Category Archives: Alumni

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

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Pssst… Wanna Join a Nonprofit Board?

LloydBy Stacy Lloyd, Class 28
Lloyd Media Group

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. 

It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. -Albert Einstein

Serving on a nonprofit Board is a great way to “put back.” But first, read this blog!

Our last Scottsdale Leadership class was Boardsmanship Day. Honestly, I was fairly confident; it was going to be bor-ring. Imagine my surprise, when it was the exact opposite.

Board Panel Our panel – charged with teaching us the roles, responsibilities and expectations of serving on nonprofit Boards – was a who’s who in the world of Arizona nonprofits. Steve Davidson, Class 10 (CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale), Pam Gaber (CEO, Gabriel’s Angels), Patricia Lewis (ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation) and Eileen Rogers, Class 2 (nonprofit Board all-star) emphasized that it’s important to do your homework before serving on a Board.

Say you’ve found the nonprofit of your dreams. You’ve heard wonderful things about it. You’re eager to join the Board. Whoa… not so fast! Having passion for a nonprofit is critical, but so is doing your due diligence. There are essential things to grasp before joining a Board for the first time. Here goes….

You definitely want to meet the Executive Director.

It’s imperative to know that as a Board member, you are a fiduciary. You’re managing assets for another party, often with the legal authority and duty to make decisions regarding financial matters on behalf of the other party. No matter how the organization is structured or the degree of authority delegated to staff or committees, the Board and therefore the individual members are ultimately accountable.

Inquire if the organization has proper insurance coverage. Patricia Lewis said, “Don’t join a Board unless it has directors’ and officers’ liability insurance.”

Ask financial questions as it’s your responsibility to understand the Board’s financial statements. If you notice any red flags, stay away.

Board members must understand the facts and circumstances of accounting issues and the overall financial health of the organization. To do this, Board members must be actively engaged in the governance process. This means getting educated on Board governance and the nonprofit’s bylaws.

Ask about the Board term length and the expected time commitment. Don’t join something if you don’t have the time to serve. Oh, and be careful of any conflicts of interest.

Wait – you’re not done yet. Our experts said to test-drive the Board first. Join one of the nonprofit’s committees. You can see firsthand the organization’s inner workings. Plus decide if the current Board members are people you want to work alongside.

Don’t go blindly into joining a nonprofit Board. Put on your extra-strength spectacles and do your due diligence.

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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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If We Promote It, Will They Come?

Lloyd

By Stacy Lloyd, Class 28
Lloyd Media Group

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. 
 

If you’re going to talk about the economy and tourism, you can’t ask for a better venue than the Phoenician’s J&G Steakhouse.

During last week’s Dining with Friends Alumni Event, we enjoyed both gorgeous views overlooking the Valley and a delicious three-course meal. Let’s just say the potato gratin had me (and everyone else at the table) at the first bite.

Tourism is a top employer in Scottsdale. But will it remain that way? Will tourists continue to spend money visiting Scottsdale?

Our featured speaker, Rachel Sacco, President and CEO of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (SCVB) addressed those questions and shared how Scottsdale’s tourism industry has rebounded since the 2008 economic crisis.

“In 2007, we were flying high,” Sacco said. “Then the recession hit; and hit hard; taking out everything. Now in 2013, we’re still struggling to come back. We’re slowing making our way back up.”

She described how SCVB took control of its destiny; namely through encouraging the passage of Proposition 200’s higher bed tax. Bed tax is collected by Scottsdale resorts and hotels and passed along to the city and SCVB.

One half of this bed-tax revenue is allocated for tourism-related capital projects, special events and some even goes to the general fund to support resident services.

Some of those tourism-related projects include expansion of the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center at West World, the Desert Discovery Center and the Scottsdale Museum of the West.

Passage of Proposition 200 also provided the SCVB with dedicated annual funding for the first time in its history. SCVB receives 50 percent of the bed tax revenue. This money is earmarked for SCVB to market Scottsdale as a world-class vacation and meeting destination location.

Sacco said one way SCVB does that is by promoting Scottsdale as a warm-weather destination for folks in cold-weather markets.

SCVB is planning a similar campaign like it did last year. It wrapped York City subway trains with giant images showing off Scottsdale’s enviable tourism assets: the Sonoran Desert, the Old West heritage, spas and golf. Each wrap has a web address so riders can learn more about Scottsdale.

Another SCVB plan is to showcasing Scottsdale to people in Chicago, Denver and Canada via Weather.com, boasting our high temperatures and sunshine.

Folks at the Grove, a luxury shopping mall in Los Angeles are also on SCVB’s list. Every day thousands of affluent consumers will see beautiful images of Scottsdale and hopefully be enticed to select our city for their next vacation.

Of course, it isn’t certain if these measures will work. I will say, if I was freezing in below zero temps and saw an ad for sunny Scottsdale; that alone would make me hop a plane for Arizona.

What do you think? Will these promotion efforts work? Is the upswing in Scottsdale tourism here to stay?

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It’s Over – NOW WHAT?

Arizona LeadershipBy Kim Hanna, Class 27
Economic Vitality, City of Scottsdale

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.

At the beginning it seemed like such a long road.  But now—the fabulous 9-month journey with Scottsdale Leadership is over.  Yikes—NOW WHAT?

This rich experience was not intended to only expose me to a bunch of issues in the community.  It’s about engaging in the community to make it a better place into future generations!

On our final class day, Suzanne Paetzer—our Core Program Chair—reminded us of a T.S. Eliot quote, “To make an end is to make a beginning.”  THAT’S WHAT!  It’s time to make a beginning!

Then came Eileen Rogers who said, “Most of us don’t know what we want—but we’re pretty darn sure we don’t have it!”  Isn’t that the truth?!?

The answer: Life By Design, Not By Default!  Eileen led us through an exercise that rocked my world!  She gave us a list of “life topics” and asked us to circle all of the items that are important in our lives today.  I circled 19 items.  Then she asked us to eliminate all but the top 12…Ouch!  I began feeling guilty about the items I crossed off of my list.  Then she said we needed to further reduce to 7.  Was she kidding?!?

It was about this time in the day that I began talking to myself.  I had to tell myself, “This is just an exercise…I’m sure I’ll learn something from it.  Calm down!”  So, I did.

It wasn’t over—we had to rank the list in order of importance and grade our performance.  My heart sank…I really didn’t want to face the music but the band kept playing.  All of the things I claim as important are also the things I seem to be getting around to when I have a free moment.

“TIME FOR A CHANGE,” I said to myself.  By this time my self-talk was in surround sound with full-on subwoofer!

But there’s more!  Courtney Klein Johnson shared the heart-warming story of the Stuttering King Bakery—way to go Matt Cottle!  Courtney gave us a menu from the bakery which included another nudge for me.  A quote from Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true…if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Throughout this 9-month experience speakers told us the key to successful leadership is service through passion.  If you start with your passion, things feel right—you’ll know when you are there.

I’ve decided to take those words to heart.  I have been passionate for a long time about camping, hiking and cooking.  I’ve decided to use my blog www.CampingForFoodies.com as a platform from which to launch my community stewardship adventure.  I have tons of ideas and am thrilled to get started!  I know each and every one of my classmates will be doing the same with their individual passions.

To the Magnificent 27 and our wonderful leader—Suzanne—Thank You for a truly life-changing experience!  See you on the edge!

OnTheEdge

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Why I Joined, What I Learned, and What I’ll Do with It!

Sandy Adler, Class 26
Realtor, Arizona Best Real Estate

The Class 26 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.

I love to volunteer my time to help others and to encourage organizations and programs that are particular passions of mine.  I have never had a lot of time to volunteer…but I have always volunteered consistently with at least one organization at a time.  When you volunteer at the same place for any length of time, it seems a natural progression that you end up in a leadership position in that organization. Leadership is different than volunteering.  It involves helping others to reach their goals in supporting the organization and providing meaningful volunteer experiences for them that will also further the goals of the organization.

I also love Scottsdale. As a resident for 17 years (I am originally from Michigan) I have enjoyed all the wonderful things Scottsdale has to offer from the schools (my kids are all graduates of Chaparral High School) to the Preserve to the cultural life and much more. We live in a very special place and there is nowhere else I’d rather live.

The combination of these two loves led me to Scottsdale Leadership. It has proven to be a program where I have learned so much about our community and how it functions. I also learned how to improve my leadership skills so that I can be a guide to people who want to make our community even better.

Having lived here for such a long time, I thought I knew Scottsdale very well. I volunteered as a downtown Scottsdale Ambassador for a couple of years, so I certainly knew the downtown area well. I am a Realtor and I’ve heard so many of our city employees speak at meetings about the history of the city and issues such as transportation and development and zoning. But it turns out that I only knew a small slice of the challenges and opportunities that our citizens experience.

Scottsdale Leadership taught me about some incredible programs, many of them started by volunteers who saw a need and worked to fill it, that support our citizens who may need a leg up during difficult times. I learned about our city government and how it works: about the city council, the mayor and the commissions and staff that support them. I learned about the police and fire departments and what they do every day to protect us and keep us safe in our community. I will never look at their jobs the same again. A day at the state capital meeting our representatives was also a fantastic education.

I also learned in more detail about things that we just take for granted: The beautiful public art that is all around us and how it came to be; the cultural activities that are available year around to enhance our lives; the McDowell Sonoran Preserve that provides entertainment, beauty and education about our environment.

Through our Pay It Forward Project, I learned that an idea to better the community can be executed quickly and with great success by a dedicated team. Honestly, I was skeptical at first. But I saw not just my group but four other groups create and execute wonderful programs in just a few months that will continue to thrive in our community.

Mostly, learning about all these other things, I learned about what makes a good leader by being introduced to amazing leaders in our community, and through leadership classes that were built-in to the Scottsdale Leadership program. We heard the stories of these leaders and had opportunity to interact with them and ask questions. We were introduced to concepts about the responsibilities and expectations of leaders that have changed the way I think about my role as a leader in a non-profit organization.

So, the most difficult question to answer is: What will I do with this new knowledge? How will I use it to improve my community? I have renewed my commitment to the non-profit that has been my passion for a number of years by taking on some additional responsibilities. I am enthusiastic about supporting the Dream Fair project that our team created for at least the next year. I hope to continue to support Scottsdale Leadership in its goal to support and nurture more leaders.  I see clearly now that volunteers and visionaries make the lives of all those around them better and more meaningful.

What will you do with your knowledge and how will you use it to improve your community?

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Words To Live By

Nick Molinari, Class 26
City of Scottsdale

The Class 26 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.

Be brave, laugh a lot, do the right thing and make a new friend.

When I leave for work every day, these are my parting words with my two boys, Leo and Mario.  Honestly, I can’t take credit for coming up with these simple nuggets of wisdom. My dear friend Tim Miluk (who is also my boss) has been saying this to his two beautiful daughters for years. We spend a lot of time together and I guess after hearing it for so long, it just sunk in. As a parent, this simple direction really captures the hopes I have for my two little guys. If they can be brave enough to try new things and step out of their comfort zone, if they have an opportunity to be goofy and laugh with their friends, if they make the right choices throughout the day and if they take the time to embrace people they don’t know, what more could you ask for?  As I reflected on my experience as part of Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 26, I realized that this daily mantra really aligns with the mission of the program.

Be Brave
We had to be brave right off the bat, starting with our 90-second commercials on orientation day.  The personal ads were a bit nerve racking to prepare for, not really knowing what was expected of us, who would be watching and what our other classmates would come up with.   They certainly kicked off our experience on a high note though.

Personally, I really had to “be brave” to hop on that SRP helicopter ride in February. I am terrified of heights and can get queasy on an airplane. Seriously though, when would I have another chance to ride in a helicopter?  I chose “being brave,” and capitalized on a great experience that I will never forget.

Our projects required our class, in many regards, to take a leap of faith. What united our group was an eagerness to stake new territory and I think each of Class 26’s Project Pay it Forward Projects exemplified that.  Scottsdale Leadership graduates don’t accept things the way they are. There are examples of this all over our city. From pushing the initiative of civil dialogue to nurturing a world-class art community, Scottsdale Leadership graduates have had to step out of their comfort zones and “be brave” to make Scottsdale a better place.

Laugh A Lot
Honestly, I didn’t expect the program to be as much fun as it was. The networking after class (aka “happy hour”) was great and gave the class an opportunity to get to know each other on a different level. One thing I can say about the organization – the SL staff, the day chairs, the volunteers – they all love what they do. You can see it in their work and it makes a difference.

Do The Right Thing
This is what the program and the process was really all about – how can our class apply our strengths, resources and time to “do the right thing” in our community. Obviously, that means different things to each of the 40 participants, but from community stewardship to education to economic development, the core program gave us tools to get out there, “do the right thing” and lead through the choices we make and the actions we take.

Make A New Friend
Prior to starting Scottsdale Leadership, friends and co-workers who had gone through the program had told me how much they connected with their classmates and that they had developed friendships that they still have today. In all honesty, this is not my greatest skill. I am a bit introverted and have had the same collection of friends since elementary school. With that said, I was eager to meet a bunch of people who love Scottsdale as much as I do.  The new friends and great connections I made were the most significant take away for me.  I have an expanded group of Scottsdale ambassadors I can call on to help make a difference in our city.

One of the best things to come out of my experience with Scottsdale Leadership is that it reinforced how the simple things – friendship, courage and stewardship – are a formula for success anywhere.

What words do you live by?

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