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I love the diversity that we have in Greater Phoenix. We are the new melting pot of cultures. We are also a young community.

What Makes Greater Phoenix So Great: Maria Laughner

What is your first and last name?
Maria Laughner

How old are you?
48

What current city do you reside in?
Phoenix

How long have you lived in Greater Phoenix?
40 years

Did you grow up in Arizona?
Yes

Why’d you decide to stay?
I didn’t – I left three times to try something new. After the third try I realized that Greater Phoenix is the best place for me to be. Greater Phoenix is very well-planned and laid out, unlike other cities in the midwest and back east. It is also very clean! I love how most things are completely predictable in Greater Phoenix, from weather and traffic to smiling faces and tourists.

What college/university did you graduate from and what’s your degree?
Marquette University, BA in Anthropology and Spanish Thunderbird School of Global Management, MBA

Where do you currently work and what is your title?
City of Tempe, Economic Development Program Manager

What is your job industry?
Municipal Government

What do you like to do in Greater Phoenix on the weekends?
I love to be outside – walking my dog, exercising, hiking, gardening, or just chilling with friends. I love to eat outside at home and on any patio. My weekends are filled with outdoor experiences.

What’s your go-to staycation spot and why?
I go to Flagstaff any chance I get. I love how different northern Arizona is from Greater Phoenix – air, temperature, smells, people and architecture!

What’s your favorite restaurant and why?
Postino’s on Central – I love sharing food and drinking great wine. They have a lovely patio and so many wonderful bruschetta options that my friends and I can share while we catch up and enjoy the ambience. And it is reasonably priced!

How do you stay “cool” in the Arizona summers?
Hanging out in the pool and hopping up north to Flagstaff. Also, Greater Phoenix has beautiful movie theaters – perfect for a matinee.

What do you like about our winters and why?
I love that we can be outside everyday throughout winter. Our activity level actually increases in October. Also, landscaping is so beautiful all winter long. I really enjoy all the colors that there are all winter.

What do you love most about living in Greater Phoenix?
I love how everything here is so easy. For example, driving to places is simple. Phoenix Sky Harbor is a well-connected airport and it is easy to navigate. People here are so friendly and customer service-oriented. There are so many things that I can do in my free time and it is easy to get into the desert. With all the mountains and regional parks around, I can get to over 20 different natural areas in 30 minutes or less.

Please include anything else you’d like to share about what makes Greater Phoenix so great.
I love the diversity that we have in Greater Phoenix. We are the new melting pot of cultures. We are also a young community and we are rich in people who are migrating to Greater Phoenix from elsewhere. We are very welcoming toward people who are new here. We don’t have a lot of strong dynastic families that lead our community, and the absence of that has created space for new people to fit into Greater Phoenix.

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