Attractive young businesswoman in an interview


esert Foothills Community residents who would like to be involved in their community are welcome to apply for the first Desert Foothills Leadership Academy.

The eight-month inaugural academy is scheduled to begin in January 2021 and will include up to 25 participants. The deadline to apply is up until the first meeting in January or when 25 people apply, whichever comes first.

As Jim Sherbert, development leader of the academy and chairman of The Holland Center, noted, the idea for the Desert Foothills Leadership Academy began a couple of years ago when a group of business and community residents realized there was a need to expand the community awareness of the issues that impact the region.

“They brought their concept to the Cave Creek-Carefree Chamber of Commerce and to The Holland Center, looking for organizational guidance and leadership,” said Sherbert, adding that the Desert Foothills Community roughly encompasses the area north of the 101, with Interstate 17 to the west and Rio Verde to the east.

“Their inspiration was to provide a fully functional organization that can help the region grow productively and be well planned.”

Through its partnership with the Cave Creek-Carefree Chamber of Commerce and The Holland Center, the Desert Foothills Leadership Academy was created. 

“Both organizations feel there is a huge need for a leadership program in our community, and both also have talented people on their boards willing to dedicate the time and effort to bring it to fruition,” said Jennifer Rosvall, The Holland Center’s executive director.

Sherbert said while anyone may apply, the academy is ideal for people who are interested in attaining a greater awareness of the key issues, resources and concerns that impact their community and who are willing to engage in solution building.

“We also believe that the byproduct of this community networking will be invaluable to the participants in both their business and in their community efforts,” Sherbert said.

The academy will include nine individual on-site and classroom training sessions that will meet for nearly a full day the second Thursday of every month from January through September 2021. Tuition is $500.

Sixty to 90 minutes of each session will be dedicated to leadership skills development, Sherbert said.

“In these sessions we will address a board array of subjects, from forming and managing a business culture to conflict resolution management and goal setting,” he said.

Each monthly community session will also include four to five hours dedicated to a given community topic that Sherbert said is critical to the success of the community, such as natural resources sustainability, government services and planning, health care, education, the arts and other topics.

In each of the nine sessions, participants will learn from experts in the subjects that are being discussed, Sherbert said.

“These will be people who are both experts on the specific subject matter but also who understand the need to build awareness and future planning processes so to optimize the benefits of these sessions for the participants,” he said.

“We are also encouraging community sponsors that can assist by sponsoring a day or a lunch or a participant.”

Rosvall and Sherbert both said they are looking forward to the launch of the first academy.

“I am beyond thrilled. The program was in its infancy stage when I came on board at The Holland Center last year. There is now a dedicated board who pulled it all together and is ready to launch,” Rosvall said.

“I believe that knowledge is the key to making good decisions and building engagement,” Sherbert said.

“Our belief is that through this transfer of knowledge we will create better future decision making through community involvement.”

To learn more about the Desert Foothills Leadership Academy and/or to apply, visit People may also call The Holland Center at 480-488-1090 or Jim Sherbert at 716-450-8320.