3 more things I loved about Tempe Leadership

The 28th class of Tempe Leadership graduates today. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it’s the best class ever, but I may be biased as a member of Class XXVIII.

Unfamiliar with Tempe Leadership? Every year, 20 Tempeans are selected to develop their leadership skills, explore the inner workings of the city, and complete a community service project. I already posted three things I loved about Tempe Leadership’s first half. Here are three things I loved about the second half:

Tempe Leadership sign

The Threadz 4 Success plaque bears the signatures of my 20 awesome classmates.

Touring the water shed … on a helicopter!

If you have an inquisitive mind, Tempe Leadership is one unique experience after another. In the second half of the program, I toured Tempe’s historic neighborhoods, explored traditional and holistic healthcare at St. Luke’s Hospital and Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and shadowed Cold Stone Creamery SVP of Marketing Kate Unger during a commercial shoot.

But the highlight was a tour of the Valley’s water shed … aboard SRP’s helicopter! On a two-hour flight, we followed the Verde River  north to Bartlett and Horseshoe lakes then returned south along the Salt River to pass over Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon, and Saguaro lakes. Quite a different vantage point from fishing and playing in the lakes as a kid.

Leading by following.

It’s not easy for me to not be central to things. It’s part of being an Enneagram 8. It’s not that I want to be the star. I just want to be relied upon. Building a marketing plan, running a meeting, and organizing the big picture all play to my strengths. Other things definitely do not.

I had plenty of opportunities to not be central during the final stages of our class project Threadz 4 Success, a retail store for Tempe teens in need of clothing, school supplies, or personal care products. I know nothing about designing a retail store. But I can pick up a paintbrush or haul trash bags full of used clothes from a community drive.

Watching 20 strangers form a team and make a difference.

Speaking of the project, every class must identify a community need, raise funds ($12,000 in our case), and do the actual work … all in nine months and with virtually no instructions. As I said near the beginning, “They told 20 strangers to go build something without providing guidance on what to build or how to build it. So, what are those 20 strangers doing? Building. It’s epic y’all.”

And it was epic! Threadz has already hosted two dozen JAG (Jobs for Arizona Graduates) students who needed clothing for job interviews. Some of these kids live in shelters or bounce from one relative’s couch to another. All found something they could wear in their interviews. And, in the coming years, many more will find the clothing they need to survive high school and contribute to our community.

Now that’s epic, y’all.

Are you interested in joining Tempe Leadership next year? I’m happy to chat about my experience far over coffee. Email me!

Tempe Leadership ribbon cutting

Tempe mayor Mark Mitchell cuts the ribbon at Threadz 4 Success.


  1. Awesome!

  2. You all should be very proud!

  3. Hi! This is a test of my gravatar. 🙂


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