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.

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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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Leadership Emerging

Cundiff_Nicole NEW

By Nicole Cundiff
Colleen’s Dream Foundation

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

Last week we put a bow on our Scottsdale Leadership experience. Our last class was filled with an in-depth look into not just our nine-month journey, but more importantly, into our future.

We began our day with a series of questions that required quite a bit of self-reflection.  We had to fill in the blank of various “I am” questions: “I am most resilient, hopeful and strong when I am __________.” These are questions that I wouldn’t normally evaluate, but I enjoyed taking the time to discover how I feel when I am at my best. This incredible exercise offered a deep look into our core values and challenged us to make life choices that directly or indirectly result in feeling resilient, hopeful and strong on a daily basis. We then used these values to help create a vision for our future.  We were tasked with writing letters to ourselves describing who we will be and what we will accomplish in a year from now. I loved this exercise because I am a big believer a manifestation.

When we open our letters in a year, I am excited to see how my life aligns with the vision I created last week. As a busy mom of three kids, I am work, yet fail, every day to create balance. I don’t want to miss any of their special moments, yet I have big dreams of my own. How do I achieve both? Well, the answer lies with defining my core values, making decisions that directly align with those values and setting the intention to make a difference. Sounds pretty easy, right? Probably not for someone like me, but I am up to the task and will let you know whether I was able to find balance next year.

What I found to be most powerful about the day was the push to get involved in the community and/or Scottsdale Leadership. From learning about what it means to be on a nonprofit board to speed-dating ways to get involved with Scottsdale Leadership, we were challenged to recognize the various needs in our community and to have the confidence to make it better. We have been blessed with an amazing experience and now we need to do something with it. We can’t just sit around and wait for someone to act on our behalf, but we have to be the change we want to see.

To round out the day, we had an amazing speaker discuss his leadership role in fighting for the legalization of marijuana after seeing the significant medical impact it has made in his daughter’s life. We were all in tears with his story and inspired by the action he has taken on her behalf. This is exactly the type of leader our world needs more of. We need to be bold, take risks, and most importantly, act!

Scottsdale Leadership has been a phenomenal experience. I have meet amazing people and learned quite a bit about myself and all of the amazing gems and resources that Scottsdale has to offer. I am sad to say goodbye to this experience and all my new friends, but I am so excited to see what everyone chooses to do with their experience!

Thank you to Margaret, Emily, Lindsay and so many others for making this such a meaningful year. You are making a huge impact in our community through this program and I am excited to utilize the tools you so graciously bestowed upon us.

Farewell, friends!

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Our Time to Lead

Hafer_Kevin (2)By Kevin Hafer
Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc.

After nearly 9 months of learning about the issues facing Scottsdale and about the amazing organizations that work everyday to make a positive impact on the community, on April 15th, it was time for Class 30 to present the results of the hard work the 4 teams put into their Lead it Forward projects.

Over the 5 months since our project teams were formed, the four Lead it Forward teams have dedicated thousands of volunteer hours into executing our team projects and the results of that hard work were on full display at the Lead it Forward showcase.

Here are some highlights from the four Lead it Forward project teams:

WildAbtWildlife-36Team WildThings – Partnered with Liberty Wildlife to throw the Wild about Wildlife Fun Fair, with the goal of increasing their community education outreach, increase donations, and increase volunteer opportunities for Liberty Wildlife as they get ready to move into a new facility later this year.  The results speak for themselves – the event attendance was up 10-fold over last year, generated over $20k in donations, and they set the stakeholder up for success in the future by creating a playbook for making it even a bigger success next year.  The judges also agreed as they selected this project as the winning project for Class 30 Lead it Forward.

IMG_8540Painting with the STARS –This team partnered with STARS (Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services) to create an art show fundraiser to help drive exposure and donations to support the STARS “Drawn Together” arts program.   As part of the art show, art work that was created by STARS Drawn Together participants was auctioned off and a community art piece was created.  The event was a huge success with over $11k in donations(which will allow them to add ceramics to the curriculum and upgrade their photography equipment), had over 200 attendees, and reached over15,000 people with the STARS message.

GiGi's Go GettersGiGi’s Go Getters – This team partnered with GiGi’s Playhouse, which is an achievement center for individuals with Down syndrome to help increase literacy, math skills, and motor skills.  This project team worked to create an outreach and networking event called “Passport to the Playhouse”, with the goal of spreading awareness of GiGi’s in the broader community, but also to help create a network among their partner organizations from across the valley.  More than 20 organizations attended the event, and they definitely got the word out as they reached over 7,000 potential clients with the GiGi’s Playhouse message, had over 110,000 touches with #GenerationG hashtag, and earned 2 media spots on Channel 3 news and 250+ shares on Facebook

Team BeyondTeam Beyond – This team partnered with an organization called Beyond Autism to help create a new campus for their students.  Beyond Autism is a school for children that are experiencing autism, and focuses not only on teaching academics, but also sometimes overlooked critical social and life skills.  Team Beyond worked to secure over $50k in donations and volunteered over 2,000 hours to transform the run-down yard of their new campus into a safe, soothing, and fun space for the students of Beyond-Autism to swing, play, swim, garden, and learn life skills.

Two members of the class have committed to becoming board members at their Lead it Forward partner organization, others have committed to helping their events next year, and a team has signed on to help with the next phase of their stakeholder’s project because they were so impacted by the mission of the organizations.

Since one of the key benefits and goals of Scottsdale Leadership is to help it’s participants to find their passion and get involved, the ongoing commitment demonstrated by the members of Class 30 is a reflection of the success of the Scottsdale Leadership program and specifically, the Lead it Forward project.

As our classmate JheniferShipe said on the night of the Lead it Forward event, “While this was competition, we are all the true winners because we got to partner with these incredible organizations to make a true and lasting positive impact on the community”.  I couldn’t say it better myself and have heard the same sentiments from many of my classmates.  Knowing that we have given our all in the service of others is an amazing feeling and is just the start of the impact that Class 30 will make on the community in the future, because, quite simply… Class 30 Rocks!

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