Tag Archives: Deb Sydenham

Podcast: GoVote Aims To Change Voter Turn Out

Deb Sydenham: An agent of change


Deb Syndeham

Deb Sydenham joined ULI Arizona as executive director in September 2010 after nearly 20 years with the State of Arizona and nine years in the private sector. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and a member of the College of Fellows for the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP). In 2012, she was named as one of the 25 Most Admired CEOs in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area and in 2014 was included in the inaugural group of the 20 Most Influential Women in commercial real estate. Her experience with local, regional and state governments and tribal communities serves as a solid foundation to moving the ULI mission forward.

Trends Day in Arizona will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this year. What is your fondest memory?

As a ULI member, I attended a number of Trends Days and was continually amazed by the substantive content brought forth. As executive director, I have the incredible opportunity to work alongside vastly talented member volunteers in developing the Trends Day program … ULI Arizona’s Trends Committee is invitation-only and represents a cross-section of land use and real estate interests. The overwhelming success of Trends Day 2014 posed an interesting challenge to the group: How do we top Trends 2014, deemed by all to have been the best Trends Day ever? You’ll have to join us on Jan. 28, as I have no doubt that the compelling program developed by this team is going to do just that!

What role will ULI take in solving one of the most important issues facing Arizona’s land use in 2015?

It is clear we are surrounded by wholesale change. Several critical issues headline this change, but one in particular is far-reaching — infrastructure. Infrastructure can be defined in a variety of ways – transportation, technology, utility, social, and so on – and leadership and implementation of new infrastructure frameworks can reposition communities not only from a competitive standpoint, but also how they enhance the quality of life for residents … This vast infrastructure conundrum must be addressed and executed in the context of a multi-generational marketplace and changing demographic scenarios. ULI’s legacy is rooted in the sharing of best practices. The institute is widelyacclaimed as a neutral convener and safe haven where individuals engage in dialogue, analysis, and debate to review market trends, best practices and future challenges faced by communities globally. Facilitating collaborative conversations that result in teamwork and strategic action is a cornerstone of ULI Arizona and one of the spaces in which we continue to be most effective. The ULI Arizona Community Initiatives Committee … has been exploring the unique facets and nuances of infrastructure within the Phoenix Metropolitan region … There are no quick fixes to issues of this magnitude. Patience and deliberate action will enable business and community leaders to craft insightful and future-oriented strategies to forge better places. ULI will be the organization convening the conversation where this transformation takes place.

How is ULI sharing best practices between public and private sectors?

After decades of what felt like infinite resources, we now face a mind set of shortages – especially financial ones. In the world of land use and real estate investment, the continual challenge is to understand new trends, capitalize on new market opportunities and direct investment funds in strategic ways. Local governments and development interests are seeking ways to embrace flexibility – in regulatory environments, floor plates, target market demographics and location … A strong public-private partnership goes well beyond the financial considerations of leveraging resources. This partnership must also involve open communication and collaboration – both of which are essential in today’s economy … Communities statewide have reached out to ULI as a partner in convening meaningful dialogue and seeking solutions to local land use and development challenges … ULI Arizona’s member and institute resources are positioned to navigate the transformational momentum being experienced throughout the Valley and form the partnerships that are a prerequisite for progress.

What’s a development issue you’d like to see discussed more in 2015?

Leadership. Catalyzing the changes necessary to create vibrant and resilient communities is not for the weak at heart, especially as we continue to forge through uncertain markets

Arizona Sunset - Future of West Valley

Valley Leaders Join Forces To Envision The Future West Valley

Leadership West LogoOver 100 Valley leaders convened on November 31, 2010 to develop a future vision for the West Valley in an exercise led by Leadership West.  Leadership West is a volunteer-led, non-profit organization that convenes, educates and activates proven leaders in business, non-profits and government to leverage their time, talents and treasures to enhance the quality of life in the West Valley.

Moving AZOne LogoThe “West Valley Reality Check” was free for its participants, thanks to the collaborative effort and partnership between Leadership West and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The program’s goal was to bring together leaders in government, business, non-profits, environmentalists, educators, neighborhood activists, interfaith groups, tribal and elected officials to focus on a regional approach to shaping our built environment. The event was a continuation of Leadership West’s annual West Valley Summit which was held in March.

By 2050, the Central Arizona region will have an additional 6 million people and 3 million new jobs, many of which will be in the West Valley. This exercise presented the opportunity for Valley stakeholders to influence how the region plans land-use, transportation and infrastructure while sustaining our economy and quality of life.

Leadership West Executive Director, Kathy Knecht kicked off the event by describing the organization as a catalyst for long-term planning in the West Valley.  The Reality Check model was designed by ULI, but this event was the first time where such an exercise was conducted with West Valley stakeholders.  What emerged from the exercise was an overarching theme of municipal and regional cooperation that looks beyond the current economic cycle in preparation for the next wave.

Deb Sydenham introduced the Reality Check model as a great opportunity to work collaboratively and cooperatively to help regions with visioning at least 20 years into the future. Don Keuth presented Valley growth trends and how this exercise will help establish the framework for future growth. Interestingly enough, only about 10 cities across the country have performed this activity but Phoenix is the only city that has done it twice. ULI Arizona’s efforts over the past 3 years have resulted in the “Connected Centers” strategy that promotes growth and prosperity.  These exercises represent a forward-thinking approach to identify a sustainable regional growth scenario and by doing so determine housing types, responsible land uses and a transportation framework.

MapJay Hicks presented the ground rules for the placemaking exercise in which participants use Legos© that represent various levels of housing and employment density and strands of yarn that represent major transportation corridors to identify the region’s growth patterns.  Participants used these tools in their groups to establish a 40-year vision with the understanding of the West Valley’s opportunities and challenges, including jobs, transportation, Luke AFB, higher education and the environment.

By keeping an open mind, being bold and creative and working together to find solutions, the participant groups completed their visioning exercise while maintaining AZOne Reality Check’s guiding principles of preserving open space, supporting current infrastructure by growing along existing corridors, connecting employment and housing with multi-modal transportation, creating new urban centers and infilling currently developed areas, and locating housing near jobs.

The collective group discussed barriers and challenges that might hinder the implementation of these future scenarios as well as policy changes that would be necessary to making the scenarios possible. However, the group clearly identified a need for the West Valley to stay relevant in conversations about regional issues by working collaboratively and speaking as one voice.  Leadership West did not intend this exercise to be the end, but rather the next step in moving this initiative forward by carrying the message back to each respective organization.  The Reality Check exercise provided a forum for West Valley representatives to use regional visioning and planning and discuss how we can promote economic development, plan comprehensive infrastructure, preserve natural resources, create a sense of place in the community, and engage the community and create political will to implement these visions.  Our common goal…leadership.