Arizona’s oldest environmental organization is building a new generation of business leaders to integrate practical sustainability knowledge into the organizations and communities they serve. Arizona Forward launched the pilot class of its Emerging Sustainability Leaders program, which consists of 14 participants, in early December. The Emerging Sustainability Leaders program is the state’s first sustainability-focused business leadership program of its type; it will guide participants in developing tools to usher in a more sustainable, resilient future.

The program is geared toward early to mid-career professionals who have been identified for their leadership potential. Participants in the pilot class were selected for: their commitment to sustainability; capacity to integrate sustainability into their organization; interest in being a long-term influencer in Arizona’s sustainability initiatives; and the capacity to take on a new challenge. The selection process resulted in a balance of participants from government, nonprofit and business organizations.

“As we begin the 50th anniversary year of Arizona Forward, our members saw an opportunity to grow leaders who could merge sustainability and business goals to steward our resources as we head into the next 50 years,” said Lori Singleton, president and CEO of Arizona Forward. “Cultivating and equipping these next-generation leaders today will fill a niche in practice-based sustainability learning.”

Over the past year, Arizona Forward has pursued a focused agenda aimed at influencing long-term transformation in areas such as: urban waterways, including the Rio Reimagined and Santa Cruz River Heritage projects; forest health; clean transportation; and canal redevelopment. The Emerging Sustainability Leaders participants will learn more about these and other efforts essential to the long term economic and environmental future of Arizona. Arizona Forward plans to offer the Emerging Sustainability Leaders program every year.

“In addition to helping civic and business organizations lead the way in environmental stewardship, the Emerging Sustainability Leaders program is also a long-term succession plan for Arizona Forward,” said Dave Skinner, Arizona Forward board chair and area operations manager for HDR, Inc. “Our members believe this organization makes an impact, and we want to ensure a healthy pipeline of talent to participate in supporting decades-long efforts.”