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Kristi Staab, Class 25
There are very few events in our lives that prompt the question, “where were you when that happened?”. The terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001 are certainly one of those. For Kristi Staab of Class 25, it also became a pivotal event in her life. Kristi had taken a red eye flight to New York City on September 10th to attend a media conference. She woke up the next morning to find herself caught up in a life changing situation. The searing aftermath of that event, and the things she had to do get out of town and back home, still brings out strong emotions from her. Kristi uses life experiences like that to help people overcome their inner fears and bring out the best in them. In many ways Kristi has taught herself these very same lessons. She went from being a young basketball player who never shot the ball for fear of missing, to a recognized leader in personal performance attainment.
Kristi was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She he has always had a strong connection with Scottsdale because her parents had lived here before they moved to Denver. Kristi told us she has always loved sports. She ran track and played basketball, but her true passion was softball, which she played for many years. It was one softball game in particular that burned an image in her mind though. Her team was so good in her area that they never seemed to lose a game, until one day they did. The pain and anguish of that loss and how she dealt with that was a life lesson she would take with her in later life.
After high school she really wanted to attend Arizona State University (ASU) to play softball and study at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, but she just could not afford to do it. Undaunted she did her first two years of college at University of Northern Colorado in Greely to save more money. When she tried again, ASU told her that her existing journalism credits would not transfer to the Cronkite school. She said fine I will do it without you. She challenged herself to finish her Journalism degree in one more year, and that is exactly what she did.
After finishing college and ready to realize her dream to move to Scottsdale, life through her another curveball. Her beloved Grandmother, who had always been her mentor and inspiration, was diagnosed with terminal bone marrow cancer. Kristi just could not leave her. In another life affirming twist, her grandmother lived another year and a half and kept inspiring Kristi to live her life and follow her dreams just as she had done when she was young.
In 1993 She finally moved to the Valley and worked in corporate media at Fox Sports Net. Kristi enjoyed her work but knew in the back of her mind she wanted more. In a real moment of clarity, on her 37th birthday, she resolved to follow her dreams and have her own business by the age of 40. She decided to go back to school for a Master’s in Business Administration and found the perfect program for her at University of Arizona (U of A) Eller School of Management which had a satellite campus right here in Scottsdale. She finished that degree in 11 months.
Getting her MBA at the U of A eventually led her to meet her husband, Len Jessup in 2011. Len had become the Dean of the Eller School of Management and they would have board meetings in Phoenix at the Biltmore. The board invited Kristi to speak about her experience in the Eller Executive MBA program and by sheer chance, she sat right next to Len who she had never met before. They hit it off right away, and they have been together ever since.
During this time her friend Kurt Merschman of Class 17 told Kristi about Scottsdale Leadership. She really wanted to go through the program, but was on vacation when the interviews were being held in for Class 24, so she waited a year and joined Class 25, “the Silver Bullets” and graduated in 2011. Kristi loved the class and was reminded over and over again how special Scottsdale is.
There is no doubt Kristi is an incredible observer of people and their behaviors. That ability was probably always there inside her, but it took all these experiences and gut-wrenching decisions to create the ability for her to teach others how to live their best lives. She got her own business by 40 and now she and her husband Len are leading busy, productive lives helping others, and doing big things. Even though Kristi lives in Las Vegas now, she continues to have a love affair with Scottsdale that started a long time ago.
The magic of Scottsdale Leadership is that it not only teaches us how the city works, but it also gives our graduates the tools they need to help solve the problems that come up. Kristi believes in that mission, and in fact she will be helping our new Scottsdale Leadership Class as they start their year of discovery. We are very fortunate to have her as a part of our Scottsdale Leadership family.