UA, Community Leaders Shape World Via Ideas
Many of the successes of those involved in the Public Voices Program also have led to additional opportunities and impact in the academic and public spheres.

By Lori Harwood, UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Nov. 25, 2015

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The 2014-2015 Tucson Public Voices Fellows
The 2014-2015 Tucson Public Voices Fellows

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 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, 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," Lovell said.

Due to the continuing success of the program, a 2015-2016 cohort was selected and had its first meeting on Nov. 12. The UA-affiliated members are:

  • Shirin D. Antia, professor of disability and psychoeducational studies
  • Paloma Inés Beamer, associate professor in the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
  • Dr. Ann Marie Chiasson, assistant director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine
  • Melanie Hingle, assistant professor of nutritional science
  • Kristine A. Huskey, professor in the James E. Rogers College of Law and director of the Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic
  • Krista Millay, assistant dean of students and director of the Women's Resource Center
  • Beth Mitchneck, professor of geography and development
  • Sofia Martinez Ramos, instructor in the Department of Mexican American Studies
  • Tricia R. Serio, head of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Phyllis Clark Taoua, associate professor of French and Italian

During the year, Tucson fellows convene to discuss ideas about knowledge, public impact and what it takes to be influential on a large scale. They join calls with high-level media insiders and were matched with journalist mentors for one-on-one coaching.

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 were published in outlets such as Scientific American, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and The Huffington Post.

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

Amanda Tachine, who recently earned her doctorate from the UA in higher education and was recognized by the White House as part of "Champions of Change," penned an op-ed for Al Jazeera on higher education among American Indian women. The piece sparked widespread conversation and received more than 9,000 shares in only 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. 

"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.

"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," Maier said.

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

"Our faculty invariably tell me how professionally enriching the Public Voices training has been," said John Paul Jones III, dean of the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. "It has 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."

Extra info

The 2015-2016 fellows from the Tucson community are:

  • Carrie Brennan, education leader with the CITY Center for Collaborative Learning
  • Mimi Coomler, CEO of the Children's Clinic
  • Martha W. Gilliland, founder of Leadership for Possibilities: A Space for Accelerating Personal Growth
  • Cindy Godwin, family caregiver and advocate
  • E. Liane Hernandez, community life director at YWCA Southern Arizona
  • Pam Hopman, CRPC, The Hopman Group LLC
  • Jeannette Maré, executive director and founder of Ben's Bells Project
  • Judith McDaniel, social justice advocate and teacher
  • Stephanie Sklar, CEO of the Sonoran Institute
  • Molly Stranahan, founder and chief happiness advocate at the Path to Happiness

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 UA, including the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Humanities and University Relations.


Resources for the media

Lori Harwood

UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences