Kelly Ries, Class 25
Sustainability Program Strategist, Salt River Project
The very first day of class for Scottsdale Leadership Class XXV (Silver Bullets!), we were told that we would form bonds not only with our fellow class members, project group members, but also with the community of Scottsdale itself. We all looked around, not believing we would become so invested in each other and in changing the world around us for the better in just two Fridays a month for nine months. Well, it turns out they were right.
Scottsdale Leadership’s mission – to inform, inspire, and empower leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community – was never more evident to me than during my own Pay It Forward project, the Scottsdale P.E.T. Pantry.
Inform. One of our very first class days was held at Vista del Camino throughout the day we were informed that Vista del Camino was in great need of many services that, for various reasons, they could not provide their clients. Right then, many in our class wanted to jump in and get involved.
Inspire. Once our project group formed, we found we were all inspired that class day at Vista del Camino. Everyone involved at Vista del Camino really wants to make our community a better place by helping one Scottsdale resident at a time. We wanted to help them in whatever way we could, so when Vista del Camino’s head honcho Kathy Breen turned our original project idea down and offered another one, we were quick to take it on. Not only did we bond with our beneficiary but we also bonded with the project. We took Kathy Breen’s mention of needing a way to feed pets as well as people and ran with it. We truly wanted to help “keep pets with their people”. By the end of our project, we had created donation portals, social media outlets, a marketing campaign, a website, and raised approximately $15,000.
Empower. By project presentation day, the energy was palpable. I think everyone in Class XXV felt like they could take on any challenge in our community that came before them. In fact, one member from another team even mentioned that she felt like since this project in such a short period of time, she felt like she could take on the world. I really feel like this cast of characters from Scottsdale Leadership could go to infinity and beyond when we set our minds on accomplishing a goal.
Community. Community drives Scottsdale Leadership and Scottsdale Leadership has become integral to our community. No matter which group won on our Pay It Forward project presentation day, there really were no losers. Scottsdale is a stronger community because of my class and the projects we implemented. Together we impacted the children, senior, and mentally and physically handicapped citizens of Scottsdale as well as Scottsdale’s pet population.
I have always been involved in my community, but Scottsdale Leadership gave me the opportunity to impact it in a way I never imagined possible before applying for the program. While the road wasn’t always smooth for my team, we found that by leveraging our existing skills and contacts along with those newly gained from Scottsdale Leadership, we were able to accomplish our goal of helping “keep pets with their people”.
We truly were able to go to infinity and beyond with our project because of Scottsdale Leadership.