Deb Sydenham joined ULI Arizona as its Executive Director after nearly 20 years with the State of Arizona, and 9 years in the private sector. Her vast statewide experience working with local, regional, state governments, and tribal communities, and state level policy issues serves as a solid foundation to moving the ULI mission forward. Deb is the “face of ULI Arizona” as efforts to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities in Arizona are implemented by the ULI Arizona District Council.
Immediately prior to joining ULI, Deb was Deputy Director for the Office of P3 Initiatives at ADOT, and was involved in establishing the state’s program to use public-private partnerships (P3) as a tool to address Arizona’s transportation requirements. She focused on implementing Arizona’s P3 program from the ground up and identifying methods to fund the construction and enhancement of roads, transit, rail and other transportation facilities. In addition to her ADOT role, Deb worked closely with the Governor’s Office and the Governor’s Military Affairs Commission on statewide military sustainability issues and continues to be a resource in this area.
From 1992 to 2009, Ms. Sydenham led the Community Development and Planning component of the Arizona Department of Commerce. As one of the agency’s assistant deputy directors, Deb was responsible for all Community Development functions including the Arizona Office of Smart Growth, Rural Development Office, and the Regional Managers. She maintained oversight of the Growing Smarter Planning Grant Program and the $5 million dollar Military Installation Fund. Deb was the agency lead in all military sustainability and Smart Growth efforts and was responsible for staffing the Rural Economic Development and Viability Sub-Committee of the Growing Smarter Commission, the Governor’s Military Facilities Task Force, and the Governor’s Growing Smarter Oversight Council. Deb was also director of the Smart Growth Interagency Committee, an outgrowth of the Governor’s Growth Cabinet to instill a smart growth dialogue throughout state agencies. She was a Governor appointee to the Growing Smarter Oversight Council and staffed the Governor’s Military Affairs Commission and the Arizona Military Affairs Commission. From 2001 to 2009, she led the Arizona Military Regional Compatibility Project, a statewide endeavor to address encroachment and land use compatibility around Arizona’s active military airports and installations.
Ms. Sydenham is a graduate of Michigan State University and a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). In 2012, Deb was named one of the 25 Most Admired CEOs in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. She has been actively involved in the Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association at both the section and state board levels as a section officer, chapter newsletter co-editor, director-at-large, and chapter treasurer, and was honored with the 2008 Distinguished Leadership Award. With over 25 years of experience in the planning field, Deb has given numerous presentations at local, state, and national events on a variety of land use planning, smart growth, and military land use compatibility topics. Her military endeavors provided the opportunity to ride in an F-16 aircraft and experience aileron rolls, aerial loops, pulling 5Gs, and going Mach 1.1 to break the sound barrier. Ms. Sydenham was a Governor appointee to the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names from 2000 to 2004. She is a past member of Soroptimist International.