All posts by Denise Konkol

Join Us in Honoring our Graduates

You’re invited to join us Friday, May 3 at the Vistas Pavilion at Las Sendas Golf Club as we celebrate another “best class ever” and honor the Class of 2019! Registration and cocktail hour begin at 5:30 p.m., with the annual meeting and dinner to follow. 










The menu will include your choice of stuffed breast of chicken with spinach, fontina & basil cream, garlic mashed potatoes, and roasted squash medley, or a vegetarian entree option. Registration is $35/person, or a table of 8 for $250. This event is open to all, and you’re welcome to invite a guest, friends and family.

Please RSVP by April 22 to Checks or cash are accepted at the door, or you may contact Shauna Zuniga ( at the Mesa Chamber to process payment by card or to invoice you.

2020 Class Registration Opens; Open Houses Announced

It’s perhaps the busiest time of the year for Mesa Leadership! The current Class of 2019 prepares to finish their project at the House of Refuge and celebrate their efforts at graduation, which is planned in May. In the meantime, efforts to welcome a new class have begun as Applications for the Class of 2020 are now available.

More Details on Class of 2020 Registration and Application

  • The class year includes 9 class days, usually held on the first Friday of each month, August through April.
  • The focus is on topics of interest to Mesa leaders such as Mesa history, education, government, sustainable growth, public services, business advocacy, arts and culture, justice and economic development.
  • Curriculum is augmented by a series of educational tours and field trips not normally available to the public, as well as, an opportunity to spend a day with the community leader of your choice.

Invite anyone you know that might be interested to an Open House  to learn more about the program Monday, April 22nd and April 29th from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. at Main St. Bar & Grill 127 W. Main St. Mesa.

Thomas Hayes, current recruitment chair and 2018 graduate of the program, said “The depth and evolution of this program is amazing! Not only for the class members but who and how they enhance our community. More than 800 graduates of the Mesa Leadership program have gone on to serve as leaders in business and government. They serve on City and nonprofit boards, as well as the boards of local civic and social organizations.

Important dates to note:

  • Application MUST be submitted with $25 nonrefundable application fee by May 15th
  • Applications will be processed and applicants will be contacted to schedule an brief 15 minute interview by June 1st.
  • Interviews will be conducted from June 5th-14th
  • Applicants will be notified of acceptance or denial by July 1st

Applications and an overview of the program can be obtained at the Mesa Leadership website. Completed applications can be delivered to the Mesa Chamber of Commerce at 165 N Centennial Way, Suite 208, Mesa, AZ 85201. Contact Thomas Hayes at with any additional questions.

As Work Progresses, Time Out for Fundraising for House of Refuge

The latest update on the Class of 2019’s efforts to renovate the Community Center at House of Refuge has a ribbon cutting in its sights. Class leader Phillip Young credits the wealth of talent in the class and among their contacts for the progress and quality of work. While a specific date has not been set, it’s likely the end of March/beginning of April will be the target.

“We’re currently ahead of schedule, and are well underway in hanging and mudding drywall in the center,” Young said. “We’ve really been blessed with talent in this class — Jared Malone is our architect and general contractor, Christine Lance’s husband George has experience in the trades, Andrea Bruggeman’s husband is a handyman — all of these are extremely valuable in completing this project with quality and expertise.”

Young also has experience as a painting contractor, and he said that all along the way, people have been receptive to helping the class out. “As soon as we say it’s for the House of Refuge, the response is, ‘Sure – what can we do to help?'” he said.

Of course, money is a resource that is essential to any successful project, and the Class of 2019 organized a fundraiser Saturday, February 23 at Eastmark’s Handlebar Diner. Guests of honor were Police Chief Ramon Battista, Fire Chief Mary Cameli and 6th District Councilman Kevin Thompson. Although a chilly evening for the outdoor venue, spirits were warm and a 50/50 raffle and silent raffles  helped the event to net more than $1,000 toward supplies and labor to complete the project.


House of Refuge Fundraiser: Dining with Dignitaries

The Class of 2019 has been making amazing progress on their project for the House of Refuge in Mesa’s east valley. The nonprofit assists homeless families in crisis with transitional housing and supportive services to lead them to self-sufficiency. Theclass is focused on renovating their community center.

Their efforts need funding, so we’re hoping you’ll join us for a private, intimate dinner, at East Mark’s Handlebar Diner on Saturday, February 23rd, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Meet and mingle with Mesa’s Fire Chief Mary Cameli, Mesa’s Chief of Police, Ramon Batista, and Councilman Kevin Thompson of Mesa’s District 6, to benefit the House of Refuge.

Get more Information and buy tickets, which can place you at the same table as the honored guests,  on Eventbrite.

Ticket prices Includes a complete dinner (Appetizers, entrée, 3 sides, non-alcoholic beverage and dessert) Participate in a silent auction and raffle at the Dinner.

Learn more about the class project here!

An “Evening With the Stars” Shines on Mesa Leadership

Kicking off the Holiday season, Mesa Leadership returned to the intimate Brown Sculpture Courtyard at Mesa Arts Center on November 28 for a party, complete with great food, great entertainment and great company. Themed “An Evening with the Stars,” the event allowed alumni to meet the current class, to learn how they can support their project. In turn, the class got to network with previous graduates to learn where their experiences have taken them.

While (name of musicians) played, guests enjoyed dishes with an Italian flair from (name of caterer) and improv comedy from National Comedy Theater. The evening was a great opportunity for everyone to catch up and connect. Our thanks to Alumni and Community Events Chair Shannon Heinze for putting together another fantastic evening.

View the video from our Evening With the Stars, and have a Happy Holiday!

Annual Christmas Party Details Announced

Mesa Leadership Training and Development

We’re excited to announce our annual Holiday Party will again take place at the Mesa Arts Center, providing an intimate venue to reconnect with alumni, current class members and friends. This year, plan on joining us on Wednesday November 28 from 6 – 8 pm in the MAC’s Brown Sculpture Courtyard, in the lower level.

This year’s theme is “An Evening With the Stars” and promises to be an enjoyable evening to put you in the spirit for the upcoming Holiday season!

All alumni and one guest are invited provided you RSVP to Shannon Heinze.

Class of 2019 Project, First Fundraiser Announced

Every year, each graduating class proclaims it’s the “best ever,” and the class of 2019 is working hard to gain their place for such a title.

House of Refuge Mesa

Already well underway at selecting House of Refuge as the focus of the annual class project, the class also announced its first fundraiser to supplement their individual and collective efforts to raise money. The goal will be to fund the renovation of one of the buildings on the House of Refuge campus as a Community Center, accordingto Project Leader Phillip Young with University of Phoenix. He explained that the project requirements, class talent and planned work on the site were a perfect storm to execute the project.

“We really hit the jackpot,” he stated. “We have in our class an architect (Jared Malone). But we also are coinciding this project with planned updates to the building’s sewer lines. In addition, the buildings are all constructed with their load bearing walls to the exterior, which really allows us to open up the space.”

Mesa Leadership fundraisingThe first organized fundraiser will be held Saturday, December 1 from 7:30am – 12pm at New Life Assembly of God, 314 W. University Drive in Mesa. Donations of goods are welcome by contacting the Class of 2019.

As walls will be torn down, they will also upgrade the plumbing inside, and provide amenities that are ADA compliant. Current fundraising goals are $15,000 from the class , but they are also hoping for in-kind donations from places like Home Depot to provide needed supplies.

Additional details and contact information can be found on the Class of 2019 website.


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

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, or Andrea Blazier at 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.