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Free, thought-provoking discussions on important issues facing our communities produced in partnership with Arizona Humanities and the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records.


Our FRANK Talks are hosted by FRANK Talk Facilitators and local libraries and span a total of 60-90 minutes. The purpose of FRANK Talks is to encourage participants to weigh facts, provide the opportunity to put them in context, and consider different points of view. FRANK Talks inspire people to practice the skills of citizenship—to listen respectfully and engage thoughtfully on issues that affect our communities. Topics can include education, immigration, religion, civil rights, and more. Attend a FRANK Talk and join a community conversation today!

COVID Impact

To adapt to the evolving situation and increase accessibility, FRANK Talks will be offered both virtually and in-person. The host library and the facilitator must agree in advance on the format.  Please note that some topics are offered virtually only. We will be monitoring state and federal health advisories so that we may act accordingly to protect the safety of hosts, facilitators and the public who attend FRANK Talk programs.


Current topics may be scheduled from October 1, 2021, to May 31, 2022.  We will update FRANK Talk topics periodically depending on demand and resources. Please note that your program must be approved before you begin marketing and promotion. This will help us avoid scheduling the same programs too close together.

Please refer to these directions.

  • Go to www.azhumanities.org and apply through the online dashboard. As always, you must be registered with an account. Please note that the Application Requirements, Presentation Information, and Payment Procedures forms have all been updated.
  • Contact the facilitator and select the date and time for your program.
  • Complete and submit the online application form. Please note that there are separate applications for in-person and virtual FRANK Talks.
  • For virtual programs AH staff will schedule the program with our ZOOM account and send you a link to both the meeting and the program recording.



Once the in-person program has been approved, host libraries should coordinate directly with the facilitator regarding event logistics. Host libraries must distribute audience surveys at the conclusion of the FRANK Talk.  Surveys can be found under FRANK Talks Program Materials.   


Once the virtual program has been approved, you will receive a Zoom link for your virtual program. You will use the link when you market and promote the program. The link will allow participants to register for the program in advance. It will require them to enter their name and email address. Following registration, participants will receive an electronic confirmation. They will use this information to participate in the program. This process allows AH to protect the security of the program and reduce hacking, ZOOM bombing, or other program disruptions. You may not use your own ZOOM account or other virtual platform to register participants. This is strictly prohibited. AH will email the audience survey within the next business day.

Additional Information
All FRANK Talks available are listed below. FRANK Talks rules and code of conduct apply – please refer to the program guide for details. FRANK Talks are a safe space to explore difficult social issues. All opinions are welcome, but participants must model respectful behavior, or they may be removed from the meeting.

FRANK Talks Topics 

VIRTUAL Listening through the Fear: Understanding Extremism in America

Rory Gilbert, Rory Gilbert LLC roryaz@gmail.com, 602-538-1154

In the U.S. we protect freedom of speech and expression. This means an individual or a community may articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. But what happens when the speech reflects hatred or promotes violence? What is an “extremist” belief? Who ascribes to extremist views? Public opinions have always differed, but in recent years we have seen an increase in extreme views expressed in person and through social media. How do we respond, connect, and relate to people who espouse extreme beliefs? We may avoid people who think and believe differently from us — especially when what we hear is loud, passionate, or threatening. But rather than just avoid, how can we safely and productively respond? Join us for an exploration of the impact of and responses to extremism now.

VIRTUAL Who We Were, Who We Are: The Evolution of Terminology in Navigating Differences

Rory Gilbert, Rory Gilbert LLC roryaz@gmail.com, 602-538-1154

The terminology we use to identify ourselves and others is meaningful. What is your name? What do you call yourself? What do others call you? What groups, clubs, tribes, or clans do you belong to, or not? The terms, names, nicknames, slang, and titles which “define” us have a complex history in American culture. They can convey respect or disrespect, and inclusion or exclusion, depending on the words we choose to use. Do your daily communications and interactions send the message you intend? Join us as we learn how to approach terminology with a sense of wonder, and not fear.

VIRTUAL What is Decolonization and Why Does it Matter?

Rowdy Duncan, Phoenix College rowdyduncan@cox.net, 602-697-9274

The idea of “decolonization” is a very hot topic these days. To understand what decolonization means today, we must first understand historically what colonialism is, and how it has shaped our thinking and actions in the U.S. Who was, and who was not colonized? Colonialist thinking can permeate education, media, government policies, and our lived experiences every day. Colonialist thinking can empower some of us, while disenfranchising, exploiting or marginalizing others. In what ways do we consciously or unconsciously engage in colonialist practices, beliefs, or concepts today? What steps can we take to begin to decolonize our thinking, and why does it matter? What is the cost to individuals or communities if we choose not to? What is the benefit to individuals or communities if we choose to “decolonize” our thinking and act differently? Join this interactive discussion about the impact of colonization and decolonization on the way we live and work together.

VIRTUAL Understanding and Learning to Talk About Systemic Racism

Rowdy Duncan, Phoenix College rowdyduncan@cox.net, 602-697-9274

The term systemic racism is being used a lot these days by political pundits and ordinary people. What is the notion of systemic racism? What are the key definitions that we need to know to understand systemic racism? The concepts of race, racism, reverse racism, white privilege, intersectional racism, affirmative action, political correctness, and systemic racism are interrelated, but not unique to U.S. history. Where do they come from? What is the connection in the U.S. between systemic white supremacy and systemic racism? Join us for a conversation on race relations and learn how to help people understand and talk about systemic racism.

VIRTUAL/IN-PERSON What is Patriotism?

Matthew Whitaker, Diamond Strategies LLC mw@dstrategiesllc.com, 480-252-0639

Patriotism has been defined as loyalty to or defense of one’s country. What do political leaders and social activists mean when they use the term “patriot”? What is the difference between patriotism and nationalism? Throughout history people have demonstrated patriotism through military service, government service, protests, marches, sit-ins and more. How is patriotism expressed now? Recently we have seen peaceful marches and violent clashes described simultaneously as “acts of terrorism” and “patriotic.” Join us for an in-depth conversation about the history of patriotism in the U.S. and what it means today.

VIRTUAL/IN-PERSON Athletes in Action: Protest in American Sports

Matthew Whitaker, Diamond Strategies LLC mw@dstrategiesllc.com, 480-252-0639

When Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem, a heated debate erupted in America. Does social activism have a place in sports? Who can protest and when?  What is an “appropriate” way for an athlete to protest? American athletes have a long history of using their platform to call attention to issues of inequity, with many experiencing negative public and official backlash. Today more and more athletes are speaking out and joining together to make public statements challenging social injustice and police brutality. Is protest in American sports more mainstream and acceptable now? Are sports stars, as public figures, responsible for speaking out? Join us for a conversation about the role of athletes in protest, from history to our present day.

VIRTUAL/IN-PERSON The Other Epidemic: Gun Violence and Mass Shootings in America

Matthew Whitaker, Diamond Strategies LLC mw@dstrategiesllc.com, 480-252-0639

Recent research on the frequency of mass shootings indicates that they are becoming more common and more deadly. A mass shooting is defined as four or more people (excluding the gunman) being injured or killed in an incident. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 470,840 people were victims of crimes that involved a firearm in 2018, and 481,950 in 2019. As of March 31, 2021, 126 mass shootings occurred in the U.S., leaving 148 people dead and 481 injured. The public is overwhelmingly opposed to gun violence, yet there is no consensus on root causes or corrective measures. Can we reduce gun violence and support the second amendment? How do mental illness, toxic masculinity, and racism factor into the equation of gun ownership and access to weapons? The U.S. with less than 5% of the world’s population, has 46% of the world’s civilian-owned guns. Is gun ownership a matter of individual rights or a human rights issue? What makes the culture and beliefs about gun ownership different in the U.S. than other countries? Join us for this timely conversation on the history and evolution of gun violence and mass shootings in America, and some of the possible solutions to this other epidemic.

VIRTUAL/IN-PERSON An Uneven Landscape: Inequities in Transportation, Community Planning and Land Management

Michia Casebier, mgtecwtg@gmail.com, 928-369-8241

When a new highway is built—who does it benefit? Which communities are connected, and which communities are broken apart? Whose properties and which groups of people are valued? How has the development of transportation and land deepened inequities in our country? What steps can we take now to shape a different future? Join us for a discussion on the social, cultural and economic impact of infrastructure development in diverse communities.

VIRTUAL/IN-PERSON Dog Whistle Language in the Media: How Can We Hear It?

Derek Keith, derekjkeith@gmail.com, 406-396-4907

“Gang activity. The war on drugs. Tough on crime. They are taking our jobs. They are bad drivers. They are lazy. They are good people.” What images do these phrases and terms conjure in your mind? What does the media suggest with these coded phrases? Suggestive language, or “dog whistle” language, uses specific terms to signal ideas to us that we subconsciously internalize. How can we begin to actively analyze all parts of the language we hear in the news to become more critical listeners? What are the facts, and what are myths or stereotypes about different genders, cultures, races? This discussion will help participants recognize the harmful language that we hear every day, and learn more about how language can be used to promote false narratives and perpetuate discrimination.

VIRTUAL/IN-PERSON Race, Privilege and Access to Education Resources

Derek Keith, derekjkeith@gmail.com, 406-396-4907

Public education resources are meant to be equally accessible to all students. But intentions do not always match reality. Why do some students excel in the classroom and not others? How were the standard measurements for “intelligence” created, and why do they impact students of color differently? Research demonstrates that testing, and consequently differential treatment, can impact the way students perform, their opportunities for achievement, and sense of self-worth. Educational outcomes for all students are influenced by the history, social context, and norms reflected both in the curricula and the classroom. Who “behaves well,” who is “smart,” and who “shows promise,” can reflect both implicit and explicit bias. What does this bias look like? What barriers and inequities does it create to getting a good education? How can we eradicate systemic bias and barriers? Join us for a lively discussion on ways to improve educational access and equity.

Facilitator Information

Michia Casebier, M.G. Tech-Writing, LLC

Michia Casebier works to dismantle toxic injustice by providing training on America’s inequitable history of transportation planning and infrastructure development, effective policy development, and the passage of legislation in support of marginalized Americans. She serves as a Planning Committee member for both the National Tribal Transportation in Indian Country Conference and the Arizona Tribal Traffic and Safety and Injury Prevention Summit. With her background as a Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Education Specialist, kindergarten, and second grade teacher, Casebier also assists the National Rural Transit Assistance Program with enhancement/delivery of their national tribal and rural transit training curriculum.  Michia has been a guest on Inside Cottonwood and Democratic Perspective, and has spoken in Creel, Mexico as well as at conferences and events across the United States. 




Rowdy Duncan, Phoenix College

Rowdy has worked in the field of diversity and inclusion for over a decade. Currently he is full time faculty in the field of Communication with an emphasis in Interpersonal Communication, Public Speaking, and Intercultural Communication. He has lead peer Mentoring groups that educate youth about drug prevention, educational success, and college and career readiness.  Rowdy completed director training from the Anytown/Ourtown programs and teaches young people and their leaders about power, privilege, equity, and inclusion. He also sits on the curriculum board for Anytown AZ. An engaging and passionate presenter and facilitator, Rowdy is also the director of Phoenix College’s Diversity Incorporated., a program that teaches students how to present the MOSAIC inclusiveness program, and he is an active member of the Healing Racism Public Dialogue Series, winner of the 2008 National League of Cities Promoting Inclusive Award.  He also produces and delivers his Inclusive Activism Podcast bi-weekly to his thousands of listeners about how the intersections of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity work are a form of Personal Leadership. 




Rory Gilbert, M.Ed., SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Rory specializes in supporting organizations committed to enhancing diversity, and creating more inclusive cultures. She is a certified professional coach and mediator trained in interest-based problem resolution. Rory’s consulting work specializes in supporting organizations committed to enhancing diversity, and creating more inclusive cultures. Rory worked with the Maricopa Community Colleges (MCCCD) for a decade providing strategic direction to MCCCD’s diversity, inclusiveness and engagement plan. She developed the MOSAIC curriculum for MCCCD’s Talent Management initiative as lead curriculum designer, and provided facilitation, mediation and coaching for the Leadership Advancement Program, and for faculty, administrators and employees. Rory collaborates with social justice advocates in Arizona to address racism, hate crimes, white supremacy and health care disparities through public speaking, community dialogues, training, and media communications. Rory is co-founder of the Healing Racism Public Dialogue Series, winner of the 2008 National League of Cities Promoting Inclusive Award.




Derek Keith

Derek has spent the better part of his decade as a professional educator weaving diversity and social justice education into his every day curriculum and life. He started his career as an Activities Director in Southern California. It was here he was introduced to the California Conference for Equity and Justice and he found a passion for Social Justice education. He went on to develop a Social Justice literature course for a high school in the San Francisco area. In this position he worked with high school seniors to develop the ability to be critical thinkers who can make change. Currently, he works at ASU as a Coordinator for their Writing Centers and heads the departments Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. He has been a presenter at ASU’s Diversity and Inclusion 2021 conference.




Matthew C. Whitaker, Ph.D., Diamond Strategies LLC

Matthew Whitaker is a decorated educator, historian, author, social justice advocate, motivational speaker, and founder of the ASU Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, where he taught for 16 years. Whitaker’s expertise lies in U.S. history, African American history, race relations, social movements, cultural competency, equity and inclusion, teaching excellence, and community partnerships.  Whitaker has received numerous awards including the 2016 DLA Diversity and Inclusion Award, ASU’s 2015 Pioneer Award for work on African American life and culture, and 2014 DLA Inclusive Workplace Award. Whitaker has spoken throughout the U.S. and abroad, and has been featured on CNN, NPR, PBS, WVON, and KEMET. His books include Hurricane Katrina: America’s Unnatural Disaster, Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West, and his forthcoming memoir, The Undisputed Truth: A Revolutionary Journey to Black Manhood. 




Manage your FRANK Talks program (for libraries)

Application Here - Grants and Programs Dashboard

For scheduling and dashboard support, contact:
Julianne Cheng at jcheng@azhumanities.org

Missy Shackelford at mshackelford@azhumanities.org

Call for FRANK Talks Facilitators 2022

Interested in facilitating small group discussions with people at local libraries across Arizona? Apply to be a FRANK Talks Facilitator! Deadline for applications: Feb. 6, 2022. Click the link below to learn more about the Facilitator’s role and application guidelines.

Application Guidelines Here

Why the name FRANK Talks?

Lorraine Frank 400x265FRANK Talks is named in part to honor Lorraine W. Frank, the founding Executive Director of Arizona Humanities. During her tenure from 1973 to 1989, she elevated public discourse and understood that engaging communities in dialogue was critical to the life of our state. Lorraine W. Frank passed away in 2005, and in 2015 she was inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame.