Responsibility, Leadership and Noblesse Oblige

March 19, 2011

iStock Photo via

Leadership is a popular word these days. Consultants preach it, journalists either praise it or bemoan it, companies, boards investors and customers demand it.

The days when leaders were anointed at birth, except in a very few cases, are long gone. Today’s leaders may have great power… or none depending on the authority they wield.  But whatever level that may be, with leadership comes a corresponding measure of responsibility.

“For of those to whom much is given, much is required”

Bible (Luke 12:48)

Through the ages it has been written that leadership and responsibility go hand in hand.  Today, leadership takes many forms. We lead people in organizations. We lead with thoughts, ideas, and experience.  We lead in the development of processes and products.  As leaders, however and where ever we may lead, it is important to remember, leadership is not something that is merely handed to us, it is a privilege that must be continually earned.  For when our leadership falters, others cease to follow. If others choose not to follow, we are not leading, we are simply walking alone. Read the rest of this entry »


After tragedy, the birth of Healing Trees demonstrates leadership by example

January 29, 2011

Back on January 9th, I shared a story about how we all got a wakeup call when shots rang out on a sunny Saturday morning in Tucson, Arizona.  After that day, as a nation wondered, waited and prayed, a group of friends were sharing ideas on what could be done to remember the fallen, bring the community together and begin the healing process.  The result is a new collaborative project called The Healing Trees Humanitarian Program. 

News coverage and  video where ABC15 news reporter Angie Holdsworth tells the story in this interview with Annie Loyd.

Annie Loyd, one of the organizers of The Healing Trees Project speaks with Angie Holdsworth of ABC15 News.

 I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

I think I was about Christina Taylor Green’s age when I first read “TREES” by Joyce Kilmer.  Like trees, people gain their strength from the world around them.  They hug the earth, draw nutrients from it, and reach for the sun.  They often stand together, but they can also stand alone.  They put down roots, grow, and give back in many ways.  There is something both magical and mystical about a tree. 

A tree that looks at God all day  

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear  

A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

“Trees” by Joyce Kilmer at Bartleby Online

Healing Trees Humanitarian Program: “Heal Our Communities, Offer Remembrance and Celebrate Life.”

ContributeLess than one month later after the Tucson shootings, the project has launched and is growing daily. Beginning on February 14th, Arizona Statehood Day, The Healing Trees Humanitarian Project will plant trees in Tucson and Phoenix and many additional locations throughout Arizona, the US and around the world. In the process they will be bringing communities together and demonstrating a shared desire to be to be instruments of peace, understanding and compassion in our communities. (You can see the growing list of locations at

Each time a healing tree is planted there is a ceremony to…

  • offer a remembrance to those who died or were injured in Tucson.
  • create a lasting symbol of new life in our community
  • Create a unified moment for each of us to reflect on how we will choose to be instruments of peace, compassion and understanding with ourselves and with others

Participants come back together again 11 months later to hold themselves accountable and to reflect on how they acted as instruments of peace and will continue to do so.

Recording the Tree Plantings

In addition to the individual trees and the gatherings when they are planted, the GPS coordinates of each tree will be recorded and tracked on the Healing Trees website and will include each Healing Tree’s story, its donors’ experience, intentions and  ceremonies.  This allows the participants and others to visit whenever a boost of inspiration is needed and will provide stories of what we and others are doing to create deep and lasting roots.

It started on January 8, 2011, but it does not end there…

Annie Loyd of The FUSION Foundation put it like this:

“As a direct response to the incidents of January 8, the Healing Trees Humanitarian Program: “Heal Our Communities, Offer Remembrance and Celebrate Life.” was created. The FUSION Foundation, the Arizona Community Tree Council and Tucson Clean and Beautiful are working together to heal our communities, offer remembrance, and celebrate life with the planting of Healing Trees across the state and across the country.  Healing Trees are a visual life-giving memorial commemorating the lives of those who died, honoring those who were injured and paying tribute to the outstanding actions of forgiveness, compassion, understanding, kindness and love we witnessed in the wake of the tragedy by so many in the Tucson community. This is our time to do something significant to celebrate life and promote new growth- like planting trees. Through this a life-giving and earth-serving community act, together we can make a difference.”

Leading by Example

On January 27, 2011, I shared the stories of big companies and caring individuals who are leading by example.  The Healing Trees Humanitarian Program is yet another one.  It was born out of tragedy and a shared desire to respond with an act that would not only honor those who died or were injured but also to provide a visual support to their families, neighbors, friends and strangers whose lives changed on that fateful day. It is the work of people coming together to  proactively create a stronger community that is committed  life, growth and collaboration. 

We each have  opportunities to lead by example. 

Sometimes we create them and sometimes they find us.  We lead by example when we…

  • Share our talents and experience with others to solve a problem or move a project forward.
  • Help someone else achieve their goal.
  • Take action to bring change…instead of just talking about what’s wrong.
  • Or maybe simply take this opportunity to become part of a community of caring people who will each plant a healing tree somewhere in the world.  To learn more about how to participate, click here.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

About the Joan:

Koerber-Walker-056 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and corporate advisor, Joan Koerber-Walker’s journey has spanned from corporate America to entrepreneurship and non-profits as well as to community leadership and into the halls of Washington D.C.  Her past career includes two decades on the team at  Avnet, Inc. and service as Chairman of the Board of Advisors to Parenting Arizona.  Today, she serves her community as the Chairman of the Board of the Opportunity  through  Entrepreneurship Foundation and as an advisor to The FUSION Foundation and The Healing Trees Humanitarian Project.  To learn more about how CorePurpose and the CoreAlliance can help you grow your business in 2011, you can contact her by clicking here.

CorePurpose  is a registered trademark of CorePurpose, Inc.  CoreAlliance is a  service mark of CorePurpose Inc.  All rights reserved


To learn more about The Healing Trees Humanitarian Program:

ContributeThe Healing Trees Humanitarian Program is a collaboration led by The FUSION Foundation and founding partner the Arizona Community Tree Council and its southern Arizona partner Trees for Tucson | Tucson Clean and Beautiful.

The funds are being managed by the Arizona Community Tree Council, a 501(c)(3) organization with more than 20 years of experience dedicated to the care and planting of trees and promoting the education and exchange of  information about trees and the essential role they play in the well being of all Arizona communities.

Saturday morning, we all got a wake up call

January 9, 2011

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Arizona.  As I checked in with friends on Twitter, Facebook and the like, I was chatting about the weather and the sun creeping over the mountains.  That morning, I came across a wonderful quote from Catherine Leyen (@MRIchat).

I shared it with friends on Facebook at 9:07 AM Arizona time.

It read:

Never pass up the opportunity to tell somebody how much what they do makes a positive difference in the world. ~ Catherine Leyen

A two hour trip down the road, at the Safeway on Ina and Oracle in Tucson, events were unfolding that would horrify the nation, destroy families, and and send a wake up call to us all.

Shortly after 10 AM Saturday morning a gun man opened up on a crowd of Arizonans who had come to see Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. (For the video series, see

As events unfolded, Arizonans and people from around the country watched in horror, misinformation abounded as reports came out that someone had shot into a crowd of people and that Congresswoman Giffords had died. They were later corrected to say that she was fighting for her life – and winning.  Others were not as lucky.  This link from CNN provides the time line, and information on those who were lost on a sunny and crisp Tucson morning, including a Federal Judge, a nine year old  girl who came into this world on 9/11 and left it on another day of terror and tragedy, parents, grandparents, a local pastor,and a young man planning to be married. Two local  physicians who happened to be on the scene gave aide to the wounded while Daniel Hernandez, a trained nurse and a Giffords intern,rushed to see what happened and used his medical training to “apply pressure to the Congresswoman’s wound and keep her active and alert,” according to  Arizona state Rep. Steve Farley. Hernandez was Farley’s former campaign manager. (source: Jodi Powers- Community Public Relations)

In Tucson, hundreds gathered leave flowers, light candles, sing songs, and pray outside of University Medical Center and outside Gabby’s Tucson office.

Up on Phoenix, many, including Annie Loyd and Jodi Powers and friends of the The Fusion Foundation rallied friends, community leaders, and others to the Arizona Capital in Phoenix for a candlelight vigil and shared news updates locally as well as the insights that were coming in from friends in the the South.

As the evening drew to a close, prayers were being sent from around the country and around the state.  At the vigil at the Capitol, Eric Landau used his talents to send the strains of Amazing Grace soaring into the night while later singer Olivia Calderon raised her voice in prayer and song with the Ave Maria.

Saturday, January 8, 2011, began with a glorious Arizona sunrise and ended with the world’s prayers.  But prayers, as important as they are, are not enough. On Saturday, we also received a wake up call.  A reminder to all of us that…

As parents…

It is important to pay  attention to what our children are saying and doing. In addition we must talk with them, no matter their age, build up their positive values, and help them understand that senseless violence and hate is never an answer. We change the world with our words and actions….not bullets.

As leaders…

We must remember that what we write, what we say, and what we do impacts others.  It’s been speculated that the “virtol” of recent years both locally and nationally combined with the violence that we see on the news, in film and in games fueled these events.  Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t.  We may never know for sure.  But perhaps, what is better to keep in mind is that it can and that with leadership comes the responsibility to build up our community, not tear it or others down.  When we exhibit negative behaviors and beliefs as leaders, we, as leaders, should never be surprised if someone follows our lead whether we intended them to or not.

As Arizonans…

It is a reminder that in our state we have so much to be proud of and to share. We have seen how in times of crisis we can rise up and come together.   Yes, we have challenges, so does the rest of world.  But we also have opportunities to combine our talents, listen to opposing viewpoints, build solutions and coalitions and make things better.  Saturday serves as a reminder that this is the best use of our time, energy, and talents.

And most of all, as People, to remember what Catherine Leyen shared…

Never pass up the opportunity to tell somebody how much what they do makes a positive difference in the world. ~ Catherine Leyen

None of us can change what happened yesterday, but together we can all help with the healing… and never pass up on an opportunity to make a difference.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned….

Joan Koerber-Walker

To the families of these who lost their life on Saturday (U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; Christina Greene, 9; Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79.) as well as all who were injured in Saturday’s events my thoughts and  prayers as well as those of so many others are with you.

About the Joan:

Koerber-Walker-056 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and corporate advisor, Joan Koerber-Walker’s journey has spanned from corporate America to entrepreneurship and non-profits, as well as to community leadership and into the halls of Washington D.C.   She and her family have made their home in Arizona since 1992.

The news items and videos included here are the property of the respective news agencies.  Images of the Arizona sky and Giffords Memorial are the work of Frank Quiroz.

Learned Leadership

June 21, 2009

I’ve heard it said that leaders are born and I’ve heard it said that leadership is learned. It’s probably a little of both. 

But whether it comes from your genetic make up or your environment, I owe whatever leadership qualities I have to my Dad.

Great leaders lead by example and here are a few things he’s showed me.

Great leaders…

Listen and Learn

Leadership starts with conversations.  If you listen to the other person, and really hear what they are telling you – you can learn something about them and about yourself.  The more you know about each other – the more you can accomplish together. I’ve listened as he talks with people many times.  And he really talks WITH them.  Never at them. He listens to what they have to say and shares his ideas.

Embrace Challenges Calmly

Challenge your thinking and challenge yourself.  Be open to new ideas while staying true to your principles.  No life is always easy.  And I’m sure raising five kids who were six years apart in age was not always a piece of cake.  (I can not imagine a house with FIVE teenagers.  I have all I can handle with two.) But what ever challenges he faced, my Dad kept his cool and did what had to be done. And he still does to this day.

Live their principles

Talking about something is easy.  Doing something about it can be an entirely different story.  True leaders don’t just talk about something.  They get involved and take action.  My Dad does not stay on the sidelines.  Even though he is retired, he’s busier than ever.  Whether it is creating a neighborhood park, getting a road repaired, volunteering at church, or helping a neighbor, he walks his talk.

Sing Out

Dad’s not afraid to raise his voice and say what needs to be said,  He shares with his children and grandchildren the stories of the past and talks with them about the events of our day.  By his example he has taught us to be aware, be informed, and express our opinions… even when we don’t agree with him.  🙂

Don’t have to be famous to be effective.

My Dad didn’t have to be the President of the United States, the Chairman of the Board (OK, GM might have done better of he was) or a celebrity to make a lasting impact as a leader. He just needed to be who he is, do what he believes is right, and set a great example for his children.


But most of all, truly great leaders are loved.

And he is.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy!


And as my Daddy always says…

Make it a Great Day.”

Thanks for stopping by…Stay Tuned.

Joan Koerber-Walker