We hope you’ll join us on November 30th for a special meeting of CFSA’s Solutions-Focused Community Book Club hosted in partnership with the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families, Pima County Community and Workforce Development, Primavera Foundation, Tucson Agenda, Tucson Tome Gnome, and Social Venture Partners Tucson.

When: November 30, 2023 | 5:00 to 7:00 PM
Where: Community Foundation Campus
Book: Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond 

Please RVSP using the form below. Light refreshments will be provided.

About the Book

The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of Evicted reimagines the debate on poverty, making a new and bracing argument about why it persists in America: because the rest of us benefit from it.

The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages?

In this landmark book, acclaimed sociologist Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. Those of us who are financially secure exploit the poor, driving down their wages while forcing them to overpay for housing and access to cash and credit. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty, designing a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least. And we stockpile opportunity in exclusive communities, creating zones of concentrated riches alongside those of concentrated despair. Some lives are made small so that others may grow.

Elegantly written and fiercely argued, this compassionate book gives us new ways of thinking about a morally urgent problem. It also helps us imagine solutions. Desmond builds a startlingly original and ambitious case for ending poverty. He calls on us all to become poverty abolitionists, engaged in a politics of collective belonging to usher in a new age of shared prosperity and, at last, true freedom.

About the Panelists

Sahar Mitchell, Program Manager for Social Venture Partners Tucson

Sahar Mitchell is the current Program Manager at Social Venture Partners, Tucson. In her role, Sahar strengthens relationships between 2Gen non-profit agencies in SVP’s network and facilitates meaningful opportunities for philanthropic Partners to engage with these community-based organizations. She brings her commitment to community building and implementing collaborative change to the SVP team from years of working for economic development organizations and in arts administration.

Sahar cultivated a dual career as a circus sideshow performer for 20 years, and while seemingly disparate parts of her life, Sahar feels that her role in the arts and the non-profit world contribute to her desire to leave a legacy of uplift and altruism. Sahar has a BA degree from Wellesley College and loves the beautiful City of Tucson, where she has resided with her two daughters since 2013. In her spare time, she enjoys writing short stories, cooking, and hiking.

Tisha R. Tallman, CEO of Primavera Foundation

Tisha R. Tallman comes to the Primavera Foundation with 17 years of executive experience in national, regional, and state non-profit organizations, advocating for individuals, families, and communities at the intersection of poverty, homelessness, and race/ethnicity.

Tallman, an attorney with an MBA, has served as a legal and public policy advocate, and a direct services program manager, litigating in federal and state courts, and testifying and writing on a number of public policy issues throughout the Southeast. She has experience creating programming, installing information systems, and performing operations management. As a spokesperson, she has appeared in such media outlets as BBC Radio, Japanese print media, Mexico City newspapers and radio, MSNBC, CBS Evening News, Fox News, Court TV, NPR, Washington Post, New York Times, and Time magazine.

Tallman has served on a number of boards, commissions, committees, and roundtables, including ones made at the request of the Obama White House and former Mexico President Vicente Fox. She has also received a number of awards and recognitions.

Tallman has a B.A. in Political Science, a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, a J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law with distinction, an MBA from Emory University Goizueta Business School with honors, the Information Systems and Operations Management Award, and the Entrepreneur Award; Certification in Coding from Georgia Tech University; and, Certification in Blockchain Technology from Berkeley Law Blockchain Academy.
A native Iowan born to a Mexican-American mother and a Caucasian father, she comes to Tucson via Atlanta, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. She is a mother, a niece, and a granddaughter to migrant farmworkers.

Brian Mayer, Professor School of Sociology

Brian Mayer is a Professor of Sociology at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences with expertise in the area of poverty as well as other areas. Dr. Mayer supported the Tucson Mayor’s Poverty Commission from 2012-2014.  He also developed the experiential learning Tucson Poverty Project class that incorporates community-based research approaches and has received recognition for his innovative work in teaching and community engagement.

His work in environmental sociology has examined the role of community activism and participation in the identification and management of potential environmental health risks.

Keith Bentele, SIROW Associate Research Professor

Keith Bentele, Ph.D., is an Associate Research Professor with the Southwest Institute of Research on Women (SIROW) in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and holds a Ph.D. in Sociology. Dr. Bentele’s research has examined state-level poverty rates, inequality, homelessness, and the generosity and accessibility of various safety-net programs.

He is interested in policy-relevant research with the potential to reduce poverty and homelessness. His specific areas of methodological expertise are in the use of quantitative methods and statistics.

Bobby Burns, Author, Reporter, Motivational Speaker, and Educator

Internationally acclaimed author, reporter, motivational speaker, and educator Bobby Burns has been inducted into the Phoenix College Alumni Hall of Fame. His diary about his experience fighting for his life, Shelter: One Man’s Journey from Homelessness to Hope, has received critical acclaim, with chapters appearing in college textbooks in the United States and abroad. Drawing from his own personal experiences as they relate to homelessness, the absence of his biological father, scholastic struggles, and various other obstacles, Burns has allowed his life to be an open “book.” He has spoken to thousands of high-risk high school and college students by improving their study habits and increasing their retention rates. His “What Smart Know about College” motivational speeches continue to receive rave reviews from students, college instructors, and college administrators.

Bobby’s commitment to developmental education has been long-standing. It begins in special education during high school. In the Navy, when a recruiter told him, he could only become a cook, not a journalist. At Phoenix College, his first developmental education writing tutor quit on him, claiming he would never be able to write a college paper. Today, Bobby’s passion to remedy and reverse the crippling effects adverse societal influences have on young college students is an ever-ending drive. Bobby Burns is the embodiment of hustle, get-up-and-go, purpose, and success.

Bobby Burns arrived in Tucson, Arizona, with a few dollars in his pocket and no place to live. Without family, without a job, he had nowhere to go but a homeless shelter. How did a college graduate find himself so close to life on the streets? In a voice that is startling for its simplicity and utter honesty, Burns tells the story of how he slipped into homelessness, how he learned what it means to live in a place where nobody will notice if you disappear, and how he emerged to tell his story. Bobby’s diary of 41 days without a home brings readers into the world of a homeless shelter. Shelter is filled with the sights and sounds of homelessness. Shelter life is patterned by meals provided by church volunteers, lines for soap and clean towels, the repeated meticulous washing of hands by an obsessive-compulsive resident, the rare pleasure of a fried chicken dinner, and the illicit smell of marijuana within the shelter. Burns witnesses the residents’ struggles with drugs, alcohol, and disability, and he wonders daily whether he will have the courage to emerge from this life.

Bobby’s diary expresses the full range of emotions of a homeless person: anger, self-pity, pride, humility, shame, depression, and optimism. These are not contradictions; taken together, they represent the real feelings provoked by homelessness. But with rare inner courage, Bobby stokes the fires of hope within himself, marking the days in his journal to keep himself from sliding deeper into a spiral of despair. Bobby confronts his own stereotypes about the homeless and learns firsthand what it means to struggle daily for survival and for dignity. He learns greater courage, and he learns greater kindness. He is given food and a bed for 41 days, but he finds shelter on his own, deep within himself.

Homeless advocacy Work:
  • Wrote Letters- to -the editor about the plight of the homeless
  • Co-publisher of a homeless newspaper
  • Hiring workers through Primavera Works and Guadalupe Soup Kitchen
  • Former Primavera Foundation. Board Member
  • Producer of Homeless documentary Film about the homeless
  • Coordinator of Transitional Housing for the homeless
  • Authored several Op-Ed articles on social issues
  • Homeless Protest Participant
  • Written several poems about homeless issues
  • Arizona State Legislature Committee member on Homelessness along with the late Gordan Packard
  • Guest Speaker with the National Coalition for the homeless