August 28, 2023

Common Sense Institute Announces Jim Kolbe Fellowship Inaugural Fellow Julie Katsel

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Common Sense Institute of Arizona is proud to announce the inaugural recipient of the distinguished Jim Kolbe Fellowship, Julie Katsel.

A dedicated public servant, Julie is currently responsible for coordinating and nurturing collaborative partnerships between the University of Arizona and the Tucson and Greater Pima County community. Prior to her role at the University of Arizona, she served as the Southern Arizona Director for Senator Jeff Flake, accumulating over two decades of experience in government and community relations. Julie has also held positions on the staff of Senator Jon Kyl and with Congressman Jim Kolbe himself.

“I am deeply honored to be named the inaugural recipient of the Jim Kolbe Fellowship,” said Julie Katsel. “As a former member of Jim’s staff, I feel especially humbled because I’ve seen firsthand Jim’s dedicated public service and his commitment to working across the aisle for the good of Arizona and our country.”

As a Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Fellow, an American Enterprise Institute Leadership Fellow, an Arizona Lottery Commissioner, and a Pima County Trial Court Commissioner, Julie Katsel has played pivotal roles in these organizations. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the International Town & Gown Association, the Tucson Metro Chamber, and the Downtown Tucson Partnership, and has also been honored as a DMAFB Honorary Commander. Julie’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Arizona and a Masters in Computer Information Systems.

“Julie Katsel’s unwavering dedication to community engagement and her remarkable ability to bridge the gap between the government and its citizens truly embody the values of the Jim Kolbe Fellowship,” said Katie Ratlief, Executive Director at the Common Sense Institute of Arizona. “Jim truly had a passion for his community and for Arizona and we see the same spirit in Julie.”

Ted Maxwell, a board member of the Common Sense Institute and President and CEO of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, shared that, “Julie Katsel’s commitment to fostering dialogue and understanding aligns perfectly with the fellowship’s objectives. Her active engagement and positive leadership has undoubtedly contributed to the advancement of our region.”

“Julie’s dedication to public service and her exceptional ability to build bridges between diverse communities exemplify the principles championed by the Jim Kolbe Fellowship,” said Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher. “She has consistently demonstrated her commitment to making positive change a reality.”

The Jim Kolbe Fellowship not only commemorates the legacy of former Congressman Jim Kolbe but also serves as a beacon for future civic leaders who share his values of cooperation, free enterprise, and community engagement.

“I am incredibly proud of Julie and her tireless efforts in both her career and our community,” noted Hector Alfonso, husband of the late Congressman Jim Kolbe. “This fellowship, named in Jim’s honor, recognizes individuals like Julie who continue to champion the spirit of collaboration that was so important to him.”

For more information about the Jim Kolbe Fellowship, the Common Sense Institute of Arizona, and our mission, please visit