Part three of The HeroZona Foundation’s Bridge Forum ‘Time for Change’ series,  kicked off on Tuesday, August 11 at the Sheraton Mesa Hotel in Mesa, Arizona. 

The event is an addition to the Foundation’s initial two-part series discussing systemic racism in America and what actions can be taken to achieve equality. The invitation-only event is a collaborative effort between law enforcement, Arizona government, businesses and community leaders with support from City of Mesa, Mesa Chamber of Commerce, the Mesa Police Department and Sheraton Mesa Hotel at Wrigleyville West. 

“Over the past two months, we have successfully had two productive and synergistic discussions with change-makers in various Arizona communities who came together in light of the death of George Floyd,” says HeroZona Foundation Founder and U.S. Army Desert Storm Veteran, Alan “AP” Powell. “The addition of a third part was a no-brainer because we want to bring as many different perspectives to the table to ensure that we are breaking these issues down from all angles.”

The Bridge Forum: Time for Change forum part one occurred on Tuesday, June 23 at the Travis L. Williams American Legion Post 65 and focused on current events within the Black community and law enforcement to examine how communities can work together with police to create equality in the nation. The series’ second segment took place on Tuesday, July 14 at the W Scottsdale, focusing on similar topics in a different community.

National Newspaper Publishers Association President & CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., moderated each of the forums. Dr. Chavis first received international recognition in 1971 as the leader of the Wilmington Ten, he was wrongfully convicted of committing arson and received the longest sentence before winning his appeal in 1980.

The event includes a mix of panelists from prominent community members to policy and policing experts, including National Forum for Black Public Administrators Central Arizona Chapter President Travis L. Cutright, Anti-Defamation League Assistant Regional Director Keisha McKinnor, Progressive Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Juan M. Brown Sr., and Mesa Community College Interim President Dr. Lori M. Berquam.

Also included are, Mesa Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. James Driscoll, Arizona Youth & College NAACP President Armonee D. Jackson, Arizona State Representative for District 25 and Speaker of the House Russell “Rusty” Bowers, Arizona Senator for District 18 Sean Bowie, City of Mesa Police Chief Ken Cost, Arizona Police Association Executive Director Joe Cluer, Mesa Municipal Court Judge Valerye Boyer-Wells, and Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police President Terry Young.

The forum is supported by City of Mesa Mayor John Giles, Maricopa Country District 1 Supervisor Jack Sellers, and Mesa Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sally Harrison.

The Bridge Forum ‘Time for Change’ parts one and two included panelists such as Superintendent for the Roosevelt School District No. 66 Quintin Boyce, Arizona State Representative from District 27, Reginald Bolding, Founder of Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles Larry White, Police Chief of the City of Scottsdale Alan G. Rodbell, Chief Special Agent of Attorney General Arizona Reggie Grigsby, President of East Valley NAACP Roy M. Tatem Jr., President and CEO of the Phoenix Suns Jason Rowley, and many other notable leaders.

The ‘Time for Change’ Bridge Forum will be the 11th edition by the HeroZona Foundation. Previous forums have included both high school and college-aged participants in 2017 from South Mountain High School, and in November 2018 included participation from law enforcement and community leaders who discussed ways to better support veterans with recruitment, hiring, opportunities in service, veterans in crisis and support systems.

In January 2018, the Scottsdale Police Department implemented 29 new initiatives from the Scottsdale Bridge Forum 2017, which included establishing sufficient resources for police personnel dealing with trauma, establishing dialogue opportunities with under-served communities, enhancing engagement with the community’s youth and identifying ways to address the needs of the community related to behavioral health.

For more information about the Bridge Forum and to stream its upcoming event on Tuesday, August 11, visit thebridgeforum.com.