Tag Archives: Class 27 Blog

It’s Over – NOW WHAT?

Arizona LeadershipBy Kim Hanna, Class 27
Economic Vitality, City of Scottsdale

The Class 27 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. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

At the beginning it seemed like such a long road.  But now—the fabulous 9-month journey with Scottsdale Leadership is over.  Yikes—NOW WHAT?

This rich experience was not intended to only expose me to a bunch of issues in the community.  It’s about engaging in the community to make it a better place into future generations!

On our final class day, Suzanne Paetzer—our Core Program Chair—reminded us of a T.S. Eliot quote, “To make an end is to make a beginning.”  THAT’S WHAT!  It’s time to make a beginning!

Then came Eileen Rogers who said, “Most of us don’t know what we want—but we’re pretty darn sure we don’t have it!”  Isn’t that the truth?!?

The answer: Life By Design, Not By Default!  Eileen led us through an exercise that rocked my world!  She gave us a list of “life topics” and asked us to circle all of the items that are important in our lives today.  I circled 19 items.  Then she asked us to eliminate all but the top 12…Ouch!  I began feeling guilty about the items I crossed off of my list.  Then she said we needed to further reduce to 7.  Was she kidding?!?

It was about this time in the day that I began talking to myself.  I had to tell myself, “This is just an exercise…I’m sure I’ll learn something from it.  Calm down!”  So, I did.

It wasn’t over—we had to rank the list in order of importance and grade our performance.  My heart sank…I really didn’t want to face the music but the band kept playing.  All of the things I claim as important are also the things I seem to be getting around to when I have a free moment.

“TIME FOR A CHANGE,” I said to myself.  By this time my self-talk was in surround sound with full-on subwoofer!

But there’s more!  Courtney Klein Johnson shared the heart-warming story of the Stuttering King Bakery—way to go Matt Cottle!  Courtney gave us a menu from the bakery which included another nudge for me.  A quote from Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true…if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Throughout this 9-month experience speakers told us the key to successful leadership is service through passion.  If you start with your passion, things feel right—you’ll know when you are there.

I’ve decided to take those words to heart.  I have been passionate for a long time about camping, hiking and cooking.  I’ve decided to use my blog www.CampingForFoodies.com as a platform from which to launch my community stewardship adventure.  I have tons of ideas and am thrilled to get started!  I know each and every one of my classmates will be doing the same with their individual passions.

To the Magnificent 27 and our wonderful leader—Suzanne—Thank You for a truly life-changing experience!  See you on the edge!




Filed under Alumni, Class, Community, Leadership

The State of the State

SRP Arizona LeadershipBy Jason Gunawardena, Class 27
Senior Electrical Engineer, SRP

The Class 27 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. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

State Government day opened my eyes to Arizona’s history, but it also opened my eyes to the bottom line.

State Government day started as a typical tourist tour of the capital building, the Governor’s conference room, and a tour of the state museum and the lawn.  We learned that the state government acts a lot like the federal government; you have congressman, senators, lobbyists, and judges.  In my opinion, the Secretary of the State of Arizona stole the show.

The State budget has a lot to do with everything, especially with some of our previous class days, such as Education day and Arts day where speakers were asking for more public funding to promote their causes.  In fact before anyone with fiscal sense buys something of significance, one would check their checking balance before doing so.  With that philosophy one would argue that the state budget presentation should be at the beginning of our class semester and not towards the end.

Two things that I got from the presentation is that no one realizes how expensive K-12 public education and health & welfare is and if the state budget was an actual company, our performance since 2007 would reflect a company that was going bankrupt.  I found a link on the web to Mr. Bennett’s presentation http://vimeo.com/35756903.

Bennett taped pieces of paper on the wall showing the state’s revenues and spending patterns since 2007, when revenues and expenses were about equal at $9.6 billion.

As the sour economy rolled through the state into 2008, Bennett said that was when spending began outpacing revenues. In 2008, lawmakers projected state revenues at $10.1 billion and set spending at $10.6 billion. But 2008 revenues continued to slide, coming in around $8.8 billion.

Bennett said lawmakers began looking for ways to make up the deficit by taking steps like tapping the state’s rainy day account that had about $700 million, postponing more than $300 million in payments to K-12 school spending and making $100 million in cuts.

Bennett showed how the state is spending about $11.1 billion this year while lawmakers expect revenues to fall about $3 billion short.

One alarming fact is how the federal stimulus money must be spent instead of paying off deficits or else that money would be taken away.  So to sum it up, the state provides money to Washington, Washington gives us some of it back and tells us that we must spend it and not pay off our debt or else they will take our money back.

Fortunately, Bennett illustrated how reducing spending actually helped bring our lone profit year of recent history in 2012; I believe this is a viable solution to our situation.


Last, but not least, we visited the AZ Supreme Court and had a Q&A session with one of our Supreme Court Judges, Ann A. Scott Timmer, an enlightening and rare opportunity.  We finished off with a presentation of the state boards and committees that exist; there seems to be a board for everything nowadays.

So what do you think about the State of the State? 

1 Comment

Filed under Class, Community

Scottsdale Leadership Class 27 Pays it Forward With Six Community Service Projects

Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 27 is poised to leave a lasting legacy.  They recently announced the themes of their Pay it Forward projects, hands-on community service endeavors designed to leave a sustainable and impactful footprint on the community. The class has been divided into six teams to implement the following service projects:

Celebrity Bigs 4 Littles: A Mentor Recruitment Event Connecting Boys to Big Brothers
In partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arizona, the goal of this team is to create an annual program that focuses on recruiting critically needed male mentors (Bigs) to help reduce the more than 250 boys (Littles) on the Greater Phoenix waiting list.  The first annual Bigs 4 Littles free event will include food, prizes, and autograph and photo opportunities with major league sport celebrities, mascots and cheerleaders.
Where: Amazing Jakes Food & Fun; 1830 East Baseline Road, Mesa
When: Saturday, March 23, 9 a.m. – Noon; Light breakfast fare & buffet lunch to be provided.
More Details and Registration:http://Bigs4Littles.org

Doggie Drive-In
Homeless shelters don’t accept pets …until now! Family Promise, which serves Greater Phoenix, wanted to launch an annual event that would initially demonstrate awareness of the importance of accommodating families with pets.  This team created the inaugural Doggie Drive-In to provide the experience of being homeless in your car with your beloved four-legged family members.  The team is providing all logistics, event planning, marketing, public relations, sponsors and support for this free event (donations accepted).
Where: Scottsdale Community College; 9000 East Chaparral Road, Scottsdale
When: Saturday, March 23, 6 – 9 p.m.
More Details and Registration:http://doggiedrivein.com

Give Kids a Smile
This team is partnering with Arizona Dental Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, in an effort to make a difference in the lives of school-aged children, by offering free dental screenings.  This fun-filled event will give participating children the opportunity to be examined by several of the area’s top dentists, receive fluoride varnish and have X-rays taken, allowing for an internal view of the child’s overall oral health.  For those children who may be in need of further care, Arizona Dental Foundation will follow-up and coordinate additional care regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.  In addition, participants will enjoy age-appropriate education on oral hygiene, character appearances, music and prizes.
Where: Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, Hartly & Ruth Barker Branch; 2311 North Miller Road, Scottsdale
When: Friday, March 22, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
To register a child: Interested participants need not be enrolled at the Boys & Girls Club to take part, but must provide parental consent forms in advance of the event.  Contact Marybell Ramirez-Deeds, Director of Outreach Services, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale at (480) 344-5590 or email mdeeds@bgcs.org by Monday, March 18, 2013 to sign up.

TLC (Teen Lifeline Central)
This team identified a disconnect between the vast services available to Scottsdale’s youth and their awareness of these services. TLC’s mission is to, literally, put these services at teens’ fingertips by developing Scottsdale’s first smart phone application geared specifically towards Scottsdale’s youth. The TLC app, backed by the venerable Scottsdale Prevention Institute as stakeholder, is a free, one-stop shop for Scottsdale’s youth which links them directly to those who can, and will, help.  Depression, eating disorders, crisis support, and job opportunities are just a few of the issues teens can gain information about via this application.  The app will be available for download in the Apple App Store by the end of March.

Plant a Seed
The focus of this project is to build and create an interactive garden program and curriculum for the Rose Lane Branch of the Boys & Girls Club of Scottsdale with future potential implementation at the other clubs.  The project includes a complete redesign of a current garden space for youth, an art mural focused on seasonal and local produce that will be utilized by the club for various learning and cooking classes.  There will also be an interactive online curriculum with an annual timeline for how, what and when to plant, and various kid-friendly activities that coincide with the seasonal planting requirements. The project will: 1) Teach children about the importance and benefits of a healthy, balanced lifestyle; 2) Instill responsibility and pride in the children who see, maintain and harvest the garden; and 3) encourage the children to take the knowledge of how to grow and prepare fresh food into their homes and establish home gardens. The unveiling of the new garden with the Green Thumbs Garden and Recycling Club at the Boys and Girls Club occurs in late March.

Life in a Box
This team partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale to launch “Life in a Box.” This project is a one-day workshop with local experts to empower youth with real-life skills they will need as they enter adulthood.  Topics include financial literacy, self-defense, social media skills, interview skills and healthy eating habits.  The keynote speaker will be Andrew Walter, former NFL quarterback and Arizona State University star athlete.
Where: Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, Virginia Piper Branch; 10515 East Lakeview Drive, Scottsdale
When: Saturday, March 23, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

All six teams will showcase project results to the community with formal presentations on Friday, April 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc. located at 19001 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.  The public is invited to attend.  Project Pay It Forward Presentation Day is sponsored by the Scottsdale Charros and Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc.  A panel of judges will evaluate the projects and the winning team will receive $2,000 from Scottsdale Leadership to be donated to the team’s benefiting organization.

About Scottsdale Leadership
Since 1987, Scottsdale Leadership has graduated more than 850 individuals who are prepared to take on leadership roles in an ever-changing world. Scottsdale Leadership alumni have had a significant impact on the Scottsdale community, spearheading preservation of open space; improving the education system; championing public art; mentoring at-risk youth; and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities. For more information, call the Scottsdale Leadership office at 480-627-6710, or visit, www.ScottsdaleLeadership.org


Leave a comment

Filed under Class, Community

Safe by Design

mike-screenBy Mike Binder, Class 27
Director of Marketing, Pitooey.com

The Class 27 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. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

It’s easy to think of Scottsdale as a place that has it all. Beautiful golf courses, incredible shopping, unparalleled resorts, more restaurants than you could possibly imagine. Living here amongst the beauty and fine weather is a blessing for many. So it’s easy to overlook the things that aren’t right in front of you every day. For example, your safety. You won’t find a community with finer police and fire departments in the country than in Scottsdale. For Safe Communities Day, Scottsdale Leadership Class XXVII met at the Scottsdale Police and Fire Joint Training Facility, a $2.1 million, 13 acre facility located just across the Scottsdale border in neighboring Tempe.

This state-of-the-art facility is the only one of its kind in United States, and features computerized natural gas props, a smoke maze room, indoor firing ranges, a firing line jogging track, SWAT team training areas, and even a 1 mile pursuit driver training track. What’s more impressive than the facility however is the program behind it.

Most cities police and fire departments work completely independently and Scottsdale saw this as a problem. In February of 2011, then city manager David Richert merged the Scottsdale Police and Fire Departments into a single Public Safety Department. This new structure saves more than $6 million each year by merging many of the two department’s functions. The merger has created a model for Police and Fire Agencies across the globe.

Our day began with Lieutenant Eric Williams of the Scottsdale Police Department and Deputy Chief Jim Ford of the Scottsdale Fire Department outlining how the day would play out. We then met our generous day sponsor, Chief Operating Officer John Wilson of PMT ambulance. To give us an overview of this revolutionary departmental structure, Chief of Police Alan Rodbell took us through the thinking that created this new system.

Chief Rodbell then broke us into groups to see three different situations we would be interacting with, situations that Scottsdale Police face on a regular basis.

Session 1: Use of Force Standards and Options with the Scottsdale SWAT Team. SWAT Officers took us through some of the scenarios that they face, and how they determine the level of their response. Their priorities are always the safety of the public, their fellow officers, and of the suspect, in that order. We were then taken into a live fire exercise to show the kinds of situations SWAT Officers face, and how quickly they must react.

Session 2: K-9. We met Officer Coffee and his K-9 partner, “Havoc”.  He explained to us that Havoc is a Belgian Malinois, and all Scottsdale Police Dogs are of this breed. They are born and trained in Europe, then come to their departments for final training at age 3. Havoc’s training includes obedience, agility, tracking, evidence searches, open area and building searches, as well as narcotics or explosives detection.


Session 3: Firearms Training Simulator. We were then taken into the FATS training room, where video scenarios were projected on a wall and we held realistic firearms that shot lasers into the computerized system.  WE took turns assessing situations that officer’s face, often with life threatening results.

As we broke for lunch, we all felt a new-found respect for the burden police officers face every day keeping us safe.

After lunch Assistant Chief Ryan Freeburg and Deputy
Chief Jim Ford discussed the history and makeup of the Scottsdale Fire Department, as well as its involvement with a Valley Wide Regional Dispatch Center, which ensures that emergencies are prioritized by proximity to available resources, not by city borders. Tempe Fire might be first on scene in Scottsdale if they are the closest; this regional agreement plan is yet another model for the rest of the country.

Another feather in Scottsdale’s cap is that it is one of the safest cities in the country because of legislation introduced in 1982 mandating that all buildings, both residential and industrial, had to have sprinkler systems integrated into the build. The widespread use of sprinklers have cut the risk of dying in a fire by 82%, and since 1982, Scottsdale has one of the lowest incidences of fire death of any country in the world!

Chief Jim Ford shared with us a video about the Station Nightclub fire that took the lives of 100 attendees in less than 6 minutes. Chief Ford described all the issues that were at play and how they impacted Scottsdale’s entertainment district. We then saw a video of a nightclub fire in downtown Scottsdale. While it mirrored the beginnings of the tragic Station Nightclub fire, it resulted in zero deaths in Scottsdale.

We then went outside to see a sprinkler system demonstration. A trailer with home furnishings on both sides separated by a wall in the middle was identical except the left side had no sprinkler system, while the right side did. The left side was set on fire and the fire spread quickly, completely engulfing that side in less than two minutes. They then set the room with a sprinkler system installed on fire. The fire was detected by the sprinkler system in about 1 minute, which engaged and put out the fire while also sounding an alarm. Chances are people living in that home were going to walk away safely. In fact, fires in homes in Scottsdale with sprinkler systems typically incur about $2,166 in damages, while unsprinklered homes incur $45,019 in damages. Chief Ford stated, “You can always dry things out, but you can’t unburn them.”

We then went outside with the fire department through a rotation of different fire department experiences.

Experience 1: Fire Extinguisher Practice featured a gas propelled fire and hands-on training using effectively a fire extinguisher. Turns out, most people use extinguishers improperly! Always use a sweeping motion at the base of the flames.

IMG_2174Experience 2: Ladder/Tower Truck. Teams went to the Ladder Truck where we put on helmets and gloves and went up in the extendable basket above a building to see how firefighters are placed on a roof to open a hole that allows gasses and smoke to vent, preventing built up gases within from igniting, a dangerous situation called “flashover”.

Experience 3: Search & Rescue in Smoke Filled Building. In this scenario, we donned full firefighter gear, including an obscured gas mask to simulate zero visibility inside a burning building. We worked as a team on hands and knees to find our way through and out of the building.IMG_2061

Experience 4: CCR Training. CPR is old news! A more effective and reliable method is called CCR, cardio-cerebral resuscitation, and it’s a big change. If you see someone who suddenly collapses and their heart has stopped, lock your hands together one on top of the other, put the heel of the lower hand in the center of the victim’s chest, and push hard and fast, 100 times per minute. When first responders use the new technique, they save three times more lives than they did with standard life-support techniques.

We returned back to the main building and Police Lieutenant Eric Williams and Deputy Fire Chief Jim Ford recapped the day. I think it’s safe to say that we all had a new-found respect for what these fine people do for us each and every day. And while we might not interact with them on a regular basis, it is so good to know that they will be there should we ever need them here in Scottsdale, one of America’s safest cities.

Leave a comment

February 28, 2013 · 9:58 am

How do you find your leadership passion?

Arizona LeadershipBy Kim Hanna, Class 27
Economic Vitality, City of Scottsdale

The Class 27 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. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

Did you ever do something out of obligation?  Or for a paycheck?  Or only because someone asked you to?  But…your heart really wasn’t in it?  If your answer is “yes”, as mine was, I bet you were not as effective as you would have been if your heart and soul were “all in!”

Through the Scottsdale Leadership journey, I’ve been exposed to a lot of community issues and needs.  The wide ranges of well-deserving people and causes have actually begun to overwhelm me…Until Leadership Academy day!

The panel discussion moderated by Ted Taylor, Family Promise, changed everything for me.  Ted led our class through a discussion that focused on finding a cause that we believe in—he asked us, “What cause is of meaning to you?”

Then Pam Gaber, Gabriel’s Angels, reminded us of the saying, “When you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.”  Now it’s time to queue the music of one of my favorite songs by Jason Mraz, Everything is Sound, which includes a line “…you don’t need a vacation when there’s nothing to escape from…”  Now, that’s pure wisdom in my book!

But wait…there’s more from Pam.  The next thing she said was something magical.  She said finding your passion depends on who you are on the inside.  When you hear about “it”—there’s a fire in your belly.  When you read about “it” and for 15 minutes the world stopped…you know you’ve found your passion.


BryceHikeLeadershipPassion (1)

I know I am passionate about camping, hiking and cooking!  So much so, that I started a blog about “it” www.CampingForFoodies.com.  But—how do I turn my personal passion into a leadership passion which will benefit the community?  Just like Pam did with Gabriel’s Angels!  Pam loved her animals so much that she was willing to share them with others to improve their lives.  The Gabriel’s Angels mission: To deliver healing pet therapy to at-risk children, nurturing their emotional development and enhancing the quality of their lives forever.

What I realized is the power of taking your passion and sharing it with others in unique and creative ways is far more effective and meaningful than just assisting with a demonstrated need with which you have no personal or emotional attachment.  With my passion I can teach kids how to appreciate nature, eat healthily, exercise in fun ways respecting and learning about the environment, budget for trips, build confidence cooking delicious meals, learn photography and appreciate the art form.  And…so…much…more!

Many of us are blessed with an abundance of time, talent and treasure.  Fewer of us are willing to share our gifts with others.  The best return on God’s investment in us happens when we give our gifts away.  You will increase your enjoyment of your passion by experiencing others experiencing your passion.  So, don’t be afraid to let go because, just like a boomerang, your passion will come flying back to you.

Share this if you are jazzed about sharing your passion!

1 Comment

Filed under Class, Leadership

Did you Know?!

Kehayes, GeniaGenia Kehayes, Class 27
VP Finance Administration, Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Class 27 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. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

…that Scottsdale Stadium sits on what used to be cotton fields? … Harper’s Bazaar magazine staged a major fall fashion show and photo shoot in downtown Scottsdale in 1950? …the Rusty Spur Saloon is housed in what used to be a bank?  We learned these things and more as Class XXVII went on a whirlwind tour of Scottsdale during our History and Treasures Day.

We started out at Scottsdale Stadium, and I never knew that a number of teams called the stadium home before the San Francisco Giants settled there.  Next was a walking tour with Joan Fudala.   This lovely lady is a tremendous source of information about Scottsdale; she shared the information I opened with and more.

The Little Red Schoolhouse was our next stop and contains many historical artifacts of Scottsdale.  The museum manager told us that her parents actually attended school there and the “Rules for Teachers” posted on the wall brought to life how dramatically times have changed.

Did you know there’s an organic farm, Singh Farms, just east of the 101?  It has an almost forest-like atmosphere with garden beds interspersed throughout.  You owe it to yourself to attend the farmers market on Saturdays.  Spending just a brief time there proved to be very relaxing.

Liberty Wildlife

I really enjoyed Liberty Wildlife, which rehabilitates injured animals.  Those that cannot be released back into the wild as a result of their injuries are retained as education animals.  We saw a couple of eagles, a red-tailed hawk and my favorite, a desert screech owl named Ivan.

Scottsdale Airport was next, and it’s important to note what a major economic driver the airport is to our city, both in attracting employers and in the tax revenue it generates.  We were told that it gets utilized to capacity during our events season, but during the short time we were on the tarmac several jets took off and landed.

Los Cederos

We headed north to the Desert Foothills Family YMCA for a tour and more Scottsdale history.  Next was Los Cedros, modeled after a Moroccan Citadel.  It is rented out for events and meetings and houses some of the most beautiful Arabian horses.


We then focused on the Arts and headed to Taliesin West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright.  Upon arrival one does get the sense of the experimental atmosphere that was intended for those studying there.

Finally, we went to Cattle Track Art Compound.  Ms. Ellis, the general manager, recounted a dynamic history of Cattletrack and what it was like to grow up there.  Photographers, painters, costume designers and hot rod shops still are housed there.  There was so much to see that we were encouraged to return to spend some time visiting the various shops and artists.

Even though I’ve lived here for years, I learned so much.   What little-known facts do you know about Scottsdale?


Filed under Art, Class, Community

Education- Where Are We?

Kranitz, Andrea for BlogAndrea Kranitz, Class 27
Owner/Consultant, Integrative Business Solutions, LLC

The Class 27 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. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

The members of class XXVII come from across the country and even across the pond!  We have all gone through some kind of educational system, whether public or private, but our experiences vary based upon where and when we were educated.

With each generation there have been changes in curriculum and teaching methods, reflecting our evolving world and the requirements to produce graduates who are prepared to compete successfully in a global economy.

The question is… are we collectively accomplishing that goal?

The answer depends partially upon how you define “we.”  According to Scottsdale Unified School District’s Dr. Andi Fourlis, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning and Dr. Dave McNeil, Executive Director for Elementary Schools and Assessment, Scottsdale schools are doing well.  Comparing SUSD graduation rates, per pupil spending, and student teacher ratios, they are consistently ranking above the state average (detailed information on these rankings).

Despite a reduction in state funding, SUSD continues to provide an excellent education. That said, we are only one of many districts across the state and country. According to Dr. Eric Meyer, AZ State Representative, District 11 and SUSD School Board member, as a nation our teacher salaries are on the high end as compared with other nations, while our Global Math and Science ratings along with high school graduation rates are in the bottom third (detailed information on these rates).

This is not a new trend, but it is a frightening one.  If we want to maintain strong communities, states and a strong nation we must emphasize the importance of education so that our students can compete with those of other nations.

There is a state-led initiative called The Common Core State Standards coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Offices.  These standards define the knowledge and skills students should acquire from their K-12 education so that they can succeed in post-secondary education and future careers.

To date, including Arizona, 45 of 50 states have adopted these standards, but the initiative is only partially funded, so there are challenges to successful implementation.  Although this is a step in the right direction, I believe that we have to do more.

We also heard from a panel of students and educators from the district who emphasized the importance of student/teacher mentorship, engagement, extracurricular activity and parental involvement in maintaining an engaged student body.  The two students who spoke to us were great examples of what is possible-we need to make this more a rule than exception.

There are so many factors that have contributed to the alarming trends in education including but not limited to funding issues, decrease in support of arts education, poverty trends along with an decrease focus on education in the lives of our youth.

SO… what are we missing and how can we reverse the trends in order to graduate top notch students who are equipped to succeed?

Leave a comment

Filed under Class, Community, News

Do You Walk the (Art) Walk?

Scottsdale LeadershipGenia Kehayes, Class 27
VP, Finance & Administration, Scottsdale CVB

The Class 27 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. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

Have you ever been to a Scottsdale Art Walk? If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to attend one soon.  It takes place every Thursday night from 7 – 9 p.m. and it’s free! There is energy in the air and a remarkable assortment of art to see.  Class27 enjoyed a very special art walk and visited the Scottsdale Museum of Modern Art (SMoCA) and three galleries featuring very different types of art;  Contemporary (The Marshall/LeKae Gallery of Fine Art), Native American (River Trading Post) and African (Hatuma African Gallery).  Throughout the night, I wondered how we define what art is and what it means to us.

One of the statements made by our host at SMoCA was that contemporary art needs to be explained; it needs context.  As the night went on, I thought about that statement a lot. In discussing this issue with a classmate, we concluded that perhaps artists seeking to make a social or political statement need to have their art explained, but this is not true of all contemporary art.  There have been many times that I have enjoyed a piece of art because of the energy conveyed by the brushstrokes or the feelings evoked by the use of color.  For example, the featured artist at Marshall/LeKae Gallery used a stained glass painting technique that created energy and movement.

At the River Trading Post, we met a young artist named Harold Stevens who is also an apprentice medicine man.  He told us that his father taught him everything he knows about their culture.  His sand paintings used beautiful natural pigments and he believes that through his art, he can heal.  Have you ever looked at a piece of artwork or listened to music that made you smile or that made you think of a happy time in your life?  Maybe that’s what Mr. Stevens meant.

By the time we arrived at Hatuma African Gallery, it was more crowded and noisy and our host said that he didn’t need to speak because his art would speak for him. That was an important moment for me. When I looked around the gallery I realized that the artwork made an emotional impact.  Moreover, it seemed that the artists must have enjoyed the process of making their art because it seemed to celebrate life in all of its phases.  The joyful spirit was further enhanced by the musicians playing percussion instruments just outside the door.

Some artwork can be very cerebral and thought provoking but I truly enjoy art that makes an emotional impact.  Maybe that’s because I have a career that requires me to be very analytical and the emotional response I get from seeing a vivid landscape or listening to uplifting music is a welcome respite.  It was fun to notice that different people were drawn to different styles of art.  Perhaps art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

How do you define art?

Leave a comment

Filed under Class, Community, Leadership

Understanding Youth

Mike Binder, Class 27
Marketing and Communications Manager, Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce

The Class 27 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. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

Some of us are closer to the realities of youth than others. Many of my classmates are mere years away from actually being young, so the memories of youth’s struggles remain fresh. I, more often than not, see youth through the eyes of my own children, the youngest being 16. I am incredibly fortunate that the experiences of youth I see most often, through my daughter, are positive ones. The daily realities for many young people however, are much more daunting. That’s why Youth Issues Day was such an eye-opener for me, and for Class XXVII.

We began our day at General Dynamics, where New Directions Institute for Infant Brain Development expanded the definition of “youth”. Entering this day, when I thought of Youth Services, I had a mental image of children from perhaps 5 years of age on up to twenty, lumping those younger into a separate category. Ms. Phillips showed us that infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers benefit from specific interactions and tools that help to develop a healthy brain and enter school ready to learn. There can be no understating the benefits these interactions give children as they begin their journey toward “youth”.

Teen Lifeline then outlined one of the most difficult realities of youth, Teen Suicide. When asked if anyone in the class had been affected by suicide, the overwhelming number of hands in the air was both shocking and heart wrenching. The incredible work they do is made all the more effective by staffing the facility with teens, many of whom have also been touched by this kind of tragedy. We discussed the statistics (Each year, nearly 26,400 teens in Arizona attempt suicide; and since 1985, Arizona has ranked in the top 10 states for teens who completed suicide.), risk factors (Divorce, relationships, pressure to succeed), and signs and symptoms (Ominous statements, depression, changes in behavior).  If you can find a silver lining in this very dark subject, it’s the strong success of the program and their volunteers, who donate more than 7,000 hours annually to assist those in need.

Our final area of study for the morning was that of Youth Mentoring. We met two groups doing incredible work: New Pathways for Youth (formerly Greater Phoenix Youth at Risk) as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters. Both groups outlined the very real need for role models in the lives of youths who typically come from a single parent household.

The organizatinos showed a video that demonstrated not only how much a mentoring relationship can do, but how it can also turn into a lifelong friendship. This was reinforced by class 27’s own Jason Ganawardena, who described the value he found in his experience with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. The two biggest themes from these guests were the overwhelming need for mentors (mentees can wait more than 2 years to get paired up), and the incredible rewards that the mentor receives in these relationships.

We enjoyed lunch with many of our next guests, Teen Peer Counselors from Workshops for Youth and Families. The teens at our table were bright, engaging, and eager to share what they do. After lunch, Frances Mills-Yerger, Ph.D., Class 16, the Program Director & Founder of Workshops for Youth and Families, outlined their mission to foster personal leadership and resiliency in youth and families. Their target is teens that seem perfectly healthy on the outside, but may be struggling with personal issues, friends and family on the inside. These kids are bombarded with mixed messages from parents, peers and the media; and the Workshops provide tools to expand social, emotional and life skills; negotiate new demands; and foster a healthy transition through the adolescent years.

To end the day, we took a tour of the Paiute Neighborhood Center, a former Scottsdale elementary school that now provides a safe and diverse environment where people from the adjacent neighborhoods can come together for social, recreational, cultural and educational programs and services. While we were there, the Police Department was showing their equipment, dogs and officers to a rapt crowd of local kids. The families of this neighborhood are mostly lower income, and are in need of the incredible services offered to them at Paiute including: Early Childhood (Bi-Lingual education, early childhood development, car seat education); After-School Programs (Sports, arts & crafts, math & science, tutoring and computers for ages 6-11); Teen Center (Homework help/tutoring, teen council, open recreational activities); Senior Center (Movies, excursions, exercise classes, potlucks, recreational activities); and Social Services (Translations services, notary, food boxes, clothing bank, information & referral). This facility, and the fine staff and volunteers who make it run, are in incredible asset to the city and to this neighborhood

My takeaway for this day was that issues for youth are much more complicated today than they were just a few years ago. It was eye-opening to remove the shackles of my narrow focus and business day, and see this need in our community. Thank goodness there are people and organizations dedicated to being there for those in need, to educate them, support them, and to catch them if they fall.

Youth Services Day was recognition of the challenges of youth, and a joyful affirmation of the spirit of the young.

1 Comment

Filed under Class, Community, Leadership

Helping Hands?

Scottsdale LeadershipAndy Jacobs, Class 27
Associate, Policy Development Group, Inc.

The Class 27 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. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

As busy professionals, sometimes it’s hard reflecting on the community outside of our day-to-day lives and those we care about.  But those of us in Scottsdale Leadership Class 27 have bonded quickly, and we seem to be a collection of open-minded and empathetic individuals. That’s why Social Services Day proved to be a rewarding experience and why I believe our class is destined for great things.

Social Services Day was eye-opening and encouraging

As Class 27 discussed issues of poverty and elderly care together at Vista Del Camino, it quickly became apparent that the recession had hit almost all of us in one way or another. It confirmed what we learned about the difference between the stereotype of homelessness and the fact that sometimes we all need help in our lives. And that the sign of a true community is its willingness to play a role in love and support.

Ted Taylor, Executive Director of homeless advocacy group Family Promise, explained that since the recession, many middle-to-upper-income families in Scottsdale are now dealing with problems like homelessness and suicide, just like other communities. Scottsdale has had a much harder time dealing with these types of financial problems because until now they haven’t experienced it.

A visit to the Granite Reef Senior Center showed that despite the physical and emotional support that our elderly need on a day-to-day basis, they are an integral part of our community. The seniors we got to know are active, fun and bring immense value to our city for their contributions. Scottsdale is to be commended for its leadership in assisting with elder and poverty issues. Vista Del Camino and Granite Reef are top-notch operations and private sector leadership from leaders such as Taylor and others contribute to Scottsdale’s compassionate outlook.

Leaders from the City of Scottsdale’s Human Services Department work hard every day to ensure its struggling residents are not overlooked. The Community Assistance Office works with a citizens’ committee to make important decisions on how to allocate funding to charitable organizations collaborating with the city to take care of the less fortunate.

Of course, we can always do more, and that’s what I and others from Class 27 took away from Scottsdale Leadership’s Social Services Day. As we learn how to incorporate community leadership into our already-busy daily lives, there is no doubt we recognize the importance of lending a helping hand to those who are often overlooked.

How can you lend a helping hand?

Leave a comment

Filed under Class, Community