Over the past year, 20 women from the University of Arizona and Tucson community have shared their knowledge and expertise in the public sphere, thanks to training from the Tucson Public Voices Fellowship Program.
The fellows, representing a wide cross-section of expertise and experience, convened in person and virtually to discuss ideas about knowledge, public impact, and what it takes to be influential on a large scale. They joined calls with high-level media insiders and were matched with journalist mentors for one-on-one coaching.
The 2015-2016 cohort of the Tucson Public Voices Fellowship published more op-eds than any other cohort in the history of the program.
Due to the continuing success of the program, a 2016-2017 cohort was selected and had their first meeting on November 18.
The Public Voices Program, held at institutions across the country—including Dartmouth, Emory, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale—is run by The OpEd Project. The program aims to amplify the impact of women leaders and to ensure that the best ideas, no matter where they come from, have the chance to be heard.
The UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences helped bring the Public Voices Fellowship to Tucson four years ago in partnership with the Women's Foundation of Southern Arizona and Ann W. Lovell, CPA, president of the David and Lura Lovell Foundation and board president of Women Moving Millions.
“The College of SBS is proud to have helped jumpstart the Tucson program four years ago, and we look forward to hearing about the progress of this year’s cohort,” said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “Past fellows from the UA have enthusiastically endorsed the Public Voices Fellowship as life-transforming, and I know that part of that experience comes from the opportunity to work alongside other fellows from the wider Tucson community.”
Between them, the 20 2015-16 Tucson Public Voices Fellows produced 99 major media successes. The cohort had 88 published op-eds and 11 more additional media events, including media appearances, interviews, and speeches. Every fellow published at least one op-ed. Fellows published in top forums including TIME, US News & World Report, USA Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Advocate, Foreign Affairs, Quartz, The Hill, The Huffington Post, The Arizona Republic and more.
Many of these successes led to interview requests, expert citations, requests for book proposals, opportunities to become regular contributors, invitations to speak at conferences, and more.
Intellectual collaborations have emerged not only between fellows, but also with students, family, and leading organizations across fields, including the Special Olympics, the Madison House Autism Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Tucson Public Voices Fellows agreed that the fellowship pushed them to think bigger about their knowledge and relevance in the world.
Judith McDaniel, an instructor in the School of Government and Public Policy, published 13 op-eds on a wide range of topics, including classroom collaborations, campus carry laws and the politics of pregnancy. As a result of her op-eds on gun control and the Orlando shooting tragedy, Judith decided to launch a national nonprofit aimed at changing the conversation around gun control.
“Starting this may be one of the scariest things I have ever done,” McDaniel said.
Tricia R. Serio, head of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, published nine op-eds. Her op-ed on sexism in science announced that she would be creating a website to foster productive conversations and mentorship between women scientists.
“This fellowship has inspired me to think about who I am as a scientist and educator,” Serio said. “For the first time in my career, I talked about my background as a first-generation college graduate and a woman in STEM, particularly the challenges I faced and how I overcame them… I have advocated for science in the public sector, realizing for the first time that by doing so it’s possible to inspire change.”
Beth Mitchneck, professor in the School of Geography and Development, collaborated with her daughter, Tess Carter, a recent graduate of Brown University, on op-ed pieces exploring campus race relations and the diversity movement among students and faculty. She has also written about how to help internally displaced refugees.
"I'm learning how to be bold with solutions that I might suggest,” Mitchneck said. “Working on my ideas in this way taught me not to dismiss other people’s concerns and instead, to work with them and figure it out."
The most recent op-ed by Phyllis Taoua, a professor in the Department of French and Italian, titled “How the UA can help Africa fight terrorism by supporting local activists” was picked up by several international outlets and shared widely.
“The best evidence of my applied scholarship are my publications through the Pubic Voices Fellowship,” said Taoua. “I will work on achieving a voice in the public conversation about Africa that draws attention to how the U.S. can and should support democracy and social justice in Africa.”
Over the three completed years of Public Voices in Tucson, 58 fellows have produced over 275 concrete successes, forging connections that have had continuing impact over time. The impact is also carrying over into the classroom.
"I used my writing and the tools of Public Voices extensively in my classroom,” said Sofia Ramos, an adjunct instructor in the Department of Mexican American Studies. “My students critiqued my op-d and reflected on the comments it received. They wrote passionate op-eds and came to see themselves as thought leaders!"
Funds for the program came from Helaine Levy/Diamond Family Philanthropies; the David and Lura Lovell Foundation; Mike and Beth Kasser; the Marshall Foundation; Southwest Airlines; the Valley Fund for the Advancement of Women and Girls at the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona; and the University of Arizona, including the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Humanities, and University Relations.
Tucson Public Voices Fellows
University of Arizona Fellows
Ilana Addis, Chief of Staff, Banner University Medical
Leah Durán, Assistant Professor, Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies
Jennifer Earl, Professor, Sociology
Andrea K. Gerlak, Associate Professor, School of Geography and Development
Rachana Kamtekar, Professor, Department of Philosophy
Negar Katirai, Assistant Clinical Professor and Director, Community Law Group, James E Rogers College of Law
Patricia MacCorquodale. Professor, Department of Gender and Women's Studies
Dr.Tanisha N. Price-Johnson, Executive Director of Admissions, College of Medicine
Ada M. Wilkinson-Lee, Assistant Professor, Department of Mexican American Studies
Kendal H. Washington White, Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Amy Burnham Greiner, owner, AB Graphic Designer
Liz Baker, Deputy Director, Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation
Gabriela Cervantes, Marketing Manager, AGM Container Controls
Dolores Duran-Cerda, Acting Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, Pima Community College
Gail E. Emrick, MPH, Executive Director, Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center
Patricia Lee Jackson, photojournalist, activist
Julie Kasper, School Coordinator for K-12 Refugee Education, CENTER
Heather Metcalf, Director of Research and Analysis, The Association for Women in Science
Michelle Pitot, Chief of Staff, YWCA of Southern Arizona
Lisa Soltani MD MPH, Medical Director for Internal Medicine and Hospital Practice, El Rio Community Health Center