For 50 years, the organization has helped guide economic success and environmental responsibility
By Angel Fuchs & Kayla Goldberg
Founded in 1969 by a group of like-minded visionaries who anticipated the Arizona desert was going to explode into a sprawling metropolis, Arizona Forward is gearing up to celebrate 50 years as advocates for economic success and environmental responsibility.
Known in 1969 as Valley Forward, the organization brought together The Phoenix Development Association, Mid-Town Improvement Association, Valley Beautiful Citizens Council, and the Maricopa County Taxpayer Association to join forces, advocating for responsible land use decisions, transportation alternatives, air quality and water conservation. Over the decades, the mission expanded to encompass all of Arizona, and in 2013 the association officially transitioned to a statewide agenda with continued focus on the balance between environmental quality and economic growth.
According to Tricia Covert, director of marketing and public relations, Arizona Forward has attempted to find this balance by creating strong relationships with political decision-makers and leaders in the business community who act as strategic partners to address important sustainability issues within the state. Many of these decision-makers are members of Arizona Forward, Covert explains. But members also include small and large businesses, individuals, non-profits, government jurisdictions and civic leaders. Overall, there are more than 200 member companies that together represent tens of thousands of Arizona’s citizens, all of whom share the same desire to secure the quality of life in Arizona by promoting a healthy economy and sustainable environment.
Arizona’s Natural Environment
“Arizona is a very special place. The natural environment is a key reason why people want to live, work and visit here,” said Lori Singleton, Arizona Forward President and CEO. “Sustainability issues have heightened over the past several years across the globe, and it’s critical that Arizona receives the support it deserves with challenges and opportunities that are specific to our state.
Since the beginning, Arizona Forward has made significant impact. Their involvement in projects and initiatives has made a profound difference for Arizona. One recent project includes the Rio Salado Development District, now revitalized as the Rio Reimagined project.
According to Singleton, back in the 1960s, Rio Salado was just a dry desolate riverbed. Arizona Forward board member at the time, Jim Elmore, worked for ASU when a master plan was created to transform the Rio Salado including what is now Tempe Town Lake.
“Today, Tempe is an important contributor to economic prosperity for Arizona,” Singleton said. “Rio Salado is just one example of the impact Arizona Forward can make on the community.”
The Next 50 Years
All of that and so much more accomplished in 50 years. So what can be expected from Arizona Forward in the next 50 years? Singleton says they are ready for the long haul. There are plans to develop a statewide roadmap intended to produce large-scale, tangible progress in areas that matter most in Arizona, such as climate resiliency, clean air, forest health, water restoration and more.
50th Anniversary Event
On September 21, Arizona Forward will host their 39th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards presented by Salt River Project and will recognize exemplary sustainability projects throughout the state. Arizona Forward has been accepting project entries since early June from individuals and organizations that have completed projects in 10 categories: buildings and structures, site development and landscape, healthy communities, technology innovation, art in public places, environmental education and communication, waste reduction and sustainability champion.
A panel of judges made up of leaders and influencers in the community select finalists and award recipients. The event will be held at The Arizona Biltmore from 5:30pm to 9pm. Award recipients will be announced while celebrating Arizona Forward’s 50th anniversary with the community. The gala is open to the public, but reservations are required. If interested in attending, go to www.arizonaforward.org for more information.
DATE: Sept. 21, 2019
TIME: 5-9 p.m.
LOCATION: Arizona Biltmore, 2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85016
Angel Fuchs is a freelance writer and owner/editor of Yay Baby! a mom-friendly lifestyle blog with a focus on family, fun and food! She loves to write and is an avid home cook, but her main job is personal assistant and private chauffeur to her seven-year-old daughter, Jax.
Kayla Goldberg is an editorial intern at Green Living Magazine. She is currently studying English at Loyola Marymount University, and in her free time she enjoys reading, working out, and drinking coffee.