By Tom Scanlon
East Valley Tribune
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — She’s an promoting govt and a grandmother who returns from busy days on the workplace to a quiet, peaceable dwelling in North Scottsdale.
Most neighbors and enterprise associates do not know it, however Alicia Wadas has a second, not-quite-secret life.
She’s with the FBI.
Although hardly an FBI agent who kicks down drug supplier doorways or works undercover to infiltrate gangs, Wadas’ essential contributions had been famous by the company J. Edgar Hoover made well-known.
Final month, Wadas acquired FBI recognition for Distinctive Service within the Public Curiosity.
The primary-time award acknowledged her impression whereas serving as president of the FBI Nationwide Residents Academy Alumni Affiliation.
Wadas, chief working officer and govt vp at main Phoenix promoting company LAVIDGE for practically 20 years, has volunteered and led initiatives for the FBI alumni affiliation since 2008.
She mentioned she was shocked to obtain the award at a nationwide convention.
“It actually was a shock and I’ve to simply inform you, I used to be fairly humbled,” Wadas mentioned.
“I by no means anticipated it.”
Seeing the certificates of appreciation signed by FBI Director Christopher Wray “was personally satisfying as a result of there was a time limit the place the alumni associations had been at risk of principally being shut down.
“And so my job — and I used to be interviewed by the FBI earlier than I took this volunteer place — was to really see ‘is Alicia going to have the ability to flip this factor round?’ They usually trusted me and my plan of motion.”
Cathy Milhoan, assistant director of the FBI Workplace of Public Affairs, mentioned Wadas got here by way of for the company.
“Due to Alicia’s management, the FBI Nationwide Residents Academy Alumni Affiliation and affiliate chapters are thriving at the moment,” Milhoan mentioned.
“Alicia’s imaginative and prescient and repair will affect this system for years to come back. We’re grateful for her dedication to the FBI and our mission.”
From advertisements to FBI
How did an promoting govt identified for her “management by kindness” strategy get entangled with the FBI?
Wadas mentioned her curiosity in changing into a part of regulation enforcement stems from her ideas within the aftermath of a faculty capturing years in the past.
She contemplated how her three children — then youngsters — would react in the same scenario.
“I noticed that I had not taught them something about the best way to keep protected …. if all of the sudden one in all their fellow college students began capturing or there was this horrific occasion,” Wadas mirrored.
“So, I started to check the entire space of non-public security and truly received myself licensed in pistol safety.”
Although she by no means owned a gun beforehand, she took a category. “After which I made positive that my children knew the best way to safely deal with a firearm,” she mentioned.
She added she did not push them to hold weapons, “I simply wished them to know some security — so in the event that they had been at a teenage celebration and somebody had a gun, they’d know the best way to disarm it and render it ineffective.”
From the small circle of her family, she determined to construct out and increase into neighborhood security.
Her work in promoting — she is the vp and COO of LAVIDGE — led her to the FBI.
“A client at LAVIDGE requested me if I’d assist her with a professional bono brochure for this nonprofit she was concerned with … It was to enter faculties to show parents the best way to maintain their children protected from on-line predators,” she mentioned.
“And I observed that this brochure was being produced by the FBI Phoenix Residents Academy Alumni Affiliation.”
When she first began serious about signing on with the FBI as a volunteer, her husband, Reg Durham, smiled and nodded.
“He supported me,” Wadas mentioned. “He was like, ‘Oh, that looks like one thing you’d actually get pleasure from.’ And so off I went.”
Related assist got here from her three grownup children: Chad (a truck driver), Brent (CEO of a tech firm) and Erica (a Valley physician).
Alica Wadas graduated from the FBI Phoenix Residents Academy in 2008. Shortly after, she jumped into management as a member of the board of administrators of the FBI Phoenix Residents Academy Alumni Affiliation.
In 2019, Wadas grew to become president of the FBI Nationwide Residents Academy Alumni Affiliation.
The FBI Residents Academy covers the whole lot from investigative strategies to the safeguarding of civil rights.
As a pacesetter, she has helped implement modern schooling and coaching packages, introducing new templates and instruments for chapters.
She mentioned she is appreciative of the award — however the true drive comes from inside: “I’ve at all times had a ardour for serving to others and my involvement within the FBI Residents Academy Alumni Affiliation permits me to assist defend and serve my neighborhood.”
Not a shark
Does Alicia Wadas match that stereotype of the conniving, back-stabbing promoting govt?
“Oh, God — no,” mentioned a laughing Emma Wolff, an account govt at LAVIDGE.
Removed from the cliche of an “promoting shark,” Wolff describes her boss as “an distinctive chief. She is loopy clever.
“She leads with kindness first. And he or she’s a really hands-on chief. All the time there with a smiling face.”
Across the Phoenix workplace, “Most everybody would say she is without doubt one of the nicest folks you could possibly ever meet and brings such a optimistic power.”
Wadas sees herself as a coach and mentor for youthful promoting professionals, specializing in strengths and challenges.
“In comparison with my early days of promoting, I am extra inner operations now. Whereas up to now, it was with clients and, you already know, all the pleasure that goes with that each day dealing of clients,” Wadas mentioned with a chuckle.
As for neighborhood management, after attending — and main — trainings on neighborhood security over a decade, Wadas was requested what suggestions she has for her Scottsdale neighbors.
“I believe that the overarching phrase I would really like on your readers to consider is consciousness,” she mentioned. “As a result of I’ve noticed so many individuals over time that you already know, wander round, type of in a daze or in a haze … they usually’re simply not conscious of their environment.
“And so many crimes are crimes of alternative. It is not typically that persons are focused for one thing and in case you are a lady, you already know, digging in your purse your consideration is on the backside of your purse — you presumably may have your purse snatched.”
Certainly, a number of days after Wadas mentioned this, Scottsdale Police introduced the arrest of two “distract-and-grab” suspects — working collectively. One would strike up a dialog with an aged lady at a grocery retailer, whereas the second would steal her purse.
“You simply should be conscious,” Wadas suggested, “and be ready.”
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