Though Stefanie Mach is a partner at the nonprofit and political consulting firm CM Concordia and has worked for nonprofit organizations in various capacities, interned at the Embassy of Peru, worked in Senator Russ Feingold’s office, and even had her own weekly radio show on politics, she did not seriously consider running for office before her experience as a Flinn-Brown Academy Fellow in 2011. Currently a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 10 (Tucson), Mach has been busy going door-to-door talking with her neighbors about their concerns and Arizona’s most pressing issues. We recently caught up with her to find out how she came to the decision to run.
When Stefanie Mach sat down with her Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy cohort last Fall and began listening to seminar presenters, it didn’t take her long to see that she was with an impressive group. “I was in a room full of people who were dynamic, knowledgeable, and accomplished. They were professionals with prestigious titles. They were from every corner of the state and had all types of life experiences,” she said.
Over the course of 12 seminars on issues ranging from K-12 education, the state’s economy, and health care, the 26 Flinn-Brown Fellows were challenged to analyze and discuss public policy choices for Arizona. But clearly 26 Fellows meant 26 ways to think about an issue or solve a problem. “The different perspectives were vital to the conversations,” Mach recounted. “No one person had all the right answers, but we each contributed our own perspectives to get closer to the solutions that we were looking for.” At each seminar session, Mach found that someone would make a point or ask a question that transformed the dialogue. “The most interesting moments came when the conversation turned to what could work to solve a specific issue, rather than focusing on past challenges.”
The Academy seminar series inspired Mach into action. “The Academy motivated me to run for office. I want to be one of the voices asking new questions.” Mach decided that among the possible leadership roles she could engage in, state office makes the most sense for her because she wants to work on a breadth of interrelated issues. “I want to make sure that there is a synergy in policy creation and implementation. Sometimes one policy can’t work without another,” said Mach. “I like putting things together and making sure that on the whole it works.”
And that is how Mach found herself knocking on doors—a lot of doors—talking to her neighbors about issues important to them and Arizona. “As a candidate, I learn a lot by going door-to-door,” Mach says. “It allows me to engage people on the things they want to talk about. I have found, too, that sometimes people tell me very personal things.”
Mach looks forward to more of her Flinn-Brown Academy colleagues pursuing state-level service. “We need a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives to make Arizona a strong and competitive state in its next 100 years. I hope in the future, Academy alumni can further join forces on our way to making Arizona a better place.”
Interested in learning how you, too, can contribute your unique set of experiences to state-level leadership? The Arizona Center for Civic Leadership will begin accepting applications for the Spring 2013 Academy this Fall.
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