My Two Major Takeaways from Safe Communities Day


By Rich Campana
Great Hearts Academies

On this characteristically warm day in December, I found myself fully engaged throughout the Safe Communities Day. Our day was chaired by Jim Ford, Deputy Chief of Scottsdale Fire Department and Eric Williams, Lieutenant of Scottsdale Police Department Training Unit, but we met Assistant Chief Popp (SPD), Scottsdale SWAT and Negotiation Teams, Fire Chief Tom Shannon, Bob Dawson (SFD Fire Investigator), and a slew of other Fire and Police officers who graciously gave their Friday to help educate Class 31.

After eight jam-packed hours and being physically and emotionally exhausted, I wanted to focus on a couple areas where I find myself contemplating these issues for days after Safe Communities Day.

  1. The MILO Range Simulator

Walking in to a darkened room with video-projected targets on the wall, I was anxious to try my hand. At first you think that this “game” is about target practice, but when the “real-life” situations begin to unfold, your heart is racing, you’re talking / yelling at fake actors and for a moment you lose yourself in that moment.

In the debrief, you begin to understand the drastic ramifications that your split decisions or actions or misfires or non-actions can cause. You realize that in that 20 second experience where you may have shot and “killed” the perpetrator, that this will be analyzed in a court of law and you could be deemed hero or villain, when you (the police officer) was just reacting to the intense unfolding situation.

It definitely gave me a much better appreciation of the necessary training and made me more apathetic to the story behind these sensationalized stories on the news.

  1. Residential Sprinkler

Watching a side-by-side comparison of a 50 square foot room go up in flames – one equipped with one standard residential sprinkler and the other not was life changing. We watched as the ill-equipped house, at first slowly, and then raging, fire engulfed this room with no hesitation. Within two minutes every inch was ablaze and smoke billowing out until our fireman extinguished the flame. The next room was much more anti-climactic. A small trashcan fire started and within thirty seconds the small, but growing fire in the corner of the room was 99% extinguished and 100% contained by the sprinkler.

All newly constructed, modified, or renovated homes and business must be equipped with proper sprinkler systems. These are life-saving initiatives that Scottsdale has had in place for decades.

I want to again thank off of the Police and Fire officers for spending so much time on this day opening our eyes and helping make our community safer.



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Spirit of Community Leadership Awards Inspire Class 31

34-sean-ohara-finalBy Sean J. O’Hara
Kercsmar & Feltus PLLC

On December 2, 2016, Scottsdale Leadership Class 31 spent the day at the Phoenician Resort and received tremendous exposure to the past, present, and future of this amazing community.

The day began with a presentation by Scottsdale Leadership co-founder Gary Shapiro. Mr. Shapiro told the inspiring story of how Scottsdale Leadership came to be, and challenged Class 31 to continue the legacy by making their own mark on the world.

As compelling as Mr. Shapiro was, the highlight of the day was clearly the 17th Annual Spirit of Community Leadership Awards Luncheon. Class 31 had the privilege of lending a hand to the event—welcoming and registering guests, selling raffle tickets, and collecting food for the Vista Del Camino food bank. When that work was done, the class settled in to their seats to hear about the compelling achievements of the day’s honorees.


The first award of the luncheon was the Jenkins Youth Leadership Award.  Jordyn Blew received this honor for best exemplifying the values of former Scottsdale mayor and high school teacher Bill Jenkins.  Though just a high school student, Ms. Blew has been doing amazing work with the Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary.  She’s already a credit to our community and promises to contribute for years to come.

Dennis Robbins, Class 7, was honored with the Hodges Alumni Achievement Award.  Frank Hodges is a Class 1 alumnus and Scottsdale Leadership legend for his commitment to Scottsdale. Consistent with Mr. Hodges’s legacy, Mr. Robbins has worked hard throughout his life in government, corporate, and non-profit sectors, constantly striving to improve the quality of life for Scottsdale’s residents.

The luncheon closed with Todd Sadvary receiving the Drinkwater Community Leadership Award, given in honor of “Mr. Scottsdale” himself, Herb Drinkwater. Sadvary is currently CEO of HonorHealth and for the past three decades, he has tirelessly worked to improve community health.  Perhaps most importantly, he raised Class 31 member Chris Sadvary.

After hearing all of the honorees’ achievements, Class 31 returned to the classroom for a conflict resolution workshop led by Lynne Brown before hitting Old Town for a holiday pub crawl.  Inspired by greatness and equipped for the challenges ahead, Class 31 is eager to positively impact Scottsdale in their own way.

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Beyond Recycling – Sustainability Day Opens Our Eyes and Minds

33 Nancy Neff Final.jpgBy Nancy Neff
Scottsdale Community College

As Scottsdale Leadership Class 31 filed into the Scottsdale Public Library auditorium to kickoff Sustainability Day, I would venture to guess we were all feeling pretty confident in our day-to-day sustainability efforts. After all, we recycle, right?

Well, it quickly became apparent that there is far more to sustainability than our own individual efforts to separate paper, glass and plastic into the proper recycling barrels.

Thanks to Charlie Popeck, Class 27, president of Green Ideas Building Science Consultants, we learned that sustainability is a continuum driven by awareness, education and systems thinking. We also learned, much to our delight, that Arizona and the City of Scottsdale, are leaders in sustainability. Arizona established a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) chapter in Scottsdale in 2002 and, in 2005, Scottsdale committed that all new city buildings would be built to a LEED Gold Standard.

Charlie pointed out the importance of considering the up-front costs associated with designing high-performance buildings, but also the need to think over the long term in order to protect our environment and meet the needs of future generations. Up-front costs for sustainable, or LEED certified buildings, might be higher, but most of those costs are recouped through energy savings over time.

Dorie Morales, publisher of Green Living AZ Magazine, takes sustainability personally and her family’s efforts can teach us all a few things about saving our environment. She has literally rid her home of toxic chemicals by being purposeful in purchasing organic and natural products for household cleaning, décor, hair/skin care and cooking.

green-livingDid you know that just by pouring a bit of vinegar into your washer’s fabric softener receptacle that you can eliminate the need for toxic dryer sheets? Did you know you can use cedar chips as a natural way to rid your home of scorpions? Thanks to Dorie, now you know.

What simple solutions are you doing, or what can you do to help save our environment for future generations? Or, maybe it’s something you can stop doing…like overseeding your lawn in the winter and using our precious water supply in order to have a green lawn all year round.

Even companies and buildings that have been here for years can change for the benefit of future generations. The General Dynamics building on McDowell Road and Granite Reef was designed and built in the 1950s. A major feature of the building was the lush green lawn that took up a span of space the size of three football fields – just think about the cost of not only watering the lawn in the heat of an Arizona summer, but also over seeding and watering in winter to keep it green.

Fortunately, LEED building is also applicable to existing buildings and a major effort by the General Dynamics Facilities Department was undertaken to transform “the football field” to a natural desert xeriscape that significantly saves water, energy and, ultimately, revenue that can be invested back into the business.

As we think about the future, you can take pride that the City of Scottsdale, in developing its new vision for General Plan 2035, that continuing to expand and enhance sustainability is a key mission. In fact, adoption of the latest energy and green building codes is going before the City Council on Nov. 28.

ken-singhClass 31 ended its Sustainability Day with a visit to a new venture by Ken Singh, owner of Singh Farms. The Singh family has purchased the closed Rio Salado Golf Course – 70 acres of plush land – with plans to transform the space for family use to unwind, relax and enjoy nature in a non-toxic environment. We can’t wait to see how it all comes about and look forward to another visit to the space in the future.

As leaders, what is your personal vision and mission for taking sustainability to the next level and leaving the planet in better condition for our future generations?

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Community Stewardship & History Day

30-daniel-mccrobieBy Daniel McCrobie
SRP, Customer Experience Analyst

It was a wild ride for Leadership Class 31 as we set out on community stewardship day.  A main take-away from the day is that it is up to us to develop our community.  Volunteers with a vision, perseverance, and creativity can accomplish a great deal.  Scottsdale is a living testament to this mantra as all of the ideas came from individuals who then found a way to implement.

Joan Fudala, Historian/Author, Class 9, Kira Peters, Scottsdale Parks and Recreation Manager, Class 29, and Inga Varney, Owner, Wine Star Services, Class 29 were our tour guides.  They did a thorough job educating us on the history of Scottsdale, from the conception of the town by Winfield Scott, who purchased 640 acres of land for $2.50 an acre in 1888 through all of the recent history.  An engaging exercise was provided to spot the current buildings in downtown from 3 or 4 pictures of what they looked like in the 50s and 60s.

The class was then whooshed to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve for another tour and history of the largest urban preserve in the country.  Virginia Korte, Class 3, and Mike Nolan, Class 27, led the class on a scenic hike through the desert and provided a history of the preserve; expounding on the diligence of the founders to save the space, so it could be enjoyed by all.

We all enjoyed a beautiful Scottsdale day – as this panorama points out.

 SCX McDowells (1).gif

Class 31 and honored guests had lunch on a railroad car at the  McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Sharee Stillman and Nick Molinari, Class 26 described the park, train maintenance, and led the class on a behind-the-scenes tour of the train yard.

We then departed for the Cattle Track Art Compound, a historical haven for artists.  Janie Ellis gave us another tour and talked about the historical significance of the Compound.  We were treated to a Q&A session with several artists so we could explore many different art mediums including inner-tube art.

Scottsdale Stadium was the next destination and we were able to chat with Jeff Cesaretti and Dennis Robbins, about the historic significance of the stadium and how it is being used.

A fun and exhausting day, Class 31 now has a better appreciation of the history of our home town.   At the end of the day we enjoyed happy-hour to at Los Olivos, a great location to unwind and enjoy chips, salsa, and a beverage.


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Diversity & Inclusion Day

img_9162By Nancy Howe
Strong Cancer Recovery, 501c3

Responses from Class 31 participants to the question, “What did you think about Diversity & Inclusion Day?” were remarkably consistent, and reflected two distinct perspectives. The first perspective was about the timing of the class within our year’s schedule. The second perspective was about the content of the day, and the insights we gained as individuals within a group.

A member of Class 30 who joined us at Happy Hour explained that she too had shared the disappointment experienced by Andi and Sarah when “Diversity & Inclusion” was part of their class’s late-spring programming. “By the time we [Class 30] had Diversity & Inclusion day, most of the class was so preoccupied with meeting deadlines for their PLIF teams that they didn’t really focus on meaningful conversation. We had speakers who were informative, but they didn’t help us engage with each other.”

Contrast that experience with the experience described by every Class 31 participant who I spoke with. Comments that I solicited were universally enthusiastic about having Diversity & Inclusion “ice-breakers” all day long, without “expert speakers,” and so early in the process. When we finally were organized into teams at the end of the day, we were no longer strangers. We all shared a sense of having been through many different experiences with everyone our team. We could also imagine rich experiences that might result from interactions with classmates on other teams, now that we felt that we knew everyone. We had all the advantages of the power of the team, as well as the sense of unlimited inspiration and expertise from Class 31 as a whole.

When I asked about the specific activities of the day, everyone I spoke said the day had helped us become aware of, and comfortable with, the diversity within our own ranks. Anne Landers’ response was comprehensive, and touched on nearly every point made by others. I am quoting her at length here.

Anne writes, “I think there is so much power in verbalizing our feelings, opinions, questions and perspectives in a safe group setting like we did on Friday. I’ve heard it said that sometimes we can’t see the lies swirling in our minds until we verbalize them (in this context, being unaware of our bent perspectives or unintentional biases until they were discussed).”

She continues, “It was so honoring to witness people from different sides of issues listen and appreciate one another. I believe we all walked away with a better view of our community, and quite frankly, human intent. People are inherently good, but ultimately a result of our immediate influences.”

Anne also expressed how well the day-chairs accomplished their stated goals for the day. She concludes, “Just imagine – if that can happen with a room of relative strangers, what can we do as a group to bring that impact to the greater community? I’m grateful for the forum that our day-chairs provided us to build the report and momentum – I believe it will lead to a significantly closer class!”

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Diversity & Inclusion Day (Pre-blog)


By Nancy Howe
Strong Cancer Recovery, 501c3

When you think of “diversity and inclusion,” do you think of hiring practices, or accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act, or institutional barriers like red-lining? I was in that state of mind when I met with Andi Robertson, one of the three day-chairs for next week’s session. (The other chairs are Ernie Flores and Marion Kelly.) I thought I could write a better blog if I knew the day’s objectives.

You’ll remember Andi from Day 1. Andi told one of the “impact” stories, describing how her Class 30 team transformed the yard of a dilapidated house, which is where she is now fulfilling her dream of a school to serve autistic kids like her daughter Lexie. We met at the house, where the yard is now a glorious green, with a playfully painted outdoor multipurpose space, enclosed by a new and artful fence — all built by her Scottsdale Leadership team.

Andi is not “just a mom” now, nor was she “just a mom” when she entered Class 30. She might not have had a typical Scottsdale Leadership biography, but driven by her passion as a mom, Andi had already transformed the City of Scottsdale and changed Arizona law. Lexie’s Law is now a model for parents in nearly 30 states who are seeking a quality education for their kids. Andi described how her Scottsdale Leadership Class 30 team raised more than $55,000 in donations and in-kind funds for the yard’s renovation, and then pitched-in and did the hard, sweaty work themselves.

“The work our team did is life-changing for so many,” she said. “It still blows my mind. The power of a team is insane.” After the yard’s renovation, Andi’s Scottsdale Leadership teammate Nicole Cundiff described the transformation to Executive Council, who were moved to pledge to Beyond Autism an additional $30,000 to finish the interior renovation. “Even more, I can call on any member of my Class 30 team, and I know they will be there for me. It goes beyond friendship,” said Andi.

It is the power of the team, and the devotion of teammembers to each other, that motivated Andi, Ernie, and Marion to schedule “Diversity and Inclusion” day for next week. “Diversity and Inclusion” day is intended to help each of us adopt — for one day — the perspective that the way that we see the world might be incomplete or based on a misunderstanding. Next Friday in conversations with each other, we will have the freedom to imagine new, and perhaps more accurate, explanations for the reality we experience. Surely we will meet colleagues who know different things than we do, and whose expertise is a resource we can call on.

Last year, Diversity & Inclusion day was scheduled just before the last month of Class 30. “During that day, I was able to connect with so many other amazing class-members who hadn’t been on my team and who I barely knew. I wished that it had all happened earlier, and many others did too. That’s why we are having it now, on Day 3.”

So get ready to engage with, to learn from, and to be impressed by, your Class 31 colleagues. Soon we will band together in teams that have the potential to change the lives of others. But this Friday, we may surprise ourselves as we discover how our getting-to-really-know-you conversations may transform our own lives.

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Social Services Day


By Rich Campana
Great Hearts Academies


“I am nothing without somebody and it’s the somebodies that changed my destiny.” –Ted Taylor

During our first field day of the Core Program at Scottsdale Leadership, we were brought to two little-known meccas for Social Services for our community: Paiute Neighborhood Center and Granite Reef Senior Center.

Although these centers might not be familiar to every Scottsdale resident, the impact they have on the community that utilizes their services is evident. Whether it’s the student who attends Boys & Girls Club every day, or the 98% of parents who participate in Parent/Teacher conferences at Hirsch Academy, or Frank, a Scottsdale resident who has had lunch every day for 15 years at the Senior Center – these are life-changing, life-sustaining community centers. All Scottsdale residents should not only know about these havens, but feel fortunate to live in a city that offers so many services for young and old.


“You can get everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want in life.” – Ted Taylor

In 2014, Arizona ranked in the Top 5 states for highest rate of “food insecure people.” Almost 8.8% of Scottsdale’s residents are not sure where they will get their next meal.

Unanimously, our Scottsdale Leadership classed asked Danny Gallenos from Vista del Camino Food Bank, “What can we do? How can we get involved? Where can I give?” Concerned Citizens are partnering with the community to take donations, create a website, add locations, donate food and raise awareness that Vista del Camino Food Bank and is here to help solve our food insecurity problem.


“Why is it so hard to trust? Even ourselves?” – Ted Taylor

In fact, why it is so hard to trust our local government? We filled eight hours learning about all the ways that the City of Scottsdale gives back to its citizens. Career centers, rent/utility assistance, homeless shelters, tax prep, Scottsdale Police Department, WIC, Meals on Wheels for seniors, Scottsdale Cares, STARS, housing rehabilitation programs…We can trust that our city is working tirelessly to care for her people.


“I’m going for gold today, coach!!” – Neal Halliham

The Adaptive Services Center is the bridge between our citizens with disabilities and programs provided by the City. They create awareness through dances, retreats, after-school and summer school programs, inclusion and accommodation services, and Special Olympics. Neal was a great reminder that we don’t need much to live life with joy.


“Do you learn more from the mountaintops or the valleys?” – Ted Taylor

Finally, our class learned about the Scottsdale Family Advocacy Center, which provides hope for residents who have been personally victimized. After a traumatic life event, this center will help guide you from reporting through recovery, rather than diverting you to different offices throughout town. They house the investigative services bureau, police crisis intervention, forensic nurse examiners, child protective services, and units for violent crimes, sex crimes, domestic violence, and gang investigation.

Police Lieutenant Joe Nichols said he struggles with the “tale of two cities,” where the exterior perception and the interior reality do not match. People assume Scottsdale is full of wealthy, prosperous citizens and that nothing bad ever happens. His stories of investigating sex trafficking was an eye-opening reminder that Scottsdale has “big city” problems as well. Thankfully, we also have services like the Scottsdale Family Advocacy Center.


Ready – Fire – Aim

If there was one message that Ted Taylor wanted us to take away from our first day in the core program, it’s this: Be a catalyst for change. Embrace both Joy and Pain. If you are ready to make a difference, don’t wait. Start today, and you can be the miracle that the world needs.

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