Dream Big Arizona Event Recap

Posted on March 2, 2019 • Category: Center for the Future of Arizona



The Center for the Future of Arizona gathered over 300 leaders from across Arizona Thursday morning at the Phoenix Art Museum for its Dream Big Arizona event.

The event, presided over by CFA President & CEO Sybil Francis, served as a platform to announce CFA’s Arizona Progress Meters and to highlight The Arizona We Want, a shared vision of success developed by CFA based on its research and to reflect what matters most to Arizonans in creating a bright future for Arizona.

The Arizona Progress Meters gauge Arizona’s impact in areas that matter most to Arizonans: Jobs, Education, Young Talent, Health and Well-being, Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Civic Participation and Connected Communities. The Education Progress Meter, developed in partnership with Expect More Arizona, was previously launched in 2016. The full set of Arizona Progress Meters collectively provide a comprehensive evaluation of where Arizona stands relative to the aspirations of Arizonans.

“CFA dreams big and we work to turn those dreams into reality for Arizona,” CFA President & CEO Sybil Francis said during her opening remarks for the event. 

Ella Wofford, a student from Lake Havasu High School, opened the event by detailing her first-hand experience with CFA, and how it positively impacted her community. Through her involvement with DemocraSeed, a CFA initiative, she and her youth council enacted a plan to help her rural community that struggled with teacher retention.

After engaging in dialogue with their school and community, Ella and her youth council developed and implemented a plan to design and distribute care packages for teachers in need of supplies. Ella shared with the audience of over 300 participants at the event that teacher turnover at her school reduced from 22 percent to 8 percent the following year.

“It taught us everything we need to know to become civically engaged people,” Ella said.

Alberto “Tito” Ríos, Arizona’s inaugural Poet Laureate, inspired the gathering by reading his poem entitled “A House Called Tomorrow”.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey spoke about the importance of the issues measured by the Arizona Progress Meters, and the impact they could have in shaping the state’s future.

“Since its founding, CFA has been a driving force towards a brighter future,” Ducey said. “I want to say again and commend this entire organization for its role in making Arizona, and education, a better place.”

Arizona State University President Michael Crow’s remarks emphasized the important role of democracy in fostering the good of the people, and that CFA’s aspirations for Arizona reach for the ideal of “obtaining a level of democratic success” higher than ever.

In addition to the new Arizona Progress Meters, CFA announced the launch of The Arizona We Want Community Conversations series, where CFA leaders, using the Arizona Progress Meters as tools, will engage communities across the state to prompt dialogue and action.

A panel of Arizona leaders moderated by Maricopa County Community College District Chancellor Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick rounded out the event. The panel included Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, The Arizona Republic Editorial Director Phil Boas, and Southern Arizona Leadership Council President and CEO Edward (Ted) Maxwell.

The panel discussion touched on topics ranging from the past, present and future of Arizona, with the panelists sharing thoughts on what is working in Arizona, and the outcomes that could result from Arizonans coming together to work on shared goals.

President & CEO Sybil Francis concluded by stating that “CFA’s ambitions are bold. We want to contribute to a strengthened sense of pride in Arizona, in who we are and what we can do, to an Arizona that is driven by what matters most to Arizonans, and to a future that works for all Arizonans.”

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