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Shapiro: a look back at 40 years of Scottsdale Leadership

Photo of Gary Shapiro who is co-founder of Scottsdale Leadership
Gary Shapiro
By Gary Shapiro | Point of View

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Scottsdale Leadership will honor three members from our community for their leadership impact. As time marches on some of the history and background of the organization and the names associated with the awards deserves to be refreshed.

Four decades ago, Sam Campana and I were classmates in Class Five of Valley Leadership. We loved the program. At one point in time, Sam said to me, “Scottsdale needs a program like this, and we can do it better.”

So, we started work on creating Scottsdale Leadership. We brought on Chamber of Commerce leader and banking executive Don Ruff and the most famous Artichoke of all time, Art DeCabooter, president of Scottsdale Community College.

Don is still with us, but Art died three years ago, and our community misses him very much.

As time goes on, the names and faces surrounding Scottsdale Leadership change. We celebrate our history yet fewer and fewer people at the upcoming luncheon may have actually met Herb Drinkwater, Frank Hodges and Bill Jenkins.

Herb is undoubtedly our most famous and revered mayor. He served our community from 1970 to 1996 and as our mayor for four terms.

Like Scottsdale Leadership’s mantra of promoting civil discourse, Herb was a consensus builder. He worked hard to attain a 96% voter approval rating but was always chasing the remaining 4% encouraging them to get involved, join the team, and make a difference.

“Mr. Scottsdale,” as he was known, died in 1997 at the age of sixty-one.

Frank Hodges was a member of Class One of Scottsdale Leadership. He was the fire chief at Rural Metro, Scottsdale’s Fire Department. Members of Class One of Scottsdale Leadership were hand selected to participate. There was no application process for the fledgling organization at the time.

Frank was a natural choice, not only because of his job as chief, but due to his infectious smile and proven leadership skills.

Frank was and continues to be the poster child for servant leadership. He lit up the room when he walked in and made things happen without looking for recognition or credit. Sadly, we lost Frank in a tragic automobile accident in 1990, but we continue to honor his legacy.

Scottsdale Leadership community roots run deep

Bill Jenkins was a modest and unassuming gentleman. He was a popular history, government and economics teacher for the Scottsdale School District starting in the late 1950s. He was first elected to the City Council in 1966 and served as Scottsdale’s mayor from 1974 to 1980.

What made him different, as former Councilwoman Diane Cusack said, was that Bill was a perfect gentleman at all times. He was the calm hand on the rudder. He was honest and trustworthy.

Bill left us in 2008 but was fortunate to impact thousands of high school students along the way, and he left an indelible mark on our community.

So, what do Herb, Frank and Bill have in common? What can Scottsdale Leadership and our community at large learn from these giants? Why should today and tomorrow’s honorees relish in being part of their legacy?

Our beloved community leader and wisdom keeper Paul Messinger once said there’s always a group of independently minded elected officials; however, in the good old days, after each vote, whether we found ourselves on the losing or winning side of an issue, we all knuckled down and supported the will of the majority.

Herb, Frank, and Bill were statesmen. They were wisdom keepers. They rose to the occasion and inspired us. Lots of organizations have awards. We should all appreciate the “Dudley Do-Rights” of our world. In my mind, the awards named after Herb, Frank, and Bill are the gold standard for Scottsdale.

The mission of Scottsdale Leadership is probably more important today than ever. We started with a belief that we could do things better and we continue to deliver.

Editor’s note: Mr. Shapiro is a Scottsdale Charro, Realtor and co-founder of Scottsdale Leadership.

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