The Opportunity to Lead is a Gift

Arizona LeadershipGenia Kehayes, Class 27
VP of Finance and Administration, Scottsdale CVB

The Class 27 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

“Leadership is a Gift of Opportunity”

Of all of the wonderful quotes we heard or developed in our class about community stewardship, this one really resonated with me.  I had never before thought of volunteering one’s time or leading a project group as an opportunity.  We are constantly pulled in many directions between work, family, hobbies, etc. and I began to wonder how I could fit community service (or community stewardship, as we referred to it) into an already busy lifestyle.  Thinking of stewardship as an opportunity gives a whole different perspective to spending one’s time addressing an issue, or “noticing an opportunity”.

The quote I opened with came from Mary King, one of the board members of Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services (S.T.A.R.S.).  We were treated to a site visit to learn more about this wonderful facility, which provides services for developmentally disabled adults in our community.  Ms. King founded a similar organization in California and talked to us about how she did it.

I found her presentation to be inspiring and reassuring.  She emphasized that in finding an opportunity to lead, one didn’t necessarily need special skills or a large list of wealthy, influential friends.  She talked about “using what you have”:  finding people to help you and keeping your mind on the people you’re serving.

Another concept we discussed was that stewardship entailed leaving a legacy for the future.  During our day, we visited the McDowell Mountain Preserve Gateway.  I am familiar with the Gateway because when the weather is cooler I enjoy light hiking there and I know that creation of the Preserve has taken decades.   After having participated in our class, I am even more in awe of the vision of those who got the ball rolling in creating the Preserve.  Clearly, a number of people saw an opportunity to create a lasting legacy for future generations.

During the day, we heard from community members who volunteered their time on local, regional and national issues.  Their discussions did not focus on the specifics of their work but rather, what community stewardship meant to them, why they got involved in the issues they represented, and how they fit it into their otherwise busy lives.  It was gratifying to learn that there are so many ways to serve the community.  There are social services programs we all are familiar with, but there are also opportunities in small neighborhoods, politics, the arts, etc.

There were some great takeaways regarding Community Stewardship that they shared:

  • “What you’ve done to help others can’t ever diminish in value.”
  • “Stewardship is part of your life.” (Not something to fit in)
  • “If you don’t love what you’re doing and the cause you’re working for, find another one.  There is plenty of opportunity to make a difference.”

Today was overwhelmingly inspirational and made me think of leadership and volunteering in a whole new way.  Now I want to know… Where do you lead in our community and what does community stewardship mean to you?

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1 Comment

Filed under Class, Community, Leadership

One response to “The Opportunity to Lead is a Gift

  1. Jason Gunawardena

    Fantastic blog Genia. I find it interesting to point out that there is a difference between Virginia Korte and Mary King that would make a good discussion. Both women took different means of funding their ideals that have forever shaped our society. Ms. King funded her center through volunteer efforts and donations where Ms. Korte did the same through wielding the power of legislation to install an additional tax. I linked an recent news article below showing how they are looking to expand the land reserve where Ms. Korte is quoted to say: “It’s going to require additional taxation.” What does the class think about the way idealistic projects should be funded?

    http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2012/08/15/20120815scottsdale-challenge-finish-mcdowell-sonoran-preserve.html

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