Scottsdale leaders honored with ‘Spirit of Community’ award

Scottsdale Leadership, Inc., a nonprofit organization serving Scottsdale and the surrounding community, has announced its 2015 Spirit of Community Leadership Awards recipients.

The recipients are Dr. Frances Mills-Yerger, awarded the Frank W. Hodges Alumni Achievement Award; Mary Manross, former city of Scottsdale Mayor, awarded the Drinkwater Community Leadership Award; Cactus Flower Florists, awarded the Business Leadership Award and high school student, Grace Taskinsoy, Scottsdale Preparatory Academy, awarded the Jenkins Youth Leadership Award.

These award recipients will be honored at the Scottsdale Leadership 16th Annual Spirit of Community Leadership Awards Luncheon, sponsored by Scottsdale Insurance, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 11, according to a press release.

The event is open to the public and will be held at The Phoenician, located at 6000 E. Camelback Rd. Tickets are available at

The Hodges Alumni Achievement award, presented by Prestige Cleaners, is named in memory of Frank W. Hodges, a graduate of Scottsdale Leadership Class I and a fire fighter. The award is bestowed upon a Scottsdale Leadership alumnus who captures Hodges passion for the community and who continues to illustrate exemplary community service, passion for the community and humanitarian values.

Dr. Frances Mills-Yerger (submitted photo)

Dr. Frances Mills-Yerger (submitted photo)

Dr. Mills-Yerger, aka, “Dr. Franny,” is the founder and CEO of Workshops for Youth and Family, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster personal leadership and resiliency in youth and families through programs that inspire positive growth and change.

She has been involved in developing character, leadership, communications and life skills for thousands of youth and their families throughout the Scottsdale area for nearly 40 years.  A graduate of Scottsdale Leadership class 16, Dr. Mills-Yerger has volunteered thousands of hours to mentoring youth in the community, the release stated.

Mary Manross (submitted photo)

Mary Manross (submitted photo)

The Drinkwater Leadership award, presented by Merrill Lynch, named in honor of former Scottsdale Mayor Herb Drinkwater, recognizes the achievements of a member of the community who exemplifies Drinkwater’s spirit of on-purpose living and positive intent for the community and has made a significant and notable contribution to the greater Scottsdale community.

Ms. Manross, who served as Scottsdale’s mayor from 2000-2009, has been an active member of the Scottsdale community since moving to the Valley nearly 45 years ago.  From positions on boards and commissions to her current involvement with Scottsdale Unified School District’s Foundation board and the Partners for Paiute board, Ms. Manross exemplifies what it means to be a community advocate and leader.

Grace Taskinsoy (submitted photo)

Grace Taskinsoy (submitted photo)

The Jenkins Youth Leadership Award, presented by Cox Communications, is named in memory of Bill Jenkins, high school teacher and former Scottsdale Mayor, and recognizes a youth who demonstrates excellent leadership at school and in the community.

Grace Taskinsoy, a senior at Scottsdale Preparatory Academy and an individual with dyslexia, was a member of a core team of students that developed legislation, met with state representatives, built community support and supported Senate Bill 1461, according to the release.

Senate Bill 1461 exempts dyslexic children from the state’s Move On When Reading rule and allows teachers to include dyslexia training toward their required continuing-education credits. Ms. Taskinsoy is also a volunteer with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children where she volunteered at a medical clinic in Costa Rica, assisting refugees who did not have access to medical care.

She also volunteers with the Key Club and is a leader and competitor with the Scottsdale Gymnastics Xcel Competitive Team.

Ms. Taskinsoy hopes to attend Brown University and major in international relations and business management and would one day like to become the CEO of a large international business.

Cactus Flower's Eric and Kristina Luoma (submitted photo)

Cactus Flower’s Eric and Kristina Luoma (submitted photo)

The Business Leadership Award honors an organization that positively impacts Scottsdale and the community as a whole. The Business Leadership Award, presented by Henkel, recognizes a company that promotes and exemplifies leadership and community service values.

Since 1972, Cactus Flower Florists has been serving the metro Phoenix area with beautiful floral design and matchless service.

From a single store on Scottsdale Road to five locations throughout the Valley, they have bloomed into Arizona’s leading florist. Cactus Flower Florists started as and continues to be a family-owned and operated business, including Scottsdale Leadership alumni, brother and sister, Eric Luoma, class 9 and Kristina Luoma-Dyrr, class 25 who grew up watering plants and running deliveries.

Today, Eric and Kristina run the daily operations of Cactus Flower.

“The Scottsdale community and the Valley as a whole are lucky to have the commitment and dedication of volunteer leaders like Frances, Mary and Grace.  And we are fortunate to have the ongoing support of such long-time businesses like Cactus Flower. Scottsdale Leadership is thrilled to honor these outstanding individuals and corporate partner at our Spirit of Community Leadership Awards Luncheon in December,” stated David Nelson, Scottsdale Leadership board president, in the release.

Scottsdale Leadership is a 501(c)3 organization that provides programs and educational opportunities that develop community leaders. Since 1986, it has graduated more than 1,000 individuals who take on leadership roles in the community.

Scottsdale Leadership alumni have had a significant impact on not only the City of Scottsdale, but the Valley and throughout the state, impacting such things as the preservation of open space; improving the quality of our education system; championing public art; mentoring at-risk youth; and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for nonprofit organizations.

For more information call the Scottsdale Leadership office at 480-627-6710 or visit,

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