Marketing exec: ‘All acts of kindness matter and multiply’

Desiree Van Leer has changed her opinion of Las Vegas’ community since Oct. 1. “It was wonderful to see the way Southern Nevada came together,” she said.

Desiree Van Leer is marketing manager for Olympia Cos.’ Skye Canyon and Southern Highlands master-planned communities, completing market and consumer research to analyze the best ways to reach their target audience. Among her duties is to coordinate Fit Lives Here events at Skye Canyon, which has seen attendance increase tenfold, she said, since 2016.

Do you have any recent news or updates you’d like to share?

Skye Canyon is opening Phase II of its development in 2018. Phase II includes beautiful neighborhoods, a charter school, a park and the opening of Skye Canyon Marketplace. I have watched Phase II’s development and I can’t wait to share Skye Canyon’s expansion with the community.

What is the Skye Serves initiative and how was the concept conceived?

Skye Serves is effort to give back to Southern Nevada nonprofit organizations.

The concept happened organically. Since the official grand opening at Skye Canyon in 2016, we have partnered with many local nonprofits at our Fit Lives Here events. Nonprofit partners educate the public about their charity and attendees can donate to charities for which they have a passion. Skye Canyon often matches the donations raised. As Skye Canyon’s population grew, our residents’ interest in participating in additional charity work also grew.

When we planned our first event, 200 people showed up. In less than two years, Fit Lives Here events draw thousands of people from all over the valley. When I attend an event, it’s wonderful to watch people play lawn games with their family, sweat it out in a fitness class, enjoy a star-filled night on a blanket, or just relax with a glass of wine with a view of the mountains after a long day.

What has been your most exciting project?

Do you really want me to pick one? Spearheading Skye Serves is rewarding, and we are just getting started. I’m always searching for creative ways to partner with nonprofits.

As the lead on this project, I am proud to be a part of a company and community that is dedicated to having a positive impact on Southern Nevada. As a mom, I enjoy seeing how the work we’ve done affects children, brightens their day or improves their lives.

What advice would you offer to businesses or communities that want to get involved in volunteering?

Connect with a nonprofit and get involved any way you can. Small or large, all acts of kindness matter and multiply. If you are passionate about giving, others will typically join you and match your efforts. I have found some unique niche nonprofit partners whose values mirror those of Skye Canyon. Most businesses can find nonprofit partners that resonate with their corporate culture.

What’s the biggest issue facing Southern Nevada?

With the push to attract new industries, we should be focused on preparing the next generation for a variety of careers. There needs to be an emphasis on a well-rounded education that is targeted toward a curriculum that includes technical skills, critical-thinking applications and creative components. We should strive to make our children leaders, not just good test takers.

If you could change one thing about Southern Nevada, what would it be?

I used to think our community was a bit fragmented but I changed my opinion. It was wonderful to see the way Southern Nevada came together after the Oct. 1 tragedy, but it shouldn’t take an unspeakable event for us to reach out and help our neighbor or support a cause that is in need. I hope #VegasStrong is woven so strong throughout our community that we continue to apply acts of kindness with everyone we meet.

What is your dream job outside of your current field?

I have always dreamed of being an artist, but I have no artistic talent.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California. The landscape encompasses the beach, cliffs, waterfalls and greenery. To watch the sunrise and sunset over the water is breathtaking.

Whom do you admire?

My dad. Not only is he one of the hardest-working people I know, but he is one of the most inspiring. He is always reminding those around him that experiencing life is best done through taking risks, daring to be your authentic self, and living in gratitude.

What’s your favorite place to have fun in Las Vegas?

I love the downtown Arts District. The unique venues often have trendy art exhibits and shows. While exploring the art galleries and antique shops, there is always something new to see and a hidden gem to find.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I have had such a great time working at Olympia that I hope to be leading another marketing initiative, perhaps leading the charge on another innovative residential or commercial experience. I have no idea what the future holds and I love that.

What is something that people might not know about you?

I’m raising three teenagers. I have a vinyl collection and I just tried sushi for the first time recently (which is apparently a crazy notion).