Henninger: at Scottsdale Leadership curiosity springs life eternal

We just ended the latest class of Scottsdale Leadership, and it’s been a privilege to be a part of it.

Don Henninger

When I was accepted and joined this year’s class, several peers looked at me with raised eyebrows and said: “You?” I understood. I may feel like a young pup, but one look at my picture tells you I’m far from it.

Also, I’ve been blessed over a 32-year career in the news business in the Valley to establish a deep network of relationships that remain valuable today. Since I am fortunate to know a lot of community leaders, most people assumed I already had been though the program, and some said, “you could be a teacher in Scottsdale Leadership.” Actually, I have been a presenter at several of their classes over the years.

But a good teacher is also a life-long student. There are learning opportunities every day, if you keep an eye out for them. This year’s class has proven that over and over again.

When she presents to groups, Margaret Leichtfuss, the group’s executive director, points to four main objectives of the program:

Knowledge, awareness, connections, relationships. Here’s my experience with them this year:

Knowledge

The program has given us time to understand the facts on tough issues, and reminded us that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Do you think our city would be better if people engaged with each other on issues that often seem so divisive, knowing they can learn from each other no matter how far apart they may be? Do you think that might lead to faster, better solutions?

Awareness

The program has helped us appreciate the good things that surround us – and not take them for granted.

We live in a spectacular city, but do you think it will continue to shine if residents don’t understand the need to invest in maintaining that high quality and helping the city evolve and progress to keep up with the changing world around us?

Connections

The program has given us a model of how people and communities grow and prosper, and how a collaborative spirit can lead to outcomes that benefit everyone.

Given the geography and demographic makeup of the city, we often seem wildly disconnected. Yet, what happens on McDowell Road will impact those who live in the McDowell Mountains. Wouldn’t a unified effort to solving city challenges and investing where needed in all areas of the city be more effective?

Relationships

The program has reminded us about how important it is to keep an open mind and be respectful of everyone you meet.

In our class, just like in our city, we have diverse opinions on the hot topics that dominate the public policy agenda. And we disagree a lot. But we have discovered that we actually have a lot in common if we continue to respect each other while debating the issues.

Scottsdale Leadership’s four objectives have done much over the years to improve our city – one class at a time. But the core elements of what the program offers are available to everyone, and wouldn’t it be an awesome asset for the city if more people embraced them on their own?

Editor’s note: Mr. Henninger is founder and executive director of SCOTT, the Scottsdale Coalition of Today and Tomorrow.

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