Karrin Taylor understands the power of paying it forward. She serves as an executive vice president and chief entitlements officer of DMB, an Arizona-based, diversified real estate company with real estate holdings through affiliated companies. In her role at DMB, Taylor is responsible for the strategic oversight and management of land use entitlement matters, zoning, economic development, public affairs and local, state and federal government relations.

She serves on many boards and committees, including Arizona State Land Department’s Conservation Advisory, Committee, the Arizona Aerospace Institute, the Corporate Leadership Advisory Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce andthe Advisory Board of the Dodie Londen Excellence in Public Service Series. In addition, she serves as as president of the Foundation for Environmental and Economic Progress and serves on the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Civic Leaders Group in Washington, D.C.

But Taylor is quite humble as she acknowledges that she wouldn’t be where she is today if it wasn’t for a stranger’s act of kindness 25 years ago that set her on a course to the White House and then on to law school.

Recently, Taylor was the featured keynote speaker at the Chamber’s Professional Women’s Alliance luncheon, where she shared how her professional journey was unimaginably lifted by another woman’s efforts, launching a phenomenal odyssey for her. She also offered insightful guidance to incorporate this philosophy into everyday life.

“Paying it forward is an important story for me,” Taylor said. “A favorite quote of mine is from Winston Churchill ‘we can make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’”

An Arizona native from the East Valley, Taylor was involved in politics from an early age. Her father and brother have collectively been in office for nearly 40 years, which provided Taylor with a good perspective on politics and serving in public office.

Taylor recalled, “I was five years old when my father was elected to the Arizona Legislature and I remember getting out of school every now and again and going down to legislature with him or joining him on campaigns. So it was nice to have some really great experiences at the Arizona Legislature and sitting through hearings. That experience played a role in becoming involved in student government at ASU as student government president.”

Taylor’s passion for politics prepared for the move to Washington, D.C. to work on Capitol Hill. What she wasn’t prepared for was the call from the White House for an interview. The White House had received Taylor’s resume from a woman whom she had never met before.

Several months later, Taylor unexpectedly had the opportunity to meet the altruistic woman in person when she greeted her at the front door of the White House and escorted her in to meet President Reagan. That woman was Barbara Barrett, a well-respected lawyer and Arizona’s first female Republican candidate for governor.

“For so many people, she has done so many acts of kindness with no expectation of ever having to be repaid,” Taylor said. “Unbeknownst to her, Barbara set me off on a course that led me to the White House and then on to law school. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for her. Her act of kindness has paid off in so many ways that I could never even imagine.”

A decade later, Taylor had the unexpected opportunity to repay the favor to Barrett.

“I was in D.C. with one of DMB’s political consultants and we were having dinner with Mary Peters, the U.S. secretary of transportation at the time,” Taylor explained. “Mary mentioned that she was searching for a new FAA administrator and she brought up Barbara Barrett’s name. Mary didn’t know Barbara and asked if we did. Mary then asked if I would call Barbara Barrett to gauge her interest.”

Taylor added, “From that point, Barrett went through the vetting process to become the next FAA administrator when the President Reagan made the decision to keep the interim FAA administrator.”

When one door closes, another one opens.

“Barbara then had the opportunity of a lifetime and became the U.S. ambassador to Finland,” Taylor said.

Concluded Taylor, “The lesson is something that we all probably know intuitively, but it never hurts to be reminded: the more you give, the more you receive. Never pass up the opportunity to do something for others. You never know what small act of kindness is going to transform somebody’s life or career. For Barbara Barrett, it probably took 5 minutes to pick up the phone and call the head of presidential personnel, a small gesture that transformed my life. Never underestimate what you can do to help another person, even if it’s a brief text with a word of encouragement. You can never really appreciate the impact of helping someone.”

The Greater Phoenix Chamber’s Professional Women’s Alliance provides a unique opportunity for businesswomen in the community to hear inspiring words of wisdom from leaders across the Valley. Each month, the Chamber brings businesswomen together by hosting a dynamic female leader in the community to share insights into leadership, career growth, community involvement and women’s issues. To learn more about the Chamber’s PWA program, visit www.phoenixchamber.com/pwa.

Posted by Alexie Chavez