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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

Jennifer Richter

Gail Rhodes

Derek Keith

Matthew C. Whitaker

Michia Casebier

Rory Gilbert

Rowdy Duncan

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 January 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

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.

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.

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.

Contactderekjkeith@gmail.com | 406-396-4907

Education in the News: Talking about LGBTQ+ Identity in Schools
Debates over education—what is included and what is excluded—seem more heated these days. New legislative measures across the country seek to regulate curriculum and discussion about LGBTQ+ identity in schools. Lawmakers along with parents and community members are also asserting more control over books children read in the classroom, including literature on LGBTQ+ experiences. Should they have sway in what is taught in schools? Do these laws and book bannings protect children, or are they harmful? What effects are these measures having on LGBTQ+ youth and families? How do we give parents and community members autonomy and honor the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth? Join us for a meaningful discussion about how LGBTQ+ identity gets expressed in schools.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: What is it and how do we do it?
In many organizations, institutions and corporations across the country, the words diversity, equity and inclusion, often referred to as DEI, are being incorporated into mission statements, workplace trainings, and sometimes day-to-day practices. So, what is diversity, equity and inclusion? Are the terms interchangeable, or do they address different issues? Do the definitions change when going from the workplace to our homes? Let’s talk about what we mean by DEI and how we can begin to put words into practice.

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

NEW! 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.

Michia Casebier

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.

Contactmgtecwtg@gmail.com  | 928-369-8241

An Uneven Landscape: Inequities in Transportation, Community Planning and Land Management
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.

Rory Gilbert

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

Contactroryaz@gmail.com | 602-538-1154

Talking Across Differences: Making Connections in a Divided World (virtual only)
Public opinions may differ, but in a democratic society civil discourse is essential. In recent years, a deepening divide has emerged between people with divergent views, a divide that seems nearly impossible to overcome. How do we converse with people whose opinions are the opposite of ours? Can we disagree constructively and still move forward productively? How can we make meaningful connections in turbulent times? Together let’s practice how to build bridges across the divide.

Teaching Our Children: Engaging Future Generations (virtual only)
We often hear the phrase “Young people are the future.” If that’s true, then how are we preparing them for the future? Our decisions on what to teach our children are shaped by our values, perspectives, and life experiences. Sometimes our discomfort and pride can overshadow the need for hard truths and critical thinking. How do we deal with these variables? What messages do our words and actions send to children today? What messages are children receiving? How can we teach children to “be good” and “do good” in a challenging world? Let’s talk about the lessons we teach our children to prepare them for the future.

Rowdy Duncan

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.

Contactrowdyduncan@cox.net | 602-697-9274

What is Critical Race Theory? Let’s Talk About It (virtual only)
There has been a lot of talk about Critical Race Theory or “CRT” in the news and social media lately. Opinions are divided. Some say that CRT is an examination of the historic effects of racism on society, and the resulting impact on access to legal rights and community resources. Others say that CRT discriminates against white people and generates division. Let’s talk about it: What is CRT? Where did it come from? Does banning CRT from schools or government address a problem or create one? What is opinion and what is fact when it comes to the conversation about CRT? How can we talk about race going forward? Join us for a thoughtful conversation about CRT today.

What Is Indigeneity? Using Indigenous Practices in Our Spaces (virtual only)
Indigenous is a term used to refer to the first people of the land. Once all people were indigenous people with deep connections to their ancestral homelands. Our relationship with the land shaped our actions and beliefs. Accumulated over generations, indigenous knowledge and practices, or indigeneity, can inform our decision making and help us navigate through our own spaces today. How can we use indigenous practices to return to fostering stronger relationships and handling conflict better? Join us for this rich discussion about the procedures used by tribal people and implementing indigeneity in our own spaces.

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.