Tag Archives: Class 26 Blog

Reflections of a Scottsdale Leadership Graduate

Arizona Leadership ProgramKiem Ho, Class 26
Director of Business Development & Innovation, Laundry Care, Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc.

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

Do you remember those end of the year High School days where you and your friends would get together reminiscing on their year prior to the summer and the next school year?  Perhaps you exchanged yearbooks where friends often write to one another with the best of intentions of staying connected ending with the hopeful invitation of keeping in touch (KIT):

Having you in my 5th period Biology class was a blast this year.  Mrs/Mr “substitute a High School teacher’s name here” was a drag so thanks for getting me through.  Hope to have you in a class next year and have a great summer… KIT.

Or perhaps it was after a graduation, where friends would write wistful phrases wishing all the best to classmates who would soon be embarking on the next stage of life experiences believing they could tackle the world:

Can’t believe we graduated!? Can’t believe 4 years went by so quickly.  It was a blast having you in classes this year and I’m so sad we are not going to the same “XYZ College”.  You will do great at “XYZ college” so I expect you to remember me when you are rich and famous and remember…to KIT!

At the risk of seeming potentially sappy, becoming a Scottsdale Leadership Class 26 graduate reminded me a little about my High School days.  Instead of a yearbook reflection, our Class 26 went through reflection exercises with music softly playing in the background.  “The Power of Reflection and Self-Awareness” exercise preceded “The Power of Intention: Your Personal Commitment” where we reflected on our nine months of discovery of the Scottsdale Community and ourselves.  At our graduation at Talking Stick, a fine event I might add, conversations would often meander into the topics of our desires to stay in touch and what we would do next after graduation.

What would WE do next?  Will one of us run for public office after the informative city and state government days?  Will one of us help provide leadership for one of the human services that are in such great need in our community?  Maybe someone will take on helping the many art-centric organizations that make up a vital part of Scottsdale.  Education day opened up my eyes about how we as a community can help our schools succeed if only we actively engage to help support.  I could go on and on about the merits of each class day but would be remiss if I were not to mention the Pay it Forward (PPIF) projects which were the capstone of our class involvement.  The PPIF projects demonstrated how each of us as leaders, informed, inspired, and empowered were able to champion and I believe strengthen the interests of the community through our specific projects that included music, gardens, dance, food and dreams.  Without even knowing the specifics about these projects one can imagine how these beautiful things could enhance our community.

Well, I am towards the end of my blog…500 word limit 🙂 Nevertheless, I didn’t really hold to that too well during the class year so I’ll close by referring back to those High School days in saying, I hope that our Scottsdale Class 26 and any past class for that matter has not only better intentions but better commitment than we did back in our High School years.  Knowing the caliber of the graduates I’ve been honored to get to know from mine and other classes, I believe we will stay engaged.  Scottsdale Leadership graduates have gone on and done amazing things and I would not expect anything less from my class and future ones as well.

The question is what will we do with this wealth of information?  I can’t wait to hear from others what they are doing or plan on doing and I almost forgot…  It was a blast having you all in class this year, have a great rest of your summer and please don’t forget to KIT…I mean it!

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Social Services in Scottsdale

By Chris Rivera, Class 26
Project Manager, DMB Associates

The City of Scottsdale’s two senior centers, Granite Reef and Via Linda, are described on the city’s website as an “integrated system of services, resources and opportunities to help people improve their lives, neighborhoods and community through recreation, social services and health and wellness services.” I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at Granite Reef Senior Center and was amazed by the breadth of its services.

The Granite Reef Senior Center’s goal is to provide avenues of connection through the diverse services, groups, and activities they operate as an all‐inclusive conduit for senior adults in the south Scottsdale community. Judging by the variety of food programs available to seniors at the center or through ancillary social services programs, it is clear that the city is committed to providing nutritious meals to seniors in a setting that is most comfortable to them. The programs include bread distribution, home delivered meals, congregate meals, and the ability to pick‐up bagged groceries one day a week. I participated in the grocery bag program, called Scottsdale Brown Bag Gleaners, and in Granite Reef’s lunch time food program.

The Scottsdale Brown Bag Gleaners program runs every Thursday year‐round with the exception of July and August. I met up with other volunteers at the Via Linda Senior Center to pack brown bags full of groceries delivered by truck via St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix. The mix of volunteers ranged from young to mature, some of whom were volunteering so that they could receive a bag of groceries for their efforts. I was struck by how organized the process was and the anticipation of what type of food that would be delivered that day. I was told that on good days the bags will be overflowing with fresh vegetables, bread and canned goods. The day I was there the selection seemed to fall somewhere in the middle. As I packed groceries I imagined the seniors who would receive them and hoped that some of the goodies would bring a smile to their faces. When all of the bags were packed we drove over to the Granite Reef Center to unload and distribute the bags of groceries. It happened to be raining that morning and business was slow because many of the seniors at the center do not have cars. I thoroughly enjoyed my morning with the staff and the other volunteers. I met some interesting new people and hopefully contributed to making someone’s day a little bit better.

I also helped set‐up, serve, and clean‐up during the congregate meal at the Granite Reef Center. The Tempe Community Action Agency provides a hot nutritious meal at the Center Monday through Friday.  The lunch service was also very organized and several volunteers work during lunch every day. I chatted with some of the seniors about their day and their experiences at the center. I struck up a conversation with “June” who was looking at travel books while she was waiting for lunch to be served. I learned that she walks three miles to the center every day so that she can use the library, eat lunch, and catch‐up with her friends. This is especially significant considering that she had little use of one leg and required the use of a modified cane that looked a bit like a crutch. As the volunteers cleaned up the tables, June blushed when I came to her table because she was embarrassed about how much she was eating. Leftovers were available that day and she was taking full advantage of that. We both laughed and I could see that she was happy to be having a big meal. I enjoyed volunteering during the lunch service and hope to return and get to know some of the other regulars at the center.

I also spent some time talking to Tim Miluk, Human Services Manager at the Granite Reef Senior Center. Tim gave me a tour of the center and explained some of the programming available to the seniors. It was clear that there are many additional services Tim would like to offer if funds existed. Community leaders could make a big impact by offering pro‐bono professional services such as legal advice, estate planning/will preparation, technology consulting, etc. Some of these services are available at the center in a limited manner, but they could definitely benefit from additional resources.

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Leadership Emerging Toolkit

Nick Molinari, Class 26
City of Scottsdale

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

On May 4, Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 26 capped off a nine-month journey that had a dramatic impact on all of us. The goal of Leadership Emerging Day, which was the last class in the program, was to reflect on the Scottsdale Leadership experience, evaluate our “toolkits” and develop strategies for future community involvement. It is admittedly a bit hard for me to articulate the experience of the class as I got so much more out of it than  expected.

The program days were interesting and packed with information, inspiring stories and tools for successful community stewardship. The leadership academy days addressed critical development areas and our projects were great examples of how small groups of people can have a dramatic impact.

So what were the takeaways?  What each of us learned about Scottsdale – the unique pieces that make our puzzle such a dynamic one – is almost immeasurable.  We have a better understanding of the elements that make our city tick. Each of us has a “lifetime toolkit” that we can draw upon to make a difference in our community. But we all got so much more out of Scottsdale Leadership than that.

The soul of any program is in its people.  While we all learned a great deal about our city, what we got from each other far outweighed anything else. It’s the relationships, friendships and mentors that I gained that will last a lifetime. Hopefully, some of those connections will be the root of change in Scottsdale.

As we look to the future and think about how Class 26 will use our toolkits, here are some things I will keep in the back of my mind:

  • Know yourself:  During our class day Eileen Rogers said, “To be a good steward, you need to know yourself. Your passions and values need to align with your actions.”  These are words to live by, indeed. To be successful leaders, we need to know what is important to us. We need to understand what strengths we bring to the table and how we can apply those skills to make a difference to things that matter to us.
  • Have passion:  If you are going to be of significance, you have to have passion for what you’re doing.  My classmate Ted Taylor exemplifies many of these takeaways.  He definitely knows himself and man is he passionate. Each time I listened to Ted talk about the things that inspired him, I was moved.  Whether he talked about the homeless or immigration or his family, he spoke with such deep conviction that I couldn’t help but be motivated.
  • Enjoy the ride:  You have to enjoy what you’re doing. It shows. Choose purposefully where you spend your time and engage yourself with things and people that make you happy.  We will definitely have a more significant long-term impact if we’re having a good time on the ride.

With that, we draw things to a close. It was a great ride and I’ll miss seeing all my new connections every other Friday. Nevertheless, I anticipate getting many kicks with Class 26 for quite a long time!

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The Power of Seven

Sandy Adler, Class 26
Realtor, Arizona Best Real Estate

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

What an exciting and proud day it was for Class XXVI as we presented our five projects to a panel of judges and visitors at Scottsdale Public Library. As I reflect on the day, I realize that the creation, execution and presentation of the projects embody all that Scottsdale Leadership strives to be. The projects are designed to be sustainable, long and evolving non-profit programs to strengthen our community.

The projects all started with this question: Where is there a need in our community that is not being addressed adequately? The teams researched the benefits of their projects to confirm that a need was really there and then divided responsibilities to complete their projects based on talents, experience and sharing. Team management was part of the learning experience for the participants. Working on the team created stronger bonds between team members and we got to know each other better and appreciate each other as individuals more.

The projects showed us that we could start with an idea and make something happen, even in a short span of time, that makes a difference in the lives of people.

They showed the community stakeholders a valuable side of Scottsdale Leadership. Scottsdale Leadership and its mission were at the forefront of the projects. The mission is to inform, inspire, and empower leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community. The projects were an opportunity for the class members to put into practice some of the things we were learning from our inspirational classes and speakers each week. They were a natural segue from listening to doing.

The presentations forced us to evaluate what we had done and make it understandable to others. I think we also all enjoyed seeing what each team had done. There was a feeling of pride in all of our accomplishments .

What do you think was a positive impact of your involvement in Project Pay It Forward?

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Collect $200 for passing “GO”

Kiem Ho, Class 26
Director of Business Development & Innovation, Laundry Care, Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc.

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

State government day at the capitol building was carefully planned to give our class a better understanding of the legislative process including an opportunity to meet some of the legislators to better understand their priorities. At the risk of not providing a comprehensive overview of the day, I want to focus solely on the very informative overview the Secretary of State Ken Bennett provided on the Arizona annual budget.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett carefully used pre-mocked up Kleenex boxes which represented $500M or $1B increments to recreate Arizona’s yearly budget.  Out of the estimated $10.5B total, the majority of the spending was allocated to K-12 education.  Other important budget items included Health, Prisons, Higher Education, Health and Wellness and Transportation.  I was surprised to find out how much of the support is allocated to education given the low rankings one always hear about Arizona’s low 49th ranking for money received to support education.  What is even more shocking is the fact that we have run a deficit because of past legislative actions.

Granted, no one could have predicted the significant toll the economy has had on the state budget but, doesn’t it seem a simple principle to not spend more money than one has?

I wonder if those in the State government truly feel the reality of the dollars they spend.  Perhaps the sum is so large that it feels more like spending Monopoly money where if you run out, you can always collect $200 for passing “GO”.  Secretary of State Bennett related a story that during the year where there was a small surplus, the legislators presented so many proposals on how to spend the money that it heavily outweighed the surplus by many factors.

At the end of the day, let’s spend no more than we have or even save money if possible.  Almost sounds like a truism, but there seems to be a disconnect of understanding about the “sweat” that goes into earn those funds.  In my line of work, going over a budget even in one year is not acceptable.  It is that simple.

I want to know what are your thoughts on the state budget?

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Defining Sustainability

Jenifer Dymek, Class 26
Executive Analyst, SRP

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

What is sustainability? That is the question that we discussed in our March 16th Scottsdale Leadership class. What we learned is that sustainability is everywhere, and with so many options, each person can do a lot at home or at work to improve the future of our valley.

Many people might think that to increase sustainability you have to decrease in your own comfort or “give things up.” Not true! As we learned from General Dynamics, changing something like a front lawn (or football field in their case) can have a dramatic impact on the amount of water consumed, not to mention all of the other factors and costs associated with maintaining it. In addition, the cost savings can be staggering, giving a whole new meaning to going “green.”

As many of us who have spent time in the valley know, it’s changed a lot over the last few decades. We live in a beautiful place and that has attracted many new residents and businesses. Growth is wonderful, but with it comes more golf courses, businesses and homes. Sometimes we forget that we still live in a desert and that water isn’t as abundant as we may think. Several members of our class were able to take a helicopter tour of the SRP water system and during class we all learned about the Central Arizona Project system. Water is our most precious resource, and a lot of people are working on how to keep it readily available. Because, without water, there is no Valley of the Sun.

So, what is sustainability? In my opinion, I think that’s up to each person to decide. Whether you’ve never recycled and you start, or you have your home assessed for ways to make it more efficient, or you look for options within your business to lower your water or energy consumption, or you build a new home or office using the best known practices. Creating a sustainable future is all around us, and now we have the tools and knowledge to see what works for us!

What does sustainability mean to you?

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The Scottsdale story

Braden Love
Director IT Business Consulting, Scottsdale Insurance Company

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

This is the toughest blog assignment I’ve had for Class 26.  The sheer volume of content we were exposed to during the day alone makes for a tough summarization job.  But it was more than going to a bunch of cool places and meeting interesting people, there was a thread of the Scottsdale story throughout the day.  I’ll see if I can do it justice and try to tell that story.

The much hyped Buss Tour Day lived up to its billing.  Hats off to David Valencia and Kelly Tope for putting together an action packed day that told a great story of the history of Scottsdale and who we are now.

Starting the day on top of the Waterfront Tower we listened to Joan Fudula, Scottsdale historian, telling us the early history of Scottsdale while we drank in a sweeping view bathed in the early day sun.  While we were a little bit windblown and chilled – it was a perfect way to frame the day.  Seeing the vision of modern Scottsdale while hearing about the vision of our early Scottsdalians wrote the first and last chapters of the day’s story.  The rest of the story was written as we toured Old Town, the Talking Stick Resort, Liberty Wildlife, West World, DC Ranch, Los Cedros, Taliesin West, and Yelp.  (Yes, we did this all in one day and on schedule – are you impressed with Kelly and David now?)

As we walked around Old Town and to the Little Red School House the roots of our city emerged literally below our feet.  Agriculture was the foundation of Scottsdale starting with the Hohokam inhabitance of the valley and later Winfield Scott establishing an agricultural community.  When visiting the Talking Stick resort I was struck at the juxtaposition of a gorgeous resort overlooking the desert and farm fields where a lone tractor working the field left a trail of dust lingering in the air.  It perfectly symbolized how Native Americans once pushed inside arbitrary boundaries and hired as hands are now thriving by driving the tourism economy and sustaining the area’s appetite for luxury.

We saw modern Scottsdale foreshadowed in the stories about those who first created the city.  Winfield Scott not only worked a ranch and recruited people to come live in Scottsdale; he also started a tradition of tourism by hosting people on his property so they could rejuvenate.  Fast forward to today and you see that tradition sustained from early guest ranches, through mid century hotels such as the Hotel Valley Ho and Safari, then on to the resorts we all enjoy so much today. During the mid century Scottsdale’s personality of arts and fashion emerges.  We saw pictures of a mid century fashion show put on in the dusty streets and heard about the early craft studio that is now surrounded by the Arts District.

Our visit to Taliesin West provided another reminder of how ingrained the arts are in our city’s personality.  It was a privilege to learn from Arnold Roy, a man who may well have literally walked in the shoes of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Scottsdale’s identity is formed by just being “out West” and among the Sonoran desert.  We saw how that thread of being the west’s most western town continues to drive our economy and form our personality at West World and Los Cedros.  Of course our signature horse show is nothing short of the romantic and exclusive Arabian horse.  And Los Cedros houses those horses alongside an accurate reproduction of a Moroccan throne room with imported tapestries, rugs, furnishings and architectural features fit for a king. How Scottsdale.

Today we value our Sonoran desert and nurture that resource.  Liberty Wildlife exemplifies that passion.  It provides an outlet for people to care for injured wildlife and helps out our feathered neighbors in this great place.   I imagine there are a lot of Scottsdalians in the volunteer pool there.  We heard too how DC Ranch supports the McDowell Sonoran Preserve knowing that it provides their version of beachfront property and that DC residents value their unique geography.

Somewhere in this whirlwind several people from the class shared their personal histories and ties to Scottsdale.  What a nice treat to learn more about your friends while learning about the area.

Finally our last stop – the Yelp office. You could feel the energy in the office.  The office was all about sales and the Yelp IPO was earlier that day. I was trying to figure out how that fits into our story.  Then as we were sitting listening to the old-timer director of the office who has five years in with the company, which is almost as long as the company has been around, I got it.  This is Scottsdale in the new economy.  Scottsdale is supporting a thriving business with an entrepreneurial spirit, independence and rapid growth I’m sure Winfield Scott would have recognized.

There was so much more to this story and the bus tour day.  But I hope you can see what we did.  We saw a vibrant, modern city that is still in touch with its roots.

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