Tag Archives: Andrea Aker

What’s Behind the Scottsdale Brand? How Can We Protect It?

Andrea AkerBy Andrea Aker, Class 28
Aker Ink®

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.

What comes to mind when you think of Scottsdale? Luxury, golf and shopping… or “Snobsdale” and perhaps smugness? A variety of terms and connotations emerged during our class day, Beyond Scottsdale City Limits, where local leaders shared their thoughts on the role of collaboration among cities as well as the state of Scottsdale’s brand.

While all cities battle conflicting viewpoints to some extent, it seems the passion and pride of Scottsdale residents has been put into question a bit more since voters struck down the General Plan late last year. This issue has come up during many of our classes since the election, and it resurfaced once again as dignitaries from around the Valley converged.

Have the recession and other events from recent years altered Scottsdale’s brand? While it’s clear that many residents want changes – especially among those who hit the polls – I don’t believe the brand has suffered permanent damage. However, I do think more leaders and residents need to find common ground, goals and priorities.

Rachel Sacco, President and CEO of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, shared five key distinctions that make Scottsdale a desirable place to live and visit. Promoting these aspects of our city, she says, will help protect the Scottsdale brand.

  • Desert Recreation – No doubt the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a local gem. More than 30,000 acres of pristine desert landscape and 120 miles of trails within city limits are certain to draw residents and tourists alike.
  • Resort Lifestyle – There are many benefits to being dubbed a resort destination, especially in attracting affluent tourists who impact tax revenue. I also don’t mind living near a stone’s throw of poolside service.
  • Arts – The Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts serves as a hub for the arts community, but artistic endeavors are present throughout the city.
  • Events – Think Barrett Jackson, Phoenix Open, Parada Del Sol, Scottsdale Culinary Festival, etc. These events draw people from all over the Valley, state and even the nation.
  • Transportation – This might be a weaker point from my perspective, but certainly worth noting and discussing. Ever been on Ollie the Trolley? Me neither, but I want to catch a ride one day!

Do you agree or disagree? At what level should local leaders focus on supporting these distinctions? How can Scottsdale collaborate with neighboring cities to further strengthen positive branding?


Filed under Class, Community, Leadership

4 Lessons Learned During a Scottsdale Police Ride-A-Long

AkerBy Andrea Aker, Class 28
Aker Ink®

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.

Scottsdale Leadership is designed to take us out of our comfort zones – and I experienced just that recently, riding shotgun with one of Scottsdale’s finest. Officer Jennifer Cook, a 13-year veteran of the Scottsdale Police Department, gave me a peek into the hustle and bustle of street patrols.

SPDFollowing November’s Safe Communities Day, Class 28 gained a much deeper understanding of how local law enforcement works, as well as the people, canines, tools and resources that keep our community safe. Officer Cook brought many of these lessons to life during two “committal calls” (transporting individuals who appear unstable to mental health facilities) and neighborhood disturbances. Here’s a sampling of what I gleaned:

Women Rule – While I was quite aware that women rule in general, the ride-a-long served as a thoughtful reminder about the additional challenges women overcome in male-dominated fields such as law enforcement. Officer Cook has put in extra effort to gain much of the same respect her male counterparts receive from the public, without issue. However, women have advantages too. They tend to be very effective communicators which can be crucial when diffusing tense situations that could escalate into physical violence.

Traffic Stop Danger is Unknown – Officer Cook informed me that police officers are most likely to get injured during traffic stops, which is why they may appear extra cautious or serious when approaching your car door. The process may seem routine to outsiders, but officers never know who they are pulling over, and what secrets they may be hiding. In recent months, a Phoenix police officer was assaulted during a traffic stop, and a DPS officer in Payson was shot during a traffic stop. A simple traffic incident can quickly turn violent.

Police Officers are People Persons – Stereotypes of stern and often insensitive officers are false. Each of the officers I encountered were friendly, accommodating and passionate about protecting the community. Effective cops must relate well to others – doing so can help prevent crimes, diffuse risky situations and calm victims. (And that doughnut stereotype is totally untrue, too – fudge brownie bites were passed around during the briefing.)

Scottsdale is Among the Safest Cities to Live – Safe neighborhoods are one of the primary reasons Scottsdale is such a desirable city to live. Highly trained and skilled officers like Officer Cook directly contribute to an extremely low crime rate. In fact, LawStreetMedia.com ranked Scottsdale as the fifth safest city in America in 2013 (with a population greater than 200,000).

Scottsdale residents, students, business owners and city employees can take part in ride-a-longs. If you want to see what a day in the life of a Scottsdale police officer is really like, call the Uniformed Services Bureau Secretary at (480) 312-1907.

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Filed under Community, Leadership