Tag Archives: Nikal Conti


O’Connor House becomes Sandra Day O’Connor Institute

O’Connor House is now the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute.  O’Connor House, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to solving complex issues through civil discourse and collaborative action.  In recognition of the need to continue to expand and enhance its endeavors, the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization from O’Connor House to the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute.

Sarah Suggs, President and CEO said, “The O’Connor Institute is a significant step forward and exciting chapter in our organization’s life.  We continue Sandra Day O’Connor’s important work to advance society, inspired by her leadership, intellect and vision.”

The mission of the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute is to:

  • Continue Sandra Day O’Connor’s lifetime work of solving important social, economic and political problems through civil dialogue and civic action.
  • Create an environment where important policy decisions are made through a process of civil discussion, critical analysis of facts and informed participation of all citizens.
  • Build consensus and collaborate on state and national levels to help solve complex issues.

“Given the polarized, highly politicized approach to current issues, the non-partisan O’Connor Institute offers civil discourse and collaborative problem solving to constructively address the complex challenges that face our state and nation,” stated Peter M. Hayes, Chairman of the Board.

The Sandra Day O’Connor Institute current programmatic areas include Social Justice, Public Policy and Civics Education.  In addition, the history of Sandra Day O’Connor’s extraordinary life is being documented and preserved. Plans also call for a future location of the O’Connor Institute to include a civic center, auditorium, educational classrooms, internships, collaborative workspace, public forums and debates, library, tours, a permanent exhibit honoring the lifetime work of Sandra Day O’Connor and administrative offices.

The historic O’Connor House itself will remain an asset of the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute.  The adobe home was relocated to the campus of the Arizona Historical Society and became a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization in 2009.

The work begun by O’Connor House which will be continued by the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute includes:

  • Public Policy: Providing a greater understanding of critical issues through thoughtful discussion, critical analysis of facts and informed participation of all citizens.
  • SAFE Action Project: Delivering hospitality industry training developed by O’Connor House to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children (child sex trafficking).
  • Social Justice: Creating solutions and collaborative partnerships to reduce domestic violence against women and children.
  • Civics Education: promoting civics education, particularly in middle schools, including the use of iCivics.org, an online education portal founded by Sandra Day O’Connor as a free civics resource for teachers and students.
  • Distinguished Speakers Series: Presenting national and international leaders and luminaries who foster the ideals of statesmanship

Sandra Day O’Connor made history in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan nominated her as an associate justice and first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, where she served 25 years until her retirement in 2006.   Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor had previously worked in the Arizona Attorney General’s office, in the Arizona State Senate as Majority Leader, later as a judge in the Maricopa County Superior Court and the Arizona Court of Appeals before her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Peter M. Hayes is Chairman of the Board and Sarah E. Suggs serves as President and CEO.

Board Members include Joseph P. Anderson, Tracy Bame, Deborah Bateman, Rich Boals, Nikal Conti, Harold Dorenbecher, Shelley Duane, John Evancevich, Leonard Gaby, Dr. Rufus Glasper, Lucia Howard, Hon. Douglas Hunt, Rick Jones, Francis Najafi, Michael Rooney, James Rose, Stephen M. Savage, Richard H. Silverman, Kim Sterling-Heflin, Gay Firestone Wray, Kari Yatkowski and Kathleen Zeider. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (ret.) and Ambassador Barbara Barrett serve as Advisors.

Girlfriend University, Scottsdale, Ariz. - AZ Business Magazine July/August 2011

Girlfriend University Inspires Confidence in Women Entrepreneurs

After just one year, Jodi Low and Renee Dee, owners of Scottsdale-based Girlfriend University, have turned heads and gained nods from business professionals. Despite the business’ seemingly light-hearted name, its goal is a serious one — to help empower women to be inspirational leaders.

“We named the business Girlfriend University because the name completely indicates our style,” Low says. “A sassy approach to serious business.”

According to Low, women do business differently, collaborating, sharing, connecting and supporting one another in a manner unique to women. This is why Low and Dee decided to market their business specifically toward women who are striving to succeed, whether that means opening their own business, maintaining it or to simply gaining the confidence to achieve their goals.

“We work with and empower women to build wildly successful enterprises with real, bottom line, measurable tools that create results,” Low says. “We provide anything and everything an entrepreneur or executive could possibly want or need … all under one roof.”

From business coaching to marketing to leadership development, GU offers an entire spectrum of classes and training for any Girlfriend University, Scottsdale, Ariz. - AZ Business Magazine July/August 2011woman. What makes its classes unique is Low and Dee’s desire to transform their students, both personally and professionally, to be their absolute best selves.

Nikal Conti, owner of Phoenix Architecture, attended Girlfriend University’s social media classes and the impact was immediate. Conti walked away with a solid social media strategy, as well as hundreds of potential clients following the business online, she says.

However, it was the Leadership 101 classes — comprised of two days of training — that really left an impression on Conti and her confidence as a leader and owner of Phoenix Architecture.

“With the expert and very challenging instruction, you actually push far past your normal comfort zone, revealing your true leadership potential,” Conti says. “You also see how a group of individuals can become a team; that is powerful. I know that I am a better leader because of it.”

Another popular class is Entrepreneur in U — Business Coaching. The class has an intense and honest approach to consulting and brainstorming has sometimes helped a client completely re-brand her business.

“Our half-day business intensives are wildly popular because our clients love having Renee and me sit down with them for a solid three hours and just create an entire brand, look, marketing strategy and plan with them,” Low says. “It’s an amazing process that is uniquely our own.”

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Girlfriend University

15279 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite B-240
Scottsdale AZ, 85254
(480) 278-7200


Arizona Business Magazine July/August 2011