Tag Archives: SRP

A Bird’s Eye View of Water and Power

KinsellaBy Lois Kinsella, Class 28
Intel Corporation

Class 28 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.

Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program provides its students with a bird’s eye view of the City of Scottsdale: its people, its culture and history, and the intricate infrastructure required to support it.  A lucky few recently had a different bird’s eye view – from the windows of a Bell 212 helicopter, compliments of Salt River Project (SRP).  Along with an impressive sight-seeing excursion, it was also an amazing lesson in the waterways and power sources which SRP manages across the state.


Hydro, coal, methane, natural gas, desalination, surface water, drought-planning… SRP has been a leading company in the valley for decades, dating back to the reclamation act in the early 1900s for the privately-owned water division of the company, and the ‘20s for the publicly-owned power division which serves over 950K+ customers.  Legend tells that Arizona’s waterways were first designed by early native tribes, then later re-built and improved upon using ideas from people such as C.C. Cragin who came to town with a visionary design for water flow; a great challenge for a state with very low annual rainfall.  At the time he was run out of town for radical ideas which may have been simply ahead of their time, however C.C. Cragin’s has since been described and recognized as a utility artist.


Our sincere thanks to our new SRP friends Mark Campbell, Jason Dudley, and our pilot John, for an impressive day – check-mark on the bucket list for taking a helicopter ride!

A few knowledge nuggets from the day:

  • If you flipped on the switch to a natural gas plant, it could be producing power in under 15 minutes.  Roughly the same time it takes to heat up my bbq to cook dinner!
  • Palo Verde Nuclear is the largest nuclear plant in the USA, and the only one which uses reclaimed water in its operations.  A great example of how water and power working together can reduce our carbon footprint.
  • There is no such thing as ‘new’ water; water is continuously recycled, cleaned using ground filtration and treatment methods, then re-used.  An insightful way to think about water…

AS SRP continues to plan ahead 20-30 years for our water needs, and 10 years ahead for our power usage, think about what you could do to make a difference TODAY!  What are your ideas?


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Should the State Support the Arts?

SRP Arizona LeadershipJason Gunawardena, Class 27
Sr. Electrical Engineer, Salt River Project

Art day has to have been the most memorable day so far in the Scottsdale Leadership Program. We learned about programs at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, saw many of Scottsdale’s Public Art pieces and toured an Artist School. This is an exploration of a segment of our Arts Day where representatives from the Arizona Commission of the Arts and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts were appealing for further state support for the arts.

The arts enlarge, elevate, and harmonize the soul of Scottsdale.  It may be asked what would become of arts in Scottsdale without her Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.  It might even be asked whether, without centralization and consequently the support of fine arts, that exquisite taste would be developed which is the fruit of the city’s labor, and which introduces its productions to the world.

Does the right of the Arizona legislator extend to cutting the wages of the people, to supply the profits of the artist?  It was said, “Without public funding, the arts will not survive.”  It might be answered, if you desire to support everything which is good and useful, where will you stop?  Will you not be led to form a civil list for agriculture, industry, commerce, benevolence, education?  Then does government aid favor the progress of art?

Galleries that prosper are those that depend on their own resources.  We observe that wants and desires arise, and are born and refined in proportion as the public wealth allows these to be fulfilled.  Government should not take part in the arts, because it could not by taxation stimulate the arts of necessity, while restricting those of luxury, thus creating a natural disruption.

Choosing and spending should come from the people and not from government and the opposite will lead to the destruction of liberty and human dignity.  But why is it that when we disapprove of government support, we are philistines and are supposed to disapprove of the thing whose support is discussed only because we desire to see those activities seek reward in themselves.  Can the state exist to protect the free development of all these kinds of activities without pillaging from others?  The development is natural under the influence of liberty instead of being shaped by the powers that legislature dictates.    When asked “what is art?” and one of my classmates said “humanity.”  If art is humanity then this is not art.

The constitutionality of the establishment came into question.   The response received was the pursuit of happiness is in the constitution and art provides happiness.  Then give freedom to pursue happiness without government providing it for us as the founders designed it.

They stated that in regards to financing, that at the end of the day the federal government is a leader to its constituents and even if it gives a rounding error of 200 million it is conveying the message that art is a central part of our lives.  So the government should be dictating to its people what should be the central part of our lives similar to North Korean society?  It is clear that the taxpayer, will no longer have this “rounding error” at his own disposal and that the workman who would have received it from him, will be deprived of a benefit to that amount.  The vote of the 200 million will not add anything to the well being of the country, and to the national labor.

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Words To Live By

Nick Molinari, Class 26
City of Scottsdale

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.

Be brave, laugh a lot, do the right thing and make a new friend.

When I leave for work every day, these are my parting words with my two boys, Leo and Mario.  Honestly, I can’t take credit for coming up with these simple nuggets of wisdom. My dear friend Tim Miluk (who is also my boss) has been saying this to his two beautiful daughters for years. We spend a lot of time together and I guess after hearing it for so long, it just sunk in. As a parent, this simple direction really captures the hopes I have for my two little guys. If they can be brave enough to try new things and step out of their comfort zone, if they have an opportunity to be goofy and laugh with their friends, if they make the right choices throughout the day and if they take the time to embrace people they don’t know, what more could you ask for?  As I reflected on my experience as part of Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 26, I realized that this daily mantra really aligns with the mission of the program.

Be Brave
We had to be brave right off the bat, starting with our 90-second commercials on orientation day.  The personal ads were a bit nerve racking to prepare for, not really knowing what was expected of us, who would be watching and what our other classmates would come up with.   They certainly kicked off our experience on a high note though.

Personally, I really had to “be brave” to hop on that SRP helicopter ride in February. I am terrified of heights and can get queasy on an airplane. Seriously though, when would I have another chance to ride in a helicopter?  I chose “being brave,” and capitalized on a great experience that I will never forget.

Our projects required our class, in many regards, to take a leap of faith. What united our group was an eagerness to stake new territory and I think each of Class 26’s Project Pay it Forward Projects exemplified that.  Scottsdale Leadership graduates don’t accept things the way they are. There are examples of this all over our city. From pushing the initiative of civil dialogue to nurturing a world-class art community, Scottsdale Leadership graduates have had to step out of their comfort zones and “be brave” to make Scottsdale a better place.

Laugh A Lot
Honestly, I didn’t expect the program to be as much fun as it was. The networking after class (aka “happy hour”) was great and gave the class an opportunity to get to know each other on a different level. One thing I can say about the organization – the SL staff, the day chairs, the volunteers – they all love what they do. You can see it in their work and it makes a difference.

Do The Right Thing
This is what the program and the process was really all about – how can our class apply our strengths, resources and time to “do the right thing” in our community. Obviously, that means different things to each of the 40 participants, but from community stewardship to education to economic development, the core program gave us tools to get out there, “do the right thing” and lead through the choices we make and the actions we take.

Make A New Friend
Prior to starting Scottsdale Leadership, friends and co-workers who had gone through the program had told me how much they connected with their classmates and that they had developed friendships that they still have today. In all honesty, this is not my greatest skill. I am a bit introverted and have had the same collection of friends since elementary school. With that said, I was eager to meet a bunch of people who love Scottsdale as much as I do.  The new friends and great connections I made were the most significant take away for me.  I have an expanded group of Scottsdale ambassadors I can call on to help make a difference in our city.

One of the best things to come out of my experience with Scottsdale Leadership is that it reinforced how the simple things – friendship, courage and stewardship – are a formula for success anywhere.

What words do you live by?


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Defining Sustainability

Jenifer Dymek, Class 26
Executive Analyst, SRP

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 is sustainability? That is the question that we discussed in our March 16th Scottsdale Leadership class. What we learned is that sustainability is everywhere, and with so many options, each person can do a lot at home or at work to improve the future of our valley.

Many people might think that to increase sustainability you have to decrease in your own comfort or “give things up.” Not true! As we learned from General Dynamics, changing something like a front lawn (or football field in their case) can have a dramatic impact on the amount of water consumed, not to mention all of the other factors and costs associated with maintaining it. In addition, the cost savings can be staggering, giving a whole new meaning to going “green.”

As many of us who have spent time in the valley know, it’s changed a lot over the last few decades. We live in a beautiful place and that has attracted many new residents and businesses. Growth is wonderful, but with it comes more golf courses, businesses and homes. Sometimes we forget that we still live in a desert and that water isn’t as abundant as we may think. Several members of our class were able to take a helicopter tour of the SRP water system and during class we all learned about the Central Arizona Project system. Water is our most precious resource, and a lot of people are working on how to keep it readily available. Because, without water, there is no Valley of the Sun.

So, what is sustainability? In my opinion, I think that’s up to each person to decide. Whether you’ve never recycled and you start, or you have your home assessed for ways to make it more efficient, or you look for options within your business to lower your water or energy consumption, or you build a new home or office using the best known practices. Creating a sustainable future is all around us, and now we have the tools and knowledge to see what works for us!

What does sustainability mean to you?

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Vista del Camino Volunteer Project

Jenifer Dymek, Class 26
Executive Analyst, SRP

My normal day: wake up, get ready for work, get my daughter ready for school, remind my husband where he left his keys (and sunglasses), drop off my daughter, go to work, anticipate what today is going to take to keep everything running smoothly, leave work, pick up my daughter, make dinner, bike ride?, do dishes (and any other household chores), bath time, pajamas, story time, bedtime, collapse on the couch and breathe. As you can tell, I am busy. I am so busy that there is no way I could ever find time to volunteer. At least that’s what I told myself.

But then an amazing thing happened. I made time. I made time to volunteer at the Food Bank at Vista del Camino. Vista’s mission is to provide a variety of social services to residents of Scottsdale. This includes services to prevent homelessness, meet the basic needs of individuals or families in crisis, relieve economic and emotional stress and assist individuals so they can remain self-sufficient.

I learned that the Food Bank is staffed almost totally by volunteers. Men and woman who consistently give their time to make sure that someone is there to receive donations and to sort through each item and prepare boxes and bags to be distributed to those who need it. The ladies I worked with show up every week, many for years, to ensure that the Food Bank continues to run and provide the needed services. They work one or a couple days a week for two to four hours, whatever time they have available. They do it because they want to help, and they do a great job. The pantry was perfectly organized by food with lists placed strategically to remind each person what goes in a box or a bag, and a tracking system for how many boxes are created. Once all the sorting and boxing was completed, we even dusted the tops of the cans!

I shared with my co-volunteers that until I went through Scottsdale Leadership, I had no idea that Scottsdale had a food bank. Or that I’d ridden my bike past it a million times while utilizing the greenbelt bike paths. I was surprised (and somewhat pacified) to know that until many of them started to volunteer, they weren’t aware of Vista’s existence either. Vista del Camino does a fantastic job, and their volunteers are amazing. But how much greater could it be if leaders used their connections and leadership skills within the community to let others know that it exists? They could also focus on ensuring consistent food streams. How many other food bank collection boxes do we see throughout Scottsdale? What if even a portion of those donations were directed towards Vista del Camino?

Community leaders can do a lot of good. They can lead, fundraise and spread the word about organizations like Vista. But sometimes, one of the best things they can do is to make time to volunteer. Meet people bringing bags at the door; thank them for their donation, sort and place items in boxes for those who need it. And yes, even dust cans.

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Welcome to Class 26

Jenifer Dymek
Sr. Advertising Strategist, Salt River Project

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.

The first day of Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 26 was like the first day of school. Maybe it was the excitement of being on a school campus (our first class was held at Scottsdale Community College), or maybe just the chance to meet other people ready to embark on an adventure. A new place where we’ll all be pushed to be better, and stretch a little higher. The hum of the room and the excitement touched everyone, from members of the class to the alumni and staff.

So what makes up this class of leaders? In the amazing 90-second commercials, we found out that we have poets and football fanatics. A crockpot chef and a police chief named Jeff. An amazing baker, a nail polish fanatic, a ringside announcer and animal lover. Still remember what makes Nick tick? Lawyers and CPA’s and realtors, oh my! A marathon runner and rock and roll singer, this class is loaded with leadership ringers!

There are so many to name, and so many new faces to get to know. This class is filled with amazing and interesting people and we’ve only seen the very tip of the iceberg.

But what is a leader? Former Scottsdale city manager Dick Bowers shared his experience and inspirational thoughts:

  • There is nobility in public service
  • You can make change happen despite your surrounding situation
  • Discuss the un-discussables
  • Create tension
  • Controversy is a seed to grow
  • The relationship with the person directly below you is less important than the one with the person several layers below you
  • Keep your vision within people’s grasp

In the words of our Scottsdale Leadership president Brian Bednar, it’s our time to be present and take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Good luck to all!


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Alumni Spotlight- Brian Bednar, Class XX

Brian Bednar, Scottsdale Leadership Board President
Senior Account Manager, SRP

He’s the guy with the gavel — the head cheese, if you will. He serves a number of leadership roles and was recently honored by Kappa Sigma fraternity as “Outstanding Alumnus Advisor.” Here’s two minutes with Brian Bednar on Scottsdale Leadership and life.

Focus for Scottsdale Leadership:  To create a sustainable organization for another 25 years, grow upon the organization’s great success, build effective working committees, and bring a new planned giving program to the organization.

Favorite Scottsdale Leadership memory: Meeting and escorting Kurt Warner during the our 25th Anniversary Celebration this past year.  I was able to spend some quality time with Kurt and was surprised by his humbleness. He has shown great leadership both on the field and off.

Favorite Scottsdale restaurant/place: Frank & Lupe’s Mexican in Old Town

Leader you’d most like to meet:  Robert Gates, the recent Secretary of Defense. He was previously the President of Texas A&M University, Director of the CIA, Deputy National Security Advisor, and was born and raised in Kansas, my home state. I admire his proven track record of leadership and community service (also being an eagle scout).

Favorite ways to give back: Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Fiesta Bowl, SRP and Kappa Sigma Fraternity Advisor.

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Jeff Klefstad – Class XXV Continues to Look Ahead!

Jeff Klefstad, Class 25
Sr. Key Account Manager, SRP

Community Involvement:
SRP Employee Boosters Association Coordinator and Contributor
Society of St. Vincent de Paul Christmas Adopt-a-Family Volunteer
Scottsdale Culinary Festival Volunteer
Habitat for Humanity Volunteer
Andre House Volunteer
Junior Achievement of Arizona Volunteer

As a Scottsdale resident for over 25 years and counting, I thought I knew my beloved city. The more I learned, compliments of Scottsdale Leadership, the more I realized just how little I knew. The on-site experiences, classroom presenters, new friends and the Pay it Forward projects was a valuable learning gift to all of us. We grew, learned and became better leaders.

There were so many great opportunities available for the “Silver Bullets” of Class XXV, yet one that quickly comes to mind was actually not a class day but an alumni event, “Restaurant Week”. This was an evening event for all current classmates and past Scottsdale Leadership graduates to gather and keep abreast of a current topic. In addition to meeting the Honorable Jim Lane, Mayor of Scottsdale and his wife Joanne, we also were treated to a inspiring presentation by Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona. Kimber encouraged us to spend our dollars with a locally owned business rather than a national business, whenever possible. I could not have agreed with her more.

I’d like to share some advice to those fortunate enough to be chosen for the upcoming Class XXVI program. Please meet, participate and as equally important, “listen” to each of your classmates at each class/event/project meeting. Sit with a different group of classmates you have not spent time with so you equally have the opportunity to get to know each other. You will develop great friendships with many of your classmates so maximize this opportunity for yourself and others. Extend your hand to everyone and appreciate the possibility of long term friendships as you take pride in your class!

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To Infinity, and Beyond

Kelly Ries, Class 25
Sustainability Program Strategist, Salt River Project

The very first day of class for Scottsdale Leadership Class XXV (Silver Bullets!), we were told that we would form bonds not only with our fellow class members, project group members, but also with the community of Scottsdale itself.  We all looked around, not believing we would become so invested in each other and in changing the world around us for the better in just two Fridays a month for nine months.  Well, it turns out they were right.

Scottsdale Leadership’s mission – to inform, inspire, and empower leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community – was never more evident to me than during my own Pay It Forward project, the Scottsdale P.E.T. Pantry.

Inform.  One of our very first class days was held at Vista del Camino throughout the day we were informed that Vista del Camino was in great need of many services that, for various reasons, they could not provide their clients.  Right then, many in our class wanted to jump in and get involved.

Inspire.  Once our project group formed, we found we were all inspired that class day at Vista del Camino.  Everyone involved at Vista del Camino really wants to make our community a better place by helping one Scottsdale resident at a time.  We wanted to help them in whatever way we could, so when Vista del Camino’s head honcho Kathy Breen turned our original project idea down and offered another one, we were quick to take it on.  Not only did we bond with our beneficiary but we also bonded with the project.  We took Kathy Breen’s mention of needing a way to feed pets as well as people and ran with it.  We truly wanted to help “keep pets with their people”.  By the end of our project, we had created donation portals, social media outlets, a marketing campaign, a website, and raised approximately $15,000.

Empower.  By project presentation day, the energy was palpable.  I think everyone in Class XXV felt like they could take on any challenge in our community that came before them.  In fact, one member from another team even mentioned that she felt like since this project in such a short period of time, she felt like she could take on the world.  I really feel like this cast of characters from Scottsdale Leadership could go to infinity and beyond when we set our minds on accomplishing a goal.

Community.  Community drives Scottsdale Leadership and Scottsdale Leadership has become integral to our community.  No matter which group won on our Pay It Forward project presentation day, there really were no losers.  Scottsdale is a stronger community because of my class and the projects we implemented.  Together we impacted the children, senior, and mentally and physically handicapped citizens of Scottsdale as well as Scottsdale’s pet population.

I have always been involved in my community, but Scottsdale Leadership gave me the opportunity to impact it in a way I never imagined possible before applying for the program.  While the road wasn’t always smooth for my team, we found that by leveraging our existing skills and contacts along with those newly gained from Scottsdale Leadership, we were able to accomplish our goal of helping “keep pets with their people”.

We truly were able to go to infinity and beyond with our project because of Scottsdale Leadership.


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Leadership Spotlight – Jolynn Clarke, Class X

Jolynn Clarke, SRPThis blog is first in a series from alumni about their experience in Scottsdale Leadership. Jolynn Clarke is a graduate of Class X and the Staffing Manager at Salt River Project. Scottsdale Leadership is currently recruiting participants for Class 26. Visit scottsdaleleadership.org for details.

Name and Class:  Jolynn Clarke, Class X
Current place of employment, title:  Salt River Project, Staffing Manager

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how did you learn it? One of the most important leadership lessons I’ve learned is that the skills used when working with volunteers – empathy, appealing to a common goal, using humor, finding someone’s passion are just as applicable when working from a management position.  In addition, I was introduced to and embraced the ideals of servant leadership during my Scottsdale Leadership class and the staff I currently work with appreciates me using these ideals in our work together.

If you could solve any community issue or need, what would it be? If I could solve any community issue right now it would be to bring more jobs to our community especially in south Scottsdale.  Undoubtedly the economy we are struggling with now will have long-lasting effects.  More jobs in our area strengthens our economy and our overall community.

What was your most memorable Scottsdale Leadership Class day and why? The most memorable Leadership day for me was the one dedicated to education.  I have been, and continue to be, an advocate of public schools.  However, I learned through the presenters that day that there are many merits to and needs for charter schools and home schooling.  It opened my eyes and my mind.  It’s been 15 years and I still tell people about the information shared and the impact it had on me.  It was awesome.

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