Tag Archives: Class 29

Let’s Celebrate!

Macfarland_Wendy BlogBy Wendy Macfarland
Scottsdale Insurance Company

Class 29 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.

Our City Government day taught us there’s a lot to celebrate about living in Scottsdale.  Held in the impressive Kiva, we gained a lot of insights into running the city, and even experienced a mock city council meeting.

IMG_6372Our day kicked into high gear with the introduction of new Scottsdale Leadership Executive Director Margaret Leichtfuss, and what’s not to appreciate about Margaret besides the extensive experience and background she brings to her role? Anyone who loves shoes and red wine gets an AAA rating in my book!

We were lucky enough to have time with Mayor Jim Lane who talked about the intricate balance between residents, businesses, and tourism that make his job both challenging and rewarding. Interestingly, while our resident Scottsdale population is about 225,000, during a season the number can swell to 3 or 4 times that and we host about 9 million visitors in a year. Big numbers! Clearly there are many who wish to experience the quality of life that our residents give a 98% favorable rating to.

Our city covers 183 square miles; 31 miles long and 11 miles wide, ranging in elevation from 1151 ft to over 4800ft. This is notable for the impact it has on water delivery; residents in the higher elevations must have water pumped uphill to them as the canals are at lower elevation and use gravity to deliver water to the valley. We have the 95th largest city in the US with a $1.2B budget. Based on what we learned in the break out sessions on budget and services, we get a great deal with over 50% of our property taxes going to the school district, and services that keep our neighborhoods clean, provide our visitors with a positive experience, and providing our residents with the facts and information they need to live, work and obtain support in the community.

And what if we want to become an elected official? I found it interesting that it takes raising an average of $29K (average raised for the last election was $58K), and if you plan to run in a presidential/mayoral election year the voter participation will be significantly higher (84%) vs a non presidential/mayoral election year (57%). For those with interest, we learned about various boards and commissions that work with the city council and how to take the first steps to becoming involved.

IMG_1461Our afternoon was spent on prepping for and participating in a mock city council meeting. As a member of the team that drafted the City’s General Plan 2035, I was interested to learn of the work that went into preparing the draft, the community involvement, the level of commitment and effort required to bring it to the council. As an observer of the council meeting it was also interesting to hear the varying opinions and perspectives, not only of the council members but also the community residents who attended and shard their feelings on the plan. For me the plan shows the intent of the city to continue on the current path of controlled growth, focus on services, and positive environment for residents, businesses and visitors alike.

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Scottsdale Treasures and Leadership Stories

Prince_Madison CropBy Madison Prince
SRP

Class 29 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.

Initially I thought, history + bus tour = BORING. Little did I realize I would be anything but bored! Part of our journey in this program is to understand and develop our leadership style and this day really helped me identify the qualities I value in a leader. First and foremost it is PASSION! At each stop we heard stories of passion, vision and failure? YES failure (and lessons learned) is a big part of leadership and ultimately success!

The first inspiring leader of the day was Fred Unger. In his introduction, he said ” I like simple but simple doesn’t like me!” He told us how his vision for an urban downtown Scottsdale grew from his passion for making Old Town a great destination for everyone to work, live and visit. Though he encountered failure along the way, he has never given up. His vision is thriving today and can be seen by walking along the remarkable downtown waterfront and South Bridge, filled with residents, retail and restaurants. He sees some challenges ahead: how to keep the city vibrant, to keep media (like ESPN) coming back and to attract more businesses when every inch of buildable space is taken. Great leaders are problem solvers and he shared his future visions (and solutions) that gives Old Town residents like me goose bumps about what is to come!

talienin2The next stop was Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s living museum and a Scottsdale treasure I had never visited. He is from Wisconsin, the same as me, so I can appreciate the lure of a sunny Arizona oasis every winter! His passion was nature and this is reflected in his architecture. Taliesin means “shining brow” and describes his philosophy of building into nature. Best quote from the tour (said to his apprentices): Bring nature into your design; it will never let you down. He not only taught it, he lived it! The houses were constructed from rocks on the land, they used water from a natural spring and didn’t use electricity for many years. Apprentices attending the School of Architecture still live out in the desert in small shelters they design.

Los CedrosThe next stop was Los Cedros. This Scottsdale treasure is owned and developed by Miguel Sfeir as a result of his passion for citadel architecture and Arabian horses! Beauty can be seen from any vantage here: the outside views are spectacular, the intricate details of the design inside are remarkable and the horses are majestic. It’s a fun place to escape the city, while still being in the city.

SinghMy personal highlight of the day was Singh Farms and listening to Ken Singh’s story of passion. A commercial farmer for many years, he was most passionate about making money. It was later in life when he realized the importance of taking care of the earth, and this is his passion today. He said to us: In 50 years, the top soil will be eroded, making growing food difficult and if we don’t have food to eat, it doesn’t matter how much money you have! His organic farm is a model of responsible farming, and allows him to educate people about sustainability. It’s an important situation we (and future generations) will be facing and an issue I’m very passionate about!

The theme of the day was history but we also learned some interesting things about leadership. To be a great leader you must have passion but ACTION is what turns passion into reality. Taking action is not without sacrifice or failure and those who leave the biggest impact are seemingly not afraid of either. My biggest take away about leadership is that fear can be a limitation or a motivation, depending on how strong your passion is. Good things to think about!

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Belonging in Scottsdale

Magi_Inga CropBy Inga Magi
Distinctive Italian Wines & Wines for Humanity

Class 29 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.

I’ll speak for all members of Class 29 to say that we were moved and inspired by the stories and discussion during last Friday’s ‘Social Services and Today’s Youth’ class. I doubt there was a dry eye in the room as we listened to some of our neighbors share their most vulnerable moments in life. And we were inspired by the people who are there – every day – to help those who are living through those moments.

Last Friday’s class will forever be imprinted on my memory for many reasons. After all, it’s not every day that you…

….hear a woman tell her personal story about how she went from a steady job to hiding in a park with her three children with nowhere to go.  And then somehow found herself immersed in love through Family Promise.

….or learn the story of a Big Sister-Little Sister match that has exceeded the average match time by 10 years. And that the pair long ago stopped thinking of each other as a “match” but as “family”.

….or hear about teenagers volunteering at Teen Lifeline to help other teenagers find an approach that is anything but suicide.

IMG_5466….or find out that your neighborhood has a campus where children can safely play on a playground or get help on their homework through affordable educational programs at Paiute Neighborhood Center instead of hanging out on the streets.

….or gain an understanding about the impact that Vista Del Camino Food Bank can make for families who live right here in Scottsdale by providing a box or bag of food.

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….or witness teenagers discover how much they have to give, and learn how to empower themselves and others through Workshop for Youth and Families.

I walked away from Friday’s class feeling emotionally drained, and full of gratitude.  Gratitude for the life I lead, and gratitude for belonging to a community that is made up of people who give so much. Two messages really stuck with me:

  1. It only takes one person to change someone else’s life for the better. And sometimes that leads to the creation of an organization that allows many people to help many other people. It all starts with an idea and a conversation. And we all need to make sure we’re part of those conversations.
  1. Government funding (through programs like Scottsdale Cares) is incredibly important to the success of the programs that exist only to serve others. And it’s our responsibility as citizens of this community to ensure we vocalize our support for the programs that help sustain all aspects of our community.

And, actually, there is a third.  The third thing is a realization that whether we are teenagers or seniors, homeless or wealthy, we want to feel like we belong. We want to know that we are a part of a community that will feed, house, and continue to welcome us should we find ourselves in the unimaginable position of being hungry, homeless, or unwelcome.

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Right Here, In Our Own Backyard!

Griffiths_Gina HeadshotBy Gina Griffiths
STARS

Class 29 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.

Class 29 embarked on our first full day of the Core Program with a little bit of uncertainty and a lot of enthusiasm. Our focus for Day One was Community Stewardship and Sustainability. This was a fantastic way to start the program year!  We were able to learn from community leaders and see examples of what can be done, often with only will and determination in the beginning. Who knew all of this was right here?

IMG_5354We began our adventure exploring the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I had no idea this hidden gem was right in ourbackyard!  Mike Nolan (Class 27), Executive Director, shared the history of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy (MSC); a group of dedicated citizens knew that Scottsdale had to protect this beautiful asset to the community. They rallied the greater community to come together and support this initiative. They have worked tirelessly for over 2 decades and MSC currently protects well over 30,000 acres. This is one of the largest urban preserves in the country! They utilize almost 600 volunteers and have identified 743 different plants and animals!  Without the forward thinking of the founders, this amazing area would not be available for urban visitors to connect with nature.

IMG_5394Next, we visited an exceptional nonprofit, Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services or STARS (I have to admit, I’m a little biased about STARS because I’m fortunate enough to be their Program Director).  We heard from the esteemed Mary King; Mary founded STARS, along with a committed group of parents, by identifying a need for services for adult children with special needs in Scottsdale. Mary has been an active community advocate all of her life and is the epitome of how to find resources and get things done. For over 41 years, STARS has been improving the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities through day programs, vocational programs and a transitions program.  On any given day, we serve over 200 teens and adults on our two campuses and in the community. And throughout the visit, I heard several long-time Scottsdale residents say “I had no idea this was here!”

Community stewardship sounds rather big and intimidating, but we learned that fine examples of community stewardship are thriving all around us.  The common theme to finding success is people.  When any one of us identifies a need, we can rally the troops and make sustainable change.  It’s not easy, but with effort and determination, we really can change the world, starting in our own backyard.  At the end of the day, I felt grateful to be a part of a community that has a strong foundation built that will help foster it into the future.

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