Class 32 – Boom!

Erika Coombsby Erika Coombs

‘Twas the night before Graduation, when all through our houses,

Not a class member slept well with the excitement that sprouts,

PLIF projects and presentations were finalized with care,

In hopes Margaret, Lindsay, Michele, family and friends would be smiling as we share,

Music, pets, Arabian horses, PAL experiences and baseball fields,

Were parts of what we presented with our nerves concealed,

Class 32 created volunteer videos, welcoming areas, event experiences,

A museum exhibit, annual events while expanding networks and watching our cents,

Making the most of this year, class bonding and leadership in action,

All part of our impact while discovering many levels of satisfaction,

It was a labor of love as September through April flew by,

Adding 43 more graduates and with Class 32 now totaling 46 projects – oh my!

Cheers to the years to come and no sad feelings loom,

Because we are Class 32 – BOOM!


Project Lead it Forward – Class 32

Andrey’s Angels

Scottsdale Historical Society

Maricopa County Animal Shelter

PAL – Partners to Assist in Learning

Miracle League of Arizona

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Economic Vitality Day

C. Goodmanby Christine Goodman
Nationwide Insurance

Most of us have enjoyed Scottsdale Old Town tourist shops, waterfront restaurants, and breathtaking galleries. However, have you ever wondered how did this amazing town developed into a global tourist-seeking jewel in the desert? Scottsdale Leadership Class 32 got a unique opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn what drives Scottsdale’s economy and the key drivers that influence city development.


Our class met with an array of leaders to better understand economic development including the process, the people, policies and opportunities that must be in place for a city to succeed. Our day started with a tour of Old Town Scottsdale to learn new exciting development plans along the waterfront. We got a better understand of the city’s vision and the development projects underway near the downtown shops.

We later heard from several strategic development consultants about specific challenges the downtown and greater Scottsdale faces. There was no surprise that parking was one of the items on their list of challenges. One area we learned about is a new parking mobile app pilot underway to help locales and tourist find parking around the downtown area. That’s exciting and very much needed!


Later in the day, we learned about the national marketing efforts the city of Scottsdale implements to attract tourist and new permanent residency. Did you know there are colossal poster boards of Scottsdale placed in New York, Chicago, and a handful of other city’s? The effort Scottsdale makes to ensure planful economic growth is remarkable.

Economic Vitality Day was a complete success and Class 32 left feeling truly inspired and informed about our city’s development strategy.

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Arts Day Did Not Disappoint!

A. Diax-Mountford

By Alison Diaz-Mountford
State Farm Insurance

Arts Day did not disappoint!!!  We were introduced to a variety of artistic performances and exhibits and all learned about new ways to participate and support the arts in our community.  The objectives of the day were to:

  1. Gain knowledge and understanding of the diverse arts, culture, and resources Scottsdale has to offer
  2. Experience professional live performances
  3. Gain insight into how your involvement can contribute to the future of the arts in Scottsdale

Mission accomplished!   We began by getting some hands on experience by creating some art of our own that represented community.  The exercise really got the creative juices flowing!


The vocal performances by Marion, Shannon, and Tina (all alumni of Scottsdale Leadership) blew me away!  They were all wonderful and I was especially moved by Tina’s gospel solo.  So beautiful.  And, we all know Matt Healey can draw, but he shocked us all again when he revealed a surprise caricature of our very own Amir.

We were all invited to watch a performance from the cast of “In the Heights” that will be opening later this month.  It was really something to watch the actors transform on stage into the characters they play in the musical.


Listening to musicians play their instruments is such a wonderful way to experience art.  The performance by Ocotillo was wonderful and I know the crowd enjoyed hearing some familiar soundtracks.  I know it got me excited about the return of Game of Thrones!


We finished the day with a visit to SMOCA and discussing the business of the arts.  Who knew Scottsdale has so much to offer!


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State Government Day

W. FrankBy Wes Frank
Vector Marketing/Cutco Cutlery

Have you ever felt left out of the political process?  Frustrated that neither of the two major political parties fully represent the way you see the world? I know I have.  That’s why Scottsdale Leadership Class 32’s State Government Day was such a great experience.  For the first time (for many of us), the political process began to feel a bit more tangible.  We met with speakers from both sides of the aisle that gave the entire process a more personal feel, whether we agreed with them on the issues they spoke about or not.


Our day began in the State Capitol Museum where we met our day chairs. Our first speaker, Mike Braun, walked us through the makeup of the 90 member Arizona legislature.  There are 60 members in the House and 30 members in the Senate representing the 30 districts throughout the state.  In a typical year, these members introduce over 1200 different bills, of which around 350 make it through the process and go to the governor to either sign or veto.

We then heard from Stefan Shephard, the Deputy Director of the Joint Legislature Budget Committee (JLBC).  Their job is to estimate the costs of potential bills, provide briefing materials, and reviewing the budgets of over 100 state agencies.  They also provide revenue estimates from sales and income taxes.

Next up was one of the most energetic and passionate speakers of the day.  Chris Herstam spoke to us about the political reality in Arizona today.  Chris used to be a Republican for many years, even serving as the majority whip.  He found himself leaning more left on social issues and eventually switched parties.  He bluntly showed us statistics that took many of us by surprise.


Here come the Millennials… The percentage of voters registered as independents in Arizona has doubled from 17% to 34% since the year 2000.  In 10 years, it’s projected that 45% of Arizona will consider themselves to be independent voters, however Chris walked through all of the reasons why he thinks they still won’t have representation in our state government.  In order for an independent candidate to get their name on the ballot, they would need 35,000 signatures (compared to around 5000 signatures for Democrats and Republican candidates).  Chris projects that our state will turn from a red state into a purple state in the next 5 years, and transitioning into a blue state (like New Mexico did) over the next 10 years.

slide 1Another topic Chris touched on had to do with our economy.  Arizona is ranked 9th in % of residents under 18 years old.  We are ranked 13th in our percentage of residents over age 65.  However, when it comes to residents between 18-64 (the working years to contribute income taxes to the state’s revenue), we are ranked 49th.

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When pressed for a possible solution to the current state of government in Arizona, Chris advised us to support the push for cleaner elections and the elimination of “dark money” from political influence groups funding campaigns in exchange for favors once they got elected.

After that, our group had the privilege of sitting in on a live bill debate on the senate floor.  The bill was SB1393, which focused on the rights of the parents in the case of a separation regarding the use of their frozen embryos with a different partner.  It was interesting to watch from the gallery as two senate members passionately pleaded their views.

State Floor

Next up we met with Ryan Anderson, Communications Director for Attorney General Mark Brnovich.  Ryan apologized in advance for having his phone out while speaking to us.  It was a busy day for their office.  About 25 minutes before our session, his office had filed a lawsuit against Scottsdale Unified School District for alleged improprieties in their handling of bids for construction projects.  He walked us through the role of the AG’s office and gave us some examples of the types of cases they spend the most time with.

Christina Corieri, Senior Policy Advisor for Governor Doug Ducey, was our next guest speaker.  She meets with him every morning and has his ear for giving her take on key policy decisions.  In Christina’s role, she has to be very detail oriented and verse herself in the issues so that she can effectively give her opinion to the Governor.  She gave us an example that by examining a 10-year old statute, she was able to get ONE word changed (replacing LESS THAN to GREATER THAN), and this change has resulted in an extra 96 Million dollars for the state.

Stan Barnes, President of the lobbying firm Copper State Consulting, gave us a vastly different take on Arizona politics as his friend and colleague Chris Herstam did earlier in the day.  Stan told personal stories of him being an underdog candidate that got elected as a young man before he really knew what he was doing.  He talked about the pressures of office and how he once reluctantly was the deciding vote on a bill he didn’t fully support and the ramifications of that vote.  The overarching theme of his message was that most of the politicians he’s known are not beholden to special interest groups and that in his experience, “nobody is fully in charge”.

Our final speaker of the day was Arizona Supreme Court Justice Scott Bales.  He walked us through how the judicial branch works in the state.  The Supreme Court hears over 1000 cases a year in Arizona.  The Municipal Court has 138 judges that hears over 1.1 million cases each year.  Scottsdale’s is the 4th busiest with over 100,000 cases/yr.  He was very generous with his time, patiently answering all of our questions and helping us understand the process.  One of the questions he answered from our group was about how to know whether a judge is doing a good job or not when it comes time to retain their position in the elections.  He directed us to the Judicial Performance Review website at


Overall, this was one of my favorite days of the Scottsdale Leadership program.  We learned a lot about the political process in our home state and got to hear from people who are working on a daily basis in this arena.  Over the course of one class day, my emotions spanned from being hopeful to frustrated to inspired again, but in the end, I most certainly became a more educated voter and constituent.

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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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