In this New Year, as in every year, there are organizations that re-emerge, remaining steadfast in their strong character and unshaken leadership despite a backdrop of continual challenges. Undeterred by the turbulence, they seem buoyant and undaunted, as if harnessing the chaotic energy and redirecting it into productivity.

Our issues and challenges are significant here in the Old Pueblo, as are the opportunities. From water quality and accessibility for our desert communities, to new economic initiatives like teacher-centric housing or bringing the NFL to Tucson—odds of success increase when teamwork is enhanced as a collective principle. This begins with listening for the calm in a storm.

For several years, I have been fortunate to be invited by community leaders and Fortune 100 companies to address their teams of talented executives and rising stars amid issues of diversity and change.

Whatever the program theme or proposed topic, most often the deeper objective was around leveraging turmoil into something more useful; a drumbeat or a rhythm that we all have within ourselves. One such talk, presented to Shell Oil executives and employee resource groups, was entitled “Listen to Your Shell,” and the speech is still relevant today. You need not be a major oil company to possess major strength. But, as with oil, you do need to know where to look—and where to listen.

Listening to your shell is about purposefully pausing and listening to your own self.

Just like holding up a seashell to your ear and hearing movement as vast as the ocean, we each have the ability to block out the noise to re-center our thoughts, our ideas and tune in to our skills and strengths. In speaking to and working with all these wonderful private or public sector teams, one recurring observation I have found is as beautiful in its simplicity as it is in its universality: Calm equals courage. Getting to calm can be difficult, and often imprecise. But no matter the conundrum, finding your quiet strength and centering your calling on this premise is powerful.

As a former vice president of one of the largest banking institutions in the world I have witnessed transitions both purposeful and poisonous to the communities they serve. I see Tucson, as a whole, to be weathering the storms well, and posit that we must be exceptional in our ability to maintain calm waters throughout the long downpours, and search for uniting principles that will make us even more resolute.

Some of the groups I have the privilege to interact with, like SALC, YWCA, Southwest Leadership Initiative, UofA AllofUs , Tucson Metro Chamber, SisterCities, DM50 and of course CPLC, are just a few of these groups that to me represent this durable glue holding together what a community needs against what could become community chasms.

In the spirit of this collaborative road less traveled, I look ahead wholeheartedly to the considerable potential of the year 2019. One such combination is that on March 27th CPLC will celebrate Cesar Chavez Day, alongside the City of Tucson. The Tucson Hispanic Chamber and its Southern Arizona affiliates stand behind the vision of Cesar and this important and evolving movement toward sustainability. We invite you to join us in widening this road and making our collective journeys a little lighter through collaboration. 

Lydia A. Aranda, M.A. works closely with corporate and nonprofit leaders to build economic and educational solutions for our communities. She is the new president and CEO for the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and its three Southern Arizona affiliates, and can be reached at