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Leaders honored: ‘They do not build walls, they build bridges’

The winners for the Prescott Area Leadership Man, Woman, and Youth Leaders of the Year, from left, Sydney Sundell, Brandon Nguyen, Mayor Harvey Skoog, Lynda Kieckhefer, and Mike Fann gather for a group photo Wednesday night at the Prescott Resort.
Photo by Matt Hinshaw.

The winners for the Prescott Area Leadership Man, Woman, and Youth Leaders of the Year, from left, Sydney Sundell, Brandon Nguyen, Mayor Harvey Skoog, Lynda Kieckhefer, and Mike Fann gather for a group photo Wednesday night at the Prescott Resort.

PRESCOTT — Organizers of Prescott Area Leadership’s annual Leaders of the Year broke a 26-year-old tradition Wednesday night, April 13, when instead of the normal four, they named five award winners.

“This is the very first time the committee has been deadlocked,” Fritzi Mevis said as she announced the Man of the Year award.

Businessman Mike Fann shared the honor with Prescott Valley Mayor Harvey Skoog. Others recognized during the annual awards banquet included Woman of the Year, Williamson Valley School District board member and Women of Wisdom leader Lynda Kieckhefer, and Youth Leaders of the Year Sydney Sundell and Brandon Nguyen.

“They do not build walls, they build bridges,” master of ceremonies Kim Kapin said of the slate of finalists for the night’s awards.

The other big winner for the night was the Hungry Kids Project, a program Prescott Area Leadership has supported for several years.

Raskin Jewelers donated a $500 necklace for a raffle that raised $2,010 for Hungry Kids.

Lincoln Elementary School Principal Karen Hughes described the direct impact of the program for schoolchildren in the Quad Cities.

Hughes described how in the wake of the national economic recession, free and reduced lunch participation levels at Lincoln grew from 40 percent to more than 60 percent.

The program provides weekend meals to about 500 students in the greater Prescott area during the school year and thousands of pounds of food from community gardens during the summer.

She said students receiving food from the Hungry Kids Project do so as a routine part the school schedule each Friday.

“They do so without an ounce of embarrassment or shame,” Hughes said.

PAL offers unique perspective in leadership training, alumni say

By CINDY BARKS

The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT – The mission is simple and consistent: Take a small group of recruits through a year of training, and mold them into community leaders.

Since 1990, Prescott Area Leadership (PAL) has served as an academy for people who aspire to be more effective in business, government, education, and other sectors.

Over the past quarter-century, the program has trained hundreds of participants, producing a large network of PAL graduates.

Although details of the program have evolved through the years, Marilyn Yetter, a PAL alumnus and long-time advocate of the program, noted recently, “The whole mission of PAL has never changed.”

Basically, she said, “It’s about educating individuals to be effective leaders within the community, learning and knowing about the issues that impact our community.”

While most leadership academies focus largely on skills, PAL adds another dimension, Yetter said. “We also bring in the issues that affect the community, whether it be water, whether it be immigration … we educate the students on a broader perspective than on just a leadership academy.”

Yetter, who retired in 2013 after 10 years assisting in the office of the Yavapai College President (retiring as executive assistant), says, “I think it’s the best leadership program I’ve ever been through; I’ve been through many.”

Depending on the alumnus, views on the major take-away of the program vary.

Beth Staub, the current PAL President, said her year of training gave her a new viewpoint on the community and on running a business.

“It’s fabulous,” she said of the PAL training. “It changed my perspective in a lot of ways.” For instance, she said, “It helped me to see the businesses’ point of view, and it exposed me to things about Prescott that I never knew.”

Staub added that applying the skills from the PAL training “can really change things for the better.”

For Yetter, the PAL training helped hone her leadership skills, but also reminded her of the importance of focusing on the individual.

“The listening skills,” Yetter said of her most important benefit. “In today’s life that’s super-fast, we forget that the eye-contact, the listening, the slowing down is so important. I think that that’s one of the values that came out of it.”

Kim Kapin, a 2011/2012 PAL alumnus, said that as a fairly new Prescott resident, the networking opportunities of PAL were key for her.

Yetter pointed out that PAL founder Ron Barnes has imparted his leadership views on the training. In a book authored by Kapin, which features community volunteers, Barnes said, “Success is living a life that is of value to others, being a valuable human being. I would like to live long enough to know there are no longer hungry kids in the Tri-Community area. I am most proud of my involvement with the Hungry Kids Project, the Civil Rights Movement, and Prescott Area Leadership.”

With this year’s 2016 Man, Woman, and Youth of the Year Awards Ceremony now behind it, PAL is looking ahead to its next recruits. Yetter noted that the application process is currently underway.

More information on the program is available through PAL’s website at: http://www.prescottarealeadership.org/.

And for those interested in participating in a PAL class, an application form is available at: http://www.prescottarealeadership.org/application/.

Applications for the 2016-2017 class are due by June 12.

From there, a PAL committee will review all of the applicants, Yetter said, and decide whether they would be a good fit for the program. “This program is quite a time commitment, so people have to have a really clear idea of what this program’s about,” she explained.

The coming program begins with a two-day retreat on Aug. 19-20, and continues with nine monthly education days, through the June 2017 graduation.

The cost for participating in the PAL program is $500, and Yetter said a limited number of scholarships are available.

Creative Leadership is taught in partnership with the Fast-Track Management Program at Yavapai College, and PAL participants can earn a college credit toward the three-credit certification, according to a PAL brochure.

The maximum class consists of 22 students, and Yetter said each year typically has 18 to 22 go through the program.

Prescott Area Leadership gave six other cash awards to the night’s honorees. The youth winners each received a $1,000 education scholarship. Runners-up Morgan Feingold, Shelbyrae Meyers, Ben Jenson and Nathan Tenney each received a $250 scholarship.

“They have an incredible vision of the future,” Barbara Bruce said as she announced the teenage honorees.

Youth honorees represented both local and international service, with involvement in local service groups and churches, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Crutches for Africa, Feed My Starving Children and Global Fingerprints.

Presenters had similar accolades for the rest of the night’s adult finalists and award winners.

“She has a vibrant vision for the world as it should be,” Paul Mitchell said as he recognized finalist Sister Anne Fitzsimons, who heads up the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation ministry at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church.

He said of Kieckhefer, the night’s Woman of the Year, that her “willingness to engage had been at work for decades in our community.”

Kieckhefer shared similar sentiment for her fellow honorees who included Fitzsimons and Marnie Uhl.

“Willingness, welcoming and vision,” she said of the other finalists. “A leader is only as good as those they lead with.”

Fann said he sees examples of leadership throughout the community.

“Watch, listen and learn,” he said. “It’s really easy to do that in Prescott.”

Like the night’s other honorees, Skoog recognized the third Man of the Year finalist, Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard, along with Fann.

“Either of those two gentlemen would be much more worthy of this award than I am,” he said.

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