Agenda | 2015 Rural Policy Forum

Wednesday, August 5

Join us a day early to explore the Verde Valley and meet fellow attendees and local leaders. Main conference programming begins on Thursday, August 6. 

Verde Canyon Railroad Tour, 1:00 – 5:00 PM


Plan to arrive early to the Verde Valley for this special tour! Four hour wilderness adventure in the living room-style comfort of a refurbished train car. Stunning views, great company, heavy appetizers and a champagne toast! Plan to arrive at the depot at 300 North Broadway, Clarkdale, AZ 86324 by noon for the 1:00 pm departure. Tour concludes at 5:00 pm. Cost is $29 per person. Register here.

Dinner on the Town, 7:00 PM

Copper Art Museum

Join us for a social dinner at the Copper Art Museum at 7:00pm. Cost is $20 per person. RSVP here.

Thursday, August 6

The main conference program begins on Thursday and concludes on Friday, join us for enlightening speakers, topics, and breakout sessions.

Breakfast served at 7:30 AM

Opening Vision Session, 8:30 – 10:00 AM

Doug Von Gausig – Verde River Institute, Clarkdale Nina Sajovec – Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture: Building Community One Garden at a Time, Ajo Frances Lechner – Yarnell Fire Department, Yarnell David Parziale – Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, statewide Vista program TBD

Breakout Session 1, 10:15 – 11:45 AM, Concurrent sessions:

1. Rural Nonprofits: Staying Ahead of the Curve

In this session, we will explore trends in giving- both corporate and individual donors, and how your nonprofit can and should respond to these changes

  1. Royce Hunt, Executive Director, Seacus, Safford
  2. Stephanie Petrilli, Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits
  3. TBD

2. Arizona’s Trails: Can We Be the Best in the Country?

This session will explore ways that rural towns can link arms to create better overall recreation visitation and a statewide image that says we are the best in the country.

  1. Mila Lira, Town Council, Superior
  2. Sirena Dufault, The Arizona Trail
  3. Martin Ince, City of Flagstaff
  4. John Vuolo, Parks and Recreation, Pinetop

3. Expanding Business with Mexico

Large and Small companies are doing amazing business together across the border. Learn more about these trends, examine myths around Mexico’s business community, and discover the support we have in Arizona to get started.

  1. Lea Marquez-Peterson, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  2. Marissa Paula Walker, Arizona Commerce Authority
  3. TBD

Lunch, Noon – 1:15 PM

Keynote Speaker Barbara Wyckoff, Principal at Dynamica Consulting, has over 30 years of experience promoting rural community economic development across the US.  She has worked to bring together the private sector, non-profits, indigenous communities, government agencies, investors and others to implement innovative solutions. Barbara’s experiences include linking rural community assets to market demand, investing in community wealth, expanding community participatory processes, and developing creative leadership. She has worked extensively with the WealthWorks Community, coaching rural communities and organizations to build resilient, regional economies where all forms of capital stick to place.

Breakout Session 2, 1:30 – 3:00 PM, Concurrent Sessions:

1. Understanding the Legislative Process: Sponsored and Presented by the Arizona League of Cities and Towns

Ever wonder how to change policies, start a campaign, or impact government in your town, large or small? This session will explore the different levels of government in Arizona including special districts, unincorporated areas, cities and towns, the county and the state. Speakers will discuss the roles and governance structure of each level of government and how they each interact with one another.  In addition, the session will also provide attendees with tips and suggestions on how to get involved at the local or state level to make impact on the governing process and the future policies that will shape your town.

2. Perceptions, Myths and Realities of the Main Street Four Point Approach and Downtown Revitalization

In this session, we will learn how communities across the state have used the Main Street program to leverage resources and build collaborations. Find out about basic next steps that communities can take to incorporate some of the Main Street concepts into their existing efforts.

  1. Lani Lott, Arizona Downtown Alliance
  2. Kendall Jasper, Downtown Prescott Business Alliance
  3. Rina Rien, Casa Grande Main Street

3. Making Space for Civil Discourse in Your Community

With today’s intolerance, people have forgotten how to listen to opposing points of view in   order to create consensus and good will. Find out who is bringing people together for productive community conversations and how they are making it happen.

  1. Tad Peelin, Jim Hayden, and Alan Fitzgerald, Gilbert Talks
  2. Kevin Wilkins, United for Yuma
  3. TBD

Breakout Session 3, 3:15 – 4:45 PM, Concurrent Sessions:

1. Exceptional Events that Drive Tourism We all know about great events that are marketed well across the state and bring large numbers of visitors who may turn into repeat guests. Find out how they do it and learn about the economic rewards.

  1. Dorlene Allred*, Outlaw Jamboree ATV races, Eagar
  2. Bob McClory, Lake Havasu City Balloon races
  3. Sharon Ricci, Cowgirl Up!, Wickenburg Desert Caballeros Western Museum

2. The Transfer of Wealth and How it will Impact Rural towns

As our population ages and more young people leave hometowns for the city, what does that wealth transfer mean for Rural Arizona and how can we best prepare? We will learn about legacy donor strategies and facing those conversation that are hard to start.

  1. Wayne Fox, Northern Arizona University
  2. Stephanie Petrilli, Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits
  3. Judi Smith, Regional Senior Philanthropic Advisor, Community Foundation of Sedona

3. Education: Rural Successes from Around the State

In this session, we will learn about a variety of successes, including long-term strategies for teacher retention, how to find funding for STEM education and build it into your community culture, and about strategies for early childhood education.

  1. Jennifer Hernandez*, First Things First
  2. Bruce Johnson, Teachers in Industry, U of A
  3. Russell Mickelson, STEM 101

Dinner and a Show at Blazin’ M Ranch, 6:00 PM

Blazin M Ranch

Join us for dinner and a show and get to know fellow attendees! The cowpokes of Blazin’ M Ranch will fill your plates with the best chicken and ribs in Arizona and all the fixin’s (beware of flying biscuits).After dinner, sit back, relax and enjoy the smooth harmonies and rip-roarin’ comedy of the Blazin’ M Cowboys. Authentic, award-winning cowboy music, tall tales, tomfoolery and other side-splitting surprises will keep you wanting more! Cost is $25 per person. RSVP here.


Friday, August 7

Breakfast served at 7:30 AM

8:30-10:00 Morning vision session, speakers TBD

Breakout Session 1, 10:15 – 11:45 AM, Concurrent Sessions:

1. Rural Strategic Planning- How to Grow your Economy by developing local supply chains and assessing demand

  1. Barbara Wycoff, WealthWorks

2. AZ Technical Assistance Program (AZTAP) Brought you by ULI

Gila Bend and Bisbee will share their experience with the AzTAP program, how to get started and get measurable results. ULI will be on-hand to discuss the program and how to qualify for the program to gain support for your community.

  1. Jestin Johnson, City Manager, Bisbee
  2. Rick Buss, past City Manager, Gila Bend
  3. Kristen Busby, ULI

3. How to Leverage Arts and Culture to Revitalize Your Town

  1. TBD from ArtPlace
  2. TBD from Winslow Arts Trust
  3. Tracy Taft, International Sonoran Desert Alliance, Ajo
  4. Greg Esser, Combine International Artist in Residency Program

Lunch: Noon – 1:15 PM

Breakout Session 2, 1:30 – 3:00 PM, Concurrent Sessions:

1. Community and Project Capacity Building

Capacity is a critical factor in any community’s endeavor, from single project development to implementing a community’s comprehensive plan. The challenges of acquiring funding, implementing and maintaining projects, strategies and initiatives frequently rests on a community’s capacity. In this session, we’ll identify seven elements of community capacity and how to increase the likelihood of success in addressing a specific project or issue in your community. Please identify a project or strategy that your community is working on or would like to work on. Together we’ll identify tangible steps that will lead to increased capacity in your community to see their projects and goals through planning, development and success.

  1. Karalea Cox, Northern AZ Council of Governments, Economic Development Council Chair

2. ED 101: Sponsored by Arizona Association of Economic Development Professionals

  1. Julie Engel, CEcD, President & CEO, Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation
  2. Richard Wilkie, Economic Development Manager/Airport Manager, City of Casa Grande

3. Higher Education: Building Great Partnerships with Rural Communities

  1. Connie Pangrazi, Eastern AZ College and ASU
  2. Jenny Gonzalez, Promise for the Future, Central Arizona College Many schools are spread thin and buried in required coursework. Learn how communities can embrace STEM

This session will provide an overview of current rural community outreach, both at the university-wide ASU level and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College level. This session will include a presentation by the Teachers College and the ASU Community Partnerships Office specifically addressing ways in which ASU can work with statewide, rural districts to build qualified teacher pipelines.

To combat a high dropout rate in Pinal County, Central Arizona College successfully implemented the Promise for the Future scholarship program which focuses on eighth grade students and their parents/guardians.  This scholarship entitles them to free tuition to any Central Arizona College campus for up to four consecutive semesters when students meet achievable criteria and graduate from a Pinal County high school.  Once in college, the federally-funded Trio Student Support Services and Workforce Investment Act Youth Program empower students to overcome class, social, and cultural barriers to successfully navigate through their higher education experience at Central Arizona College.

Breakout Session 3, 3:15 – 4:45 PM, Concurrent Sessions:

Funding for Non-profits: roundtable discussion Non-profits will hear from nearly all of the rural funders in Arizona. Found out where you fit.

  1. Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Foundation
  2. APS
  3. Arizona Community Foundation
  4. Delta Dental
  5. Others

2. Regional Economic Development and Collaboration Between Rural Towns and Tribes


3. Motivating your town: Ignite volunteers with the spirit of service

  1. Buzz Walker, Blue Ridge Water project, C. C. Cragin, Town of Payson
  2. TBD
  3. TBD

Event Details

August 6-7
Clarkdale, Arizona
Clark Clubhouse
Eventbrite - 2015 Rural Policy Forum - presented by Local First Arizona

Clarkdale Map


Resolution Copper & Mining
mining assoc_2015_M
Arizona Association for Economic Development