Public Allies Arizona's second Tucson cohort reflects on a year of personal and professional growth

Public Allies Arizona's second Tucson cohort reflects on a year of personal and professional growth

2021 Public Allies Tucson graduates

by Troy Hill, ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation

January 25, 2022

Public Allies Arizona's 2021 Tucson cohort held their graduation ceremony in December after 10 months of service at nonprofit and public organizations in Southern Arizona. These Allies say they have grown as professionals and individuals thanks to the program.

Public Allies is a national organization whose mission “is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it.” The ASU Lodestar Center operates the Arizona sites of Public Allies, the Tucson site now for two years and the Phoenix site since its launch 15 years ago.

In 2021, six Allies graduated as a part of Cohort 2, marking another successful year in the fresh program’s run.

“When I first learned [it was only the second cohort for Public Allies Arizona in Tucson], I couldn't tell because of how well organized the program was,” said graduate Yolotzi Lopez. “And I'm very proud to be part of the second cohort.”

Lopez was placed at the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, where she helped manage their Projecting All Voices program. She said many in Cohort 2 interacted with members of Cohort 1 and that there was a lot of unity and mutual admiration between the two.

Lopez’s favorite part was how Public Allies put her in close quarters with a mentor. Her mentor is Gabriella Muñoz, a senior program coordinator at the Herberger Institute.

“For me, [she helped me grow] professionally, learn how to communicate efficiently in a professional manner, how to organize myself better and present myself in a way that I could be proud of with myself,” she said. “Also personally, just learning that perfection is not real and that taking time for myself and making time to reflect on my learnings [is important].”

She was also able to pick up practical tools from the scheduled Public Allies program days that take place every other week during the program. Much of what the Allies learned on those days could be applied inside their own placement organization.

“[Many of the program days] are focused on diversity and inclusion trainings, and leveraging inclusion and equity trainings - and they all applied to my work because I am working with a variety of [types of] people,” she said.

Kelly Liska was another graduate from Cohort 2 and served on Local First Arizona’s sustainability team. She first heard about Public Allies after she had graduated college with a degree in biology, was in between jobs, and didn’t know what to do with her life.

Getting involved with Public Allies helped give her direction for a challenging time in life as well as showed her what it was really like to be in the nonprofit sector.

She said she has entirely new outlooks on getting involved with communities, utilizing their strengths, and really working with people and collaborating instead of going into a situation without feedback.

She was sad to leave Local First after she graduated, but she’s excited to take what she’s learned into the next step of her career.