5 Things You Don’t Know about the 71st Woman of the Year
Strong, diverse leadership is our advantage as we work to create a stronger Arizona. That’s why every year we celebrate outstanding community leaders. Karrin Taylor Robson will be honored – along with Man of the Year Kenneth J. Schutz and Inaugural Person of the Decade, Sen. John McCain – at the virtual 71st Annual Man and Woman of the Year event on Oct. 29.
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She has shaped the Phoenix community, in more ways than you may think. Taylor Robson has spent her career focused on land use, currently as founder and president of Arizona Strategies. Her work has led to the approval of more than 30,000 acres, 38,000 homes and over 25 million square feet of commercial property. She has also given her time extensively in the community. Currently she serves as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, which is responsible for the governance of the state’s public universities; vice chair of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council; trustee member of Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix Foundation; and executive board member of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and invisionAZ.
And, she’s working to make sure it’s enjoyed by future generations. Taylor Robson said her parents were the first environmentalists she ever met, instilling a “waste not, want not” ethos, which she saw echoed in in father’s policy work in the Arizona Legislature. “My father instilled in me a love and respect for our fragile desert environment and an appreciation for its beauty,” Taylor Robson told Green Living Magazine. “We were taught to be stewards of the land and our environment and we were taught to always leave a light footprint wherever we went.” For her part, Taylor Robson has worked with national organizations on Endangered Species Act and wetlands issues.
Community engagement isn’t just a nice thing to do – it’s a requirement as Americans. For Taylor Robson, that doesn’t just mean rolling up your sleeves and being of service; it also means doing so respectfully and collaboratively. “People support what they help create,” she told ASU. That’s why she is engaged in the Civic Leaders Group for the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force and helped found the Regents’ Cup – an annual debate competition between Arizona’s three universities, designed to encourage mutual respect and civil discourse.
Politics is in her blood. Her father, Carl Kunasek, served in the Arizona Legislature for 16 years, including as president of the Arizona Senate. She was getting ready to graduate from Arizona State University, already reserving her cap and gown, when her friends convinced her to run for student body president. She agreed and stayed at ASU another year, adding a second degree – political science. Before working in land use, she worked in the White House and then for Kay Orr, the first female governor of Nebraska. “Over the course of life, you try and find the best place to give back to your community and move your community forward. That’s what I have always done in my personal and professional life, and I see no reason to deviate from that course,” she told the Arizona Mirror.
Her mother taught her the importance of gratitude. Being thankful is the root of happiness, she has shared, and one of her favorite quotes is from the Roman statesman Cicero: “Gratitude is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all others.”