Seattle Works

A blog that documents all things Seattle Works…and much much more!

Taking board leadership to the next level January 21, 2014

Filed under: Lead,The Bridge,The Bridge 201,Training — seattleworks @ 3:30 am

This week marked our second round ever of The Bridge 201. This advanced board service training program is designed specifically for individuals who are currently serving on a nonprofit board. Through a series of modules that challenge participants to think with an adaptive mindset, we are taking board leadership to the next level.

The nine participants this round gathered in the Seattle Works office for deep conversations about leadership, the challenges they are currently facing on their boards and how to overcome them. Clearly identifying where their challenges fall along the adaptive/technical axis.

Participants of The Bridge 201 go through a board simulation to apply their new skills. January 2014.

Participants of The Bridge 201 go through a board simulation to apply their new skills. January 2014.

When asked “how did this course change your prospective on leadership?” participants said:

  • “[The Bridge 201] caused me to focus more more on how to analyze leadership modes and classification of issues to find solutions.”
  • “Being a leader is about (in large part) asking the right questions.”
  • “It allowed me to carve out avenues to bring up different and difficult conversations.”
  • “Presented that boards should have a larger influence on change within every aspect of an organization.”

Ok, great – so we’ve got a group that has a new perspective on leadership. But how has The Bridge 201 changed their perspective on their role as board member?

  • “It caused me to think about ways to push our group’s thoughts.”
  • “I learned that I am a generative thinker and how to utilize other forms of analysis to solve problems.”
  • “I have a responsibility to ask hard questions.”
  • “Strategic methods of change can be introduced and implemented without having to announce it is happening – leading by example, not by proposal.”

There you have it, local board members who have a new perspective on how they can make a difference within their board, their organization and the greater Seattle community.

Do you want to join the ranks of board smarties? Take The Bridge and/or The Bridge 201Have a question? Contact


Transforming nonprofit boards through leadership training December 11, 2013

Filed under: Lead,LeadNOW,The Bridge,Training,Uncategorized — seattleworks @ 12:30 pm

Over the course of 6 months this year, we – in partnership with Bridge faculty member Julie Bianchi – developed and piloted a brand new leadership training program for individuals currently serving on a nonprofit board of directors.

Members of The Bridge 201 Pilot Cohort, June 2013

You may be asking yourself, “Why? You already have The Bridge to train board members.” That is true – but we saw a gap that needed to be filled. What’s the next step? You’ve joined a board, you’ve been very involved and are looking to grow by accepting a leadership role on the board. What do you do?

The Bridge 201 helps those who are taking on more leadership roles on a board. In this 6-hour training, participants gain valuable tools ranging from a refresher on the roles and responsibilities of board members to how adaptive leadership can transform your impact on the board. Incorporating activities that are specifically tailored for the adult learner, this innovative training breaks away from traditional lecture style training to provide a rich environment that encourages discussion and peer-to-peer learning.

Our inaugural cohort of Bridge 201 participants left the training saying:

“Wow! [The Bridge 201] really opened my eyes to more strategy and intention behind leadership.”
“Provided [me] a new and important lens for evaluating issues and creating an environment of change.”
“It’s great to have people who serve on boards share together.”

The Bridge 201 is not just a training, it is building a community of nonprofit board members that can be a resource to one-another as they continue to make an impact in the community. In addition to the training, the cohort is given access to a platform in which they can bounce ideas off each other, stay connected, ask questions and continue to learn.

So, what do graduates of The Bridge 201 walk away with? Fantastic question! The Bridge 201 is broken up into two, three-hour sessions (typically a Tue & Thu evening). The sessions are strategically broken up into modules that build upon each other. Here are some of the learning objectives that participants walk away with:

Session One

Participants apply the definition of adaptive leadership to real world examples; represented by adaptive vs. technical challenges in the world and society.

  • Define the characteristics and skills common to leaders and the key roles of board members.
  • Identify examples of adaptive leaders and challenges in your own experience.
  • Define the three modes of governance

Sessions Two

  • List the qualities of an adaptive organization and a culture of inquiry.
  • Apply what you’ve learned in a board room simulation to navigate a complex challenge.
  • Create three action items for how you will take what you learned back to your board.

The Bridge 201 is assisting in the transformation of nonprofit board leadership in the Seattle area. We’ve been working since our pilot session to perfect this program and make it something that we think is a “must-do” for any one who is taking on a leadership role on a board.

The next session of The Bridge 201 is Tue 1/14 & Thu 1/16, 6-9pm. Registration is currently open, sign up now! For more information, contact 


Develop Your Board Leadership May 30, 2013

Filed under: Lead,LeadNOW,The Bridge — seattleworks @ 4:31 pm

I am excited to officially announce that Seattle Works will be piloting a new training program: The Bridge 201

With the assistance of one of our Bridge faculty members, Julie Bianchi, we will be unveiling a new, innovative training that is specifically tailored for the Millennial style of learning.

What is it? 

From The Bridge, Spring 2013

The Bridge 201 is a 6-hour advanced training course that will equip emerging leaders currently serving on boards with the practical framework and practice to become adaptive board leaders. By weaving together a training model tailored to the millennial learning style, participants will be better prepared to engage in authentic leadership and activate tangible impact as board members.

When is it?

The pilot session will be Tue 6/25 & Thu 6/27 6-9pm at the Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center in Capitol Hill.

Who can take the training?

Anyone who is currently serving on a board of directors.

Are there going to be formal presentations and slide-decks?

I know how tired of this type of training we all might be, so we have kicked them out of the equation! Developing your leadership skills is about public learning, discussions and doing your homework. That’s why you’ll only see a one or two slides in the whole 6-hours you’ll be with us. This training is all about participation, bringing together problem-solvers who want to discuss together what works, doesn’t work and gaining insights from each other. Yes, there will be pre-reading to do before the training as well as some homework in between sessions! It won’t be anything like your trigonometry homework in though, I promise! (Sorry to any of you math lovers out there!)

What will I learn? 

Ah! I am so glad you asked! Here are the learning outcomes broken up by session:

Session 1

  • Define the essential characteristics and skills common to leaders and the key roles of board members.
  • Define adaptive leadership.
  • Identify adaptive leaders and technical and adaptive challenges  in your own experiences.
  • Define the three modes of governance.
  • Produce a list of key questions in each mode of governance that board members should ask about internal and external challenges.

Session 2

  • List the qualities of an adaptive organization and a culture of inquiry.
  • Demonstrate the adaptive leadership skill of thinking politically.
  • Use the three key activities of adaptive leadership and three modes of governance in a board room simulation to navigate a complex challenge.
  • Describe the barriers to adaptive leadership and how to overcome each one.
  • Share three next steps for how you will take what you learned back to your board.

From The Bridge at Microsoft, Winter 2013

The group will be guided by the fantastic Julie Bianchi, who has been working on this curriculum as part of her Master of Nonprofit Leadership thesis at Seattle University.

Yea, but how much does it cost?

Great question! The Bridge 201 will have a modest fee of only $95 for general registration and $70 for LeadNOW members.

Now, doesn’t that sound like a productive way to spend a Tue & Thur evening? I think so! Sign-Up today to take the next step in your leadership development!


Christina Rocks Volunteers to Help Connect Others April 23, 2013

Filed under: Grab bag,Lead,LeadNOW,The Bridge,Volunteer — seattleworks @ 3:08 pm

Day two of our National Volunteer Week features. Today, we are featuring Bridge Grad Christina Rocks.  Yes, she fully lives up to her last name! Here’s what Christina has to say about volunteering and being a part of the Seattle Works community:

What was your first volunteer experience that you can remember? What was the experience like?

The first volunteer experience I can remember is when I would attend clean-ups of the Salt River in Arizona (where I grew up) with the Ecology Club that my dad was the teacher sponsor of at the Junior High School where he taught. Environmentalism and fostering community were values my parents kept strong in our household – and my father has always been particularly committed to preserving the natural environment and ecological systems. I was the youngest person on these trips by far (I think I started when I was about five or six years old and attended them several times a year through childhood), but the older kids (7th-9th graders) were welcoming to me and were always having so much fun on the trips.

The Junior High at which my Dad taught (for 33 years until his recent retirement) was in a severely and increasingly economically depressed section of town. The trips proved to be a positive outlet not only for me, but for the students who attended who perhaps would not otherwise have had the opportunity to get involved in such a way or learn about the beautiful desert landscapes and ecologies. Each trip included learning about a different part of the environment and how we could be active participants in appreciating it without disturbing it – reduce, reuse, and recycle were big themes.

I really appreciated even at a young age that the trips were benefiting the preservation of the Salt River, benefiting in those of us who went with an additional sense of community, and also that there was always something to learn. While I have moved mostly away from direct-service type volunteering as I’ve gotten older, I still look for ways to serve that accomplish those three things: 1) Creating value for communities 2) Providing great experiences for volunteers and others involved and 3) Encouraging education on issues.

What made you decide to amp up your volunteerism by taking The Bridge?

Taking The Bridge was a wonderful learning opportunity and a big reminder of two things. First, how lucky I have been to have a life filled with volunteerism and activism – especially with so many great non-profits in the Seattle area in my three years of living here. Secondly, how it is so easy to narrow the scope of one’s volunteering. While it is clearly important to put your time where your passions take you, I love that Seattle works brings together a wide variety of volunteers, volunteer opportunities, and organizations. The animals and the arts, international aid and civic committee opportunities can all be found through Seattle Works – and while the group of people that Seattle Works attracts may have different motivations for their work, we are all drawn in by our desire to connect with and improve our community.

Why did you agree to serve as the committee chair for Seattle Works’ LeadNOW?

I agreed to serve as the committee chair for LeadNOW because I loved my time during The Bridge and wanted the opportunity to be on the ground floor of building a sort of alumni network for community members from all of Seattle Work’s programs and other local volunteers.

What has been your favorite part of volunteering with Seattle Works?

My favorite part of volunteering with Seattle Works has been getting to work with the incredible staff and community of volunteers. Seeing what drives folks to do the work they do is one of my favorite things to explore. Seattle Works is expert in connecting passions with opportunity.

What has made your volunteer experience  with the LeadNOW committee meaningful?

We’re getting to encourage and connect those familiar with Seattle Works to continue their service to our Seattle community. There are so many wonderful folks with great skills and resources to offer who are looking – just itching really – to get plug-in to their passion areas. With LeadNOW being a newer component of Seattle Works, were really get to explore how we can best do that, building off of the great work that Seattle Works already does in Seattle.

A HUGE thank you to Christina for everything she does for Seattle Works and our community of volunteer leaders!

Want to learn how you too can be part of The Bridge and LeadNOW? Check our website or email Ben for more information.


Speed Dating and Some Wine Sipping April 18, 2013

Filed under: Bridge Partners,Lead,The Bridge — seattleworks @ 4:21 pm

On Tuesday night, we gathered Bridge grads and Bridge partner organizations for our quarterly Board Speed Dating event. The sparks were flyin’, eyes were batting and we had a great time. Finding a board to serve on can be an extremely difficult task, that’s why we have tried to make it just a little bit easier.

Board Speed Dating is a two hour event, we start with some mix n’ mingle time, the organizations in attendance then each get 30-seconds to pitch to potential board members, participants then sign up for “dates” with the organizations and then they’re off! There are four, 15-minute dates that take place. But that doesn’t mean more conversation can’t be had because we close off the event with more mix n’ mingle time. Its a fun, easy way to start talking to boards or potential board members.

So what organizations were there? I’m glad you asked!

Overall, the event was quite a success and we are excited to hear about any possible “second dates” that come out of it!

One other thing: 

Did you know that Seattle Works now has a monthly happy hour event called LeaderSip?! I know, I just blew your mind, right? 😀

As part of our new leadership network: LeadNOW we are excited to be offering a networking opportunity in the form of an awesome happy hour!

LeaderSip brings together volunteer leaders for discussion around a different theme/topic related to community engagement. In addition, participants are provided with the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with fellow leaders. Come be part of the conversation! This month we will be talking about Opportunities to Get Involved focusing primarily on how you can get more involved with Seattle Works and your community. Come be part of the fun…they may even be a game…just sayin’…

When: Next Wed 4/24 5:30-7pm

Where: Lucky 8’s China House, 1407 14th Ave Seattle, WA 

Cost: $10 for LeadNOW Members; $15 for General Public | Buy Your Ticket NOW! Your ticket include: a fun networking experience, on beer or glass of wine and a little munchies.

Become a member of LeadNOW today and get the member rate!

Learn more about LeadNOW by visiting out website or email 


Leadership Has Many Definitions April 3, 2013

Filed under: Lead,The Bridge — seattleworks @ 3:04 pm

We strive to continually find ways to improve our programs at Seattle Works; The Bridge is no different. In this current session, we have had added in some leadership development activities to get the group thinking more as leaders while also getting the fundamentals of board service; boards are volunteer leaders and it is important for leaders to know about themselves as one. We started last week’s session with quotes about leadership up all over the walls – participants walked the space and found the quote that resonated the most with them. They explained why they chose the quote they did and discussed how it related to their personal leadership development.

Last night, participants were introduced to the four main leadership styles: directive, participative, laissez-faire, and adaptive.

They were asked to bring in their own definitions of leadership, what it means to them personally. As part of the closing exercise of the night, the participants wrote their leadership definition on a post-it note and placed it under the leadership style they felt it fit the best with. Want to know what leadership means? Here’s 20 different definitions:


-Leadership – someone who provides strategic guidance for an organization or group — guides by instilling values and inspiring behaviors and involving everyone in the process.

-To have a clear vision and leverage each team member’s strengths to achieve the common goal.

-The willingness and interest to believe in people — to represent their hopes and capabilities, to guide them to action and inspire them toward vision.

-Learning how to follow before you lead; inspiring and motivating other to action for a common goal.

-Leadership can be found in anyone. Leaders should be sound, accountable, work from integrity, be compassionate and forgiving and inspire these qualities in others.

-Using (conciously or not) the ability* to unite a group of people to work towards a common goal. *To influence, to inspire, to intimidate, etc.

-Going the extra mile when no one is looking. Honesty, creating strong group camaraderie, being the motivator and working towards the center.

-To lead is to listen in a way that allows other to solve problems, to provide the space for people to exhibit greatness, and to serve in a way that inspires.

-Leadership in my view looks at the situation of society and tried to lead and influence without being imposing or generating any sort of anger among people.

-Unflappable. Cool under pressure..tailor message to audience.

-Acting in a way that encourages other people to do the same.


-Daily living out the responsibility that comes with knowledge, skill, wealth and influence to better the lives of others.

-The ability to develop a vision and then influence others to follow in that direction.

-Taking action to seek positive change, not attention from your peers.

-Passionate about mission and vision of your organizations and you share that passion in a way that engages, includes and empowers others.

-Compassionate, flexible, listening, has a vision, has humility, works to lift everyone.

-Finding and rallying the hearts and minds of people to achieve a common goal.

-Someone with a vision who has the ability to inspire others to make an impact or drive change for the better.

-Being willing to lead by example, but demonstrate desire to achieve.

So how did the other’s line up?

Interesting to see where this group of leaders minds go for where board leadership should fall. I think it’s a step in the right direction!

Watch out nonprofits! We’ve got some awesome leaders emerging in the community!

Do you want to find out about your leadership style, how to serve on a board and what it takes to be a volunteer leader? Find out more about The Bridge! Or are you part of an organization that is seeking new board members? Email and find out more about The Bridge Partnership.

“Board membership isn’t as scary as I thought!” February 27, 2013

Filed under: Bridge Partners,The Bridge — seattleworks @ 3:51 pm

Among all their busy-ness, some Microsoft employees took the day yesterday to learn about nonprofit board service in The Bridge. It was a jam-packed day of training, but the participants walked away with a better understanding of what is expected of board members. Jake Groshing, Founder & Executive Director of Balagan Theatre, lead the group through the overview of the nonprofit sector; followed by financial and legal responsibilities with Nathan Hartman, Partner at Peterson Sullivan LLP. Next we took a breather by having a quick board service Q&A panel. After lunch, Sergey Smirnov, Advancement Associate at Hamilin Robinson School, put the participants’ minds at ease when dealing with fundraising. And finally, Mike Quinn from Social Venture Partners provided some cultural differences between Microsoft and the nonprofit world.

We asked participants to tell us what their most significant takeaway was from The Bridge, check out what they told us:

  • I need to do my homework and find the right fit of an organization.
  • The connections made in the classroom.
  • Better context and understanding for opportunities to serve as board member for a nonprofit.
  • Board membership isn’t as scary as I thought!
  • End to end overview of what it means/takes to be an effective board member. Thanks!
  • There are a lot of people who want to do more in their community.
  • Demystified the process, reasons, research to be done before getting involved and while serving on a board.
  • Really liked hearing from the panel about their experiences. Also found the Microsoft in the Nonprofit World helpful in explaining what to expect and how to prepare.
  • Look before you leap – make sure the nonprofit is healthy and a good fit.

If you’d like to find out how to get The Bridge to come to your company, contact