Thought Leaders Learn the Ways of Idea Promotion
With the successful close of the first Arizona Public Voices Fellowship Program, a second cohort has been named and will meet in November.
Eighteen women from the University of Arizona and Tucson community were among the thought leaders featured in news media outlets across the country this year, thanks to training from the Arizona Public Voices Fellowship Program.
The 2013-14 cohort in the program, which teaches women to take a leading role in public discourse by sharing their knowledge and expertise, landed more than 90 media placements over the course of the program.
Building on the success of the inaugural program, a new, 2014-15 cohort will begin refining its writing and leadership skills this fall. The group's first meeting is Nov. 13.
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, president of the David and Lura Lovell Foundation and executive director of the Valley Foundation. The Public Voices program, held at institutions across the country, is run by The OpEd Project.
"The goal of the Public Voices Fellowship Program is to increase the public impact of our nation’s top thinkers, with an emphasis on the thinkers who are most underrepresented, including women," said Katie Orenstein, who created the OpEd Project in 2008.
Lovell was determined to bring the program to Tucson after meeting Orenstein at a Women Moving Millions meeting in Dallas two and a half years ago. At the event, Orenstein asked the room of women to name what they were an expert at — and why.
"Nobody could do it, because women don't tend to say they're experts, even though they are," Lovell said. "I think our society has taught us not to brag. For men, it's stating your competence. For women, it's bragging."
During the program, the Tucson fellows participated in four daylong interactive, game-based seminars throughout the year. Seminars focused on themes of knowledge (expertise, credibility, persuasion); connection (understanding the links between expertise and what is happening in the news); contagion (how and why certain ideas spread farther and faster); and legacy (what fellows want to leave behind).
The fellows were matched with journalists who provided editing and coaching. The fellows also participated in monthly calls with media insiders, including editors and producers from The New York Times, Al Jazeera America and CNN.
All of the 2013-14 fellows reported that, as a result of the program, their knowledge and ideas have a broader impact, they think in bigger terms about their knowledge, and they have an expanded sense of relevance in the world.
"I was one of the youngest fellows participating, and having consistent contact and interaction with such brilliant senior scholars and prominent community leaders was a tremendous privilege and learning experience," said fellow Regina Deil-Amen, a professor of higher education and sociology at the UA Center for the Study of Higher Education.
Deil-Amen said participating in the workshop has provided her with the strategies necessary to move her opinions and expertise beyond her academic community.
"My participation in this project taught me a whole new language and set of rules regarding how to be a voice in the conversations that take place in the public media regarding newsworthy topics," Deil-Amen said. "It motivated me to continue in this role for the rest of my academic and professional career."
As a result of the program, the Tucson fellows, including Lovell, collectively had more than 55 published op-eds, as well as 41 television and radio appearances, expert quotes, keynote speeches, awards and more. The fellows were featured in major media outlets, including The Atlantic, CNN, The Washington Post, The Guardian, USA Today, ESPN, the Los Angeles Times, Al Jazeera America, NPR, Reuters, Ebony, Stanford Social Innovation Review and The Huffington Post.
A range of topics was explored by the fellows, including college access, the need to support young women of color, fascist iconography in the Middle East, early brain development, discrimination of LGBTQ individuals and the human dimension of climate change.
Op-eds written by many of the fellows generated additional opportunities for the writers to share their expertise. An editor at AARP Magazine commissioned Dr. Mindy Fain, a UA professor of medicine and a widely recognized leader in gerontology, to write an article. The invitation came after the editor read Fain's op-ed on the need for medical house calls for older adults. Also, the Arizona Daily Star launched an investigation into racial intolerance in local schools after running an op-ed on the subject written by Daisy Jenkins.
Although learning how to craft and publish an effective op-ed is a key tool taught to the fellows, it is only a small part of the program.
"I see it as a leadership program," Lovell said. "The op-eds are just practice. For leadership, you have to be able to say who you are, what you do, why it’s important and why you."
Orenstein agreed, saying, "The question is: Who narrates the world? The fellowship is trying to open up the source code of history. We envision a world where the best ideas – regardless of where they come from – will have a chance to be heard, and to shape society and the world."
The 2014-2015 Arizona Public Voices Fellowship are:
- Lindsay Abbott, a behavior consultant with Intermountain Centers for Human Development
- Rosi Andrade, an associate research professor in the UA Southwest Institute for Research on Women
- Carmen Armijo Marriott, a bilingual attorney, instructor and consultant with ETC Compliance Solutions
- Adele Barker, a professor in the UA Department of Russian and Slavic Studies
- Sheri Bauman, a professor in the UA Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies
- Teresa Cowan Jones, the executive director of the Breakthrough Leadership Institute
- Suzanne Dovi, an associate professor in the UA School of Government and Public Policy
- Mary S. Hartman, founding director and senior scholar at Rutgers' Institute for Women's Leadership
- Kate Kenski, an associate professor in the UA Department of Communication
- Anna Ochoa O'Leary, an associate professor in the UA Department of Mexican American Studies
- Raina M. Maier, a professor in UA Department of Soil, Water & Environmental Science
- Victoria Maizes, executive director of the UA Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, professor of Clinical Medicine
- Cecile McKee, associate dean for research in the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; professor in the Department of Linguistics
- Evan Mendelson, executive director of the David & Lura Lovell Foundation
- Edna Meza Aguirre, regional associate development director of Planned Parenthood Arizona
- Stephanie A. Parker, a disability justice advocate and founder of the Aurora Foundation
- Laura Penny, CEO of the Women's Foundation of Southern Arizona
- Alexcis Spencer Lopez, a therapist, lecturer and owner of A Transformative Touch Wellness Center
- Nancy K. Sweitzer, director of the UA Sarver Heart Center, chief of Cardiology and professor of Medicine
- Amanda Tachine, co-founder of the Native American Higher Education Research Initiative, leader with Native SOAR, doctoral candidate in the UA Department of Educational Policy Studies & Practice
To learn more about the project, read "Project Diversifies Voices in the National Public Sphere."
University of Arizona in the News