Tag Archives: Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services

The Opportunity to Lead is a Gift

Arizona LeadershipGenia Kehayes, Class 27
VP of Finance and 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.

“Leadership is a Gift of Opportunity”

Of all of the wonderful quotes we heard or developed in our class about community stewardship, this one really resonated with me.  I had never before thought of volunteering one’s time or leading a project group as an opportunity.  We are constantly pulled in many directions between work, family, hobbies, etc. and I began to wonder how I could fit community service (or community stewardship, as we referred to it) into an already busy lifestyle.  Thinking of stewardship as an opportunity gives a whole different perspective to spending one’s time addressing an issue, or “noticing an opportunity”.

The quote I opened with came from Mary King, one of the board members of Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services (S.T.A.R.S.).  We were treated to a site visit to learn more about this wonderful facility, which provides services for developmentally disabled adults in our community.  Ms. King founded a similar organization in California and talked to us about how she did it.

I found her presentation to be inspiring and reassuring.  She emphasized that in finding an opportunity to lead, one didn’t necessarily need special skills or a large list of wealthy, influential friends.  She talked about “using what you have”:  finding people to help you and keeping your mind on the people you’re serving.

Another concept we discussed was that stewardship entailed leaving a legacy for the future.  During our day, we visited the McDowell Mountain Preserve Gateway.  I am familiar with the Gateway because when the weather is cooler I enjoy light hiking there and I know that creation of the Preserve has taken decades.   After having participated in our class, I am even more in awe of the vision of those who got the ball rolling in creating the Preserve.  Clearly, a number of people saw an opportunity to create a lasting legacy for future generations.

During the day, we heard from community members who volunteered their time on local, regional and national issues.  Their discussions did not focus on the specifics of their work but rather, what community stewardship meant to them, why they got involved in the issues they represented, and how they fit it into their otherwise busy lives.  It was gratifying to learn that there are so many ways to serve the community.  There are social services programs we all are familiar with, but there are also opportunities in small neighborhoods, politics, the arts, etc.

There were some great takeaways regarding Community Stewardship that they shared:

  • “What you’ve done to help others can’t ever diminish in value.”
  • “Stewardship is part of your life.” (Not something to fit in)
  • “If you don’t love what you’re doing and the cause you’re working for, find another one.  There is plenty of opportunity to make a difference.”

Today was overwhelmingly inspirational and made me think of leadership and volunteering in a whole new way.  Now I want to know… Where do you lead in our community and what does community stewardship mean to you?


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Can you see the STARS in Scottsdale?

Teshara Boston, MBA
Scottsdale Leadership, Class 26

This last April, I had the pleasure of volunteering at the 39th Annual Fiesta de las Madrinas hosted by STARS – Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services. Fiesta de las Madrinas means “Party of the God Mothers.”

Since 1973, STARS has provided services for individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities from Scottsdale and throughout the metro-Phoenix area. They serve nearly 200 people EVERY single day and host community workshops and provide social events for the participants and their families. The organization serves a range of ages from teens 15+ all the way up to the age of 75 year old individuals. Recently STARS had funding cut by the government but is still being mandated by law to provide the same level of services despite funding decreases.

Picture of the Wine Glass Markers the STARS participants created to raise funds for their organization.

Fiesta de las Madrinas is necessary to raise funds so that STARS can maintain the level of service they have to provide.  At the event several featured items that earned big returns are the wine glass markers that the participant’s hand made! Since they have some form of disability, the wine markers provided a great way to use the skills they have learned to make a beautiful, personalized message that just because they are handicapped, they are still talented and capable of great things!

This organization is one of personal importance to me. My mother was a teacher of the severe and profoundly handicapped at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Norfolk, VA. Growing up, I would go with her to work and at a very young age I had a compassion and understanding of the physical challenges handicapped persons can face. My mother taught me that patience and positive reinforcement is the key to being a change maker in the lives of those faced with physical and mental disabilities. I also have a cousin that was injured in a terrible car accident. I have seen the care and rehabilitation he has received over the past 10+ years bring him back to functioning and thriving status.

It is a special mission to uplift and encourage those that are not in main stream society. STARS’ mission is to improve the lives of individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities. They also provide employment services and participants receive assessment, training and employment opportunities throughout the community. STARS provide businesses with product assembly, labeling, sorting, collating, packaging, disassembly, and kitting. Day programs, Creative Arts, Photography Program, and Music Therapy are also provided by STARS to encourage and promote social skills and creative thinking for participants. This assists in communication skills and gaining self-esteem, independence, and self-expression.

It was my pleasure to serve my community at this worthwhile and wonderful event. I am honored to have the opportunity to help the STARS organization in their mission to serve the Scottsdale and Phoenix-metro area.

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Taking pride in Community Leadership

Cindy SlickCindy Slick, Class 4
Retired, APS

Scottsdale certainly had a different feel in 1990, the year of my participation in Scottsdale Leadership Class IV.  But having lived in this beautiful city since the late 50’s, I have seen every decade bring more residents, business challenges, expanded government, school district growth, environmental concerns, increased needs for health and human services and an ever blossoming arts and cultural awareness.

What better forum to dig deeper and learn more about all of these issues, than Scottsdale Leadership?  I still remember the excitement I felt when I found that I had been chosen to be a class member.  I had read an article about the organization in the Scottsdale Daily Progress (our long gone hometown newspaper) and filled out the application.  At the time, my job at APS had nothing to do with being community minded and I feared that if I was selected that I would not be able to get the time off to participate as Scottsdale Leadership held class every other Friday.  But, as they say, all of that is history.

I credit Scottsdale Leadership with the beginning of my career change; APS certainly did support my membership (and many other employees thereafter) and I went on to become the Community Relations Manager.  I just retired after a 31 year career with APS.  Scottsdale Leadership was the perfect training ground for my new job and for getting involved in the community.  I soaked up as much information as I could from each class day but more importantly, I learned so much from my fellow class members.

After graduating from Scottsdale Leadership I served two terms on its Board of Directors and was privileged to attend many National Leadership conferences.  I was so proud to note that Scottsdale Leadership was always one of the best examples of what a leadership organization should be.  In the early 90’s we were one of the first nationally to move away from training a hierarchical style of leadership and began to model servant leadership.  This approach, which includes self discovery and a desire to serve others, certainly enhanced my growth as a leader.

It enabled me give back to many organizations over the years – Scottsdale/Paradise Valley YMCA, ASU Sun Angel Foundation, Fiesta Bowl committee and the Paradise Valley Hospital.

Servant leadership was also alive and well on the board of Community Celebrating Diversity (CCD), where I had the pleasure of serving from 1998 – 2008. We took what started as a breakfast attended by about 35 people to what is now one of the premier events in Scottsdale honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Nearly all of the board members of this organization are Scottsdale Leadership graduates and I always list this as a proud community leadership accomplishment.

Congratulations to all of my fellow graduates and to a remarkable organization on this 25th anniversary.  I will be forever grateful for the difference Scottsdale Leadership made in my life and the lives of so many others.


Scottsdale Leadership is celebrating 25 years of developing community leaders. NFL all-star Kurt Warner will serve as keynote speaker at its 25th Anniversary celebration event on April 14. A $25,000 Gift to the Community will be split between Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services (STARS) and Best Buddies Program in Scottsdale. Tickets and information available by calling 480-627-6710 or online at scottsdaleleadership.org.

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Leadership Spotlight – Katy Kelewae, Class XXII

Katy Kelewae STARSThis blog is forth in a series from alumni about their experience in Scottsdale Leadership. Katy Kelewae is a graduate of Class XXII and the Development Associate & Volunteer Coordinator for STARS. Scottsdale Leadership is currently recruiting participants for Class 26. Visit scottsdaleleadership.org for details.

Katy Kelewae, Class 22
STARS, Development Associate & Volunteer Coordinator

Community Involvement: ASU Lodestar’s Generation Next Nonprofit Leadership Academy, Class 3; Kent State University Phoenix Alumni Chapter Co-Chair; Scottsdale Leadership, PR & Marketing Committee member

How has Scottsdale Leadership enhanced your community involvement? Scottsdale Leadership enhanced my community involvement in many ways – too many to list. Without the community knowledge I gained through Scottsdale Leadership, I would have never been able to know where I wanted to make a difference. Without Scottsdale Leadership, I would not have known the needs of the community, priorities of citizens, or where to go to learn more.

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how did you learn it? The most important leadership lesson I learned was that true leaders will, at some point, have to do what isn’t popular, what is unpleasant, and may suffer personally as a result. But, that true leaders will make the right decision because it is the right thing to do. I learned this by meeting Jim Bruner and hearing about his past and experiences.

If you could solve any community issue or need, what would it be? If I could fix any community issue, it would be getting community leaders and passionate members of the community to communicate with respect. Passion is wonderful to have, but when it gets in your way of communicating with respect and understanding, decisions seemed forced on the opposition and divisions widen.

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Seeing the big picture is hard – but necessary

By Katy Kelewae, Class 22
STARS, Development Associate & Volunteer Coordinator

Looking at a present situation and deciding to take a leadership role in wherever your passion lies may seem daunting task. It is often hard, if not impossible, to visualize what the end result may look like. I am fortunate enough to know one amazing individual who took her passion from the very starting point to what is today the non-profit, Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services or STARS.

Mary King had just moved to Scottsdale, in 1973 and was working part time in the City Manager’s office. She was given the task of researching what programs and services were available to adults with intellectual disabilities in the Scottsdale area. She found none. With the support of Scottsdale elected officials, including Mayor Herb Drinkwater, Mary began to pull together other passionate individuals and groups who all wanted the same result – employment opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities.

For the past 38 years, Mary has stayed by STARS’ side through many changes including adopting the name STARS, the opening of new facilities and the closing of others. If asked in 1973 if she thought one project at her part time job would change the lives of so many people, she probably would have said “no.” Mary saw an underserved population, knew that something had to be done to make their lives better, and kept going by taking it one day, task, challenge at a time. Today, STARS serves 180 adults with intellectual disabilities and their family’s everyday because of her dedication and focus.

Looking into 2011 and beyond, we see others setting a course for the future of STARS, a future that may not be fully realized for years. In 1973 the shift for individuals with disabilities was from institutionalization, to programs and services. Today, the shift is from sheltered employment to full integration into the community. Scottsdale Unified School District took a big step in 2010 towards creating the next phase of services for individuals with intellectual disabilities by partnering with STARS and creating the Cholla Special Needs Community Campus. Companies such as Fry’s and Scottsdale Healthcare are leading the way locally by creating the employment future for adults with disabilities along with STARS and others who continue onward by taking it one day at a time.

One person was able to look ahead and take action, where do you think you can make a difference?

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