This is a guest blog post written by two participants from the Tucson Public Voices Fellowship program.
Group Photo of the 2013-14 Tucson Public Voices Fellowship participants.
Suzanne McFarlin, Executive Director and Executive Leadership Coach, Greater Tucson Leadership
Residing in Tucson for 24 years, I feel deeply embedded in my community. In 2005, I went through our local civic leadership class. The greatest outcome for me was that I realized I had a “voice” and began to claim it. Now, I have the privilege to run the program, affording me the chance to build more community change agents with strong voices. While coaching and training leaders, I have access to seasoned professionals and outstanding civic models, who don’t hesitate to not only step up, but also speak up. Although I now understand I have the power to step up and create change for good, I have not embraced the responsibility of speaking up about what I believe to be important.
Through the OpEd Project Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellowship, I now have the chance to firmly claim my voice, my opinions, my beliefs and through that, my power. The first seminar has already challenged me to stretch and grow in previously unimaginable ways. The exercises and process we engaged in helped me feel safe and confident that I could voice my thoughts and create the impact and influence I desire. I am grateful for the opportunity and look forward to seeing how we each evolve.
Jill Koyama, Assistant Professor, Educational Policy Studies and Practice
Imagine spending nearly two days with twenty-two women (19 other Fellows and three Team Leaders), all experts in one, if not several, areas of art and design, economic development, education, climate change, communications, immigrants and refugees, leadership, medicine, public policy, the Middle East, Native Americans, social justice, and other issues related to women and girls. Most of these women serve on local, state, national, and international advisory boards and committees. Many are well-published. Some are local Tucsonans; others are relative newcomers to the Sonoran Desert. All are committed to issues of social justice and equity—and to changing the world with their expertise.
Four months ago, prior to moving to Arizona from New York, I might have imagined such a gathering of “expert” women. In fact, it would have been an image I’d conjure up in my mind, when asked: “If you could invite any group of people to dinner to talk about changing the world, who would you invite?” Today, through my participation in Public Voices Thought Leadership (PVTL)-Tucson, I need not imagine it. I’m experiencing it.
I look forward to engaging in robust conversations with other Fellows and Leaders, challenging our long-held assumptions, stimulating each other’s ideas, and writing OpEds.