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80th Arizona Town Hall
Building Leadership in Arizona
May 19 - 22, 2002

Almost a year preceding this 80th Town Hall-the beginning of the organization's 40th anniversary celebration-the membership selected the topic of "leadership" as the focus for this session. Perhaps this entire subject was best summarized by one of the student participants when he stated, "Arizona can 'get along' with the leadership that has been displayed over the last few years, but if we want to thrive, to develop into an outstanding state with a quality of life that so many of our citizens desire, leadership must be improved." Leadership is not something that can be legislated. Every segment of Arizona's diverse communities must play an active role in encouraging and developing leadership for Arizona's future-families, those in the education system, broad-based community groups, employers and those in public service. Following are just a few of the recommendations from the 80th Arizona Town Hall that look toward strengthening the state's leadership.

  • Effective leadership is critical to Arizona's future and must be improved.
  • Families should encourage and teach strong values and a sense of self-worth beginning in early childhood. All members of the community should encourage the development of young, emerging leaders. Employers should encourage and expect their employees to give back to their communities. Communities should encourage the recently retired sector of the population to become more involved in leadership.
  • The voting public needs to inform elected officials of issues that concern it and hold them accountable.
  • The current Arizona Legislature should create an ongoing legislative structure that provides a mandatory orientation program for all legislators-plus staff... The executive branch should create a comprehensive program for departing and incoming elected and appointed officials.
  • Formation of a statewide association of broad-based community groups should be considered to support and encourage collaboration and the identification of leaders for our communities.
  • We need to encourage the establishment of more headquarters in Arizona, as well as the development of all sized businesses and franchises. Many new companies do not have a corporate culture requiring or even encouraging community involvement. We need to show these businesses that the community cannot be strong without their involvement and show them how that involvement will benefit their bottom line.
  • The education system should, and does, play a vital role in the development of leaders, a role that should continue and become more defined and active. The role of education includes developing new leaders, building the capacity of existing leaders through continuing education and teaching citizenship.
  • There is value in the media's role as a watchdog to inform the public of questionable conduct by its leaders. However, there are boundaries that should be observed, especially the privacy rights of leaders' families, the failure of which can discourage quality leaders from serving. All too often the media is driven by a perceived public demand for personal information on public officials.
  • Perhaps the most significant impediment to developing new leaders in Arizona is the lack of a common vision. We need to create a broad common vision for the state, to continually revisit and update the vision, and monitor the progress in working toward realizing the vision.
  • Business, political leaders and broad-based community groups should look beyond the narrow interests of the moment to the long-term interest of the broader community.

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