Following a community workshop of Vision Fountain Hills in 2016, Dori Wittrig walked away knowing the town needed a new generation of potential community leaders. With the help of John Craft, she assembled a team of people who put their brains and networking skills together to quickly pull together the first class of the Fountain Hills Leadership Academy that same year. The success of the new program immediately sent ripples throughout the community.
The Leadership Academy is an 8-week intense immersion into the Town’s governmental processes, civic and community services and organizations, public safety, environmental management, local schools, and so much more. Participants meet community leaders who share ideas about the future of Fountain Hills and current challenges being faced.
At graduation, participants presented a project to Town leaders based on offering a solution to a challenge in the community or proposing a new idea to add value to the community. Past projects have included wrong-way drivers on Palisades Boulevard, creating a downtown arts district, effective public transportation services for employees who don’t live in town, a salt reduction program for residents who use water softeners, a grant assistance program for Town staff, and more.
Graduates have gone forward as better-informed citizens and have stepped into leadership roles throughout the community. They sit on dozens of boards of local non-profit organizations, serve the Town as commissioners, started PACs for local elections, and serve on Town Council and the Sanitary District board.
The 2020 class has been suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions that would have significantly dampened the effectiveness of the in-person program. The next class will resume in September 2021. Applications will be available in the Spring.
To learn more about the Fountain Hills Leadership Academy, visit iLoveFountainHills.org/leadership-academy