Three Pivotal Milestones for Southern Arizona Leadership Council

Tucson Values Teachers,

Tucson Young  Professionals 

and Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy

By Romi Carrell Wittman

The founding of Tucson Values Teachers and Tucson Young Professionals and a strong partnership with Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy represents Southern Arizona Leadership Council’s commitment to enhancing the region’s economic climate and quality of life.

Recognizing the importance of high-quality teachers for the success of our region, SALC set about to create an organization that would celebrate outstanding teachers and elevate the profession. The result was the founding of TVT in 2008 into its own 501(c)(3) organization, with office space and support provided by SALC, and member Jim Click was a key early funder of TVT.

“SALC’s members appreciate the direct connection between the strength of our education system and a high-quality workforce,” said Shelley Watson, VP and COO of SALC, and board member for TVT. “Teachers are at the heart of the education system and the No. 1 predictor of student success is a qualified teacher at the front of the class.”

TVT has become an important platform for recognizing and rewarding great educators. The group’s signature annual event, Stand Up 4 Teachers, brings together business and community leaders to honor the best and brightest educators from preschool through high school.

With the 2006 founding of Tucson Young Professionals, SALC demonstrated its desire to help shape the next generation of community leaders in Southern Arizona.

 “Our members desired to create an organization that would encourage young and mid-career professionals to retain them in the region and assist in their development into community leaders,” Watson said. TYP was born and formed its own nonprofit organization.  It has grown rapidly over the past few years, now with close to 1,000 members, and has forged creative partnerships with large employers in the region who sponsor TYP memberships for their employees interested in joining. 

In order to ensure connectivity between the two organizations, SALC’s board voted to create a permanent seat on its board for whomever is presiding as the TYP board president. Additionally, SALC’s Director of Governance and Outreach, Nicole Barraza, serves on TYP’s board.

One of the highlights of the SALC-TYP partnership is a guided mentorship program in which SALC members are paired with TYP members for a 12-week program consisting of 30-minute weekly conversations around personal and career goals. SALC mentors share their expertise and advice, and TYP mentees provide valuable “reverse mentoring” that helps SALC’s business leaders better understand the perspectives of their younger employees.

Shelley Watson added, “It has been amazing to witness what can happen in just 12 weeks. Truly life-changing results have occurred for mentees during this program – things like job promotions, successful handling of difficult professional situations, and formation of personal goals. We are grateful to SALC’s members who invest their valuable time to give back to young professionals.”

SALC has partnered with the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy since its inception. The Flinn-Brown Fellowship is the flagship program of the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership at the Flinn Foundation and helps emerging and experienced civic leaders from throughout Arizona expand their knowledge, skills, and networks to help address Arizona’s long-term issues. 

SALC extends a special invitation to Southern Arizona Flinn-Brown Fellows who have completed the program to join SALC as an associate member for one year. This practice was established in 2011 with the first Southern Arizona cohort to increase the fellows’ understanding of the role business and government play in building a strong economy for our state. 

“Flinn-Brown fellows are our state’s most exemplary civic leaders,” said Dawn Wallace, VP of Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, Flinn Foundation. “By offering fellows a seat at the table with senior business leaders and actively engaging them in public policy decisions, SALC shows its commitment to further cultivating their civic leadership and utilizing their incredible talent and expertise to solve our state’s most challenging issues.”


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