mayMay Millies, Class 37, Graduation Speech

Thank you for the thoughtful nomination and electing me as your class speaker. I reiterate my thoughts from yesterday that there are no words to explain how nervous, honored, and truly humbled I am to speak on behalf of the Best Class Ever.

Before I go further, let us first recognize that VL does not happen without the vision and coordination of Christy Moore, and her incredible team: Sophia Mayberry, Linda Finecey and Tye Harrison. Also, let us recognize Tivon Moffit, the VL Board, Ambassadors, Program Day Chairs, and the numerous VL Alumni who have generously shared their time, resources, talents and networks to provide us with the Best Program Days – Ever!

To our family, friends, and colleagues with us here tonight or in our hearts who have supported us, endured our project efforts, missed functions, late dinners, tonight my younger son’s missed 13th birthday, and any other sacrifice to make this journey possible – thank you for your patience and your love.

And now, to the Valley Leadership Class 37 – Most Caring Class Ever which makes us the Best Class Ever, this journey has been nothing short of amazing. We have learned so many things and that to be a leader we have to INFLUENCE change. These are a few of my thoughts that hopefully capture the incredible journey we have shared:

We started with “hello my name is and this is what I do”
and ended with sculpting, dancing, drawing, laughing and how arts matter, too.

Clanned in Simsoc to deprive or thrive,
Yellow, Blue, Green, or Red.
We answered questions and Crossed the Line,
Open to all things left unsaid.

We know GPEC, electricity, transportation, and why Phoenix is so HOT it’s COOL.
And, we even now know how they keep –
water in our pool.

Dark Money, Super PACs, Independent Expenditures but we are willing to keep reducing taxes in hopes that no one notices that the population continues to increase with no equitable funding assistance for education, for our children, for our healthcare
That situation doesn’t make sense so it doesn’t get a rhyme!

We learned the beauty and challenges of Tribal nations,
And how mass and social media demand us to speak our truths.
That equity is not equality!
AZ’s rate of poverty – is living proof.

Woop Woop! That’s the sound of da’ police.
That’s the sound of real bravery and honor – a calling to serve.
Maybe a new calling for some of us,
If we have the nerve.

Are we the most caring class ever?
Only 4.3% of AZ is civically engaged!
Will we still help tomorrow?
Or, pretend it all away?

Okay, before Tivon pulls me off the stage with a donation made in our behalf (KIDDING!!), I leave you with a quick story:

While in NY for a meeting this week, the attendees and I had the opportunity to share our thoughts on leadership. I reflected immediately on my experiences in VL and realized for as much as it has taught us, it has stretched us if not more.

My share is this:
If you want to be a successful valley leader, get ready to be uncomfortable.

We heard, “the moment you concede the fault is theirs you remove responsibility from yourself”. So, take the lead. Take the heat.

This is not a box to be checked or line to add to your resume. You are informed. You are obligated. You are most caring. You are an influencer. You are ready to be uncomfortable!

Class 37 Graduation Speech