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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.


 FRANK Talks Programs

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.

Facilitators & Topics

Browse by Facilitator

Derek Keith

Erick Tanchez

Gail Rhodes

Jennifer Richter

Matthew C. Whitaker

R. J. Shannon

Browse by FRANK Talks Facilitator by clicking the sidebar. Current topics offered and contact info can be found under each facilitator tab.

Current topics may be scheduled from now up to October 31, 2023, contingent on the availability of the Facilitator.  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.

FRANK Talks discussion. Photo courtesy of Chandler Public Library Flickr

Derek Keith

Derek spent the first decade of his professional career as an educator weaving diversity and social justice education into his curriculum and everyday life. He started his career as an English Teacher and 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’s Learning Enterprise as a Senior Project Manager. During his time at ASU, he started internal DEI committees, led trainings for professional and student staff on DEI initiatives and practices, worked on equitable hiring practices, and presented at ASU’s Diversity and Inclusion 2021 conference. His current role focuses on improving higher education onramps for underserved communities inside and outside of Arizona.

Contactderekjkeith@gmail.com | 406-396-4907

Education in the News: What’s Happening in Classrooms Today?
The debate over what happens in the classroom continues to escalate as politics creep into curriculum. What can be taught, what can be said, and what pronouns teachers can use are all in question. What are the new bills and school policies being introduced in Arizona? How is legislation in other states influencing the national conversation about education? How does the regulation of books, curriculum and speech in the classroom affect students and teachers? What we teach our children now will have lasting ramifications, so what effect will this have on our society long-term? Join us for a discussion about the current Arizona education legislation and school policies shaping our future.

Jocks and Nerds: Stereotypes in Our Everyday Lives
What we imagine a “jock” or a “nerd” to be is shaped by media representations and popular culture. What people experience in their everyday lives, however, often differs from these representations, yet stereotypes are powerful. Stereotypes often lead to biases, or behavior in favor or against a group of people. Sometimes it is a conscious bias. More often, it is an unconscious or implicit bias. Unintentionally, people make judgments about their co-workers, their neighbors, or the random people they interact with day-to-day. So, how do we recognize stereotypes? What can we do about them? Join us for a conversation about how stereotypes form and the effects they have on our community.

Erick Tanchez

Erick Tanchez, who goes by “E,” is a passionate Queer Xicano born and raised in Phoenix. Both of his intersectional experiences have led him on a journey of combating white supremacy in all forms, and a journey of healing himself and his communities. Community, activism, and civic engagement have been a part of his life since high school. He was introduced to this world in 2006 through the Anytown Program, designed to develop leaders through a social justice lens. In 2014, he became the Executive Director of the Anytown Program. He has worked with over 3000+ high school students throughout Arizona and empowered them to become change makers in their communities. He started his higher education career in 2012, working with Phoenix College and the Hispanic Servicing Institution excellence program. Working in enrollment services, recruitment, and veteran affairs services, he created bridges for low-income students and empowered them to purse a college degree. In 2018, he became the Program Coordinator in the Office of Student Life & Multicultural Services. Student Development and Retention was the perfect space for him to help students through their college days. E has also reformed an affinity resource group for LGBTQIA+ employees and students across Maricopa Community Colleges. Equality Maricopa has been a catalyst in helping Queer and Transgender employees find community and hold institutions accountable.

ContactErick.tanchez.jr@mesacc.edu | 602-694-7754

He/She/They: Why Pronouns Matter
There has been a lot of attention on pronouns in the news headlines recently—from state bills aimed at regulating pronouns in the classroom to social media platforms offering pronoun options. So, what is a pronoun? How are pronouns related to gender identity, such as cisgender, transgender, nonbinary? What are gender identities? Is there a difference between gender identity and gender expression? Bring your questions about pronouns, gender identity, and other terms, and join us for a discussion about the power of pronouns and why they matter.

Undocumented Americans: Who Get to Go to College?
Federal laws protect undocumented children and their families when accessing K-12 education, but what happens after graduation? Undocumented students face many hurdles as they transition into adulthood—from finding legal employment to obtaining a driver’s license to going to college. How do undocumented students access higher education? What role do state laws and regulations play in the question of education and legal status? Is there a right pathway to citizenship for students when they reach adulthood? Let’s talk about undocumented students, who has the right to higher education, and the complexities of immigration in America.

Gail Rhodes

Gail Rhodes is a PhD student and an adjunct professor at the Cronkite School at Arizona State University 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.

Contactglrhodes@asu.edu | 312-671-8141

A Free Press: Cornerstone of Democracy
The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects press freedom. Freedom of the press is important because it plays a vital role in informing citizens about public affairs and monitoring the actions of government. But what happens when public trust in the media is eroded by sensationalism, foreign influences or bots, fake news, and business monopolies? Who makes the news and what is newsworthy? Is non-partisan news coverage based on facts even still possible? What is the role of the media in keeping us informed today, and who is accountable when intentional misrepresentation occurs? Join us for a critical look at the impact of the media in a democratic society.

Jennifer Richter

Dr. Jennifer Richter is an assistant professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Social Transformation. Her research interests are at the intersections of science and society, especially how federal policies are enacted locally. By examining how science and technology policies collide with local expectations and understanding of their environments and economies, Dr. Richter explores the different scales of technologies and policies and their effects on people. Dr. Richter focuses on energy justice, specifically in relation to nuclear and renewable energy production, and how production affects different communities.

Contactjennifer.richter@asu.edu  | 505-417-7928

Water in the Southwest: Where Have We Been, and Where Are We Going?
It has been said that “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.” This is especially true of water politics in the American Southwest, a region defined by its lack of water. The massive 20th century federal investments into dam systems controlled the great rivers of the West, allowing cities like Phoenix to “bloom like a rose” and grow exponentially. As we look to our future, many questions arise. Where does our water come from? Who benefited from changing water politics? How did moving water systems from one place to another affect different communities, and how have those effects been recognized through treaties and policies governing water? And perhaps most importantly, in the face of a changing climate: how sustainable are our present-day water policies and infrastructure?

Energy in an Uncertain World
With the advent of modern technology energy can be affordable, accessible, and sustainable for all Arizonans. However accessibility to sustainable energy is not just about technology, but also about the values and ideals that a society has about access to energy. What are the values that are driving energy production and distribution in today’s world? Who has access to sustainable, affordable energy and who does not? What is the impact of unequal access to sustainable resources? Join us for a FRANK Talk examining the history of energy production in Arizona, and exploring potential ideas, policies, programs, and technologies that will shape the production of energy in the future.

Matthew C. Whitaker, Ph.D.

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.

Contactmw@dstrategiesllc.com | 480-252-0639

Where Do Landfills Go?: A History of Environmental Justice
Where do we dump our toxic waste? Where do we bury contaminated soil? Where do we put our industrial waste facilities? Hazardous sites are most frequently placed near Black and brown neighborhoods. Environmental pollution, whether dirty air or contaminated water, has disproportionately impacted communities of color for decades. Years of governmental support for housing discrimination through practices such as redlining created communities segregated along racial lines. Red-lined neighborhoods then became targets for environmental degradation. Zoning and city and state permits perpetuated environmental racism, whether intentional or not. Now the climate crisis is compounding the impact on communities of color–from extreme heat to increasing natural disasters (and unequal relief responses). Join us for a timely discussion on the history of environmental racism and the movement for environmental justice that began in the 1970s and continues to grow today.

The Road to Inequity: Understanding the Wealth Gap
We often hear about the widening wealth gap in the United States. If we look back through history, federal policies and discriminatory practices, from redlining to the current gender wage gap, have contributed to lasting social and economic inequities. Who holds the wealth now? How was that wealth acquired? Can we move toward a more equitable system? Let’s take a closer look at the origins of the wealth gap and discuss the inequities that persist today.

R.J. Shannon

RJ Shannon has resided in the valley for 40 years as a wife, mother, musician, health educator, community mobilizer and activist. She has served on community advisory boards with Phoenix law enforcement, the Phoenix Human Relations Commission, and is a founding and active member of Healing Racism. She chaired Phoenix AIDS Walk for two years, raising over $600,000 with the support and leadership of the Aunt Rita’s Foundation. She is also a former member of the Board of Directors for the Arizona ACLU, advisory board member for the now-defunct Arizona Hate Crimes Advisory Board, and currently serves as one of the newest Board Members for the Parsons Southwest Center. She is presently helping to create a community assessment tool for the Black community that the HEAAL (Helping to Enrich African American Lives) Coalition is already utilizing. She chairs the Local Gun Violence Prevention committee for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Laws; acts as State Liaison for Moms in addition to serving as the State Liaison for the State Chapter for the National Organization of Women. In her free time, RJ is an active planning member for the Rainbow Gathering, an indigenous conference for two spirit, non-binary, LGBTQ members.

ContactRjshannon54@gmail.com | 602-228-0324

Then and Now: What is White Nationalism? (virtual only)
White nationalism, or white supremacy, has been considered an ideology on the fringes of society. But media news coverage today shows us a more public movement of white nationalist groups and leaders–from the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville to the white supremacist livestreamer, Nick Fuentes. What are white nationalist groups? Are their conspiracy theories, such as the great replacement theory, new, or a repeat of long-held beliefs? How is white nationalism impacting our society? Is white nationalist ideology moving into mainstream society? Join us for a discussion about what white nationalism looks like today and what we can do in response.

What Happens When Social Movements and Social Justice Collide? (virtual only)
Social movements for human rights are front and center in the public discourse. Social media platforms have created new spaces for social activism. People are galvanized by new state legislation and supreme court decisions. From Black Lives Matter to LGBTQ+ rights to the #MeToo movement, communities are organizing and marching. What are these social movements? How do these movements intersect? What happens when these movements for human rights have competing interests? Join us for a discussion about navigating colliding interests and working together for social justice.

Schedule a FRANK Talk Program

Please refer to these directions:

  • Contact the facilitator and select the date, time, and format (in-person or virtual) for your program. Contact info for facilitators is available in the facilitator tab above.
  • Go to www.azhumanities.org and apply through the online dashboard. You must be registered with an account. 
  • 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 registration link to share with the public. You will receive a separate email from Zoom with your host link to open the meeting the day of your program. Please review the VIRTUAL FRANK TALKS PROGRAM GUIDE (.PDF)

Manage your FRANK Talks program here

Application Here - Grants and Programs Dashboard

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

Missy Shackelford at mshackelford@azhumanities.org

Hosting a FRANK Talk

 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 rules and code of conduct apply – please refer to the “Ground Rules” as a guide.


Once the in-person program has been approved, host libraries should coordinate directly with the facilitator regarding event logistics. Host libraries are responsible for setting up the space, introducing the facilitator, and supporting the facilitator as needed. Host libraries must distribute audience surveys at the conclusion of the FRANK Talk. Please refer to the Host Site Tool Kit (to the right) for marketing material, surveys, etc.


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.

For directions on hosting in Zoom, please refer to the VIRTUAL FRANK TALKS PROGRAM GUIDE (.PDF).

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.