Meet Your Neighbor: Scottsdale native John Southard volunteers as local history official

John Southard (submitted photo)

Name: John Southard

Where I live: Shea Corridor

When & why I moved here: I grew up near the Airpark when Kierland was nothing but undeveloped desert and returned to Scottsdale in 2009 after six years in the DC area.

What I like most about living here: Not having to worry about a white Christmas.

Activities I enjoy: Reading, traveling, and watching documentaries, among other things.

Clubs/organizations I’m involved in: I have served on the boards of the Arizona History Convention, Arizona Historical Society – Central Arizona Chapter, Arizona Preservation Foundation, and the Heritage Square Foundation.

My favorite charity or volunteer activity and why it deserves support from others? Mission Montessori operates multiple schools in Scottsdale and is a fantastic institution. As we approach the end of the year, I encourage all readers to consider directing their school tax credit donations to Mission Montessori.

My No. 1 suggestion to new residents looking for ways to get involved in their community: Watch the Scottsdale Video Network (channel 11), attend a Council meeting, and apply to serve on a board or commission in line with your interests. Learn our history. Visit the Scottsdale Historical Museum, Huhugam Ki Museum, Taliesin West, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, and other destinations that share our area’s history and culture.

What one thing would you like to see changed in Scottsdale? I realize that technical and financial challenges make this goal difficult to achieve, but I’d love to see the large powerlines along Shea and Frank Lloyd Wright undergrounded.

My family: Married to Ashley Southard since 2004. We have a five-year-old daughter named Natalie.

What I do: Serve as Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Tempe, chair the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission, and sit on the Arizona Historic Sites Review Committee.

People who are an inspiration to me: Those who insist upon doing what is right, regardless of whether it makes their life easy. I once opened a fortune cookie that included the following advice: Character is much easier kept than recovered. I agree wholeheartedly.

My advice to today’s youth: Seek out the facts. Be your own person. Don’t blindly subscribe to ideas or information found on television or online and do not disregard the input of those with beliefs contrary to your own.

To volunteer in the city of Scottsdale visit

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