An Awe-Inspiring Journey

Baird_Lindsey Headshot 2By Lindsey Baird
Brown & Brown Insurance

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

It is an odd feeling to be at a loss for words, especially for someone as outgoing and verbose as myself. Yet, that is the sensation I experienced for the majority of the hour and a half we were in the air. The only word that continually came to mind was “wow”. I found myself extremely overwhelmed at the serene beauty of the desert landscape that I have lived in and known my whole life. Seeing it from the bird’s eye perspective was a completely different experience, not to mention we had the fortune to fly a few hundred yards away from a bald eagle for a brief moment of our journey.  The helicopter traveled across Scottsdale and Fountain Hills, onto the reservation and caught up with the Verde River which wound us northeast through the Sonoran Desert. We took in the sights of the mountains, hills and cactus and then all of a sudden this gorgeous blue body of water came into view. IMG_2136Below the deep blue water stood the silhouette of the first dam on our tour, Bartlett Dam. Our SRP pilot, John, did a fantastic job of maneuvering the helicopter so that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. We took our fill of photos with “ooh’s” and “ah’s” as the dam made its way into each passengers view before gliding up and over the sparkling surface of Bartlett Lake. The fisherman below stopped to wave as we made our way up the lake and back into the Verde River, en route to Horseshoe Dam.

Evidence of the increased rainfall Arizona has experienced this year cluttered the landscape. The green in the brush and trees that surrounded the shallow water of Horseshoe Lake served to enhance the picturesque views stretched in front of us. It was almost as if you could feel the energy of the thriving wildlife just below our hovering craft. As we departed the Verde River and made our way northeast once again, the mountains grew taller and the saguaro cactus faded into miles of mature trees. I really cannot say enough about our wonderful pilot, John, who took the time to track down the trail of a waterfall as we trekked on towards Roosevelt Lake. A waterfall in the desert is certainly a rarity, this particular set of falls did not disappoint. Shortly after we departed the mystery falls, we found the10434312_10153011141176772_6454440225180548074_n mighty Salt River and followed it south until it reached the north end of Roosevelt Lake. To my recollection I had never seen Roosevelt Lake prior to this point, I was impressed. I recall thinking “that nice woman with the power point slides did tell us this thing holds about 1.6 million acre-feet, I guess this is what 1.6 million acre-feet looks like!” Overwhelmed. Again. Even more so after crossing the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, taking our photos and dropping down into the river and following the Apache Trail the short distance into Apache Lake. “There was ALL that water 3 minutes ago, and here we are again at ANOTHER lake?!” Impressive. At the southwest end of Apache Lake, near the damn, John trained our eyes to find a set of cliff dwellings about halfway up the canyon wall that held Native American ruins. It must have been quite some time before us that this group visited because there was simply no way to reach the mouths of the caves at present. After crossing over the top of Horse Mesa Dam and marveling at yet another feat of hydro-electric power, John spun us around to get a 360 degree view of a bald eagle’s nest tucked up in the cliffs alongside the river.

At this point in the tour the distances between dams became much shorter and we reached the Mormon Flat Dam after flying over Canyon Lake for just a few minutes. The progression of the river and dam system flowing down from lake to lake reminded me of a complex system of steps, descending from largest to smallest. The beauty of Mormon Flat Dam and subsequently Stewart Mountain Dam, enclosing Saguaro Lake, were framed by the terrain that surrounds them. The distinct vision when I looked out on the horizon from these beautiful lakes was of Four Peaks and how prominent the mountain stood just in the distance. Before I knew it the deep blue water had dissolved beneath us into a narrow river and became the Salt River once more. As always with anticipated journeys, the ride home was much quicker than the ride to our first destination. The return trip provided extensive views of the Tempe and Phoenix area as we approached our destination at the SRP facility. A landing as smooth as sitting down on the living room couch provided the perfect conclusion to an awe-inspiring journey.

1978617_10153011141416772_4353725743622727630_nOn behalf of the whole group, I would like to thank SRP as well as our pilot, Mr. John Knotts for the exceptional experience that was truly a once in a lifetime gift. Thank you!


Leave a comment

Filed under Class, Community

Getting the Vitals on Health Care

Mamerow_Adam CropBy Adam Mamerow
Wells Fargo

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Class 29 recently completed our Health Care Day at the Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center (thank you for your generous hospitality!).  We started out the day discussing resilience – which is basically defined as the ability to return to a previous position after deformation or stress.  The healthcare industry as a whole has most definitely been ‘deformed andstressed’ over the past several years.  With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”), the medical community and IMG_6306ancillary businesses have had to show significant resilience to accommodate and adapt to these changes.  The day was a great opportunity to spend time with healthcare leaders to get a first hand look at how these changes affect us on a macro and local level.

Tom Sadvary, CEO, Scottsdale Lincoln Health Network spoke about his career in the medical profession – including 29 years with Scottsdale Healthcare.  He discussed the three primary objectives of healthcare: 1) quality of care, 2) price/affordability, and 3) access of care.  One recent industry change has attempted to address these objectives – the Affordable Care Act.  It has provided more access to more individuals, but is it really the cure-all for all of the healthcare industry’s maladies?  There are still millions of citizens not covered despite the law’s mandate and the influx of new patients into the system has the potential to cause a disruption of care for the people who had healthcare coverage prior to the law.  Patients are expected to be better consumers, but specific price differences between providers are still not available.  Other issues that still need to be addressed include the disparity of treatment, physician shortages, and medical errors (25% of hospital admissions experience some error).  Resilience will definitely be required to find the right balance over time, but it is clear that the healthcare industry will continue to be stressed and it cannot be returned to its previous position.

IMG_6315Despite the pending issues, there are many positives here in Scottsdale!  Class 29 had the privilege to hear from local doctors leading the way in research:  Dr. Caselli; behavior Neurologist at Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Korn, Medical Director at Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center.  Dr. Caselli highlighted some of his work in pre-clinical Alzheimer’s – being able to determine the cause as early as possible could lead to improved care and a cure.  Mr. Korn discussed the RADAR program – Rapid Detection and Assessment of Response. This process allows doctors to quickly determine the effectiveness of cancer treatment to ensure the patient receives the right treatment at the right time.  The doctors were only two examples of the amazing work being conducted right here in Scottsdale.  Other examples of Scottsdale leading the way include: 37 new drugs currently being tested; 6 clinical trials starting over the next few years; the first MRI was in Scottsdale; and the prototype design for an angiography suite.  In addition, the City of Scottsdale is creating the Cure Corridor which includes a partnership between Scottsdale Healthcare, CVS, Mayo Clinic, and other entities.  The Cure Corridor’s objective is to promote medical research and attract other business in the medical field.  Ultimately, this collective innovation has led to cancer patients from 48 states and two dozen countries coming to Scottsdale for cancer treatment.

Obviously, there are concerns that still need to be addressed in the industry; but we should all really take pride in the amazing healthcare available to us locally.

1 Comment

Filed under Class, Community

Scottsdale Treasures and Leadership Stories

Prince_Madison CropBy Madison Prince

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Initially I thought, history + bus tour = BORING. Little did I realize I would be anything but bored! Part of our journey in this program is to understand and develop our leadership style and this day really helped me identify the qualities I value in a leader. First and foremost it is PASSION! At each stop we heard stories of passion, vision and failure? YES failure (and lessons learned) is a big part of leadership and ultimately success!

The first inspiring leader of the day was Fred Unger. In his introduction, he said ” I like simple but simple doesn’t like me!” He told us how his vision for an urban downtown Scottsdale grew from his passion for making Old Town a great destination for everyone to work, live and visit. Though he encountered failure along the way, he has never given up. His vision is thriving today and can be seen by walking along the remarkable downtown waterfront and South Bridge, filled with residents, retail and restaurants. He sees some challenges ahead: how to keep the city vibrant, to keep media (like ESPN) coming back and to attract more businesses when every inch of buildable space is taken. Great leaders are problem solvers and he shared his future visions (and solutions) that gives Old Town residents like me goose bumps about what is to come!

talienin2The next stop was Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s living museum and a Scottsdale treasure I had never visited. He is from Wisconsin, the same as me, so I can appreciate the lure of a sunny Arizona oasis every winter! His passion was nature and this is reflected in his architecture. Taliesin means “shining brow” and describes his philosophy of building into nature. Best quote from the tour (said to his apprentices): Bring nature into your design; it will never let you down. He not only taught it, he lived it! The houses were constructed from rocks on the land, they used water from a natural spring and didn’t use electricity for many years. Apprentices attending the School of Architecture still live out in the desert in small shelters they design.

Los CedrosThe next stop was Los Cedros. This Scottsdale treasure is owned and developed by Miguel Sfeir as a result of his passion for citadel architecture and Arabian horses! Beauty can be seen from any vantage here: the outside views are spectacular, the intricate details of the design inside are remarkable and the horses are majestic. It’s a fun place to escape the city, while still being in the city.

SinghMy personal highlight of the day was Singh Farms and listening to Ken Singh’s story of passion. A commercial farmer for many years, he was most passionate about making money. It was later in life when he realized the importance of taking care of the earth, and this is his passion today. He said to us: In 50 years, the top soil will be eroded, making growing food difficult and if we don’t have food to eat, it doesn’t matter how much money you have! His organic farm is a model of responsible farming, and allows him to educate people about sustainability. It’s an important situation we (and future generations) will be facing and an issue I’m very passionate about!

The theme of the day was history but we also learned some interesting things about leadership. To be a great leader you must have passion but ACTION is what turns passion into reality. Taking action is not without sacrifice or failure and those who leave the biggest impact are seemingly not afraid of either. My biggest take away about leadership is that fear can be a limitation or a motivation, depending on how strong your passion is. Good things to think about!


Filed under Class, Community, Leadership

Committed and Passionate About Public Service

Bayne_Ron CropBy Commander Ron Bayne
Scottsdale Police Department

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

“You should feel fortunate to work with such a great group of professionals. I’m really impressed with all of them!” That was a comment from one of my classmates near the end of our Safe Communities Day after observing and participating in demonstrations from the Scottsdale Police and Scottsdale Fire Departments.

Having worked in law enforcement my entire adult life and being raised by a career firefighter, I’ve always been passionate about the responsibilities of our public safety professionals. Sadly, public perception of these professions is largely shaped by Hollywood or media portrayal of the seemingly all-too familiar negative actions on the part of some police officers.

IMG_1099This is not what I get to see every day. What I see are dedicated professionals in both the Scottsdale Fire and Police Departments who are committed to and passionate about public service. They take their responsibilities of protecting the public seriously and care about their communities and sisters and brothers with whom they serve.

In an effort to provide a snapshot of the realities of public safety professions, Class 29 was exposed to a variety of roles filled by police officers and firefighters.  One of my classmates asked Police Chief Alan Rodbell, “What keeps you up at night?” Chief Rodbell’s response was simply, “nothing”, noting that he is very fortunate to work for such a professional police force. Chief Rodbell would be the first person to admit that this is not something that any of us take for granted. In our department the culture of accountability is set through a variety of measures including; recruitment, training, supervision, policy, discipline, and public input.  The sentiment of pride and accountability was equally apparent through Scottsdale Fire Chief Tom Shannon’s presentation. We are a proud police and fire organization and this was conveyed throughout the day.

IMG_5770Coordinated by Day Chair Lieutenant Eric Williams on the police side, Class 29 interacted with members of the K9 Unit, SWAT Team, Crisis Negotiators Team, and the Firearms Training Unit. I can attest that the mood of the class during lunch was definitely one of excitement from the morning experience with the police and in anticipation of what would follow with the fire department. Day Chair Deputy Chief Jim Ford set up interactive demonstrations which provided students with firsthand experiences with hose and water evolutions, Chest Compression Resuscitation techniques, search & rescue through a smoke-filled building, a ladder/tower truck demonstration, and fire extinguisher practice.

IMG_1057Admittedly, my first thought when seeing this day on the Core Program schedule was that this would seem like another day at work for me. I must say, however, that this was an extremely fun and informative day for both my classmates and me. When I think back to the comment of my classmate, I feel fortunate to work with such a great group of professionals. I’m really impressed with all of them!

To get an even better sense of the day, check out this short video!

Leave a comment

Filed under Class, Community, Leadership

How our city will, and should, look in the near and distant future

Baird_Lindsey Headshot 2By Lindsey Baird
Brown & Brown Insurance

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

A transportation hub connecting our unique city to the expanse of the state and the world, the Scottsdale Airport seemed to me a fitting location to host Economic Development Day. Watching planes take-off and land, surrounded by hundreds of local businesses, drove home the idea that progress in our thriving city is ever-present.

IMG_5738Councilman-elect David Smith opened the day with his views of progress in our city. To some members of the community, progress means moving forward while essentially staying the same, not losing the essence of the city they have grown with and loved. As the day progressed, we were exposed to differing perspectives from the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, Scottsdale’s Economic Development Department, and others in public and private enterprise. We heard from multiple panels that discussed what current demographics look like in our city compared to other areas of the state, what is being done to attract business to the area and whom they look to attract, and what development looks like from each of these unique perspectives.

Throughout the course of the day it was clear the amount of pride and passion that exists within the citizens of this city. There certainly are various ideas and visions that exist about how our city will, and should, look in the near and distant future.

IMG_5739A great example of a unique perspective came from Dr. Dennis Hoffman, Director of L. William Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University’s Department of Economics. He shared with us facts and figures in a way that had us laughing and beginning to think differently about the numbers before us. While he had us laughing, our afternoon group exercise had us tackling issues associated with the Scottsdale Tourism Advisory Task Force. My group specifically looked at issues related to attracting young, well-educated and well-compensated professionals to our city and how to keep them here long term. We discussed transportation development as a key feature of this movement, as well as housing and ways to create a more urban downtown district while maintaining a unique identity that belongs solely to Scottsdale.

The information shared by our extremely knowledgeable lineup of presenters was bar none. I would also like to thank APS and CAP on behalf of the entire class for their sponsorship of this class day and for contributing to the wealth of information that was presented via their representatives who joined us!

1 Comment

Filed under Class, Community, Leadership

More change in our lifetime than any generation before …

Macfarland_Wendy BlogBy Wendy Macfarland
Scottsdale Insurance Company

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Whew!! What an amazing day.

I was excited for this day to come from the first time I saw the schedule, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Just the energy in the room when I arrived gave me some idea of the day ahead and the anticipation we all felt.  We were hosted at Taser, and all day long the pace was electric.

IMG_5579I’ve always been a fan of blogs and podcasts that discuss the future and in particular those that address technological advancements and how they may influence our lives. I can vividly remember a class in college where we listened to a podcast that addressed cell phones and the explosion we’d see in our lifetime in regard to the use of mobile technologies and satellites for making the world a smaller place. And boy has that proved to be true! We are seeing more change in our lifetime than any generation before us.  Interestingly, the inaugural SL Core Program Technology Day brought this back to mind.

IMG_5551The day flew by as we discussed topics and heard perspectives on how education and who is educating is changing, how women have a unique view of the world that should be leveraged more, to how innovation has produced concepts like Uber, Ruby Ride, etc. and how that in turn has caused innovation in other things like insurance products. Makes me wonder what will happen if the concept of wearable technology for example, becomes mainstream. How will that impact other areas of life? One area that seems to have sprung from our ever increasing reliance on technology is cyber security. The good things we can do with data have to be weighed against the threat of the bad things that can happen with that data being available.

How we adapt or respond to technology is an interesting topic when you consider that as humans we are driven to ‘construct things to make our lives better’ according to presenter Dr. David Bolman, Provost at University of Advancing Technology.  But considering the, often fear-based, over-regulated responses to new technology and concepts, it would seem we try to temper our humanness and save ourselves from ourselves.

1 Comment

Filed under Class, Leadership

Belonging in Scottsdale

Magi_Inga CropBy Inga Magi
Distinctive Italian Wines & Wines for Humanity

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

I’ll speak for all members of Class 29 to say that we were moved and inspired by the stories and discussion during last Friday’s ‘Social Services and Today’s Youth’ class. I doubt there was a dry eye in the room as we listened to some of our neighbors share their most vulnerable moments in life. And we were inspired by the people who are there – every day – to help those who are living through those moments.

Last Friday’s class will forever be imprinted on my memory for many reasons. After all, it’s not every day that you…

….hear a woman tell her personal story about how she went from a steady job to hiding in a park with her three children with nowhere to go.  And then somehow found herself immersed in love through Family Promise.

….or learn the story of a Big Sister-Little Sister match that has exceeded the average match time by 10 years. And that the pair long ago stopped thinking of each other as a “match” but as “family”.

….or hear about teenagers volunteering at Teen Lifeline to help other teenagers find an approach that is anything but suicide.

IMG_5466….or find out that your neighborhood has a campus where children can safely play on a playground or get help on their homework through affordable educational programs at Paiute Neighborhood Center instead of hanging out on the streets.

….or gain an understanding about the impact that Vista Del Camino Food Bank can make for families who live right here in Scottsdale by providing a box or bag of food.


….or witness teenagers discover how much they have to give, and learn how to empower themselves and others through Workshop for Youth and Families.

I walked away from Friday’s class feeling emotionally drained, and full of gratitude.  Gratitude for the life I lead, and gratitude for belonging to a community that is made up of people who give so much. Two messages really stuck with me:

  1. It only takes one person to change someone else’s life for the better. And sometimes that leads to the creation of an organization that allows many people to help many other people. It all starts with an idea and a conversation. And we all need to make sure we’re part of those conversations.
  1. Government funding (through programs like Scottsdale Cares) is incredibly important to the success of the programs that exist only to serve others. And it’s our responsibility as citizens of this community to ensure we vocalize our support for the programs that help sustain all aspects of our community.

And, actually, there is a third.  The third thing is a realization that whether we are teenagers or seniors, homeless or wealthy, we want to feel like we belong. We want to know that we are a part of a community that will feed, house, and continue to welcome us should we find ourselves in the unimaginable position of being hungry, homeless, or unwelcome.

1 Comment

Filed under Class, Community, Leadership