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Scottsdale Leadership class completes 7 sustaining community projects

A group from Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 37 worked on enhancing the landscaping around Vista Del Camino, a south Scottsdale community center. (File Photos/
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

What do saguaros, a tree house, chill & relax spaces, and marketing materials for developmentally disabled workers have in common? 

They are all tasks undertaken by Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 37 as sustainable community projects, which is the culmination of the nine-month program that teaches leadership lessons. 

Scottsdale Leadership has graduated more than 1,300 individuals since 1987 who are prepared to take on leadership roles in an ever-changing world, according to a press release.

Scottsdale Leadership alumni have had a significant impact on the Scottsdale community, spearheading preservation of open space, improving the education system, championing public art, mentoring at-risk youth and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities.

The Project Lead It Forward (PLIF) endeavors allow 40+ class members to employ what they have learned in an effective and sustainable way, the press release states.

The projects are as diverse as the class members themselves. Community organizations benefitting from this year’s projects are:

STARS (Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services) – the team worked to develop a video and a marketing package aimed at attracting new business partners to the STARS Community Work center where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities gain vocational skills.  “I was excited to highlight a population of our community that is often overlooked,” said team member Faridah Abdullah.


Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children – the team created Ava’s Treehouse by transforming one wing of the Foundation’s new facility into a tree-house themed respite area for families who are coming to the facility for support and services. “Ava’s Treehouse is a place where kids with cancer can be kids,” according to team member Kelly Laipply.

Team Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children.

Boys and Girls Club of Scottsdale Piper Branch – The team was tasked with building a “Chill Deck” outside the club where teens are able to gather, connect, and relax.  There are games and a new barbeque.  Eventually there will be a vibrant mural to spark teen creativity. “We have come together as a team, built long-lasting friendships and we can’t wait to see the B&G Club teens enjoying the new cool digs,” said Ashley Adams, team member.

Team Boys and Girls Club.

Scottsdale Artists School – The Scottsdale Artists School is in a building built in 1928.  The school is dedicated to the artistic enrichment of the community and to developing the capabilities of artists and aspiring artists of all ages by teaching the applied fundamentals of fine art.  The objective of this project was to refresh the landscaping to reflect the beauty and artistry of this historic location.  “We are thrilled to be creating a gathering space for students and people within the community,” said team member Haley Cohn.

Team Scottsdale Artist School.

Saguaro High School – Using the talents of a visual artist the team created an art piece showing a “potential future pathway.”  They also formed relationships with the Scottsdale Unified Governing Board that allows for the high school to get interior display cases housing vertical gardens, and to create a massive outdoor garden that will be home to 50 saguaros.  “Called the Living Laboratory Project it offers opportunities for students and faculty to engage in authentic learning experiences about our desert,” said team member Kristen Parrish. 

Saguaro High Team.
Saguaro High Team 2.

Vista Del Camino, a south Scottsdale community center – The project here has been two-pronged.  First, the group is enhancing the landscaping around the center to make it more welcoming for those using the facility.  Second, the team focused on building a sustainable marketing and communication plan for the Career Center including the promotion of the center’s upcoming career fair.  Team member Jason Glenn said, “This has been an absolutely life-changing experience for our team, and it is our hope our efforts will have the same effect on future generations.”

PLIF Projects are solicited from the community through the summer by Scottsdale Leadership staff. They are reviewed and vetted for timeliness, ability to complete, community sustainability and other factors. Once approved, the projects are distributed to teams of class members who are responsible for funding and executing the projects. 

Organizations that have a project that future classes of Scottsdale Leadership could consider, contact Dana Close at

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

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