Pssst… Wanna Join a Nonprofit Board?

LloydBy Stacy Lloyd, Class 28
Lloyd Media Group

Class 28 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 every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. -Albert Einstein

Serving on a nonprofit Board is a great way to “put back.” But first, read this blog!

Our last Scottsdale Leadership class was Boardsmanship Day. Honestly, I was fairly confident; it was going to be bor-ring. Imagine my surprise, when it was the exact opposite.

Board Panel Our panel – charged with teaching us the roles, responsibilities and expectations of serving on nonprofit Boards – was a who’s who in the world of Arizona nonprofits. Steve Davidson, Class 10 (CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale), Pam Gaber (CEO, Gabriel’s Angels), Patricia Lewis (ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation) and Eileen Rogers, Class 2 (nonprofit Board all-star) emphasized that it’s important to do your homework before serving on a Board.

Say you’ve found the nonprofit of your dreams. You’ve heard wonderful things about it. You’re eager to join the Board. Whoa… not so fast! Having passion for a nonprofit is critical, but so is doing your due diligence. There are essential things to grasp before joining a Board for the first time. Here goes….

You definitely want to meet the Executive Director.

It’s imperative to know that as a Board member, you are a fiduciary. You’re managing assets for another party, often with the legal authority and duty to make decisions regarding financial matters on behalf of the other party. No matter how the organization is structured or the degree of authority delegated to staff or committees, the Board and therefore the individual members are ultimately accountable.

Inquire if the organization has proper insurance coverage. Patricia Lewis said, “Don’t join a Board unless it has directors’ and officers’ liability insurance.”

Ask financial questions as it’s your responsibility to understand the Board’s financial statements. If you notice any red flags, stay away.

Board members must understand the facts and circumstances of accounting issues and the overall financial health of the organization. To do this, Board members must be actively engaged in the governance process. This means getting educated on Board governance and the nonprofit’s bylaws.

Ask about the Board term length and the expected time commitment. Don’t join something if you don’t have the time to serve. Oh, and be careful of any conflicts of interest.

Wait – you’re not done yet. Our experts said to test-drive the Board first. Join one of the nonprofit’s committees. You can see firsthand the organization’s inner workings. Plus decide if the current Board members are people you want to work alongside.

Don’t go blindly into joining a nonprofit Board. Put on your extra-strength spectacles and do your due diligence.

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Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry?

GoodmanBy Alison Goodman, Class 28
Scottsdale Quarter

Class 28 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. 
 

With the recent and heartbreaking death of movie star Paul Walker, the topic of speeding and its potentially fatal outcome cannot be ignored. According to the LA Times, speed may have indeed been a factor in causing this tragic accident on a quiet road with a 45mph speed limit. A road full of warning signs alerting drivers to slow down as they approach an uphill curve… the same uphill curve near the site of the accident.

In 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracked 10,395 lives lost to speeding, which equates to 32% of all fatal car crashes. More than 900 people a year die and nearly 2,000 are injured as a result of red light running, with half of the fatalities being pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles who are hit by red light runners, not the red light runners themselves. And as we saw from the video footage on Safe Communities Day, the risk for casualties is high and the outcome terrifying.

How does all of this relate to the drivers of Scottsdale? Photo radar, a subject hotly debated when the cameras were first introduced and still a source of discussion today. As a former member of the Lead Foot club, I know all too well the feeling of panic that ensues when running late and how it seems reasonable to speed in order to get to the desired location on time. However, and as much as fast drivers will hate to admit it, speeding rarely gets you to your destination more than a minute or two quicker than if you hadn’t sped to begin with.

“But will pushing the speed limit up 5mph really make a difference?” you ask. “What about 10? What about 20?” We fundamentally know that speed limits are put in place because they are the designated safest speed at which to travel a road– is getting somewhere a minute or two faster so vital that it’s worth putting your life and the lives of the others at risk?

As annoying as photo radar can seem, it’s not just a quick way for the City of Scottsdale to make money – it really does make our roads safer. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anywhere I need to be that justifies driving at a speed that could potentially cause harm. In summation: slow the [bleep] down.

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Eureka! There’s Help in Them Thar Libraries!

LloydBy Stacy Lloyd, Class 28
Lloyd Media Group

Class 28 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 wasn’t expecting to evoke the California Gold Rush when writing my blog about Scottsdale Leadership’s Economic Development Day.

After all, economic development is the process of building strong, adaptive economies not searching for gold. In fact, Danielle Casey, Economic Development Director for the City of Scottsdale, defines it as, “the process of creating wealth through the mobilization of human, financial, capital, physical and natural resources to generate marketable goods and services.”

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Class 28 was exposed to many economic concepts that day – from an economic update to economic trends shaping our community; all things you would expect during a crash course on Economic Development. But I was surprised when Casey had a spot in her presentation for Carol Damaso, Scottsdale’s Public Library Director, to talk about the Eureka Loft.

The Eureka Loft, located at the Civic Center Library, is a co-working space. It’s part of a new initiative between the Scottsdale Public Library and ASU Venture Catalyst, the startup unit of Arizona State University. This joint effort is designed to help entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses.

(Full disclosure: the Eureka Loft is actually named after the famous “Eureka” moment of Greek astronomer, inventor, mathematician and physicist Archimedes. It has nothing to do with finding gold. But hey, I understand the concept of panning for gold much more than I do Archimedes’ principle.)

The Eureka Loft combines elements of collaboration spaces with expert library fact-finding services and ASU startup resources all in one place. On top of that, they can get advice and access to some pracademic classes both online and in the library. (Pracademic is the mixture of academic and practitioner.)

Michael Beck, Class 28 classmate and Adult Services Coordinator at Scottsdale Public Library, runs the Eureka Loft program and says its benefits are numerous.

“Anybody can come into the library and get free one-on-one assistance with mentorship, access to library databases, business databases, mentorship with ASU and business community leaders”, said Beck. “They can also receive help with their filings for limited liability corporations.”

Members of the Scottsdale library staff have become champions of the program. Each library champion has gone through ASU’s Rapid Startup School which is an introduction to entrepreneurship.

The long term goal of Eureka Loft is to support Scottsdale’s entrepreneurs, inventors, small businesses and the like that need help to advance their ideas. The collaboration spaces allow these people to gather to connect, network and share ideas. They are free and open to the public during normal library hours.

Here’s what I like best about the Eureka Loft… economic vitality shouldn’t just be on the backs of Scottsdale’s high powered movers and shakers. Thanks to the Eureka Loft, we can all take part.

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Are the right standards in place in our school system?

RodneyHeadShotBy Rodney Smith, Class 28
First Financial Equity Corporation
Helping Hands for Freedom, Co-founder

Class 28 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 was a teacher in 7th grade that saw something inside this skinny, white haired kid from Thornton, Colorado that “changed my stars”.  He believed in me. He connected with me. He inspired me.

On Friday, October 25, 2013, I was able to share with my amazing classmates in the Scottsdale Leadership program a spectacular day with some of the most passionate, talented, and committed people in our education system. It became very apparent to me as the day unfolded that many of the standards we use to measure the success of our education system fall into the categories of: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Test scores as a measurement of success, access to money, or a means of job security need to jump in a canoe and float down the river. At the end of the day, if a child feels “connected” the odds increase significantly as to that child finding passion and direction to live a fulfilling life. That is the measurement that needs to be defined and held accountable.

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Kim Dodd, Mary Masters and Kim Hanna (Class 27 graduates of the Scottsdale Leadership Program) provided the structure and direction of Education Day.  Mary emphasized, “A primary goal of the day was to inform the class all that “education” encompasses such as each child’s own level of readiness, constraints and obstacles the teachers face, evolving curriculum, and political differences when it comes to expenditures.”  One of our true leaders when it comes to Arizona education, Dr. Lattie F. Coor from the Center for the Future of Arizona, spoke to the group and simplified it best, “Understand the issues, and do something about it.” The current standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach.

Dr. John Balles, Clinical Services Coordinator for the Scottsdale Unified School District, started the day defining the challenges facing our children. Of course, bullying, drugs & alcohol, home environment, and social environments 

remain obstacles that our children have to overcome, but technology and all the different types of communication available in cyber-space are also a major factor whether or not our kids feel accepted and connected. Can you imagine if we had to worry about how many “LIKES” we have on Facebook to feel good about ourselves? PARENTS BEWARE!

Huppenthal

It was John Huppenthal, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Arizona Department of Education that really opened my eyes regarding our school systems limited view of how we hold the system accountable. Mr. Huppenthal feels a holistic approach to education needs to be at the forefront and I agree. As they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat. A complete, well-rounded view of education as a whole should be where we develop, evaluate and measure. Caring and supportive teachers create a classroom environment which encourages students to behave in responsible ways and emphasizes learning over performing.

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The theme of “connectedness” was even more apparent during a panel discussion featuring  the “Best of the Best” representatives speaking from a multitude of education sectors including charter schools, early childhood education, parent representative, business representative, public schools, higher education, and home school. Moderator Kim Hanna of Camping For Foodies, led a very intellectual dialog on regardless of where you send your child to school, it takes involvement from the community at-large to make it work, perhaps “Parent Development” being the most important factor. The quality and quantity of education received by our young people have a positive direct correlation with community stewardship, job creation, global marketplace competitiveness, career opportunity and civic engagement while minimizing the negative impacts on social services, substance abuse and suicides. As Kim Hanna points out, “Education is the foundation of our entire society—that’s why we should all be passionate about it.”

Politically speaking I struggle with the idea that one person can make a difference anymore, but I do know personally that each of us can make a difference in the life of a child. I challenge you to share at least one positive step to engage students, families and the community in ensuring the education of our children?

To my seventh grade teacher, Mr. Usechek… THANK YOU for believing in me and connecting with me. I love my life because of you!

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If Children Are the Future, What Will the Future Bring?

ValenciaBy Ruth Valencia, Class 28
Salt River Project

Class 28 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 week has passed since we all attended the Youth Services Day, a day that was filled with a great deal of information about the state of our youth in Arizona and in our Scottsdale community.  We heard some alarming statistics, acknowledged the challenging and stressful environment that children are faced with today and were introduced to a number of innovative programs that are trying to address the issues.

Eric Alfrey from the Arizona Children’s Association gave a compelling talk about addressing behavioral health in children who face abuse, neglect, abandonment and mental health issues. He spoke about the importance of early intervention with both the child and the family. In fact, this, along with helping children build resilience, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-value, finding a sense of belonging and building social connections, represents the theme we heard throughout the day. Eric mentioned the 2012 Arizona Youth Survey, conducted by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, so I thought I’d take a look at what it showed. I encourage you to do the same if you are interested in this issue. It primarily assesses risk factors in children, grades 8 through 12. There were a few things that were rather surprising, such as 5% of respondents admitted to bringing a gun to school, and 40% of 8th graders said they were victims of bullying. But there was one statement in the report that kept coming back to me and I wanted to share it here. I would love to hear your thoughts and responses to it, especially when one considers the heavy focus on testing, testing and more testing in our schools. It said:

“Beginning in the late elementary grades (grades 4-6) academic failure increases the risk of both drug abuse and delinquency. It appears that the experience of failure itself, for whatever reasons, increases the risk of problem behaviors.”

One of the presentations that really surprised and impressed me was given by Marie Raymond, Early Literacy Coordinator at the Scottsdale Public Library. I mistakenly was hanging on to an old-fashioned image of the library as a quiet place where you only spoke in hushed tones for fear of being chastised by the librarian. Was I ever wrong! Our library system’s outreach program is quite impressive. They are even focused on making sure every baby becomes a reader, with programs that are targeted at infants and their parents to ensure that baby’s neurological pathways are fully developed. Their performance in developing partnerships and leveraging grant money to expand their programs to schools (pre-, charter and public), other libraries, and to the Fort McDowell community is laudable. Community based parent education programs, parent networking groups and family read aloud nights are examples of the library system’s ability to leverage funding. The next time you begin to think that you never see anything from your taxes, visit your local librarian. These are your tax dollars hard at work.

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Leadership Runs in Their Blood

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For two Scottsdale families, leadership runs in their blood. Residents Doug Sydnor and Sharyn Seitz joined Scottsdale Leadership Class II in 1988 with a common goal; to learn about and give back to the community in which they had chosen to live and work. Little did they know, their daughters, Siena Snydor and Rebecca Seitz, would graduate almost 25 years to the date from SL Class XXVII. The four share their experiences with Scottsdale Leadership below.

Sharyn Seitz
Owner, Sphinx Date Ranch

What was the most rewarding experience?
I had been working in government budgeting for many years before I was appointed by the mayor to the Citizen’s Bond Committee to oversee the spending of the bond money approved by the voters. It was rewarding to be able to apply my knowledge and experience to an important oversight role for the community.

How did your experiences with SL help your career?
I learned to work with volunteers as both a leader and a participant, which has helped me in all aspects of my life, in particular, in my corporate management roles.

Have you kept in touch with your fellow SL members?
Yes, I have. Even after moving away from the area for about 11 years, I was pleased to find that my fellow classmates welcomed me back.

What would you want future applicants to know about the program?
Working with others on projects, committees and commissions without ties to employment is a different dynamic than managing people in an employer/employee environment.

Doug Sydnor
President, Doug Sydnor Architect and Associates, Inc.

What attracted you to SL?
It was through the Valley Leadership program that I met former Mayor Sam Campana and Gary Shapiro, who among others, founded Scottsdale Leadership. I saw this new program as a way to learn more about Scottsdale.

What was the most rewarding experience?
Fellow classmate Jamie Drinkwater Buchanan introduced me to her father, Mayor Herb Drinkwater, who appointed me to the City of Scottsdale Development Review Board. Originally, I turned down the opportunity because my civic involvement plate was full at the time. However, I eventually returned his call and accepted the position. It was impossible to say no to Mayor Drinkwater!

How did you apply your experiences in SL to your own life?
Scottsdale Leadership broadened my network of friends and acquaintances, as I met many people that you would not normally encounter in your daily work routine. Also, I have been consistently involved in the community on over 30 boards and commissions, and have served as the president or chairman for nearly half of them.

What would you want future applicants to know about the program?
Scottsdale Leadership makes you so much more aware of the resources, personalities, opportunities and challenges within Scottsdale. The program motivates you to step up and try to make a difference in the community.

Rebecca Seitz, Co-owner, Sphinx Date Ranch

What attracted you to SL?
Leadership was a natural progression in my career and in my involvement in the community. However, I remember the pride my mother had being accepted into the program, and enjoyed hearing about her class days. I appreciated the fact that she maintained close relationships with many of the Scottsdale Leadership alumni.

Did your mother impact your decision to join SL?
Yes, I was inspired by my mother to join. I also felt it was important as an owner of Sphinx Date Ranch to continue the legacy of involvement in Scottsdale. Former owner Jason Heetland was a graduate of Class XVII and his father, Rick Heetland, has a long legacy of contributing to Scottsdale.

IMG_2278How has SL changed since your Mother was a member?
My mother’s class was about half the size of mine and did not have a class project. Since her involvement, Project Pay it Forward has been implemented. This aspect allowed us to identify community needs and execute a community service project, which will leave on for years to come.

Siena Sydnor
Manager, Account Operations, Genworth Wealth Management

Did your father impact your decision to join SL?
My father shared his experiences with Scottsdale Leadership with me and it seemed like a great opportunity at the time. I work long hours, and Scottsdale Leadership gave me an opportunity to step away from my career get to know the community I grew up in, while meeting many other involved young professionals.

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What has been the most rewarding experience?
Getting up early on the weekends to build the Plant the Seed garden for the Boys and Girls Club was the most rewarding experience. It was a project I saw from start to finish and I developed a new network of close friends.

How do you intend of applying your experiences with SL to your own life?
From my experiences, I learned I am passionate about economic development, keeping the arts alive and ensuring Scottsdale stays a place where future generations will want to live, work and play. I plan on seeking opportunities in the community where I may be able to make a positive impact.

What would you want future applicants to know about the program?
You will get far more out of the program than you give. Be prepared to be present, interactive, passionate and open to a diverse group of people and ideas.

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When You See Opportunity – Seize It

Davis_MikeMike Davis, Class 28
DMB Associates, Inc.

Class 28 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. 

On Community Stewardship Day, Scottsdale Leadership Class 28 experienced several amazing examples of community stewardship.  Each example carried a common theme – a recognized need leads to an opportunity.  What was unique about this class was the opportunity for us to witness community stewardship through several different pairs of eyes.

PreserveOur day began at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve – a beautiful 27,800 acres of preserved land in the McDowell Mountains.  We learned about the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy which seized the opportunity to secure the Preserve for the benefit of the community and where 400 volunteers help to provide public access to the Preserve, protect the Preserve through research and stewardship and increase the community’s understanding and appreciation of the Preserve through educational programs and community events. We then walked one of the nature trails, escorted by volunteer guides.

Mary KingNext, we traveled to STARS where keynote speaker, Mary King, shared her thoughtful story on her inspiration to get involved.  She hadn’t planned to be involved in serving those with developmental disabilities – but she seized the opportunity when she recognized the need.  We toured the campus and saw countless examples of stewardship through the life changing work that the staff at STARS does every day.

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Lastly, we saw practical community stewardship in an impassioned debate regarding the 2013 City of Scottsdale Bond Election.  Bothsides were represented – those for the bond, and against.  Each side made compelling arguments for their position, encouraging us, as members of Scottsdale Leadership, to make up our own minds.

Community Stewardship day showed me that there are many opportunities to participate, Mary King inspired me to seize those opportunities.

I am passionate about mentoring, and I expect to find an opportunity to serve as a mentor, possibly on the board of an institution providing mentoring services.  So now I’d like to hear from you … given your passion, what do you think your opportunity will be and how do you think you’ll get involved?

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