Category Archives: Alumni Spotlight

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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Leadership Spotlight – Katy Kelewae, Class XXII

Katy Kelewae STARSThis blog is forth in a series from alumni about their experience in Scottsdale Leadership. Katy Kelewae is a graduate of Class XXII and the Development Associate & Volunteer Coordinator for STARS. Scottsdale Leadership is currently recruiting participants for Class 26. Visit scottsdaleleadership.org for details.

Katy Kelewae, Class 22
STARS, Development Associate & Volunteer Coordinator

Community Involvement: ASU Lodestar’s Generation Next Nonprofit Leadership Academy, Class 3; Kent State University Phoenix Alumni Chapter Co-Chair; Scottsdale Leadership, PR & Marketing Committee member

How has Scottsdale Leadership enhanced your community involvement? Scottsdale Leadership enhanced my community involvement in many ways – too many to list. Without the community knowledge I gained through Scottsdale Leadership, I would have never been able to know where I wanted to make a difference. Without Scottsdale Leadership, I would not have known the needs of the community, priorities of citizens, or where to go to learn more.

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how did you learn it? The most important leadership lesson I learned was that true leaders will, at some point, have to do what isn’t popular, what is unpleasant, and may suffer personally as a result. But, that true leaders will make the right decision because it is the right thing to do. I learned this by meeting Jim Bruner and hearing about his past and experiences.

If you could solve any community issue or need, what would it be? If I could fix any community issue, it would be getting community leaders and passionate members of the community to communicate with respect. Passion is wonderful to have, but when it gets in your way of communicating with respect and understanding, decisions seemed forced on the opposition and divisions widen.

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Leadership Spotlight – Kimberly Crowther, Class XXII

This blog is third in a series from alumni about their experience in Scottsdale Leadership. Kimberly Crowther is a graduate of Class XXII and the Communications Director for the DC Ranch Community Council. Scottsdale Leadership is currently recruiting participants for Class 26. Visit scottsdaleleadership.org for details.

Name and Class:  Kimberly Crowther Miller; Class 22
Current place of employment, title: DC Ranch Community Council, Communications Director
Community Involvement: Board Member: Workshops for Youth & Families; Scottsdale Leadership

What was your most memorable class day? Each Scottsdale Leadership class day was a new opportunity to become more educated on the real issues affecting our community. The discussion on population growth in Scottsdale during our Community Trusteeship day was particularly memorable to me. Prior to the class, I had never considered how many variables are at play when attempting to manage population growth in a city.

For example, many people support constructing taller residential buildings in Scottsdale to accommodate population growth. But another segment of the community opposes high-rise projects. Since Scottsdale is land-locked and one-third of the city is designated a preserve, new housing projects are limited if buildings can’t be built taller. Of course, the amount of available housing affects cost of living in Scottsdale. If housing in Scottsdale becomes limited and therefore more expensive, many people who want to live in the city are priced out of the market. This then leads one to consider what the socio-economic makeup of the population should be. It was thought-provoking discussions such as these that made my experience in Scottsdale Leadership so valuable.

What advice can you give to future Scottsdale Leadership participants? The best advice I can give to future Scottsdale Leadership participants is to come to each class with an open mind and the intention to participate. Embracing the activities and getting to know each of your classmates is what make the Scottsdale Leadership experience so rewarding.

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Leadership Spotlight – Chelle Barth, Class XXIII

Chelle BarthThis blog is the second in a series from alumni about their experience in Scottsdale Leadership. Chelle Barth is a graduate of Class XXIII and the Founder of MarketingIntersection.com. Scottsdale Leadership is currently recruiting participants for Class 26. Visit scottsdaleleadership.org for details.

Name and Class:  Chelle Barth, Class XXIII
Current place of employment, title:  marketingintersection.com, Founder

What do you consider the keys to effective leadership? Having been in several management roles in the past 25 years, you think about the most successful teams and business(es) you’ve been a part of and represented. Three key items are working with authenticity, integrity and creativity.  Have a genuine curiosity and get to know who is on your team – their strengths, coaching needs and what their goals are. Know that your reputation and integrity are your finest assets. Your integrity lives longer than the memory of even the biggest commission check you earned. Creativity…well, don’t know about you, but I’m excited to be working in an industry at a time when digital and traditional media have the opportunity to be creative and effective at the same time.

What was your most memorable Scottsdale Leadership Class day and why? Even thought there was always something to learn, discuss and enjoy at each class, I still think about Education day. Not having any school-age kids, I didn’t realize some of the challenges students, teachers, administrators and parents face today. This class shed light on how education also affects the community, from testing to funding plus so much more.  But, it also made me realize the opportunities and changes that need to take place in order to cultivate a higher percentage of high school graduates.

What advice can you give to future Scottsdale Leadership classes? Participate whenever you can and align your efforts with something you have a passion for. Class 23 was fortunate to have such a great group. Since I “collect people” it offered me the opportunity to meet and admire colleagues that I may have never met. Still today, many are advisors, brainstormers, referral agents and friends.

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Leadership Spotlight – Jolynn Clarke, Class X

Jolynn Clarke, SRPThis blog is first in a series from alumni about their experience in Scottsdale Leadership. Jolynn Clarke is a graduate of Class X and the Staffing Manager at Salt River Project. Scottsdale Leadership is currently recruiting participants for Class 26. Visit scottsdaleleadership.org for details.

Name and Class:  Jolynn Clarke, Class X
Current place of employment, title:  Salt River Project, Staffing Manager

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how did you learn it? One of the most important leadership lessons I’ve learned is that the skills used when working with volunteers – empathy, appealing to a common goal, using humor, finding someone’s passion are just as applicable when working from a management position.  In addition, I was introduced to and embraced the ideals of servant leadership during my Scottsdale Leadership class and the staff I currently work with appreciates me using these ideals in our work together.

If you could solve any community issue or need, what would it be? If I could solve any community issue right now it would be to bring more jobs to our community especially in south Scottsdale.  Undoubtedly the economy we are struggling with now will have long-lasting effects.  More jobs in our area strengthens our economy and our overall community.

What was your most memorable Scottsdale Leadership Class day and why? The most memorable Leadership day for me was the one dedicated to education.  I have been, and continue to be, an advocate of public schools.  However, I learned through the presenters that day that there are many merits to and needs for charter schools and home schooling.  It opened my eyes and my mind.  It’s been 15 years and I still tell people about the information shared and the impact it had on me.  It was awesome.

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Leadership Spotlight – Kelly Norton, Class III

Current place of employment and title: The Bead Museum, Executive Director

Community Involvement:
Phoenix Suns Charities – Current Chairman of the Board
Arizona Commission on the Arts – Commission Member

How has Scottsdale Leadership enhanced your community involvement? It gave me a good introduction into the various areas of the community so I could see where my interests were and over the years has introduced me to new community leaders.

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how did you learn it? It’s not just the leaders vision that makes a business or a non-profit successful, it is the ideas and vision of everyone involved. Surround yourself with people who have vision and drive. This is just something I have come to know over time. I may have a vision and be driven by something, but if I don’t listen to the people around me, and have their buy-in, then it is only a limited vision.

What do you consider the keys to effective leadership? Be a good listener; put people first; don’t be afraid of change, challenges and taking risks.

If you were interviewing different community leaders, what one question would you ask to gain insight into how they lead? What is the difference between a manager and a leader?

If you could solve any community issue or need, what would it be? To make sure all students have access to the arts at a young age so that they have an understanding of the value of supporting the arts in the community when they are old enough to start giving back.

What is your as-good-as-it-gets moment in volunteering? Doing site visits of non-profits Phoenix Suns Charities supports. There are so many incredible programs in the community and actually getting an opportunity to see them in action makes me feel great!

What is your favorite gadget? My hand blender

What do you do to recharge your batteries? I cook or travel if I can take the time!

What was your most memorable Scottsdale Leadership Class day and why? Our visit to the Police Department. It really made me appreciate the important and difficult job these people have.

What advice can you give Class XXV? Keep in touch with your classmates. Network! You never know where life will take you and who will be there when you get there.

Leadership Spotlight
This is a blog series about the experience and impact Scottsdale Leadership has on its alumni and the community.  To date more than 800 graduates have been empowered to lead youth, civic, and philanthropic organizations in Scottsdale and throughout Arizona.

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