Our sustainability depends on you

future leaders

Nominations for the 2021-22 year are closed. We will begin accepting nominations for the 2022-23 class in August of 2022.

Are you interested in the critical issues that impact Arizona’s sustainability? Do you want to help lead change? Want to broaden your understanding of sustainable practices?       

We invite you to learn more about our program designed to inspire, educate, and mentor up-and-coming sustainability leaders in Arizona.   


  • Early to mid-career professionals who are identified for their leadership potential
  • Exhibit leadership potential:
    • Show commitment to sustainability
    • Capacity to integrate sustainability into their organization
    • Interest in being a long-term influencer in Arizona’s sustainability initiatives
    • Motivated to take on a new challenge
  • Diversity is key: The selection process factors in a balance of cohorts from government, nonprofit and business organizations


The Arizona Forward Emerging Sustainability Leaders Program will introduce participants to concepts of sustainability and demonstrate sustainability in practice. Participants will develop:

  • a broad awareness and understanding of the social, environmental, ethical and economic challenges of sustainability as well as opportunities facing Arizona
  • the ability to drive business leadership to achieve real systems change
  • the knowledge, experience and skill to critically evaluate a range of strategic levers for change


Each class will feature content presentations and discussion with experts at the top of their respective fields. Given the complex nature of sustainability challenges and solutions, the program will aim to explore diverse pathways and perspectives in achieving sustainability. Practical application of sustainability concepts will be a primary focus.

The program takes place once a month on Fridays from October through May.

Upon completion of the program, Arizona Forward Emerging Sustainability Leaders are strongly encouraged to continue to engage with the Arizona Forward network toward advancing the organization’s sustainability initiatives.


If you would like to be nominated, please have a member from your organization’s leadership team complete the online nomination form. Once nominated, applicants will then be required to complete a pre-program application and submit a short introductory video. The candidate selections will be announced mid September. If you have any questions, please contact, Jennifer O’Connell, Director of Membership Development & Engagement, at joconnell@arizonaforward.org.


  • Understanding Sustainability: History, Concepts, Drivers, Trends and Corporate Business Strategies
  • Materials Flows and Lifecycles: Industrial Ecology, Waste Reuse, Recapture, Recycling, Sustainable Supply Chains, Zero Waste and Circular Economy
  • Climate Change: Urban Heat Island, Policy, Climate Action Plans, Extreme Heat and Air Quality
  • Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy: Energy 101, History of Energy (fuel sources, electricity creation, energy types), Generation (issues and solutions), Power Delivery (transmission, distribution)
  • Water Resources: Securing Water for Economy, Society and Environment Water Systems, Law/Policy, Colorado River Agreement, Water Planning, Water Quality, Use of Effluent, Efficiencies, Watershed Conservation and Forest Health
  • The Promise of Clean Mobility/Transportation: Mass Transit, Smart Transportation, Autonomous and Connected Vehicles
  • Characteristics of Resilient, Healthy Communities: Defining Resilience, Social Systems, Public Health, Food Systems, Green Infrastructure, Sustainable Design Innovations, Canal Redevelopment and Connectivity

Emerging Leaders - Alumni

Leading the Way


“A broader network of sustainability professionals, a greater understanding of timely sustainability issues impacting Arizona, and an enhanced ability to leverage these assets to effect change.”
“Actionable ways to implement more sustainable practices within my organization.”
“Insight from others who work in different industries around Arizona, information from experts in their field, understanding of the linkages between all the topics we will discuss, and how we can take this and help move Arizona into the future and educate those around us about what we have learned.”
“I’ll look back at the Emerging Sustainability Leaders as a pivotal time in my career, where I formally started a new chapter, focusing my energy on sustainability. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity, and know that this is just the beginning of my involvement with Arizona Forward.”
“This group has been absolutely fantastic! I am so excited to be a part of this group and feel like all of the information I have been learning is new to me – which is great. What has been really interesting is reflecting and taking this information back to the office and sector in which I work to share with our profession – ultimately this has been yielding amazing response and really helping to shape not just myself, but many. Looking forward remaining a close part of Arizona Forward.”