Connections, Relationships & Partnerships

Erika CoombsBy Erika Coombs
Director at Stifel


Human Services Day provided us insight on the IMPACT of the many services provided by the City of Scottsdale and local organizations. Did you know?

  • There are more than 5,000 volunteers in the City giving more than 31,000 hours each year, saving taxpayers’ money.
  • There are seven Title I elementary schools, one middle school and one high school in the City. (For an entire school to qualify for Title I funds, at least 40% of students must enroll in the free and reduced lunch program.)
  • The largest homeless population is single moms in their 20s with children under the age of ten.
  • There are SIX centers in the City providing resources, including rent/mortgage assistance, financial coaching and educational workshops, classes and activities, special needs and needs assessment information and referral.

During our class day, we toured three centers: Vista del Camino Community Center, the Granite Reef Senior Center and the Adaptive Services Center. Below is a recap of each of our stops:

  1. We started at Vista del Camino, a one-stop career center and food bank. We heard about the Healthy Packs program that provides weekly food backpacks to 300-330 Scottsdale Unified School District students to make sure they have food over the weekend.
  2. Next, we went to the warehouse and used our muscles to pack 100 boxes of non-perishable food that will be used for emergency food boxes for families in need.
  3. Off we went to the Granite Reef Senior Center. We toured this award winning facility with a gym, art studio, billiard room, computer lab and group meeting spaces for adults 18 and older. We had a cafeteria-style lunch mingling with the seniors and heard from three seniors about how the center and programs have impacted their lives. Next, we learned about Family Promise, a non-profit that partners with churches to provide homeless families with a 60-day program that gives them skills to get back on their feet; family pets are welcome too! Lastly, we learned about the Scottsdale Family Advocacy Center that has benefited from Scottsdale Leadership’s Project Lead It Forward.
  4. Our final stop was the Adaptive Services Center that meets the needs of our disabled community. The Center had more than 12,000 visits last year. We learned that Scottsdale Leadership classes assisted in creating the multi-sensory room and the backyard. We also toured their accessible kitchen that is used for cooking classes. This kitchen has special features like oven doors that open from the side and cook tops that shut off automatically. We also participated in a drawing game with students. And you can’t forget — GO BOBCATS who will join the US Special Olympics in multiple sports, including flag football in Seattle in 2018!

We saw the critical role volunteers play in supporting the City’s mission of serving and being a world-class community. Many of us were inspired to volunteer with the City and its non-profit partners!


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Changing Hearts and Minds

D. Henningerby Don Henninger
Executive Director of SCOTT

Changing hearts and minds.

That was the lesson that stood out the most for me on Diversity & Inclusion Day for Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 32.

What can be more authentic and genuine than that theme? And if you, indeed, embrace diversity and inclusion in your own heart and mind, then you are capable of accomplishing change. And the first two steps are not all that complicated:

–Learn how not to be judgmental.

–Remember always to be a willing and engaged listener.

We had a chance to experience all of that on our day together, Oct. 20, 2017.

Many think that diversity and inclusion is all about race, gender and sexual preference. It’s all of that but it’s also more. It goes much deeper in all of us, and it often is not visible on the surface. And in a series of exercises and experiences during our day on Oct. 20, we all discovered that firsthand.

Our leaders for the day were Ernie Flores, manager of Wilhelm Automotive, Antoine Skinner, a Class 31 graduate, and Rich Slavin, a commander in the Scottsdale Police Department. They worked together as a team to keep participants focused and open to learning new things about each other and ultimately ourselves.

IMG_0872.JPGHow we think and evaluate things are based on factors that may not be easily seen on the surface. In Class 32, we have a lot in common with each other – we are successful, we already are leaders in our own ways, we are educated, we live and/or do business in Scottsdale. That’s the surface look.

But we all grew up in different ways, were taught different customs by our parents, schools, religious affiliations and friends. Some grew fat or skinny; some short or tall; some wear glasses. Many have overcome major challenges in life; others have sailed through with few obstacles.

All of these things combined give each of us our own unique experiences on our journey through life. And it influences they way we think, act, and communicate with each other.

We all came to be members of Class 32 with our own unique life experiences that can’t be discovered until we take the time to talk to each other, learn from each other and respect each other.

IMG_0944.JPGWe took the time to do all of that on our Diversity & Inclusion Day.

I left the day feeling upbeat and energized, knowing that everyone we encounter – be it in Class 32 or anywhere else in our lives – brings their own unique view of the world that is there for us to learn and grow.

Scottsdale Leadership’s Diversity & Inclusion Day changed a lot of hearts and minds, and now we have the chance to make that a lasting impression.

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Scottsdale History Day

C. Goodmanby Christine Goodman
Nationwide Insurance

On October 6, 2017, the Scottsdale Leadership Class 32 had a busy day learning about Scottsdale’s history. Wow! It was an amazing experience. We started our morning at the Scottsdale Museum of the West learning about the roles key individuals played in shaping the wonderful city of Scottsdale. We later toured the downtown area of Scottsdale with our phenomenal historian tour guide, Joan Fudala, who shared insightful history about establishments along Main Street and the surrounding area. What I appreciate the most about this experience was the pride and effort Scottsdale has taken to preserve the city’s history and authentic feel of the West.

With our water bottles in hand and bus driver leading the way, we spent much of the day visiting important businesses who left a profound legacy on Scottsdale. Our class was blown away by the Cattle Track, an unassuming place from the street that surprisingly opens to a visual wonderland of authentic arts.  Aside from the remarkable contribution Janie Ellis and her family had in Scottsdale’s housing development and art, this place continues to influence art by providing opportunities for artists, craftsmen and students, to encourage and enhance their art forms and to further the preservation of Scottsdale’s genuine past.

To add to our incredible day, we spent time learning the history of McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. We even met the granddaughter of this legacy family! Our last, and the most impressionable stop, was a visit to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, or SRP-MIC. On this tour, we learned about the advancements this community is making on their government, education, health-wellness, and ecosystem. We heard from the elected President of the SRP community about the mission, vision, and challenges their community face. The passion and cultural pride of this community has forever been bestowed on our class. I can’t express enough gratitude to the Scottsdale Leadership program in offering this experience to Class 32.


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Welcome Class 32!

A. Diax-Mountford

By Alison Diaz-Mountford,  Class 32
State Farm Insurance

On Friday, September 22nd, Class 32 had a chance to meet each other, learn more about ourselves, and hear from an engaged group of alumni.  We started the day by hearing from a number of alumni about their personal stories and experiences during the program.  I was really impressed with how passionate and enthusiastic everyone was about their experience and it set a very positive tone for the rest of the meeting.  I know I appreciated how everyone spoke from the heart as it added a level of authenticity to their words.

We spent a good part of the day learning about the Emergenetics assessments, what they mean and what they don’t mean, as well as our group and individual results.  This clearly was not Dr. Merle Riepe’s first rodeo!  Not only did his expertise and deep knowledge of the topic shine through, but he knew not to give us our results until he gave us an overview of the material.  We all had a chance to read through our results and also walked through several exercises in order to help us see who in the group had similar results to us and also who might be different.  This information will help us all be more self-aware of how we approach situations and what we may need to be mindful of as we work with others.


The dreaded 90 second commercials…were actually really great!  It’s amazing what you can learn about someone in just a short 90 seconds!  Some stories were funny and some took  your breath away.  Some brought food and some brought sunscreen.  Some wore costumes and someone sang a song.  We have a very creative group in Class 32!

At the end of the day, a reception to welcome class 32 was held at a great indoor/outdoor space at the Hotel Valley Ho.  It was a great way to wrap up the day!  It gave us all a chance to enjoy a cold beverage with each other, meet alumni, spend some time with our mentors, and shake hands with the mayor of Scottsdale!  I spoke to several alumni that night and the recurring advice I heard from everyone was “go to the happy hours” – I think we can all handle that!  I’m already looking forward to our next class on October 6th!

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Daniel McCrobie
Salt River Project (SRP)

Wow…What a great last day!  It had seemed as if we had just gotten started with the program and had so much more to do.  Then, it was over.  The last class.  Our final time together wondering what was going to happen that day.  Our last time wondering if our cell-phone was going to ring and having to face the dreaded Moolah Mob and the inevitable fine that accompanied such an infraction.  Our last opportunity to network with someone new who walks in a totally different sphere of life than we do.

Was it over or was this just a beginning?  We spent some time during the day digging deeper into what being a leader really means.  Jay Scherotter took us through the evolution of leadership development from the initial production mentality through empowerment, focus on ‘principles and ethics’, and how ‘vision and strategy’ is the current norm.  We learned how powerful community engagement can be.  Todd Hornback explained how becoming a happier person is a direct correlation to becoming a better leader and showed us the power of positivity.

Margret Leichtfuss then explained the power of intention and gave us all an opportunity to exercise our personal commitment muscles by showing us what needed to be done within Scottsdale Leadership and how we could best commit to improving both ourselves and the organization.  Typical of Scottsdale Leadership, they set up something completely unexpected – a speed dating session for us to hear about the various board positions and volunteer opportunities.


Speed Dating to introduce board positions? What a great idea! 

The culmination of the day was a sharing circle where classmates were encouraged to self-report on the program.  I heard from my classmates that they became passionate, committed, learned new ideas, became more tolerant of others, and  how Scottsdale Leadership unlocked new opportunities.  This has been truly a transformational program in that the entire class has committed to helping out in their community and with non-profits.


‘We came here to serve, not be served’ is the background on the Scottsdale Leadership Facebook page.  When we first saw that it looked like a nice saying, but after going through the class we can now say that we embody that sentiment.

Thanks for everything, Scottsdale Leadership!  While we will miss going to class every other Friday, I think we are all looking forward to continuing the journey of servant leadership in new ways – Just watch and see what we are up to!


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Class 31 Looks “Beyond Scottsdale”

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

On March 10, 2017, Scottsdale Leadership Class 31 was hosted by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, learning about Scottsdale’s relationship with its neighbors.

Class 31 first heard from Experience Scottsdale’s Rachel Sacco, a woman whose mission is to sell Scottsdale (and the Valley as a whole) to the outside world.  Fortunately, she’s very good at the job.  Ms. Sacco explained the benefits she’s observed from working together with our surrounding communities to promote Arizona tourism and economic development.

The next presentation looked to Scottsdale’s east: the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, or SRP-MIC.  Former mayor and Scottsdale Leadership co-founder Sam Campana detailed the emerging partnership between Scottsdale and SRP-MIC, from disappointingly recent discrimination to today’s much more productive and mutually beneficial efforts.  SRP-MIC President Delbert Ray and Marketing Manager (and Class 30 alumna) Blessing McAnlis-Vasquez discussed the community’s unique challenges and advantages created by their close proximity to Scottsdale.  SRP-MIC works tirelessly to balance economic development with preserving the cultural heritage of the two resident tribes: the Akimel O’Odham (Pima) and Xalychidom Piipaash (Maricopa).


Before being treated to a “contemporary traditional” Pima and Maricopa lunch of pitted beef, squash and cheese, beans, and tortillas, Don Henninger moderated a panel discussion with surrounding communities’ elected leaders.  Paradise Valley Council Member (and Class 17 alumnus) Mark Stanton, Phoenix Vice Mayor Kate Gallego, Fountain Hills Council Member Cecil Yates, and SRP-MIC Vice President Martin Harvier engaged Class 31 with their perspectives on how their communities interact with Scottsdale, and how best the Valley’s communities can work together in the future.  Because so many economic development opportunities are regional, all panel members agreed that recent collaboration has paid dividends and will continue to do so.  Beyond economic development the panel was eager for increased cooperation on transit and other planning issues, and challenged Class 31 to push Scottsdale’s elected leaders to engage with the surrounding communities on those issues.

Following lunch, former Mesa mayor and current Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith gave an entertaining presentation outlining the history of transit in the Valley, recent achievements, current challenges, and an uncertain future. Class 31 responded with ideas about how Scottsdale can play a bigger role in the transit discussion and possible transit solutions for Scottsdale’s unique challenges.  Lisa White concluded the day’s theme with a discussion of Scottsdale’s sister city program and the benefits of international connectivity.

The English poet John Donne famously wrote, “No man is an island.”  No city is an island either, even a city as special as Scottsdale.  In the modern global economy, that’s never been more true, and Class 31 is poised to ensure Scottsdale can continue to grow its global presence through communication and collaboration with its closest neighbors.

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State Government Day leaves Class 31 with a sense of pride

33-nancy-neff-finalby Nancy Neff
Scottsdale Community College

Given the current political climate in our country and in Arizona, it was a good time for State Government Day to remind us all of our civic responsibility.

Our day began in the Historical Supreme Court, where the 1966 Miranda vs. Arizona case was tried, giving all criminal suspects in the United States the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney – you can probably recite the Miranda rights verbatim, or come pretty close, if you’ve watched any crime-related television over the last 50 years.

We had the chance to meet several local political heavyweights, including elected officials, state legislative staff, lobbyists and policy advisers. To a person, each of our guest speakers was enthusiastic, open, honest and even entertaining. What struck me the most is how each one conveyed how much they truly love what they do and how loyal they are to the citizens of Arizona. It gave me, and my fellow classmates, hope.


You can’t have State Government Day without at least a short lesson in Civics, so here goes:

  • There are three branches of government – Executive, Legislative and Judicial.
  • There are 90 members of the State Legislature – 60 in the House and 30 in the Senate.
  • Legislative power in Arizona does not reside solely with the Legislature – Our state constitution says the people have independent power.
  • There are about 24,000 existing state statutes.
  • When new bills are introduced (about 1,700 per year), the Arizona Legislative Council’s role is to review each bill and provide analysis on how the bill fits under the existing constitution and whether there are any potential legal issues.

The citizens of Arizona have ample opportunity and are encouraged to track new bills being introduced to become educated and prepared to share their opinion for or against the bill(s) with their elected representatives. There is one critical action that you must take in order to be able to make your voice heard, and it requires an in-person visit to the State Capitol. There is a bank of computers available for citizens to establish a “Request to Speak” account. Once you’ve created your RTS account in person, all of your other bill-tracking and engagement can be done online from any computer.

IMG_0042.JPGAnother critical piece of advice conveyed by more than one speaker was for citizens to know who their state and local representatives are, and to get to know them if at all possible. It’s not only important to know who they are, but also which committees they serve on so you can weigh in at critical times in the review process.

Representative Heather Carter (R-15) was very open about how effective it is for legislators to hear from constituents. She said, “Get to know your local representatives and share with them, not only your opinion, but also your areas of expertise, so that you are a resource if they need input on pending legislation.” Carter said she reached out on many occasions to a local Optometry expert when legislation was introduced that would greatly impact that profession.

The advice to get involved and have a voice was reiterated by Political Consultant Stan Barnes, who said “No one is in charge – this is Arizona and we are really open in self-government. Don’t wait for anyone to invite you or tell you it’s your turn. In Arizona, 80 percent of winning a seat in the legislature is being on the ballot.” Barnes should know – he was elected to the State House with little political experience at the age of 27.

Our final stop for the day was at the Arizona Supreme Court and you would have thought our class was a group of school children let loose on a playground. Heads turned in awe as we took in the dignified courtroom, with its wood columns and tasteful décor perfectly framing the seven chairs assigned to our Supreme Court Justices.


Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick was kind enough to take time out of his day to meet Scottsdale Leadership Class 31 and ensure us that we did “save the best for last” on our state government tour. Bolick and his colleagues hear about three dozen cases per year, including all death penalty cases, which they burrow into and look at every single word and exhibit, he said.

Bolick said, “I love the courts here. There is a tremendous degree of integrity, and that is not true across the country. Collegiality is a feature of our court. We don’t share the same judicial policy or politics, but we put our minds together to the best job we can.”

And, really, that’s all we, as citizens, can ask for.

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