Home / Focus / Women in Public Policy Feb. 2007 / Lyn White, governmental relations manager, Phelps Dodge

Lyn White, governmental relations manager, Phelps Dodge

Lyn White, governmental relations manager for Phelps Dodge, is a woman with a passion for good government. “In the eighth grade, I won an Arizona Constitution contest,” says White. “I went to Washington, D.C. and fell in love [with politics]. I was hooked.” The young Lyn also encountered then-Congressman John Rhodes, who greatly influenced her and who would later hire her. “He really cared about Arizona,” says White. “I was his last staffer and intern.”
In 1990, the then-single mom needed a job to support her family. The job she landed helped her to pursue her life-long love of policy; indeed, White helped shape the state’s budget process for generations to come. She was hired to assist the FAIR Commission, which examined the funding mechanisms for state agencies. “The state was in a budget crunch,” she says. “It needed to be fixed.”
The commission established the rainy day fund, abolished the “midnight rollover” and required agencies to move from lump-sum to programmatic budgeting. “We programmed accountability into the system,” she says.
Like other policymakers, White’s biggest challenge is time. “There’s not enough of it,” she says. In addition to her work with Phelps Dodge and her community work with outdoor organizations such as the Arizona Trail Association, White volunteers her time to educate schoolchildren about mining and minerals in Arizona. “We call it the copper education team,” she says.
A fourth generation Arizonan, Lyn White is concerned that the state’s explosive growth is affecting Arizona’s traditional values. “We’re losing sight of our core industries, such as mines and agriculture,” she says.
White also stresses that being a lobbyist isn’t just “fluff and stuff.” There’s a lot of hard work involved in developing policies that affect the state, she says. “You need to learn and understand issues before you start to make changes.”
And she notes that her father used to say, “You can have all the knowledge in the world but if you don’t keep your word, it’s worth nothing.”

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