CEOs for Cities - CEO Paul J. Luna Hosts Expert Panel Discussion on Building Community

Author: Helios Education Foundation

November 16, 2017

The CEOs for Cities national meeting was held in Phoenix October 30 – November 1.  This annual meeting hosted 300 leaders from 75 cities across North America.  Those in attendance included mayors and other elected and appointed officials, business and civic leaders, foundation executives, college and university presidents, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit leaders.   

On November 1, Helios Education Foundation President & CEO, Paul Luna, hosted a panel of experts in a discussion titled “Building Community:  Place, Education and The Arts.”  The panelists included Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, Chancellor, Maricopa Community Colleges District; Marcia Kadanoff, Co-Founder + CEO, Maker City Project; Co-Author, Maker City; Wanda Dalla Costa, AIA, Visiting Eminent Scholar (Indigenous Architecture), ASU Del E. Webb School of Construction; and Dr. Lev Gonick, Chief Information Officer, Arizona State University.

Paul J. Luna kicked off the morning telling the audience why education and attainment across Arizona is important. “At Helios Education Foundation, we believe that education, and specifically, postsecondary degree attainment, is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty which will help ensure a strong, qualified workforce pipeline and help put Arizona back on the path toward economic prosperity,” he said.  

The lively discussion featured many insights from the panelists. When asked about communities that seem "stuck" - in the sense that their citizens feel left behind from the economic recovery of recent years – Marcia Kadanoff spoke of the importance of communities providing alternative paths to success. She highlighted Germany and its career formation system which emphasizes professional, four-year college degrees as well as advanced trainings in trades, and both are equally valued and respected in by the community.

Wanda Dallas Costa added insights into how communities can bring about a sense of inclusion and community amongst indigenous groups. By ensuring, through arts and cultural activities, that we are highlighting the 22 different tribes represented in Arizona, we can create the same sense of inclusion equally for everyone.

Lev Gonick, the new Chief Information Officer at Arizona State University, discussed the role that technology plays in building communities. He spoke of the importance providing low-income communities with technology access to increase their opportunities. 

Rounding out the conversation was Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, who spoke of the importance of the Maricopa Community College District as an entry-point into higher education for more than 200,000 students.

We know education changes lives and strengthens communities. Creating communities where everyone not only feels empowered to succeed, but also included, will be integral to Arizona and Florida’s success.


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