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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.

What are FRANK Talks?

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FRANK Talks are interactive conversations on ideas that matter. Attendees discuss issues of local and national importance in local libraries at a 75-minute program. FRANK Talks encourage participants to weigh facts, provide the opportunity to put them in context, and consider different points of view. 

The goal of FRANK Talks is to inspire people to practice the skills of citizenship – to listen respectfully and engage thoughtfully with one another on important issues that affect our communities. Topics can include education, immigration, religion, civil rights, and more.

How can my library host a free FRANK Talk?

At this time, FRANK Talks are only available for Arizona libraries. Libraries review topics, contact facilitators to schedule a program(s), and complete an online application.

  1. Review the FRANK Talks facilitators and topics below.
  2. Contact the facilitator to schedule their participation and confirm date and time. Facilitator contact information is available below.
  3. Go to the Arizona Humanities online Grants and Programs Dashboard and complete the online application form. You should contact the facilitator and submit your application to book presentations. We encourage organizations to book FRANK Talks 4-6 weeks in advance.
  4. Once your application is processed, we will provide follow-up steps to administer your program.
  5. FRANK Talks are free for libraries. A partnership between Arizona Humanities and the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records pays for honorarium and travel for scholars.

FRANK Talks Cycles – New topics are updated each cycle. Libraries can book unlimited FRANK Talks per cycle.

  • October 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020
  • April 1, 2020 – September 30, 2020

NEW   FRANK Talks Topics

NEW Free Speech: Can I Tell You How Much I Hate You?

Gail Rhodes, Arizona State University

Freedom of speech is fundamental in a democratic society. It means that a person or a community can express their opinion or ideas without fear of retaliation or censorship. But what happens when the opinions expressed are unpopular, violent or dangerous? Whether expressed in person, or through social media, words can have a powerful effect on our sense of safety, inclusion or exclusion, and equality or inequality. What is “hate speech?” Who decides what speech is protected, and what is not? Who regulates social media content? What is the impact on individuals and communities who are silenced? Explore the complex history of first amendment freedoms of speech, expression and assembly in America.

NEW Hip Hop and American Culture

Matthew Whitaker, Diamond Strategies LLC

Can music shape public opinions and foster social change? Does music expand our cultural knowledge or reinforce stereotypes? How does Hip Hop affect perceptions of youth, class, power and authority? This program examines how the specific musical genre, Hip Hop, has transformed the world through musical fusion, rhetorical jousting, cultural innovation, entrepreneurialism, and political commentary. We will explore its origins and elements, and discuss its impact in the U.S. and contemporary multi-racial, and multi-generational, society.

NEW Through My Eyes - The Impact of Implicit Bias

Matthew Whitaker, Diamond Strategies LLC

We come from different places and backgrounds. Our life experiences and backgrounds can affect the way we see the world and each other, for better or worse. What is implicit bias, and how does it shape our attitudes and actions towards others? How do stereotypes affect our understanding, actions, and decisions? “Implicit bias” can cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. How can we learn to navigate the world we see “through our eyes,” and the world as seen through the eyes of people different from us?

NEW Colors - The History and Life of LGBTQ America

Matthew Whitaker, Diamond Strategies LLC

This program explores the social, religious, and political, experiences of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, Questioning/Queer community (LGBTQ) in America from colonization to the present. How has religious dogma impacted the LGBTQ community? How have families and relationships been redefined in the 21st century? How have civil rights movements and political activism contributed to the emergence of LGBTQ life as a dynamic and powerful force in global society? Discuss the unique triumphs and challenges of the LGBTQ community on the path to freedom and equality in America.

NEW White Allies 101: Outreach, Engagement and Change-making

Michelle Dew, Scottsdale Community College

What is an ally? As a White person, do you struggle with how to respond to racism at work, at home or in your community? If so, you are not alone. Many allies seek effective tools to engage in honest and productive conversations about race. How do you talk to White friends, relatives and neighbors about race? How do you address conflicting opinions about current events, politics and cultural differences? This program focuses on developing concrete skills to navigate encounters with people who are skeptical that racism is a problem, and further your understanding of specific actions to foster racial equity.

NEW What are Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

Rowdy Duncan, Phoenix College

The words diversity, equity, and inclusion are often used to describe educational priorities and corporate values, but what do they mean in our daily lives? How do we identify obstacles to achieving diversity, equity and inclusion? What are the words, behaviors and actions that can exclude or limit others from full participation in our neighborhoods, schools and workplaces? Participants will explore these questions in a unique, interactive program that will improve their communication skills, facilitate learning, and help them navigate cultural differences at work and at home.

NEW American Native: Native American

Rowdy Duncan, Phoenix College

What is the experience of Native Americans in the U.S.? What is Native? What is Indian? What is Indigenous? The experiences of Native Americans in the U.S. are complex, and filled with a rich history marked simultaneously by pride, honor and achievement, and by political, religious and racial disparity. How does social media perpetuate stereotypes about Indians? How can we learn to understand and appreciate the diverse culture, language and history of the first people? Develop skills and knowledge that will help you counter false narratives about Native Americans then and now.

NEW Native American Signs and Symbols: Pee-Posh/Kwatsan

Yolanda Hart Stevens, Artist

Native Americans in the U.S. are diverse, and their contributions have enriched our lives in countless ways. People do not always realize the origins of Native contributions to the language, culture, and traditions of the U.S. What are Native signs and symbols? What do they mean? Where do they appear? They can represent animals, astrological signs, spirits, and much, much more. Explore the traditions and history of the Pee-Posh/Kwatsan. Learn about the signs and symbols which have been passed down for generations, and the meaning of tattoos and markings for this tribe.

NEW Water in Arizona: Sustainability, Supply and Demand

Paul Hirt, Arizona State University

Water is necessary for life, but as supply shrinks, choices must be made about who is given access to water and who isn’t. Communities across Arizona are going dry. This means that some residents may have no choice except to move. How do we decide who gets access to water, and who does not? Should the needs of the many be placed above the needs of the few? How do we address the social and moral issues raised by competition for scarce resources, locally, regionally and nationwide? Join us for a discussion about water in Arizona, sustainability and the supply/demand imbalance.

NEW Energy Resources in Arizona: A State of Energy Transition

Paul Hirt, Arizona State University

Arizonans are living in a period of energy transition. Cleaner, renewable energy sources are becoming cheaper than traditional fossil fuel energy sources. Although this transition may be better for the environment, its effects on the economies of some Arizona communities can be devastating. The rapid shift from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, to renewable energy is having a profound impact on the Navajo and Hopi nations. How do we respond locally, regionally and nationally to the impact of these energy transitions? What can be done to lessen the negative effects? Join us for a lively discussion about the economic, social and moral impact of energy transitions in Arizona.

Facilitator Information

Bios and Contact Information

Michelle Dew, Scottsdale Community College

Michelle Dew is an advisor at Scottsdale Community College’s Office of Service-learning & Leadership, where she facilitates opportunities to connect classroom instruction with real-world experience through two main methods, service learning and leadership lessons. Through these methods students learn to be engaged and aware citizens by addressing needs within local and global communities.  Dew is a former co-leader of Paradise Valley Community College’s Diversity, Inc., a yearlong program that teaches students the MOSAIC ((Maximizing Our Strengths as an Inclusive Community) program, and an active member of the Healing Racism Public Dialogue Series, winner of the 2008 National League of Cities Promoting Inclusive Award. Michelle was also a 2014 Arizona Diversity Alliance Champion award winner.




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. 




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. 




Yolanda Hart Stevens, Artist

Yolanda Hart Stevens is Pee-Posh/Kwatsan from the Yuman Peoples of the Colorado River. She is a successful artist and community activist. An artist in residence at the Heard Museum, her art has been featured in exhibitions as far away as New Zealand. Yolanda is passionately involved in spreading knowledge of, and appreciation for, Native American art and culture. She shares her knowledge of bead working and traditional dance with youth and elders through various community events. She volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club Komatke Branch Gila River. She also works with the Bureau of Indian affairs, and Indian Health teaching medical professionals how to effectively communicate with Native American patients and their families.




Gail Rhodes, Arizona State University

is a PhD student and an adjunct professor at the Cronkite School with more than 16 years of professional experience working as a television reporter. She worked for the Fox Sports Network in Chicago and helped to launch the Comcast Sports Network. Rhodes has been an adjunct professor for Cronkite since 2014, where she teaches advanced television sports reporting, and advanced topics in sports media. Her doctoral studies focus on the intersection of sports culture, media and society.




Paul Hirt, Arizona State University

Paul Hirt is a Professor of History, Senior Sustainability Scholar, and member of the public history faculty at Arizona State University. He specializes in the American West, environmental history, and sustainability studies. Hirt’s publications include a 2012 monograph on the history of electric power in the US Northwest and British Columbia titled The Wired Northwest, a monograph on the history of national forest management since WWII, titled A Conspiracy of Optimism (1994), and more than two dozen articles and book chapters on various topics in environmental history, including two essays on water and sustainability in Arizona. Dr. Hirt conceived and directed the “Nature, Culture, and History at Grand Canyon” project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities he chairs the American Society for Environmental History’s Advisory Board for Professional Development and Public Engagement, and he is an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Salt River Project. 




Dr. Jennifer Richter is an assistant professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Social Transformation and the Consortium of Science, Policy and Outcomes. Her research interests are at the intersections of science and society, and how federal policies are enacted locally. Dr. Richter focuses on energy justice, specifically in relation to nuclear and renewable energy production, and how production affects different communities. By examining how science and technology policies collide with local expectations and understanding of the environment and economy, Dr. Richter explores the different scales of energy technologies and policies and their effects on people. Contact:  jennifer.richter@asu.edu / 480-727-9308

FRANK Talks Program Materials
Marketing Toolkit

Have a FRANK Talk scheduled? For each program, you will find press releases, images, and sample social media posts 

  • FRANK Talks Sample Press Releases 
  • Stock Imagery 
  • Social Media Sample Posts and Tweets

Access the FRANK Talks Marketing Toolkit via dropbox.

Attend FRANK Talks
Manage your FRANK Talks program
WATCH FRANK Talks Library Webinar 2019
For questions, contact:

Chris Wells, Program Manager

602-257-0335 or cwells@azhumanities.org


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.