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Failing Forward with Mesa Fire's Mary Cameli

Mary Cameli is the fire chief for the Mesa (Arizona) Fire and Medical Department, an Internationally Accredited Agency. She joined the department in 1983 and has risen through all of the ranks, including serving 11 years as Assistant Chief prior to being selected as Chief in 2016. She is the past president of the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA) and currently serves as Section Chair as the Metro representative for the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association, and Vice Chair of the International Fire Service Training Association Board. She is active in her community as Vice Chair of the Community Bridges Board, past Chair of the Child Crisis Arizona Board, and past President of the Mesa Sunrise Rotary. Chief Cameli holds a master’s degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Physical Education from Southern Utah University. She received her credential as a Chief Fire Officer in 2018 and a Certified Public Manager certification from Arizona State University in 2011.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chief Mary Cameli was hired in 1983 as one of the first two women firefighters in her department and has since risen through the ranks to become the Fire Chief.

  • In her career, she has faced adversity and scrutiny but has maintained her commitment to giving her best each day.

  • Chief Cameli emphasizes the importance of not letting self-doubt affect one's passion for their job and working within a team.

  • Building relationships both within and outside of the department is an essential aspect of being a great leader, and Chief Cameli led by example by doing both.

  • It is critical for leaders to have a long-term vision for their organization and to engage all staff members in the process.

  • The past few years have presented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but existing relationships helped overcome the challenges that were faced by the community at that time.

For more resources, visit:

To watch the video podcast on Youtube, click here.

To download the Team Discussion Guide, click here.


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