Tag Archives: Sandy Adler

Why I Joined, What I Learned, and What I’ll Do with It!

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.

I love to volunteer my time to help others and to encourage organizations and programs that are particular passions of mine.  I have never had a lot of time to volunteer…but I have always volunteered consistently with at least one organization at a time.  When you volunteer at the same place for any length of time, it seems a natural progression that you end up in a leadership position in that organization. Leadership is different than volunteering.  It involves helping others to reach their goals in supporting the organization and providing meaningful volunteer experiences for them that will also further the goals of the organization.

I also love Scottsdale. As a resident for 17 years (I am originally from Michigan) I have enjoyed all the wonderful things Scottsdale has to offer from the schools (my kids are all graduates of Chaparral High School) to the Preserve to the cultural life and much more. We live in a very special place and there is nowhere else I’d rather live.

The combination of these two loves led me to Scottsdale Leadership. It has proven to be a program where I have learned so much about our community and how it functions. I also learned how to improve my leadership skills so that I can be a guide to people who want to make our community even better.

Having lived here for such a long time, I thought I knew Scottsdale very well. I volunteered as a downtown Scottsdale Ambassador for a couple of years, so I certainly knew the downtown area well. I am a Realtor and I’ve heard so many of our city employees speak at meetings about the history of the city and issues such as transportation and development and zoning. But it turns out that I only knew a small slice of the challenges and opportunities that our citizens experience.

Scottsdale Leadership taught me about some incredible programs, many of them started by volunteers who saw a need and worked to fill it, that support our citizens who may need a leg up during difficult times. I learned about our city government and how it works: about the city council, the mayor and the commissions and staff that support them. I learned about the police and fire departments and what they do every day to protect us and keep us safe in our community. I will never look at their jobs the same again. A day at the state capital meeting our representatives was also a fantastic education.

I also learned in more detail about things that we just take for granted: The beautiful public art that is all around us and how it came to be; the cultural activities that are available year around to enhance our lives; the McDowell Sonoran Preserve that provides entertainment, beauty and education about our environment.

Through our Pay It Forward Project, I learned that an idea to better the community can be executed quickly and with great success by a dedicated team. Honestly, I was skeptical at first. But I saw not just my group but four other groups create and execute wonderful programs in just a few months that will continue to thrive in our community.

Mostly, learning about all these other things, I learned about what makes a good leader by being introduced to amazing leaders in our community, and through leadership classes that were built-in to the Scottsdale Leadership program. We heard the stories of these leaders and had opportunity to interact with them and ask questions. We were introduced to concepts about the responsibilities and expectations of leaders that have changed the way I think about my role as a leader in a non-profit organization.

So, the most difficult question to answer is: What will I do with this new knowledge? How will I use it to improve my community? I have renewed my commitment to the non-profit that has been my passion for a number of years by taking on some additional responsibilities. I am enthusiastic about supporting the Dream Fair project that our team created for at least the next year. I hope to continue to support Scottsdale Leadership in its goal to support and nurture more leaders.  I see clearly now that volunteers and visionaries make the lives of all those around them better and more meaningful.

What will you do with your knowledge and how will you use it to improve your community?

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Filed under Alumni, Leadership

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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Make a Run for it! City Government

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.

It was another fascinating day for Scottsdale Leadership Class XXVI as we learned about how the city government operates from those that are doing the operating!  From Mayor Jim Lane to City Manager David Richert to Councilmen McCullough, Littlefield and Robbins we were impressed with lots of little details about how our city runs and what makes it tick.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • In our council management form of government there are six charter officers who all work independently but all serve under the direction of the city council.
  • The city council sets the policy and the city manager implements that policy and oversees delivery of services. Along with that, the city manager proposes the budget and the city council reviews and approves it.
  • The state mandates that the city have a general plan that is updated every 10 years. The general plan involves concepts about the character of the community, land use and quality of life. It must be voter approved.

Personally, I most enjoyed our interaction with the councilmen. I was impressed with their knowledge of the issues and their opinions. There is a lot of time and work involved in being fully informed.  They mentioned that council meetings are seen by many more people now that they are available on television (channel 11) and they all get emails from people who want to be heard on certain issues.

They all seemed to feel that because of technology it is easier for residents to be heard by the council. Speaking of technology, seeing the traffic control center was another highlight of the day. It was especially interesting because the Waste Management Phoenix Open was in full swing and traffic in the area was robust. I never had any idea that there were people watching our roads using 60 cameras around town and monitored in a room filled with screens of various intersections.

Of course, we were all encouraged to get involved in city government on some level either by running for office, becoming a member of a commission or working on someone’s campaign. Running for office is a time consuming and expensive undertaking (estimated cost is about $50,000) and I think we were all impressed with the commitment that it requires. If nothing else, this day enhanced my understanding that there are ways I can participate in our city government that I never considered.

What do you do to participate in making our city the best possible place to live, work and play?

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Leadership Academy is the Cherry on the Top of Scottsdale Leadership

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.

Our Scottsdale Leadership Day on December 9 was an inspirational change up to what we had been doing for the previous five meeting days and I found it really exhilarating. While the three portions of the day, Leadership Academy, Scottsdale Leadership Awards Luncheon, and Pay It Forward Project group time were all great, I found the Leadership Academy to be the most exciting.

The topic for the Leadership Academy was Non-Profit Board Responsibilities and Fundraising. Four panelists with extensive non-profit experience as staff and/or volunteers answered questions from the moderator (and the class) about the role of non-profit board members.

Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice from this group:

  • Passion for the organization is essential. Only participate on the board of an organization that you truly care about.
  • Study and be prepared for meetings. Be ready to ask questions. Know what the organization needs.
  • Raising money for the organization is a must. Be prepared to know what the give or get is for that board and be prepared to follow through with the expectation.
  • If you are considering joining a board, sit down with the CEO of the organization and ask pointed questions about the organization and the expectations for board members. The best organizations have board packets for potential board members with this information.
  • “Fundraising is teaching the gentle art of giving.” Fundraising is people supporting people. It’s about building relationships.
  • Leadership is about courage. There must be honest conversation when there is conflict on the board so that you don’t end up with nineteen other unhappy board members because of one difficult person.
  • Transparency is crucial, particularly when there is a problem in the organization.
  • It is the responsibility of the board chair and the CEO of the organization to make sure that the board member has a positive experience on the board.
  • And, my favorite, board membership should be fun.

While we are learning about a multitude of organizations in our community that can benefit from our service as volunteers, it is also crucial that we understand what those commitments entail. I’ve served on several non-profit boards over the years, and I found this conversation both affirming and enlightening. The discussion inspired me to be a better board member. It also served as a warning to be careful about the commitments I make as I move forward with acting on what I am learning through the Scottsdale Leadership program.

I’d love to hear more about experiences that others have had on various non-profit boards, both positive and negative. What did you enjoy about board membership? What did you dislike?

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How Important Is Art?

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.

Members of class XXVI spent a wonderful day learning about art in Scottsdale. Highlights included a tour of public art and in-depth discussion about the value of art in Scottsdale. In an economy where many people are struggling financially, is it appropriate to designate limited funds to support the arts when people have other needs that are more basic such as food, clothing and shelter?

I would argue that arts are important in any economy. I loved Mike Seiden’s opening comments when he quoted Dreiser who said, “Art is the stored honey of the soul.”  Supporting arts in Scottsdale is good for our souls and also good for our business.

Art is an important expression of who we are as a city. Why?

  • The public art pieces all around the city create a special environment here that residents enjoy every day.
  • The art all around us in our city is uplifting and encourages us to see our world as a place of beauty even when times might be tough for us individually.
  • The art in Scottsdale goes beyond just the specific pieces created by working artists.

There have been studies showing that exposure to art (music, visual art, creative arts) creates more compassion in people and increases intellectual ability. Many class members could share examples of how participating in the arts has enriched their lives. The Vietnamese children’s art that we viewed in the Young at Art gallery at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts clearly illustrated how visual art can provide cathartic release for people and tell important stories.

In addition to the intangible benefits of supporting the arts, there are important economic reasons for supporting them in Scottsdale. The city has been marketed as a place to find world class art experiences. The Scottsdale Visitor and Convention Bureau markets Scottsdale as a place to visit and do business. We learned that arts are a critically important piece of what they do and the art scene in Scottsdale has been recognized around the world for many years. The municipal art collection in Scottsdale was started in 1967 and today is comprised of hundreds of pieces.

So, what do you think?  Is Scottsdale doing the right thing by supporting the arts?

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Leadership in Our Community

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.

Leadership is defined as the act of leading a group of people or an organization.  This sounds so simple, but does not take into effect that there are various levels of leadership. So I am going to suggest that the question is really “Why is GREAT Leadership Important in Our Community?”

Strong leaders have skills that they have developed over time though study and experience. They know how to use communication and organizational skills to elicit ideas, buy-in, and participation from the people they lead.

The best leaders are not “in charge.” They are facilitating a group toward higher and more advanced goals and thought. The best leaders want to lead to reach the goals not to be kings. They lead because they have a vision they hope to accomplish, and they want to find others to help create the reality of that vision or they want to evaluate and enhance the vision thorough the eyes and input of other people. They understand that it takes a village to create change, not just one bull headed person.

Which brings me to why leadership is important in OUR community. We live in a wonderful place with lots of sunshine, intellectual opportunities, culture, and friendly people. During these tough economic times, we have had to make many decisions about how to maximize our dwindling financial resources. We would have a stronger community if more people who live here participated in activities and programs that enriched their lives.  As their lives are enriched, the community benefits. Involved community members generate new ideas and lead to even more participants. Strong leadership can provide the basis for tackling the difficult questions that face us as a community, and for cultivating an enfranchised population who participate and care about what happens in the community.

So, as a leader, I want to know: How do you captivate people to join in and participate?

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