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.

IMG_5514

….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

Right Here, In Our Own Backyard!

Griffiths_Gina HeadshotBy Gina Griffiths
STARS

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 embarked on our first full day of the Core Program with a little bit of uncertainty and a lot of enthusiasm. Our focus for Day One was Community Stewardship and Sustainability. This was a fantastic way to start the program year!  We were able to learn from community leaders and see examples of what can be done, often with only will and determination in the beginning. Who knew all of this was right here?

IMG_5354We began our adventure exploring the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I had no idea this hidden gem was right in ourbackyard!  Mike Nolan (Class 27), Executive Director, shared the history of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy (MSC); a group of dedicated citizens knew that Scottsdale had to protect this beautiful asset to the community. They rallied the greater community to come together and support this initiative. They have worked tirelessly for over 2 decades and MSC currently protects well over 30,000 acres. This is one of the largest urban preserves in the country! They utilize almost 600 volunteers and have identified 743 different plants and animals!  Without the forward thinking of the founders, this amazing area would not be available for urban visitors to connect with nature.

IMG_5394Next, we visited an exceptional nonprofit, Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services or STARS (I have to admit, I’m a little biased about STARS because I’m fortunate enough to be their Program Director).  We heard from the esteemed Mary King; Mary founded STARS, along with a committed group of parents, by identifying a need for services for adult children with special needs in Scottsdale. Mary has been an active community advocate all of her life and is the epitome of how to find resources and get things done. For over 41 years, STARS has been improving the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities through day programs, vocational programs and a transitions program.  On any given day, we serve over 200 teens and adults on our two campuses and in the community. And throughout the visit, I heard several long-time Scottsdale residents say “I had no idea this was here!”

Community stewardship sounds rather big and intimidating, but we learned that fine examples of community stewardship are thriving all around us.  The common theme to finding success is people.  When any one of us identifies a need, we can rally the troops and make sustainable change.  It’s not easy, but with effort and determination, we really can change the world, starting in our own backyard.  At the end of the day, I felt grateful to be a part of a community that has a strong foundation built that will help foster it into the future.

4 Comments

Filed under Class, Community, Leadership

Class 28 Leaders Emerge

Kinsella

By Lois Kinsella, Class 28
Intel Corporation

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.

In early September, Scottsdale Leadership Class XXVIII was introduced to Mayor Lane and representatives of the City.  As strangers, we had little idea what to expect of the next nine months, but approached each class day with an open mind and willing attitude, eager to unveil the secrets of leadership and what it might inspire within us.  On our final class day we focused on gratitude, lessons learned, and spent the day reflecting on our personal personal growth and the deep appreciation of the friendships we had formed during our time together.  These were no longer strangers on a common path – we’d grown to share a bond that under normal business circumstances could have taken years to develop, if ever.   We hold a special interest in each other’s success and well-being, and are grateful for every moment shared over the months.  We’ve grown to become the Class 28 family under the careful guidance of George Martinez and Emily Garzolini (an honorary Class 28 member), to whom we are grateful for an experience of a lifetime!

Who are the future leaders of Scottsdale?  People may still respond with names of individuals who are currently in government or public positions, or those who have been publicly recognized for work they have done.  However, if you ask anyone in the Scottsdale Leadership Class 28 you are likely to get a very different answer.  And that answer is personal to each one of us as we continue to grow into our leadership roles and immerse ourselves into our communities.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision of tomorrow” – Melody Beattie

1 Comment

Filed under Alumni, Class, Community, Leadership

4 (Somewhat) Hidden Gems in the Scottsdale Area

Andrea AkerBy Andrea Aker, Class 28
Aker Ink®

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.

Scottsdale Leadership serves as an incredible knowledge bank for lifelong residents and newbies alike. At some point during each class, a collective “I can’t believe I didn’t know that” is uttered from the group. History & Treasures Day was no exception. While gaining insights about popular landmarks such as the Scottsdale Waterfront and Scottsdale Airpark, we also toured these lesser-known-yet-just-as-special icons:

IMG_4838Singh Farms – Just off the 101 and Thomas, a line of unassuming trees encases an oasis of sorts from the surrounding dirt plots, pavement and traffic. A charming farm with organic fruits, veges, flora and fauna is literally steps from the highway – but seemingly in the middle of nowhere upon entering. Come on Saturdays between 9am and 1pm to meander through the gardens, sip on a freshly squeezed juice and stock up on seasonal produce. Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/singhfarms

IMG_4856Cosanti/Paolo Soleri Studios – Famed architect, artist and philosopher Paolo Soleri is known for many endeavors and art forms, including a particular style of bronze bells, which can range from about $100 to more than $150,000. You can see how these bells are created at his personal studios in Paradise Valley. Catch live demos and tour the facility where he lived and worked. Learn more: http://arcosanti.org/cosanti

IMG_0359Los Cedros – Many folks wouldn’t think of a performance horse training facility as a destination. Yet most facilities of this nature don’t double as an ancient Moroccan citadel, complete with an authentic Moroccan throne room. This venue is open to the public to peruse, or to rent for corporate events. Take a quiet stroll through the gardens or stables. You may even catch a horse swimming in a special exercise pool. (And yes, apparently horses can swim.) Learn more: http://www.loscedros.com

Cattle Track Arts Compound – Discretely located within a residential neighborhood near Miller and McDonald, this 13-acre property brings you back to a time when this region was primarily open space and dirt roads, earning its name as a pit stop for ranchers moving cattle north. Old West structures now house artist studios, a blacksmith shop, gallery and two old-fashioned letterpresses. Visit 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday to catch artists in action. Learn more: (480) 607-3658.

What other hidden gems have you found around Scottsdale?

5 Comments

Filed under Class, Community, Leadership

Serving Others in Need is Noble and Courageous

RodneyHeadShotBy Rodney Smith, Class 28
First Financial Equity Corporation
Founder, Helping Hands for Freedom

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

As someone who has spent 24 years in the non-profit industry – as a founder of three organizations and a consultant for more than 20 others – what I heard and saw at Scottsdale Leadership’s “Lead it Forward” competition on April 4th was simply amazing.

I am a firm believer the strong survive and prosper in life, and I am not talking about how much money you make. Whether that is strength in character and integrity, a commitment to family, friends and community, or having respect for yourself and your way of life, to find peace and fulfillment is often a matter of one’s heart and soul and not measured with your bank account.

To serve others when others need help is one of the most noble and courageous things a person can do with their life. To see the impact that 44 Class 28 members made on five Valley charities was breathtaking. The projects featured sustainable solutions, addressed immediate concerns and needs, generated donations, provided introductions and connections that were not there before, and were filled with passion and a skill set that charities are always looking for to serve on their committees and boards.

As someone who benefited from others who took an active interest in my life when I was a child, I was touched, moved, and inspired by the dedication and hard work that went into the projects and what a powerful impact everyone had for their charity of choice.

Some simple truths learned that day:
1. Volunteering can make a difference.
2. Professional expertise can catapult a charity to higher levels.
3. Connections and relationships with other like-minded individuals is a powerful combination.

“Lead It Forward” Projects included:

Tavan Digital Literacy Program, which held a technology fair at Tavan Elementary School, showed children, their parents and teachers how technology can help them succeed in education.

Quest for College, which produced an informational packet prepared on a flash drive and in print that consolidated all of the useful information high-school students at the Paiute Neighborhood Center need to know about preparing for college.

Amplif(i) it Bash, a free event was held in partnership with notMYkid for 150 area school children and 70 parents at Scottsdale Gymnastics, to draw attention to issues surrounding bullying and positive life choices among middle-school children.

Project CANdo partnered with the Salt River Fields and the Arizona Diamondbacks to present a canned-food drive at a spring-training game that featured a pyramid stack of cans, which were all donated to Vista del Camino Food Bank.

And the winning team, Victorious Secret, earned both the audience and judges choice awards, developed a volunteer recruitment program for Foothills Caring Corps, partnering with corporations and other community partners to supply an on-going, stable group of volunteers to assist its mission serving older adults who are homebound and disabled so they can maintain an independent lifestyle.

What a spectacular group of people representing great organizations! Class 28 Dominates!!!

Scottsdale Leadership www.hauteeventphotographs.com

1 Comment

Filed under Class, Community, Events, Leadership

What’s Behind the Scottsdale Brand? How Can We Protect It?

Andrea AkerBy Andrea Aker, Class 28
Aker Ink®

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.

What comes to mind when you think of Scottsdale? Luxury, golf and shopping… or “Snobsdale” and perhaps smugness? A variety of terms and connotations emerged during our class day, Beyond Scottsdale City Limits, where local leaders shared their thoughts on the role of collaboration among cities as well as the state of Scottsdale’s brand.

While all cities battle conflicting viewpoints to some extent, it seems the passion and pride of Scottsdale residents has been put into question a bit more since voters struck down the General Plan late last year. This issue has come up during many of our classes since the election, and it resurfaced once again as dignitaries from around the Valley converged.

Have the recession and other events from recent years altered Scottsdale’s brand? While it’s clear that many residents want changes – especially among those who hit the polls – I don’t believe the brand has suffered permanent damage. However, I do think more leaders and residents need to find common ground, goals and priorities.

Rachel Sacco, President and CEO of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, shared five key distinctions that make Scottsdale a desirable place to live and visit. Promoting these aspects of our city, she says, will help protect the Scottsdale brand.

  • Desert Recreation – No doubt the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a local gem. More than 30,000 acres of pristine desert landscape and 120 miles of trails within city limits are certain to draw residents and tourists alike.
  • Resort Lifestyle – There are many benefits to being dubbed a resort destination, especially in attracting affluent tourists who impact tax revenue. I also don’t mind living near a stone’s throw of poolside service.
  • Arts – The Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts serves as a hub for the arts community, but artistic endeavors are present throughout the city.
  • Events – Think Barrett Jackson, Phoenix Open, Parada Del Sol, Scottsdale Culinary Festival, etc. These events draw people from all over the Valley, state and even the nation.
  • Transportation – This might be a weaker point from my perspective, but certainly worth noting and discussing. Ever been on Ollie the Trolley? Me neither, but I want to catch a ride one day!

Do you agree or disagree? At what level should local leaders focus on supporting these distinctions? How can Scottsdale collaborate with neighboring cities to further strengthen positive branding?

2 Comments

Filed under Class, Community, Leadership