High Desert To Lose A Long-Term Community Leader

Victor Valley leader Michael Stevens.

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)–Michael Stevens retiring from Mojave Water Agency June 1st

“If you have tried to do something and failed—you are vastly better off than if you had tried to do nothing and succeeded,” a quote attributed to educator Booker T. Washington.  So when faced with making the decision about whether to retire or not, long-time resident Michael Stevens concluded that he will never know how retirement would be unless he did so.

So after more than three decades in the Victor Valley, he has chosen to retire effective June 1st.  “I’m excited about the new prospects that’ll no doubt come with being retired,” said Michael as he plans his departure from Mojave Water Agency where he has served as Community Liaison Officer the past nine years.  His next move is relocating to the Phoenix, Arizona area.

Arriving at the former George Air Force Base in 1975, Stevens recalls how he didn’t ask to come to California, didn’t want to come here—and tried like heck to leave after arriving.  “People would tell me the desert will grow on you,” to which he would quickly respond “not me!”  Almost 37-years later it’s safe to assume the High Desert has grown on him.

Stevens, who in 2003 was selected as one of the High Desert’s most influential African American Leaders of the High Desert, has led a varied professional career involving several disciplines.  “I learned long that when opportunities come your way you have two choices—accept the opportunity or let it pass, realizing it may never come again.

So he hasn’t hesitated to pursue new opportunities, hired six times to newly created positions during his High Desert residency, including the one he’s vacating at Mojave Water Agency.  Stevens has worked in the nonprofit sector (including seven years as a substance abuse counselor), healthcare (seven years as the Director of Healthy Communities at St. Mary Medical Center, government (four years with the City of Hesperia) and criminal justice (including four years with the Sheriff’s Department, one year with the District Attorney’s Office and one year with Probation).  He’s also a retired Air Force veteran.

The work he says he found most rewarding was serving as an advice columnist for the Daily Press (It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask/Michael Stevens, Oct 81-Oct 84) and talk show host on Talk 960’s “The Michael Stevens Show” (Feb 02—Apr 03)—both of which came about because the opportunity came his way.

But Stevens describes his time in community service where he’s had the most gratification.  During his High Desert tenure he has served on 28-different boards of directors, advisory boards or councils, and the one he’s most proud of—five-and-a-half years on the Victorville Planning Commission.  His community service has led to several honors, including:

  • Health & Law Magazine’s African American Businessman of the Year—1999
  • St. Mary Medical Center’s “Justice” Award—1999
  • Victorville Chamber of Commerce’s “President’s Award”—2000
  • Rotary Foundation Community Service “Paul Harris Fellowship”—2001
  • St. Mary Hospital Foundation “Samaritan of the Year”—2001
  • Selected as one of 25 Most Influential Business Leaders in the High Desert in the first and only reader’s poll of its kind/Daily Press Newspaper —2002
  • Victor Valley College District Foundation “Distinguished Service Award”—2002
  • Selected as one of 10 Most Influential African-American Leaders in the High Desert in the first and only reader’s poll of its kind/Daily Press Newspaper—2003

Stevens concedes he’ll miss the High Desert.  “Most of my adult life has been spent here and I’ve established numerous relationships, contacts and connections.”  He says it’s these various relationships which have contributed to the success he’s had.

Always looking at how he can make a positive difference, Stevens keeps a plaque hanging in his office that he intends to display even in retirement, which reads:  Let me do what good I can, while I can, and though I will die, my living will not have been in vain.  “I came up with this saying in 1979 and it became a guide for how I live my life.”

Also a published author, Stevens, who is originally from the Detroit suburb of Inkster, Michigan, will leave along with his wife of 28-years to join their adult son and daughter—both of whom who relocated in anticipation the parents’ move—and his three step-daughters now living in Arizona. “California has become too costly, too congested and too liberal for our tastes” when asked what was the motivation to relocate.

MWA expects to fill Stevens’ position and will begin advertising for the vacancy before the end of the month.  Anyone desiring to share with Stevens good wishes and good-byes can reach him until May 31st by email at:  mstevens@mojavewater.org

1 comment for “High Desert To Lose A Long-Term Community Leader

  1. Mike Rothschild
    May 23, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Michael Stevens has been a good and long time friend. His honesty and intellect has served the Victor Valley well. I had hoped Michael would put one more line on his incredible resume, Victorville city council.

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