona’s Leadership and Budget Landscape

7:30 a.m.



Who’s Who in State Government?—Chris Herstam, Principal, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie

Picture Arizona—Table talk and cohort discussion to explore population, race/ethnicity, prosperity, migration, education attainment, etc.

11:45 Lunch

Civic Insights Interview with Eileen Klein
, President and CEO, Arizona Board of Regents, with Chris Herstam

Arizona’s Budget
—John Arnold, Chief Financial Officer, Arizona Board of Regents and former Director, Office of Strategic Planning and Budget

Room for Debate F-B Style
—John Arnold, Steve Voeller, Partner, Summit Policy Group, Eric Figueroa, F-B Fellow and Policy Analyst, Arizona House of Representatives, and Fellows

R & R (Respond and Reflect)
—Chris Herstam and Stan Barnes with moderator Nancy Welch
5:00-6:00 Terrace Happy Hour

How to Apply for Flinn-Brown

Open to all, but focused on Arizonans dedicated to starting now on years of public service

Flinn-Brown involves Arizonans who represent the state in all its diversity and recruits Arizonans from all walks of life and perspectives from throughout the state. Selection for the approximately 35 seats is highly competitive. Intensive screening ensures that every Fellow has the capacity and motivation to contribute to seminar discussions and the Network. The small cohort allows participants to get to know peers and truly engage with presenters and Fellows from all cohorts.

Competitive Flinn-Brown Applicants

Flinn-Brown is looking for Arizonans willing to strive, risk, and cooperate to lead in Arizona’s state government. The ideal applicant is a savvy, self-aware Arizonan deeply interested in:

  • politics, policy, and service;
  • being active in a robust network; and
  • mastering participation in the singular field of state service.

The program application asks you about your leadership experience, statewide issues of interest, how you would solve a particular public problem, and state-government leadership goals. Flinn-Brown is not intended for those who are already state-level elected officials or paid staff members of a political party.

Flinn-Brown looks for Arizonans who have:

  • A passion to be a player in state government and leadership circles;
  • Made broad contributions to a career field or interest area;
  • Sustained community involvement and a public profile;
  • An established career path;
  • A deep curiosity about people and topics;
  • The personal and professional capacity to take on a new challenge now;
  • High ethical standards, commitment to civility, and a keen interest in working with people from different perspectives;
  • The desire to work to attain or advance to an executive state-government position in the next three years.


There is no charge to apply or participate. Tuition, program materials, and meals during events are provided by the Flinn and Thomas R. Brown foundations. Travel costs and accommodations are also covered for Fellows from outside metro Phoenix.

Application Process

Established by the Flinn Foundation in 2010, the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership strives to continually increase the pool of civic leaders in state-level service who can analyze issues; craft long-term, common-good solutions; help get the state’s work done; and nurture Arizonans’ participation in public affairs. The Flinn Foundation administers all programs of the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, with support from the Thomas R. Brown Foundations of Tucson.

Contact Nancy Welch ( with any questions about a future application process.

Flinn-Brown Policies

Please note the program is not intended for those who are already state-level elected officials or paid staff members of a political party.

The work and views of individual Flinn-Brown Fellows (Fellows) are independent of the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership (Center) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center, the statewide network of Fellows, or the Flinn and Brown foundations.

The exchange of many perspectives, and direct engagement with complex public-policy issues, is a core aspect of the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy (Flinn-Brown). Another Flinn-Brown hallmark is the expectation for respect, civility, and the development of relationships with those holding different perspectives. Participants in the Flinn-Brown experience are not asked to abandon their outlooks, but they are challenged to see issues through others’ eyes. There is no single “Flinn-Brown position” on any public-policy issue.

In forums public and private, Fellows are welcome to present their experiences and perspectives, and should take care to avoid the appearance of speaking for all Fellows.