City Government Day

T. MoeckBy Trish Moeck
Salt River Project

“The most important government you have is the local government.” – Carolyn Jagger, Scottsdale City Clerk

Scottsdale Leadership Class 32 learned just how true Carolyn’s words were during their City Government Day on February 9th. Scottsdale’s Mayor, Jim Lane, kicked off the class with an inspiring speech on the importance of engagement – engagement on behalf of both the citizens and of City Council. Scottsdale City Councilwoman and Class 8 Alum Linda Milhaven followed up the Mayor’s talk stressing the importance of diversity amongst the representatives and motivating the class, and younger generations, to run for City Council. “Whether you agree or not, I encourage you speak up and be heard.”


Next up in the day’s star studded lineup was Scottsdale’s City Manager, Jim Thompson. With his 31 years in government, the City Manager’s experience, knowledge, and passion was undeniable and he certainly didn’t shy away from the class’ tough questions. Thompson discussed the recent successful implementation of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) sub-committees and, when asked what the current number one issue facing the City of Scottsdale is, he explained that he believes it is the over $700 million discrepancy between the current capital budget needs and the available funding.

IMG_1440Assistant City Manager Brent Stockwell and City Treasurer Jeff Nichols finished off the morning introductions and then the class ventured over to City Hall. Dan Worth, Director of the Public Works Division, really brought home the significance of the CIP (Corporate Improvement Plan) that Mayor Lane had mentioned. City capital projects include the development of both new and old city buildings and parks, pedestrian amenities, water and wastewater projects, roads, drainage, etc. and assist in maintaining Scottsdale’s quality of life and keeping our community safe. Similarly, the Director of Transportation, Paul Basha, confirmed the value of the TIP (Transportation Improvement Plan) by sharing that most of the people who live in Scottsdale work elsewhere and most of Scottsdale’s labor force (citizens who are able of working) actually live elsewhere. To put it simply, there are a lot of people using Scottsdale’s roads every day and a lot of work has to be done to keep them safe.

After lunch, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Rachel Smetana, and the City Clerk, Carolyn Jagger, spoke to the class about opportunities on the City’s 22 boards and commissions as well as the requirements for serving on City Council. While Jagger expressed that serving may not be for everyone, at a minimum everyone should participate by voting – “Return that ballot!” She also urged the class to pay attention to the candidate pamphlet that the City sends out prior to each election where the candidates provide a brief description of their views as well as links to their individual websites for additional information.

The defining moment of the day was when the class got to experience firsthand what it is like to participate in a City Council Meeting. Scottsdale Leadership Class 32 Mayor, Laurie LaPat-Polasko and Councilmembers Lauren Burgoyne, Christine Goodman, Robert Houston, Todd Larson, Michael Sheedy, and Katie Smetana were faced with a tough decision: to approve or deny a new bond to obtain capital funding.  The remainder of the class was divided into two camps to argue their cases: Pro-Bond and No Bond Scottsdale (No BS). Both sides were passionate about their position but in the end, the bond was approved. After the Class 32 Council meeting, the class was given the opportunity to sit down for an intimate Q&A session with the current leaders, including Mayor Lane.

All in all, the day was a complete success and everyone left feeling truly inspired and informed about our local government and civic duty. Thank you again, Scottsdale Leadership for another unbeatable experience.


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Sustainability and Stewardship Day

Stephanie Pressler.jpgBy Stephanie Pressler
Experience Scottsdale

What’s the number one reason for sustainability? According to Colin Tetreault, it’s “one hot rock.”

The members of Class 32 sat in awe, clutching our reusable water bottles, as we heard from Tetreault and others on the importance of sustainability to protect and secure that hot rock we call Earth.


As it turns out, sustainability isn’t just about recycling your plastic bottles or shutting off the faucet when brushing your teeth, though both are important. Sustainability touches social, economic and environmental issues. Fortunately, in Scottsdale, we have businesses, governments and citizens dedicated to sustainable practices for the betterment of the community. Those individuals and entities are rivaling the notion that the metro Phoenix area is the “world’s least sustainable city,” as deemed by Andrew Ross in the book, “Bird on Fire.”

Throughout the day, we heard from such stewards. And while they spoke, certain phrases and words struck me as important.

Picture1.jpg“We all know that water is precious and needs to be conserved,” said Heather Macre, a Central Arizona Project board member. Leeann Yacuel of Salt River Project reiterated that when she said, “We can all save a little bit of water.” CAP is looking to conserve water on a wholesale level for the entire state, and SRP is educating its customers about ways to cut back on personal water usage. On average, one person uses 120 gallons in 24 hours. As concerned murmurs spread amongst group about our resort-style community, Yacuel put some minds at ease when she noted that “pools may not be monsters” and Scottsdale’s golf courses use reclaimed water.

Moving beyond water conservation, Tetreault, a sustainability scholar with Arizona State University and perhaps our most quotable speaker of the day, widened the scope of the conversation. “What do you want things to look like in the future?” he asked us. He highlighted how sustainable practices can impact revenues and branding for city governments and businesses, but shared that sustainability can also help “create a just and future society that blossoms.”

Later in the day, we saw just how Scottsdale blossomed with the creation of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which Scottsdale Vice Mayor Virginia Korte called Scottsdale’s “miracle.” By creating the largest urban preserve in the United States, Scottsdale has protected large swaths of the Sonoran Desert. In that delicate ecosystem, there live mountain lions, deer, rattlesnakes, pack rats and more – we saw the scat to prove it during our docent-led tour of the Bajada Nature Trail.

I’ll leave you with this last quote, which was uttered throughout the day, from both speakers and Class 32’s resident scientist Laurie LaPat-Polasko. “Yes, climate change is real.” And once we as a society acknowledge as much, sustainability and stewardship become all the more important.

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Honoring Leaders

S. MeyerBy Scott Meyer
RE/MAX Signature

On Friday, December 15 at the beautiful Phoenician Resort, over 400 people gathered to celebrate service to our community at Scottsdale Leadership’s 18th Annual Spirit of Community Leadership Awards Luncheon.

The event began with a spirited And MOSTLY friendly competition among class 32 members, who sold raffle tickets for a chance to win a large number of fantastic donated raffle prizes.

Virtually every attendee was happy to participate in the raffle, and we are grateful to everyone for their generous support! Then at noon, everyone gathered in the beautiful Phoenician ballroom and were hosted by Scottsdale Leadership’s lovely class 27 board President Kim Dodds-Keran, and class 31 alum Brent Hodges. The program was incredibly inspiring, and three people were recognized; people who epitomize community service and prove you can make a difference at any age!

Rachel Zoneraich is 17 years old, and received the Jenkins Youth Leadership award. To say her accomplishments are impressive would be an understatement. In addition to her many leadership activities, Rachel is an exemplary student at Scottsdale Prep, is President of the Governor’s Youth Commission, and is also a researcher at TGen focusing on multiple myeloma – a cancer of white blood cells. She plans to study at the University of Pennsylvania next fall and is a spectacular role model for teens everywhere!

The Herb Drinkwater Community Leadership award was given to Charlie Smith – a long time pillar of community service in Scottsdale. Mr. Smith is largely credited as THE person responsible for securing Major League Baseball and the San Francisco Giants baseball team and stadium in Scottsdale. In addition, he served as Herb Drinkwater’s campaign manager, advisor, and close friend for decades, and served on many other Scottsdale city task forces and committees. Simply said – Scottsdale is the city we enjoy today largely because of Charlie Smith’s long and dedicated service to our community.

The final award winner is a man whose entire body of service and accomplishments are too numerous to list. Class 17’s Marion Kelly received the Frank Hodges Alumni Achievement award, in recognition of his founding and tireless leadership at the Diversity Leadership Alliance, and the Coalition of Blacks against Breast Cancer. In addition, because of his generous service-oriented spirit, Mr. Kelly has mentored many individuals & leaders across the valley, playing a pivotal role in shaping the community that we all love and certainly making it a more diverse and inclusive home for everyone.


In summary, it was an honor to learn about the amazing award winners. The luncheon was an exciting, inspirational and motivating event that EVERYONE should attend in 2018! It encouraged attendees not only to give back to Scottsdale & the Valley, but to Do More!

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Safe Communities Day

Jennifer MaggioreBy Jennifer Maggiore
Red Balloon Social Media

Safe Communities Day was a hit with Class 32 – not just because it was an action-packed day with our community heroes, but because we got hands-on experience with the skill, patience, and decisive thinking required to do the job of our police and fire professionals.

Upon arriving at the Police & Fire Training Facility, we were greeted by Jim Ford, Deputy Chief, Scottsdale Fire Department (Class 8) and Mark Walther, Lieutenant, Scottsdale Police Department Training Unit, who told us a bit more about their jobs and what to expect for the day.


We were split into groups and given the opportunity to test out the MILO Firearms Simulator, which put us into scenarios that mimicked the life and death situations police find themselves in daily. Our group learned a lot about the training that goes into deescalating conflict and using the least amount of force necessary to neutralize a threat.

Next, we got to see the police dogs, Hannah and Scout, in action – do you know what kind of breed is used by Scottsdale Police? Most people think of German Shepherds, but these strong and beautiful dogs are actually the high drive Belgian Malinois, which are bred in Holland specifically to do this job.


Last, we got to meet members of Scottsdale’s SWAT team – we learned more about their equipment, toured the “Bear” (the huge armored vehicle), and heard more about how they collaborate with regional and federal departments to lend their expertise and talent where needed.

IMG_1030After lunch, we got to spend time outside with the Fire Department, which included suiting up in boots, pants (with iconic suspenders), jacket, hood, hat, mask, and even had the heavy tanks strapped to our backs before entering a dark, smoky room with no visibility to save a baby (ok, babydoll) with thermal cameras.

We learned about Automatic Aid, a reciprocal program that allows Phoenix and Scottsdale firefighters to render aid depending on who is closest regardless of the address. The faster the response, the better the outcome.

We got to try the hoses, which blasted 120 gallons of water per minute – they create so much force that we needed partners to keep us steady. Pretty amazing considering they have hoses that can flow more than 700 gallons per minute!


For those of us who could handle the heights, we also went up the ladder truck, which took us 10 stories high to 100+ feet!) for a beautiful view of the valley, and to see for ourselves what it’s like when firefighters have to scale multi-story buildings to rescue people or cut holes in roofs.

However difficult we thought police and firefighter jobs were before we arrived that morning, we walked away with a new appreciation and sense of pride for the services they provide to our city.

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Connections, Relationships & Partnerships

Erika CoombsBy Erika Coombs
Director at Stifel


Human Services Day provided us insight on the IMPACT of the many services provided by the City of Scottsdale and local organizations. Did you know?

  • There are more than 5,000 volunteers in the City giving more than 31,000 hours each year, saving taxpayers’ money.
  • There are seven Title I elementary schools, one middle school and one high school in the City. (For an entire school to qualify for Title I funds, at least 40% of students must enroll in the free and reduced lunch program.)
  • The largest homeless population is single moms in their 20s with children under the age of ten.
  • There are SIX centers in the City providing resources, including rent/mortgage assistance, financial coaching and educational workshops, classes and activities, special needs and needs assessment information and referral.

During our class day, we toured three centers: Vista del Camino Community Center, the Granite Reef Senior Center and the Adaptive Services Center. Below is a recap of each of our stops:

  1. We started at Vista del Camino, a one-stop career center and food bank. We heard about the Healthy Packs program that provides weekly food backpacks to 300-330 Scottsdale Unified School District students to make sure they have food over the weekend.
  2. Next, we went to the warehouse and used our muscles to pack 100 boxes of non-perishable food that will be used for emergency food boxes for families in need.
  3. Off we went to the Granite Reef Senior Center. We toured this award winning facility with a gym, art studio, billiard room, computer lab and group meeting spaces for adults 18 and older. We had a cafeteria-style lunch mingling with the seniors and heard from three seniors about how the center and programs have impacted their lives. Next, we learned about Family Promise, a non-profit that partners with churches to provide homeless families with a 60-day program that gives them skills to get back on their feet; family pets are welcome too! Lastly, we learned about the Scottsdale Family Advocacy Center that has benefited from Scottsdale Leadership’s Project Lead It Forward.
  4. Our final stop was the Adaptive Services Center that meets the needs of our disabled community. The Center had more than 12,000 visits last year. We learned that Scottsdale Leadership classes assisted in creating the multi-sensory room and the backyard. We also toured their accessible kitchen that is used for cooking classes. This kitchen has special features like oven doors that open from the side and cook tops that shut off automatically. We also participated in a drawing game with students. And you can’t forget — GO BOBCATS who will join the US Special Olympics in multiple sports, including flag football in Seattle in 2018!

We saw the critical role volunteers play in supporting the City’s mission of serving and being a world-class community. Many of us were inspired to volunteer with the City and its non-profit partners!

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Changing Hearts and Minds

D. Henningerby Don Henninger
Executive Director of SCOTT

Changing hearts and minds.

That was the lesson that stood out the most for me on Diversity & Inclusion Day for Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 32.

What can be more authentic and genuine than that theme? And if you, indeed, embrace diversity and inclusion in your own heart and mind, then you are capable of accomplishing change. And the first two steps are not all that complicated:

–Learn how not to be judgmental.

–Remember always to be a willing and engaged listener.

We had a chance to experience all of that on our day together, Oct. 20, 2017.

Many think that diversity and inclusion is all about race, gender and sexual preference. It’s all of that but it’s also more. It goes much deeper in all of us, and it often is not visible on the surface. And in a series of exercises and experiences during our day on Oct. 20, we all discovered that firsthand.

Our leaders for the day were Ernie Flores, manager of Wilhelm Automotive, Antoine Skinner, a Class 31 graduate, and Rich Slavin, a commander in the Scottsdale Police Department. They worked together as a team to keep participants focused and open to learning new things about each other and ultimately ourselves.

IMG_0872.JPGHow we think and evaluate things are based on factors that may not be easily seen on the surface. In Class 32, we have a lot in common with each other – we are successful, we already are leaders in our own ways, we are educated, we live and/or do business in Scottsdale. That’s the surface look.

But we all grew up in different ways, were taught different customs by our parents, schools, religious affiliations and friends. Some grew fat or skinny; some short or tall; some wear glasses. Many have overcome major challenges in life; others have sailed through with few obstacles.

All of these things combined give each of us our own unique experiences on our journey through life. And it influences they way we think, act, and communicate with each other.

We all came to be members of Class 32 with our own unique life experiences that can’t be discovered until we take the time to talk to each other, learn from each other and respect each other.

IMG_0944.JPGWe took the time to do all of that on our Diversity & Inclusion Day.

I left the day feeling upbeat and energized, knowing that everyone we encounter – be it in Class 32 or anywhere else in our lives – brings their own unique view of the world that is there for us to learn and grow.

Scottsdale Leadership’s Diversity & Inclusion Day changed a lot of hearts and minds, and now we have the chance to make that a lasting impression.

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Scottsdale History Day

C. Goodmanby Christine Goodman
Nationwide Insurance

On October 6, 2017, the Scottsdale Leadership Class 32 had a busy day learning about Scottsdale’s history. Wow! It was an amazing experience. We started our morning at the Scottsdale Museum of the West learning about the roles key individuals played in shaping the wonderful city of Scottsdale. We later toured the downtown area of Scottsdale with our phenomenal historian tour guide, Joan Fudala, who shared insightful history about establishments along Main Street and the surrounding area. What I appreciate the most about this experience was the pride and effort Scottsdale has taken to preserve the city’s history and authentic feel of the West.

With our water bottles in hand and bus driver leading the way, we spent much of the day visiting important businesses who left a profound legacy on Scottsdale. Our class was blown away by the Cattle Track, an unassuming place from the street that surprisingly opens to a visual wonderland of authentic arts.  Aside from the remarkable contribution Janie Ellis and her family had in Scottsdale’s housing development and art, this place continues to influence art by providing opportunities for artists, craftsmen and students, to encourage and enhance their art forms and to further the preservation of Scottsdale’s genuine past.

To add to our incredible day, we spent time learning the history of McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. We even met the granddaughter of this legacy family! Our last, and the most impressionable stop, was a visit to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, or SRP-MIC. On this tour, we learned about the advancements this community is making on their government, education, health-wellness, and ecosystem. We heard from the elected President of the SRP community about the mission, vision, and challenges their community face. The passion and cultural pride of this community has forever been bestowed on our class. I can’t express enough gratitude to the Scottsdale Leadership program in offering this experience to Class 32.


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