The Eleanor Roosevelt Award is presented annually to members of our community whose work and service to the people of Coconino County embody the ideals of Eleanor Roosevelt. This year we have five nominees. Our Executive Committee faced a tough choice. Their decision will be announced and the award presented on Sunday, April 3, during the Sip Sip Hooray celebration at the conclusion of our Roosevelt-Kennedy Fundraising Drive. Here we recognize the exceptional nominees.
In her day, Mrs. Roosevelt was told to “attend to her own knitting,” but she refused. For decades, she wrote a daily newspaper column, traveled to spread FDR’s message, and pushed FDR’s administration toward more progressive policies. Truman appointed her to represent the United States at the first United Nations meeting. She said, “I see it as our duty to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable.”
“To leave the world richer—that is the ultimate success.”— Eleanor Roosevelt
This year’s nominees are:
Nancy Branham has a 30-year career of service to the Flagstaff Community. Among other things, she has been a member of the North County Healthcare Foundation Board, served in various capacities with the Northern Arizona Association of Realtors, mentored new Realtors, and read to grade school children weekly for many years, as she does through today. Nancy is a tireless advocate for public education, appearing at Save Our School rallies and gathering petition signatures. Within our county party, Nancy serves as a Regional Captain, spearheads service drives and other events, canvasses tirelessly, and served energetically on the last three Roosevelt-Kennedy Fundraising Committees.
Sharon Edgar was nominated this year for her work (a full-time job) reporting and strategizing regarding the Independent Redistricting Commission. This work benefited Democrats statewide. Sharon was our Eleanor Roosevelt Award winner last year for work on past campaigns.
Donna Hanley is a strong ally of our Indigenous Community. Through her work as a Census Trainer and organizer, Donna became familiar with the Navajo and Hopi communities. She has helped bring solar-generated power to homes and arranged assistance for individuals in remote areas. Our county party has benefited greatly from Donna’s knowledge and her hard work in Leupp and Tuba City.
Lina Wallen has served on boards and commissions for the City of Flagstaff and Coconino County, too many to mention, but the heart of her volunteer work has always been service to children, especially those who have no one else to advocate for them. She works to make vulnerable children safe, to make sure they are cared for, and to ensure they learn to be good citizens. Since 1993 she has worked as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in the Coconino County Juvenile Courts. In this role, she represents children who are under the jurisdiction of Arizona Child Protective Services. Her work involves attending all related court hearings and visiting each child at least once a month in their various environments including foster placement and school. When necessary, she accompanies them to medical appointments, counseling and school and other activities.
Lina also serves as Chair of the Coconino County Foster Care Review Board (FCRB), annually reviewing the cases of more than 100 children in foster care.
Since arriving in Flagstaff in 1993, Lina has also been an active volunteer in the following organizations (partial list):
- Northern Arizona Council Of Governments (NACOG), as Legal Advocate and Medicare/Medigap Counselor for the elderly
- Regional Council on Aging, Coconino County Representative
- Northland Domestic Violence Task Force (President)
- Habitat for Humanity of Flagstaff
- Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority Board
- City of Flagstaff Commissions: – Clean and Green, Board of Adjustment, Diversity Awareness
- Coconino County Alternative Dispute Resolution Program
- Flagstaff Leadership Program
She currently volunteers with the following organizations:
- Coconino County Compensation Board (financial assistance to victims through Victim Witness)
- National Association for Advancement of Colored People (Treasurer, Past President)
- Flagstaff Police Department Citizens Liaison Committee
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) for elderly & low-income residents
- Community Emergency Response Team (Coconino County Sherriff’s Department)
- DREAMS Board (scholarships for minority students in Flagstaff)
- Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth Board
- Flagstaff Family Food Center Board
Marilyn Weissman cut her teeth as a political activist working for Harold Washington in Chicago in the 1980s and has never let up. Arriving in Flagstaff in the early 1990s, she offered her expertise on zoning, land use, and urban planning to the cause of social justice in our community. She never loses sight of the meaning of a policy to the everyday citizen, to the immigrant, to minorities, to the less fortunate, and less connected. She played important roles in two 2016 campaigns – one, to preserve 300 acres of city-owned land as parkland on McMillan Mesa and, second, to raise Flagstaff’s minimum wage. Marilyn has served for many years on the board of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future—a non-political organization committed to promoting a just and sustainable Flagstaff. When no one stepped up to organize a Women’s March last summer, Marilyn made it happen.
Within our county party, Marilyn serves as a Regional Captain. She is a tireless canvasser and organizer, volunteering for candidates, referenda, and initiatives. Her encouragement and leadership inspire others to volunteer and grow within the party.