The Peak Leadership Institute: the Story Behind the Name
The vision for a leadership institute at Paradise Valley Community College began with a small group of dedicated faculty and staff who believed in the leadership potential of every student. One faculty member in particular, Cindy Shoenhair, became impassioned about the concept and began to lay the foundation in early 2000. Cindy worked with several faculty and staff members to develop the Leadership courses and curriculum. In 2001 she was instrumental in writing a grant which secured funding for resources related to leadership education and the development of an Institute.
Interactions with Cindy provided insight into her leadership and teaching style. Cindy possessed strength of character, compassion and courage that served as an inspiration to many. She taught from the heart, conveying her passion for student learning and development. Several years prior Cindy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought this battle for herself, her husband and children, and won. In her daily activities, she demonstrated the same enthusiasm for life, with a sense of passion and purpose, seldom exhibited in a workplace.
Cindy defined herself as a successful leader because she was very passionate about the things she chose to do, and this inspired others to want to be a part of her team. She was willing to work hard to accomplish what she felt was important, and she did this by building trust between herself and others who worked with her. She tried to do what was best for the people she worked with on a personal level, which motivated others to do their best in return. Finally, she always tried to do the “right” thing, even if it was not the best thing for her personally. This earned her the respect of others.
One unique demonstration of leadership Cindy utilized with her staff was to conduct “meetings” while hiking the local Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Many of her colleagues had the privilege of hiking with Cindy to her favorite location, an unnamed summit trail leading to a serene island of desert solitude affording an expansive view of the natural landscape insulated from the surrounding chaotic suburbia. Although not the tallest peak in the Mountain Preserve, this location was a meaningful, spiritual place where she and others could quietly reflect, dream, and share life experience.
Cindy believed in human potential, the spark of fire that exists in all people that can be nourished and encouraged to grow. Ultimately Cindy lost her battle with cancer in 2001, yet she remains an inspiration, setting the bar high through the behavior she modeled. We dedicate The Peak Leadership Institute to her memory which lives on through the success of each student touched by her vision.