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Fonda Walters selected as Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Fellow


Fonda Walters
August 31, 2012

Fonda Walters has been selected as a 2012 Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Fellow by the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, an organization that is dedicated to developing future state leaders.

This is the latest accomplishment by Walters, who earned her doctorate in higher education at Arizona State University in the spring. She is a proud member of a Navajo family of six siblings who grew up in Tuba City, all of whom are first-generation college degree earners, including a brother who also has earned his doctorate.

As a senior management research analyst for ASU's American Indian Policy Institute, Walters says she is looking forward to learning new skills to further her work at the university and to giving back to the state where she was raised.

“I am thrilled. I see this as a great opportunity to network with those outside of my specific field and research area. It’s also an opportunity to share my perspective as an American Indian and from an educational standpoint,” Walters said.

The non-partisan academy supplies fellows with the facts and figures required to better understand statewide policy issues and different perspectives. The program includes 12 day-long sessions in which fellows learn from presentations by dozens of issue experts and current and former leaders, explore case studies, and engage in practical skills development. As part of the academy, fellows are matched with advisors whose experience can help the fellow further develop their capacity for state-level civic leadership. With their advisors’ support, fellows develop personalized civic-leadership plans.

Issues covered through the academy are varied and may include: Arizona’s fiscal system; economic growth and jobs; K-12 and higher education; media and ethics; water; health systems; human services; transportation and infrastructure; and migration, immigration and the border.

“The American Indian Policy Institute is thrilled that Dr. Walters is going to have the opportunity to continue to expand her network, learn additional leadership skills and share her important insights about Indian country. Tribal Nations are key players within Arizona and it is critical for Native and non-Native leaders of the near-future to build relationships and to learn from each other,” said Patricia Mariella, director of the ASU American Indian Policy Institute.   

As part of the highly competitive selection process, Walters was asked to address public policy issues through essay questions. She chose education as one of her topics.

“I believe it is critical for any student to connect contextually to the topic at hand, fostering an opportunity to learn STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) topics in an impactful and meaningful way. As a high-priority policy issue, support for STEM K-16 education is necessary to increase not only national prowess, but regional, tribal and local efforts as well. Education at the K-16 level is a critical area in which to build the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators for the next century and beyond,” wrote Walters.

When asked about her participation in the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy, she stated:

“It is critically important for me to engage in opportunities that could bring a diverse perspective to important topics affecting the state of Arizona. My interest in the Flinn-Brown Leadership Academy is to me a natural step to continue to grow my abilities and skills in an effort to contribute and essentially give back to my community, in whatever capacity I can. The academy would assist in developing or enhancing my skills in consensus building, policy analysis and advocacy.”

Walters applied for the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy after looking into other leadership programs.

“There are several excellent leadership programs that I looked into. Flinn-Brown was very appealing because of its strong curriculum. While there is an investment of time and effort, it doesn’t come at a monetary cost. That says a lot about their commitment to developing leaders. The other part was the strong mentoring component. I think that will be very rewarding,” she said.

Walters is also grateful to work for ASU’s American Indian Policy Institute that recognizes the importance of building leadership skills.

“This experience will provide invaluable experience in interacting with varied people and disciplines and it will give me the opportunity to work on projects with other people in a professional sphere,” Walters said.