We had the good fortune of connecting with Tracey Beal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tracey, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Every time I have started something new there has been risk involved, but beginning our nonprofit, School Connect, felt particularly that way because I loved the job I already had,.The chance to do something really fresh that could make a true difference in schools and communities was so compelling that I took the leap and I never looked back! Taking risks is the only way I have actually moved forward in things that really mattered to me. I had to believe in a vision of what could be, become really clear about what I was trying to accomplish and cast that vision in a compelling way so that others came to believe it as well. I had to look for partners who would take the risk with me, and understand that there would be a degree of loneliness in the process because not everyone is an early adopter. This process hasn’t been easy. There are times when the weight of casting vision, solving problems, recruiting team members and moving us forward feels just about unbearable. I don’t always know the “right” answers and have been learning that this is actually the beginning of wisdom. When I don’t know how to take the next step, the best thing for me to do is find some one with expertise that can help. That always makes the process of taking risks feel less scary. It gives me a path forward that may change, but is still a good beginning place. I am also learning to enjoy the journey. Yes this vision may fail. It may take twists and turns I never expected, or wanted. But the process itself is transforming me, building my courage and resilience. And every time I see a need get met through partnerships between schools and their communities, it is one more reminder that the risk is worth it!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Before starting School Connect I had the privilege of starting a nonprofit that worked with college students. We took these college students on service trips to different countries and it was while I was in Peru that I suddenly had two aha moments that led to the founding of School Connect. The first aha moment was realizing that schools are the center of every neighborhood and a portal to all of the community’s needs. The second was that I was flying over my own neighborhood to do this in other countries. Why not also do this at home in Phoenix? Getting the model of School Connect developed was a joy, but navigating the formation of the nonprofit and getting buy in from some key leaders of our city was challenging. I definitely experienced discrimination as a woman and had to persevere through road blocks. We pulled together friends and partners to create a team that was creative, intelligent and supportive. Together we developed a collaborative model supporting local schools through community partnerships.. I discovered how much I love bringing out the best in others, to build teams and to see communities flourish.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a friend visiting in Arizona we would head to Oak Creek Canyon to hike West Fork Trail where we would meander through streams, watch wildlife, eat black berries and enjoy breath taking views! Then we would head to the French Resort L’Auberge to sit by the creekside and eat delicious french food. The next day we would travel to Flagstaff to hike Mount Humphreys through wildflowers and aspen trees, then shop in downtown Flagstaff and eat at a great Thai food restaurant. On Wednesday we would head to the Rim above Payson and stay in a cabin near Willow Springs Lake. We would kayak on the lake and watch eagles soar above the trees. On Thursday we would head back down to Phoenix to attend a performance of Ballet Arizona and check out the downtown scene. We would eat delicious Mexican food at Richardson’s then walk through art galleries. On Friday we would bike down Central Ave to see beautiful old mansions and find our way down to Cibo’s to eat Italian food out on their patio.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Dan Steffen first had the idea for us to start the nonprofit that would eventually be called School Connect and he has been an incredible partner every step of the way. Dan has a special ability to believe, trust, inspire and encourage our team and we couldn’t be more grateful!
No credits needed.