I’ve known Phoenix City Council candidate Brenda Sperduti as a civic activist for over 20 years. Because I so often encourage women to run for public office, it’s only right that I do what I can to highlight the accomplishments and character of those I’d like to see making the decisions at all levels of government.
Here’s Brenda in her own words.
“As a young girl growing up in a home deprived of healthy and effective communication, I was challenged with using my own voice to communicate my hopes and dreams. I distinctly remember at about the age of 15 sitting around a table of relatives discussing current events, silently wishing that I had the courage to speak out – to say anything worthwhile without being shunned or ridiculed.
Being tormented by this inability to use my voice to express my thoughts and concerns, I purposefully challenged myself though my developing years by putting myself in situations where I had no choice but to speak up or speak out. Joining a Toastmasters group was the first real challenge I stepped up to at the age of 20. The program forced me to express myself “publicly” within a friendly and supportive group.
The desire to find my voice and use it has been a cornerstone of my life aspirations. I eventually chose a career in public and community relations, putting myself in the role of spokesperson/ community representative for several major employers and non-profit organizations over the course of 30 years.
It was a long felt underlying interest to engage in public policy debate that spurred me to get more engaged politically. First on the sidelines as an interested observer and then in a professional position as government relations liaison for a large banking institution, I delved into the nuts and bolts of the public policy process. As I became more effective in the position, my growing desire to use my voice for positive social change sprouted. I secretly began thinking about whether I could become a political leader with a purpose.
Each experience led to a better understanding for the needs and unmet desires of underrepresented people such as children, single parents or troubled teenage girls.
As a volunteer board member I was often tasked with speaking out on behalf of the organization I represented. At times I had the opportunity to testify at the State Legislature or lobby on behalf of various organizations on Capitol Hill in D.C.
Fast forward to last fall. After finishing a three-year contract directing the statewide arts advocacy non-profit, I found myself at a decision point. Where would I go now with my career? Was it time for another change? Was it a good time to move forward with my desire to do something politically? I took some time to reflect. I find having reflection time is good for getting settled down and a great way to begin transitions. At the same time, I didn’t want to get stuck in reflecting for too long for fear of missing an opportunity. Plus, in reflection I am not using my voice.
I was attending a political fundraiser for an old friend, surrounded by people I’ve known and worked with in the community for years. As I made my way around the room catching up with many good friends, I was asked several times what I would be doing now that I had left the arts advocacy group. At one point, engaged in conversation with a woman I’d known nearly twenty years, I said out loud, “I’m thinking about running for City Council.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth I realized what I had done. I had finally uttered the words. Her response was enthusiastic. She said, “Brenda, you would be wonderful in that position.”
There it was. It was my voice. My voice finally uttering the words. Words of action that would propel me to do what I am doing now. It was a moment of courage to say what I wanted and what I believed could be.
Just as Gloria Feldt talks about in “No Excuses”, I felt this overwhelming desire to not just follow my dreams, but to move forward and realize the dreams I had sheltered within myself for much too long.
It is my sincere desire to use my voice in a powerful way to transform the world and make it a better place. Our voices provide a source of power. That power can be used to transform our own lives or the lives of others. Or both at the same time. I challenge every woman who reads this to find their power through their voice. If I can go from that silent young girl at a table of relatives afraid to speak, to candidate for City Council in the sixth largest city in the U.S., you can realize your dreams too. Use your voice!”
Brenda Sperduti, president of Sperduti NetWorks LLC, is a candidate for Phoenix City Council District 5. She is in the runoff election after securing enough votes in a 4-way race held in late August. The runoff will take place November 8th. Brenda moved to Phoenix with her family after graduating high school in 1974. She attended Maricopa Community Colleges, ASU and University of Phoenix. She is currently enrolled at Grand Canyon University completing a Bachelors Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Professional highlights include managing community and government relations for Wells Fargo Bank, AT&T and American Express over a 20-year time span beginning in 1983. Following a successful corporate career, she shifted focus to grassroots issue management and civic engagement, working for the Arizona Town Hall and then starting her own consulting business. She has professionally advocated and worked with a long list of non-profit and for-profit clients in many fields including arts and culture, healthcare and early childhood development. She is married to Tom Whalen and together they have three children.