Advancing Leadership: 500 Leaders & Counting

Leadership Denver was a life changing experience for me as a young corporate executive concerned primarily with my next promotion.  It introduced me to my community and a cohort of young leaders passionate about making a difference.  It helped make clear a mission for service that has shaped my life since participating.

13th class of Advancing Leadership

When I got to Federal Way 16 years ago, I found a young civic infrastructure without the benefit of a leadership pipeline.  One of the most rewarding things about my service as superintendent was to work arm in arm with extraordinary community leaders at city hall, the fire department, Boys & Girls Club, and the chamber of commerce.  We decided 14 years ago to prepare the next generation of leaders and launched Advancing Leadership.  Gail Pierson, a board member that hired me, was the founding director.  Terri Hickel took over after a year and the program continues to grow in size and quality.  Over 500 alumni are making Federal Way a better place to live, learn, work, and play.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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1 Comment

Ed Jones

Under my public servant and community hats, I think often of the need for leadership training in our rural (Appalachian) village and county. Its nearly non-existent--confined to the semi-decennial dinner speech by the likes of ten-NCAA-national-championship-winning coach Larry Kehres or double-Heisman-winner Archie Griffin.
Otherwise there are no regular opportunities for leaders young or old to think upon leadership. True, one should count the many fine churches in the area (pick up the John Maxwell Leadership Bible for reference) but many of our most vocal leaders aren't in them.
Add to that a college grad rate of but 10%, with most of those commuting thirty miles or more, and you get, well, not a lot of growth. Friendly, close community, but few new jobs or resources.
Congrats and job well done on this, Tom.
We could use more such leadership programs for our communities. Some franchised for the smaller or less educated burgs.

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