Marita Ralston, Class 21
Advertising & Marketing Manager, Arizona Lottery
This profile of Joan Fudala is the first of a series exploring how and why history is important to contemporary leadership. Fudula is a class 9 graduate and a recipient of the 2002 Frank W. Hodges Alumni Achievement Award.
Joan Fudala, author and Scottsdale historian, has lived in many places. She enjoyed her youth in Ohio, but her interest in the world led her to eventually live in 10 different locales including South Korea. In 1976, Joan accepted a position as Public Affairs Officer with the U.S. Army at Luke Air Force base, met her husband, Gene, a fighter pilot, and the rest is what we’d call history.
Joan grew up with World War II Depression-era parents who stoked her interest in history with family trips to Smithsonian museums and pre-historic ruins of Native American villages. As for her parents’ community involvement which ranged from theater production to pro bono legal service, “my brother and I got involved in almost all of their community activities, and they got involved in ours” said Fudula.
Later, as Joan traveled and moved around the country she felt like something was missing in her life. Her migratory lifestyle, while stimulating, was proving to be problematic in developing the civic foundation she’d experienced as a child.
Upon settling permanently in Arizona in 1991, Joan immediately felt Scottsdale to be an open and welcoming community in which she could finally put down roots and invest herself. Her exploration of Scottsdale’s history became more than a passion; she has been a full-time historian for 10 years and has written five books.
When asked why history is so important to leadership and the community’s future, Joan stated something that may sound obvious, but that we probably don’t remember often enough: “You’re missing an important perspective if you’re not looking at history. When you study history, you get to know past leaders and it inspires current leadership.” She went on to clarify, “I’m not advocating that people live in the past; where we’ve been is fascinating, but where we’re going is even more fascinating.”
Do you feel like the past hampers or helps Scottsdale?