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 | Special thank you to Su Casa Mexican Food, Clarkdale

Opening Vision Session: The State of Rural Arizona, Exciting Advances and New Opportunities
8:30-10:00 AM

  1. Frances Lechner – Yarnell Fire Department, Yarnell
  2. Ian Dowdy – Arizona Alliance for Livable Communities
  3. Marissa Fabel – Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, statewide Vista program
  4. Doug Von Gausig – Verde River Institute, Mayor of Clarkdale
  5. Lea Marquez Peterson, Zanjeros

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. Kristen WIlson, Executive Director, Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits

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. Carlos de la Torre, City Manager, Douglas

Lunch, Noon – 1:15 PM | Special thanks to Nate’s Cowboy Café, Clarkdale

Keynote Speaker
Barbara Wyckoff, Principal at Dynamica Consulting
Too often we continue to do things as we always have, somehow expecting a different outcome. We know it’s not working, but don’t know what to change. The keynote will explore alternative economic development strategies, building on many of practices that are working today, linking community assets to market demand for lasting livelihoods. Real examples from around the country showing both how to and the benefits of linking rural places to broader regions will be presented.

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.

  1. Chip Davis, Supervisor, District 3, Yavapai County
  2. Rene’ Guillen, Policy Advisor for Government & Transportation, Office of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey
  3. Matt Lore, Communication and Education Director, League of Arizona Cities and Towns
  4. Doug Von Gausig, Mayor, Town of Clarkdale

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 Jaspers, Prescott Downtown Partnership
  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 and Miriam Limon, United for Yuma
  3. Tara Jackson, President, Arizona Town Hall

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. Bob McClory, Lake Havasu City Balloon races
  2. Joey Iuliano, Javalina Chase, Vice President for Arizona bicycle racing association, Greenlee County
  3. Cathy Weiss, WEBB Center, Wickenburg

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. Judi Smith, Regional Senior Philanthropic Advisor, Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona
  3. Brian Bateman, Do Good Better

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. Lisa Blyth, Yavapai Regional Director, First Things First
  2. Bruce Johnson,Co-Director, UA STEM Learning Center, Teachers in Industry
  3. Daniel Luster, COO, 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 | Special thanks to Nate’s Cowboy Café, Clarkdale

The State of Rural Arizona : Exciting Advances and New Opportunities
8:30-10:00 AM

  1. Senator Carlyle Begay, Arizona State Senate District 7
  2. Buzz Walker, Blue Ridge Water project, C. C. Cragin, Town of Payson, Igniting the Spirit of Volunteers
  3. Nina Sajovec, Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture: Food Is Power: Revitalizing Community through Developing a Local Food System
  4. Darcy Renfro, Director, The Arizona We Want Institute
  5. Alexandria Wright, Director, Regional Economic Development Center, Yavapai College

OR Attendees may attend the following 3 hour workshop Doing Economic Development Differently: Rooting Opportunity Regionally Workshop. This session is limited to 50 people ONLY and will run from 8:30-11:45

  1. Barbara Wycoff, WealthWorks
    This session will use case studies and interactive design sessions to explore the principles and experience with wealth-building approaches that link community assets to market demand for lasting livelihoods. Participants will understand the basics of the approach, practice with tools, and gain insights and resources for using this approach to complement current efforts.

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

1. 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.
The Arizona Technical Assistance Program (AzTAP) was instituted to afford high-level land use and real estate executives an opportunity to help communities in Arizona with difficult development and planning issues. The AzTAP team is a service offered by the Arizona District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to assist Arizona municipalities, counties, regions, and non-profits in the preliminary study of unique land use planning, development, and re-development issues. The District Council’s goal is to make some of the best and brightest talent in the industry available to local government.

  1. Jestin Johnson, City Manager, Bisbee
  2. Rick Buss, past City Manager, Gila Bend, current Deputy City Manager, Surprise
  3. Amy Malloy, ULI

2. How to Leverage Arts and Culture to Revitalize Your Town
The arts have a powerful convening element that brings together entire communities to share and to celebrate. Rural Arizona’s Arts and Culture is thriving and in this session we will hear strategies to leverage the arts to retain more young people, to drive tourism, to attract higher wage jobs, and to preserve older buildings. In this session we will learn about placemaking and how the arts really create better communities.

  1. Kristen Densmore, Milagro Arts Center, Prescott
  2. Tracy Taft, International Sonoran Desert Alliance, Ajo
  3. Greg Esser, Combine International Artist in Residency Program

Lunch: Noon – 1:15 PM | Special thanks to Crema Café, Cottonwood

Keynote Speaker: Clark Anderson, Sonoran Institute Community Builders program director
Clark Anderson is the executive director of Community Builders, a nonprofit organization that works with local partners and civic leaders to create stronger and more prosperous communities in the American West. Community Builders, formerly an initiative of the Sonoran Institute, provides training, research and assistance to help communities address a local planning and development issues, including transportation, housing, neighborhood revitalization and economic development.

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, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University
  2. Jenna Kahl, Director of Enrollment and Outreach, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University
  3. Jenni Gonzales, Promise for the Future, Central Arizona College

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. Angie HarmonFreeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Foundation
  2. Kerri Cole, APS
  3. Elisa de la Vara, Arizona Community Foundation
  4. Keisha Tatum, USDA
  5. Dr. Sandi Perez, Delta Dental Foundation
  6. Brenda Thompson, Arizona Humanities Council
  7. John Raeder, Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family
  8. Heidi Rodriguez, Support My Club

2. Workforce Development
In this session we will learn some effective strategies for determining what skills are needed in your community, and what services are available to offer the training your workforce needs. We will also talk about resources among public, non-profit and private sectors to help you develop a program, and specifically, how to effectively engage with the private sector.

  1. Alex Wright, Director, Regional Economic Development Center, Yavapai College
  2. David Hirsch, CEO of Northern Arizona Goodwill
  3. Mary Mendola, Mohave County

3. How to Access Capital
In this session, lending institutions will outline special programs and opportunities for lending capital in rural areas.

  1. Roberto Valdez-Beltran, Accion
  2. Teresa Miranda, Prestamos
  3. Andy Gordon, Arizona Multi-Bank
  4. James Lincoln, Arizona Community Foundation

*Subject to change; check in for all of the latest updates! We are adding to this agenda regularly, so check back.

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