All posts by Denise Konkol

Your Chance to Get Involved in Making a Difference in Mesa

Two annual events that focus on improving the City of Mesa, neighborhood to neighborhood, are returning at the end of October, and Mesa Leadership is hoping to make its presence known.

So many of our alumni say that the best part of their experience in Mesa Leadership was in realizing just how many nonprofit organizations impacted the City in varied and amazing ways. Each year on the 4th Saturday of October (the 27th of this month), cities across the nation like Mesa celebrate Make a Difference Day. If you would like more information, contact Bryan Goodwin, Citywide Volunteer Program Coordinator at 480-644-3705 or bryan.goodwin@mesaaz.gov.

Even better, we are forming a Mesa Leadership team to take on a local project; when you sign up together and you will be joined by over 1500 volunteers in more than 50 Love Your Block projects across the City of Mesa. Examples of service projects include painting walls and curb numbers; cleaning up parks, alleys and canals; distributing neighborhood resource bags and helping residents who need assistance with painting and landscaping. Two of our new class members have agreed to be the point people in forming the team, so if you would like Mesa Leadership to make a strong showing, please contact Philip Young at phillip.young@phoenix.edu, or Andrea Blazier at andrea_blazier@yahoo.com. Thanks to both of these classmates for stepping up!

The second event, held on the same day (October 27) is Latino Town Hall. The Mesa Mesa Association of Hispanic CitizensAssociation of Hispanic Citizens presents the Latino Town Hall annually. Please don’t let the title mislead you – EVERYONE is welcome to attend the Saturday, October 27 event, with workshops, speakers and the opportunity to learn more about your community and grow. The Mesa Latino Town Hall is a one-of-a-kind event in the East Valley that has received in-kind and financial support from a cross section of organizations in our community including, but not limited to, Mesa Community College, Mesa Public Schools, City of Mesa, SRP, Mesa Arts  Center, The Arizona Republic, among others.

Tickets can be purchased online and cover the 7 a.m. – noon schedule of events. You may also reach out to Lucy Lopez at with any questions or to obtain tickets. If you choose to attend, PLEASE share your thoughts and your photos with us – we’d love to share it in a future newsletter!

The positive impact you have on your community is up to YOU! We hope to see you there!

Welcome Class of 2019!

Another school year is upon us, and we’re thrilled at the prospect that a new class brings to Mesa Leadership. This year’s group is again a diverse blend of Mesa employees, nonprofit sector representatives, and a mix of health care, legal and tech-related  professionals.

“This year, we really want to focus in on leadership development exercises,” Curriculum co-chair Diana Clevenger explained to the group. “That may seem obvious, but each class we want to further engage the class in exploring how you can become better leaders and understand the style of leadership that best fits you.”

So, congratulations and best wishes for a challenging and fun year to the Class of 2019:

Andrea Rodovsky Bruggeman – Realtor
Anthony Margalis – Honeywell
Cheryl Calen – SRP
Erica Dorward – Banner Health
Jennifer Gastelum – Mesa Arts Center
Jenny Tatum – Mesa Resident
Joe Ceja – City of Mesa
Katie Pompay – Helens Hope Chest
Kristin Eisenberg – Fellowship Square
Mark Judy – Pima Medical Institute
Melissa Forester – United Food Bank
Michael Campbell – SRP
Michael Troop – Legacy Traditional Schools
Philip Young – University of Phoenix
Rachel Wagner – SRP
Becky Rule – Mesa PD
Tory Wilson – United Food Bank
Jared Malone – Architect
Jim Piscopo – Bridging AZ
Kina Harding – Atty, The Harding Firm
Christine M. Lance – Mid West Food Bank
Gina Marie Nesbit – Mesa PD

They begin the year on Friday, August 3rd at Visit Mesa, with subsequent monthly classes to take them to other venues to present as diverse a curriculum as the City of Mesa is. If you missed this year’s opportunity, please consider Mesa Leadership for next year! We begin recruitment efforts early in the new year, and you can always reach out to recruitment chair Thomas Hayes with any questions at any time.

Ribbon Cutting Planned for Mesa Veterans Resource Center

Mesa Leadership Class of 2018’s project to be unveiled Friday April 27

After many months of planning, collaboration with the City of Mesa, Mesa Community College and the Veterans Resource Center, the Reflection Garden project is ready for its debut. A ribbon cutting has been scheduled for Friday, April 27. The Center is located at 165 N Centennial Way, Suite 101.

An Open House will also be held at 7:30 to 9:30 am, with the Ribbon Cutting at 8:00 am.

The class of 2018 of the Mesa Leadership Training and Development program decided on this space to landscape and improve to provide a quiet space for veterans to find a moment of peace during stressful times. It’s also a place where comrades can sit together and share moments of conversation.

“It’s been an honor in so many ways to be a part of this,”  said Brian Lawson, MVRC Director. “I’m proud of Mesa Leadership as an alumni, and chair of Recruitment in bringing together a fantastic group of students who took on this project and ran with it. To also experience it as the Director and witness what it will bring to our veterans’ overall experience is all the more rewarding. We truly live in an amazing community.”

Mesa Veterans Resource Center help veterans with a centralized location in Mesa that offers one-stop resources in a safe environment with whatever issues our veterans may have. They assist with employment, soft skills training, resume assistance, benefits claims, health care, transportation, workshops, homelessness and mental health to name a few.

“We owe so much to these men and women who have served us, and it’s heartwarming to see the community and Mesa Leadership serve them,” Lawson added.

A New Year in Mesa Leadership is Coming – Will You be a Part of It?

Applications for Mesa Leadership Training and Development’s class of 2019 have been open, but sometimes it takes more than just reading a description on paper to understand the impact taking part in a class can have.

So, we’re excited to announce TWO opportunities to learn more about what’s involved with Mesa Leadership! Monday, April 30 and Wednesday, May 2 are our Open House days at the Mesa Veterans Resource Center from 6-7pm. Bring your questions – there will be alumni, board members and likely a few ready-to-graduate students on hand to give you the answers.

We’d like to boast a little…government leaders, educational leaders, nonprofits and law enforcement officials have all grown through the experience of Mesa Leadership. You will learn a ton about the City of Mesa and its partners. Even if you’ve called the city home for decades, many will tell you it’s an eye-opening experience that has led them to opportunities simply by meeting these leaders through tours or by in-class presentations.

Of course, there’s homework….but it’s what makes the classes so special. We mentioned we’ll be meeting you at the Mesa Veteran’s Resource Center, which is a great location, but it’s also the scene of the latest class project. Read more about it. Imagine what the collaborative efforts of a class that includes YOU can bring to Mesa!

Actually, don’t just imagine it. Do it – we look forward to meeting you Monday or Wednesday! Got questions? Contact recruitment chair Brian Lawson at brianlawson06@gmail.com for any questions on the application prior to the event.

You can also get a glimpse of what a class (this one is from our 2017 graduates) enjoys throughout its 9-month term here:

2019 Leadership: Will You be a Part of It?

Applications are now available for Mesa Leadership Class of 2019

Alumni have called their experiences in Mesa Leadership classes as an excellent Mesa Leadership Mary Cameliopportunity to get to know Mesa more deeply, and make an impact on the community they love so well. They have collectively impacted the Boys and Girls Club, Mesa Arts Academy and other schools, and currently will be changing the lives of Veterans at Mesa Veteran’s Resource Center.

What will your impact be….your legacy? You may never know until you take the bold step to apply for the 2019 Mesa Leadership Training and Development class. Applications are now available, and we encourage you to make the decision early. Deadline for the class applications is May 15, but we hope you take the time to carefully consider what you would like to learn from the class, as well as what talents you will bring to the group, and apply early.

If you’re not sure, you are encouraged to explore our website, visit us on Facebook, or contact us with any questions. Our alumni of 700+ includes council members, Vice Mayors, CEOs, state officials and other heads of companies. We’d love to welcome you into such an awesome company of community and corporate leaders.

Raising a Glass to Raise Funds for Veterans Resource Center

Four Peaks Brewing Co. steps up in a big way to help Mesa Leadership’s Class of 2018

The Mesa Leadership Class of 2018 has been making their mark with their spirit of cooperation and unity, and this has carried into the planning for their class project, which involves a Reflection Garden at the Mesa Veteran’s Resource Center. So far, the class has raised $15,000 to landscape and pave the garden, which is designed to be a place of quiet for veterans who may be struggling, or just in need of calm and peace.

The class approached Arizona’s own Four Peaks Brewing Co., which responded with a generous offer to help fund the project. Now through February 19, Four Peaks will donate $1 toward the Reflection Garden when you buy a pint of Pitchfork Pale Ale, at any of their locations in the Valley, up to $5,000.

Mesa Leadership Four Peaks

The Veterans Reflection Garden is a plaza that will be located adjacent to the Mesa Veterans Resource Center at 165 N. Centennial Way in Mesa. The garden will also provide a space for veterans groups to gather, host events and increase public awareness of veterans’ issues.

“When we heard the garden was in need of funds, we knew we had to help,” the company said in their blog. “So we’re ‘pitching in’ the best way we know how: By selling beer. From January 19 to February 19, we’re donating $1 from every pint of Pitchfork Pale Ale sold at bars across the Valley—up to a maximum of $5,000—to the project.

“Supporting our veterans through the creation of this garden was a no-brainer for us,” said Four Peaks founder and head brewer Andy Ingram, whose father served in the U.S. Air Force. “Whether they’re friends or family, everyone knows a veteran who deserves a space like this to relax.”

In addition, there will be a happy hour celebration at Four Peaks’ 8th Street brewpub at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19.  They will be hosting the class and other volunteers and donors who’ve collaborated  to help make the reflection garden a reality. The public is also invited to attend, and thank this group for their efforts.

Want to donate to the project but prefer to skip the suds? No problem. Just visit the Veterans Resource Center donation website.

A Taste of the Islands in the Middle of the Desert

Mesa Leadership celebrated the holidays with a little hula on November 30, as they gathered for the annual Holiday Party.

This year’s event was held at the Mesa Arts Center in the Brown Sculpture Courtyard, and the food as well as the entertainment was provided by Royal Islanders, which is a Mesa business that has been in the area for about 30 years. The group served up dinner, then served up authentic Polynesian dancing, featuring performers from Tongo, Hawaii and Tahiti.

Tia Tuinei and wife Melekai own Royal Islanders and their daughter and granddaughter are  featured dancers in the troupe as well. As shown in the image in the lower right quarter above, they also believe in teaching and engaging their audience to learn native dances.

Tia strums and sings  authentic tunes from the islands while dancers move to the beat.

Healing and Reflection, Brick by Brick

The Mesa Leadership Class of 2018 is underway in creating their legacy through their class project, and they’ve chosen the Mesa Veterans Resource Center to benefit from their efforts.

Opened in 2017 through the collaboration of Mesa United Way, Mesa Community College and Mesa Chamber of Commerce, the Center facilitates Veterans’ access to a broader scope of service types and providers including homelessness, mental health, education, nutrition, healthcare, transportation, and countless others.

The Class of 2018 will be adding to their ability to offer a place of reflection in their Reflection Garden, which is an extension of the Center. It will include plantings, places to sit and rest, and will be paved with bricks that can be purchased and personalized by donors wishing to fund the project.

Just $75 allows donors to add a message of honor or remembrance for a loved one, or a message of encouragement for these veterans who will benefit from this peaceful place. 

With the holidays upon us, and nearly everyone having someone in their family who has served in the military, this is an ideal and lasting gift to give. Click on the image to visit their website and order your brick today!

We are proud of the efforts of the Mesa Leadership Class of 2018, and hope they realize everyone’s support of this worthy project.

Happy “Hula”Days!

Mesa Leadership to Celebrate the Holidays with Hawaiian Flair

There’s so much to celebrate in Mesa Leadership…our current class represents the 32nd to come through the program, and is promising to continue the legacy of learning and contributing to the community with a great class project. In addition, our alumni contributions and achievements have made Mesa a great place to do business and grow.

So in that spirit we’re inviting all of our alumni, members and current class participants to join us on Thursday, November 30 for our annual Holiday party.

This year’s event takes place at Mesa Arts Center in the Brown Sculpture Courtyard, from 6 to 8 pm. You’re invited to bring one guest, and given our “Holiday Hawaiian Luau” theme, we’d love to see everyone in Hawaiian shirts! The evening promises dinner, entertainment, laughter, meeting new friends and catching up with others.

Please RSVP Shannon Heinze, Events Chairperson, at sheinze@guildmortgage.net to reserve your spot!

Happy New Year, Mesa Leadership!

Mesa Leadership Training and DevelopmentOn a gorgeous Saturday outdoors, the new Board of Directors for Mesa Leadership Training and Development got together inside to set the new year in motion, but no one was complaining.

Many new faces on the board mean exciting new ideas and energy to enhance the experience for our incoming class as well as our longtime alumni. Membership value and offerings were discussed to continue to engage graduates long after they’ve received their diplomas.

The 2017-2018 Board includes:

Chair: Mandy Rogers
Chair Elect: Lucy Lopez
Secretary: Larry Burke
Past Chair: David DiPietro
Recruitment Chair: Brian Lawson
Tours/Program Liaison: Sharon Brause
Program Advancement: Lynn Runyan
Communications Chair: Denise Konkol
Alumni/Community Events: Shannon Heinze
Social Chair: Lori Chaplin
Placement Chair: Dan Walker
Curriculum co-chairs: Diana Clevenger, Dustin Loehr, Mara Benson

Directly after the Board Retreat, many of the members reconvened to start the interview process for our candidates.

“We’re impressed once again by the calibre of talent that our candidates represent,” said Recruitment Chair Brian Lawson. “The word about Mesa Leadership is getting out, and we’re pleased at the response we’ve gotten.”

Our class of 2018 will be announced by the beginning of July 2017, with the first class scheduled for August 4.