Shaping the World Through Ideas

Over the past year, 20 women from the University of Arizona and Tucson community have played a leading role in public discourse by sharing their knowledge and expertise, thanks to training from the Tucson Public Voices Fellowship Program.

The 2014-2015 cohort—the second group of fellows in Tucson—had 77 concrete successes, including 70 published op-eds and additional media appearances, interviews, expert quotes and speeches. Fellows published in top forums including Scientific America, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, CNN and The Huffington Post.

Due to the continuing success of the program, a 2015-2016 cohort was selected and had their first meeting on Nov. 12.

The Public Voices Program, held at institutions across the country, 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 in partnership with the Women's Foundation of Southern Arizona and Ann W. Lovell, CPA, president of the David and Lura Lovell Foundation and vice president of Women Moving Millions.

“By mentoring women thought leaders, helping them see that they are experts and that we need to hear from them, it makes a big difference, not just individually but in how we move the needle—how we begin to envision women as leaders,” said Lovell.

During the year, Tucson fellows convened 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.

A range of topics was explored by the fellows, including immigration, disabilities, Native American education, bullying, corruption, obesity, breast cancer, incivility, prisons and much more.

Many of the successes also led to additional opportunities and impact in the academic and public spheres.

Amanda Tachine, who recently earned her doctorate from the UA in higher education, penned an op-ed for Al Jazeera on higher education among Native American women. The piece sparked widespread conversation and received more than 9,000 shares in just a few days.

Suzanne Dovi, an associate professor in the School of Government and Public Policy, produced 10 op-eds during the program. Her Los Angeles Times op-ed on corruption became the center of a Mother Jones blog on post-Congressional job offers. As a result, Suzanne was invited to meet with former American lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the two are currently discussing potential collaborations.

“I cannot say how transformative the program was for me,” Dovi said. “It has made me more likely to speak my mind, to see the value of my public voice, to not worry about making people angry when I disagree with them, and to value my work. I feel like a much more effective and persuasive writer, and the number of people searching and reading my articles has skyrocketed.”

Dovi added: “I have incorporated the lessons about how to write an op-ed into my classes so that at least four students have had their editorials accepted in local newspapers, such as the Arizona Daily Star.”

As a result of her Scientific American op-ed on the potential impact of the earth’s microbes, Raina Maier, a professor in environmental microbiology, received an invitation from the National Science Foundation to participate in an international conference on environmental engineering at Yale University.

“The fellowship made me realize that I should work harder to help lead environmental science in directions that I consider important and that I should not shrink from taking a leadership role at the University and even national levels,” said Maier.

Over the two years of Public Voices in Tucson, 38 fellows have produced 166 successes, illustrating the continuing impact of the program.

“Our faculty invariably tells me how professionally enriching the Public Voices training has been,” said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “It’s enabled them to reach new and diverse audiences across the world. And perhaps as importantly, they have forged close friendships and professional alliances with fellows from the community, all to the betterment of Tucson and the region.”

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.

2015-2016 Fellows:

Community Leaders
Carrie Brennan: education leader, CITY Center for Collaborative Learning
Mimi Coomler: CEO, Children’s Clinic
Martha W. Gilliland, Ph.D.: environmental engineer, educator, and community builder; founder, Leadership for Possibilities: A Space for Accelerating Personal Growth
Cindy Godwin: family caregiver and advocate; formerly Godwin Marketing Consulting
E. Liane Hernandez: community life director, YWCA Southern Arizona
Pam Hopman: CRPC, The Hopman Group LLC
Jeannette Maré: executive director and founder, Ben’s Bells Project
Judith McDaniel: social justice advocate and teacher; University of Arizona and Union Institute & University
Stephanie Sklar: CEO, Sonoran Institute
Molly Stranahan: founder and chief happiness advocate, the Path to Happiness

University of Arizona
Shirin D. Antia: professor, Disability and Psychoeducational Studies
Paloma Inés Beamer: associate professor, Public Health
Ann Marie Chiasson, MD: assistant director, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine
Melanie Hingle: assistant professor, Nutritional Science
Kristine A. Huskey: professor, James E. Rogers College of Law; Veterans’ Advocacy Law Clinic
Sofia Martinez Ramos: instructor, Mexican American Studies
Beth Mitchneck: professor, Geography and Development
Krista Millay: assistant dean of students, Advocacy, Prevention Education, and Gender Justice
Tricia R. Serio: professor and department head, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Phyllis Clark Taoua: associate professor, French and Italian

Published Date: 

11/17/2015 - 5:53pm