Leadership In Transition
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Late spring, Arizona-style, is here and with it Valley Leadership is fast approaching the graduation of Class 37 and beginning the selection process for Class 38. These numbers completely leave me open mouthed. Seeing that VL is fast approaching four decades of alumni is remarkable.

Equally as remarkable is how great our alumni are at finding those future class members who will take the leadership institute experience and convert it into truly positive relationships, resources, and programs for our community. For those of you who have helped with selection, thank you for playing a lynch-pin role in helping Phoenix fulfill its potential! We are glad to have you back again this year. If you haven’t taken part in the process of reading and scoring packets and interviewing candidates, please accept my invitation to make 2016 the year that you do. Ask any of the alumni who spend a few hours during May helping with this process, they will confirm how rewarding the time spent is. Personally, I love it when I bump into a shiny new VLI class member who I interviewed.  I always enjoy the opportunity to share what I saw and loved about the future alumni during their interview. Hop in and volunteer, you won’t be disappointed.

This talk of leadership institute classes, both new and graduating, makes for a nice transition to the topic of education in Arizona. Very soon the citizens of our state will be making a decision regarding Proposition 123, likely the most discussed piece of legislation to emerge from our most recent government sessions. In the spirit of Valley Leadership being a space for civil and thoughtful engagement regarding hard topics, I am holding back on any “in favor or not” comments regarding Prop 123. Instead, let me say this: we know that no matter how the vote resolves, figuring out how Arizona can cultivate its future potential will need plenty of focus for a long, long time.

Our population is growing.  With this growth, the driveline for the depth of knowledge and skills being asked of our children as they leave our education pipeline also has a steep path aiming upward for at least the next 10-15 years.  The solutions will not come from simple or obvious directions or the outcome of this vote. If the path was easy, it would already have been walked. Getting education where we want it to be is going to take creativity, relationships, and a willingness to try something new. I believe that there may be insights to be taken and reimagined from other public spaces not historically thought of as education. Looking at wonderful Arizona’s non-profits, technology, and startup entities seems to me to be a rich place for ideas on how to refresh and create a truly Arizonan education model, both in terms of approach and funding.

Wherever the solutions come from, VL alumni are uniquely well-suited to contribute. Quality education that is accessible to all is without question the sort of community challenge that the VLI and its alumni experience are designed to prepare us for. Let me challenge all of you to think about how you could use your unique insights and connections so that our system for cultivating the future goes well-beyond a late spring vote and becomes something much bigger.

Dr. David Bolman
Board Chair
Provost, University of Advancing Technology


Heartfelt Thank You
Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dear fellow members of the Valley Leadership community,

How many hours of care and effort does it take to put together something great? How many people are needed?

When thinking about Valley Leadership’s recent and wonderful 67th Annual Man and Woman of the Year event, the answer to both of those questions certainly feels like a number in the general area of “millions upon millions.” After coming together as an alumni community to recognize the accomplishments of Mrs. Elva Coors and Dr. Michael Crow, Christy Moore and I have received message upon message cheering both the well-matched pairing of the honorees along with the execution of the event. From these messages and the number of alumni who stayed on well into the evening to share stories and map out the future of our valley, I feel right in calling this year’s version of a signature Valley Leadership event a tremendous success. And this leads me back to the first lines written above: The 67th Annual Man and Woman of the Year event would not have been what it was without the many hours of committed and thoughtful work (cheerfully) done by VL staff and alumni.

For those of you who prepped the activities, tuned up the messages, made sure that tables were bought, assembled centerpieces, manned reception, and covered about one hundred other tasks needed for the event—knowing that this statement falls well short of what all of you deserve for what was accomplished—please accept a heartfelt and simple thank you for making this year’s Man and Women of the Year event special for everyone in that room.

There are still worthy events ahead of us before summer settles upon our lives.

As an alum of VL, if you are looking to stay close to the people, issues, ideas, and projects that brought you here, take a look at the Community Dialogue hosted by Valley Leadership on April 14. Attending will give you the opportunity to hear from Paula L. Pedene, a Service Disabled Veteran and VL alum (VLI Class 23), who followed her heart to help reform the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

An added tradition that is a calendar favorite is taking part in selecting the next group of sparkling individuals who will become future VL alumni. As a part of this process we need you, as alum, to help review and score applications, along with interviewing and being green room hosts for candidates on the day of their interviews. As many of you know from being in the room, taking part in class selection refreshes memories of when each of us was an applicant and forges fresh connections with new alumni. We need many of you to spend a few hours as we create VL and our community’s future. Please reach out to Program Manager Sophia Mayberry (sophia@valleyleadership.org) who can help schedule you in.

Finally, a proud shout out to Valley Leadership’s own Christy Moore. There are indeed more things than can be counted that fall into her basket labeled “what I can do to help VL and our community.” So it was very fitting that she was named Director of the Year by the Organization of Nonprofit Executives for her organizational leadership. Give her a well-earned congrats, handshake, or hug as you see fit when you see her next.

Dr. David Bolman
Board President
Provost, University of Advancing Technology

The 67th Annual Man and Woman of the Year
Friday, March 11, 2016

The 67th Man and Woman of the Year event is nearly upon us.

Without a doubt, this event is on my short list of favorite days of the year. If you are reading this message, I feel confident that your calendar can be described as over-full with events that have repeating themes of “getting the hard work done” and “making things better.” This is why I get excited to have an afternoon each year when I can pause and spend time with the greatest density of fellow Valley Leadership alumni whose view of our community (and our calendars) are about the same.

As an organization, Valley Leadership’s legacy is like no other in our community. The imprint that nearly four decades of alumni have made touches just about every aspect of what has grown in our piece of Arizona. The growth, economic opportunity, support for those living here, and cultivation of an experience that is wonderfully Arizonan can be clearly and repeatedly tracked back time and again to VL’s alumni.  This year, we will recognize Mrs. Elva Coor and Dr. Michael Crow for their accomplishments, their spirit of volunteerism, and fearlessness in innovating to evolve the Valley. What they have done is a model for what we value. Their work in a larger way echoes what we as an alumni work towards, bit by bit and over time, to have our community continue to be remarkable in greater and greater ways.

See you on March 24th! Let’s say hello, generate connections that result in building great things, and raise the decibel level a bit at the Biltmore as we take a day to celebrate the legacy created by Valley Leadership alums.

Dr. David Bolman
Board President
Provost, University of Advancing Technology

The New Year
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Here we are at the start of a new year – a time that is beloved to many, myself included. For those of us who call Arizona home, how can we not get excited about this time of year? We are looking ahead to months of weather that is the best. As the weather shifts all of the spaces and events that make up our communities fully come alive in a kind of protracted wonderfulness that we deeply enjoy.

A practice that I do my best to carve out time for is to reflect on the past year, celebrate the victories and be sure that I learned from the events and moments that provided teachings. Even though the holidays certainly have plenty of glittering distractions of their own, I love taking the time to remember the calendar behind us and to see how this lays against the path for the next year. On a good day I get to share these reflections with other VL alumni who, being thinkers-planners-doers, are also have thoughts about the past and the future.

Thinking about the last year and Valley Leadership, I am very proud to say that 2015 was a success that is far above anything we would have hoped for. Last year, VL refreshed how we present ourselves to the community to better align with where we have grown and where we are headed. The new logo and message of Advancing Passions. Accelerating Pursuits. says it well.

Whenever I looked at the caliber and potential of future VL alums who through the selection committee leadership of Megan Cox, Class 33,  populate our Leadership Institute I am a bit awed. Under the alumni leadership of Tivon Moffitt, Class 33 and Joyce Medina Harper, Class 32, Valley Leadership’s flagship program is doing exemplary work in taking these 50+ proven leaders and connecting them in ways that accelerate their ability to build a stronger future for metro Phoenix.

All the while, and within its shiny new home, the work of Valley Leadership is supported by an organization that is as strong as it has ever been. Last month, the pilot Leadership Advance program came to a close – and with it the culmination of years of work creating a new kind of VL experience that captures high-potential leaders and gives them the tools and skills needed to advance in the community. As those who have sat in can attest, this was an incredibly polished experience that did not feel like a trial run to those who took part. You don’t accomplish this without the support of a strong organization and alumni leaders such as Angela Hughey, Class 33.

Last year I had the honor to sit in on the Valley Leadership CEO Circle dinner. This advisory circle brings members of the community together to provide us with guidance on what our community needs most. During the fall 2015 gathering, soon to be Man of the Year, Dr. Micheal Crow stated that one of the greatest needs of our community is a deeper well of trained leaders who know what great looks like and can connect together to not only build greatness, but also to call out and intercede on items that hurt our community.

On all fronts, I am very happy to say after looking back at 2015, it is a safe statement to say that VL is filling the call being put forward by leaders such as Dr. Crow.

The work being done by Valley Leadership is good. Really good. And trending upward. So as we plan our 2016, I hope that you will carve out time to stay engaged. Attend an event or two. Receiving some insider knowledge about the community is time well invested, as is reconnecting with other alums to make plans on a project. Volunteer to help with programming and recruitment. And of course, stay current with your financial support through making an investment, become a community steward member, or help sponsor programming.

Dr. David Bolman
Board President
Provost, University of Advancing Technology

Home Sweet Home
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

One of my favorite quotes from an obscure 80’s movie is: “Home is where you hang your hat” (and cheers to anyone who figures out which cult movie this is from). I love this phrase because it first reminds us that as humans we indeed seek out bases where we are comfortable and surrounded in a sense of welcome. The other suggestion is that, while the locations of our families are always dear to us, there is room in our lives for other spaces that we choose to treat as home.  When my thoughts travel along these tracks, I am reminded how much I appreciate spaces that I can return to time and again – especially when I am in need of ideas, recharge or the companionship of my favorite people.

And of course, this leads to Valley Leadership. Over the last year, the leadership of VL has been thinking hard about creating a space that is an operational center for all of VL’s program offerings, including the Leadership Institute, Man & Woman of the Year, and the Youth Leadership in Philanthropy Program. As this conversation evolved, all members of the staff and Board of Directors asked the question “What would a space look like that would serve alumni of VL programs?”. Knowing that for the majority of us alumni, our work in developing the local community keeps us fluid in terms of our roles and affiliations. VL’s leadership made a priority of designing the new office as a home base that alumni can return to, reconnect with VL relationships and resources. This includes being inviting to encourage visitors to slow down and savor a great latte, a cold brew, and conversation.

It has been a year of hard work and planning, but the elements that make up the new Valley Leadership offices have done what we set out to do. From the historic location across from the Phoenix Country Club, to the reinvention of classic 1960’s architecture, to the shared spaces for alumni to convene, and the tributes to our history, this is a wonderful home base.

I invite you to come see it and take part in the official Grand Opening on October 22nd. We can celebrate, connect, perhaps lay the groundwork for a meaningful community project or two, and enjoy each other’s company.

Here are the details…

From all of us at VL – welcome home, alumni!

Dr. David Bolman
Board President
Provost, University of Advancing Technology

Retreat Remarks
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

After spending time with the Leadership Institute Class 37 at their retreat last weekend, I am left feeling quite simply pumped-up for them, and Arizona’s future.

Retreat is done and Class 37 has been introduced to the VL community! As individuals, and as a group, they have many program days, tours and group projects left before they join us as alumni. The wait will be worth it. The selection committee, lead by Meghan Cox, Class 33, has brought us a group of proven leaders who have the energy, values, and care for our community that will continue the legacy of VL leaders before them.

During retreat, I remarked to the Class that each of them represent an investment we are making towards the future of our community. This is not trivial. Each year, out of the 3.25 million people who reside in the valley, we select 50’ish individuals who we believe are best suited to enable our communities and do the big, brave things that are needed when we look to fulfill our state’s potential. It is not a stretch to view this small group, which takes a year to cultivate into VL alumni, as precious. They are a small number, with incredible potential. We know this because we see the stamp that VL alumni have put on so many of our communities projects and dreams that have been realized.

So as alumni, I challenge you to treat them as such: build bridges to them individually, speak at and support creating their Class experiences. And of course, pick up the phone to mentor them and support their ideas as they move forward.

We will all be very much rewarded.

Dr. David Bolman
Board President
Provost, University of Advancing Technology


President’s Corner