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Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance Expanding to Quad Cities

Flagstaff Forty, a business and community leadership organization based in Flagstaff, is changing its name as part of a rebranding effort that will ultimately see expansion into areas such as Prescott. This comes as the result of a strategic planning effort aimed at both maximizing the group’s sphere of influence and ensuring long-term organizational sustainability. The rebrand is set to go live this month, when the group will formally change its name to the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance (NALA).

The rebranding was triggered about a year and a half ago, after Robert Millis stepped down from the positon of volunteer executive director of Flagstaff Forty, a position he held for five years. At that time, members of the group began a strategic planning process. They concluded that to maximize the group’s ability to impact targeted efforts, Flagstaff Forty had to expand. This would include growing the organization both geographically and in terms of membership, meaning that the name Flagstaff Forty (“Forty” referred to the original membership slate of 40 community leaders) had outgrown its usefulness and would in fact limit the group’s ability to satisfy its mission.

Board of Directors Chair David Engelthaler said, “There was another reason for us to grow. We have members representing places like Northern Arizona University, Coconino Community College and APS, whose reach go well beyond Flagstaff. We need to make the best use of their capabilities and this geographical expansion will allow this.”

To lead the rebranding effort, the group hired Michael Zervas as CEO on Oct. 1, 2014. A longtime member of Flagstaff Forty, Zervas is a familiar face in Northern Arizona. He is a founding partner of Mountain Heart Sleep and Cardiovascular Center of Excellence and has developed a number of successful businesses. His experience in marketing made him ideal to lead the rebranding effort, which will include a new website and social media presence.

“Our focus is not so much to grow bigger just for the sake of growing bigger, but grow bigger strategically,” he said. “We already work with the Greater Phoenix Leadership Council and Southern Arizona Leadership Council in Tucson, and adding partnerships in places like Prescott will allow us to find areas of commonality. Where we agree on issues, we can then provide a unified voice of hundreds of business leaders across the state.”

The process for rebranding has been supported by Cindy May, owner of her own marketing company in Flagstaff. “Cindy has been generous with her time and knowledge and she’s giving back to the community by helping us give back to the community,” said Zervas.

He says efforts to form partnerships in Prescott and other areas will be ongoing.

Flagstaff Forty was established by business leaders in 2004 with a mission “to improve the greater Flagstaff area and the state of Arizona by bringing together talent, resources and leadership to create action on priority issues.” The group specifically targets educational, economic and environmental issues.

“This is not tied to, say, the Flagstaff Leadership program, which essentially provides a better connection between leaders in the community,” said Engelthaler. “This is about bringing together different financial and intellectual resources to zero in on one or two things at a time and effect action.”

Through the years, the group has spearheaded or supported issues by sponsoring town halls, hosting presentations by government officials, providing funding and connecting partners. Some examples of past efforts include Flagstaff’s street repair program, Flagstaff’s designation as America’s first STEM city, and support for dark skies. Future goals will include larger scale projects such as promoting increased bioscience research in Arizona.

“Our goal moving forward as NALA is to be lean, focused and responsive, said Zervas. “Our members have all demonstrated a willingness to roll up their sleeves in a variety of fashions. Members step up and make contributions in time and money. There’s a lot of interplay and an all-hands-on-deck mentality. We look forward to forming partnerships across the state and working toward the common good of all Arizonans.” QCBN

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