Seattle Works

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

LeadNOW launches Leader Series on Tue 5/13 May 8, 2014

Filed under: Lead,LeadNOW — seattleworks @ 11:26 am

Next Tuesday LeadNOW will launch Leader Series. This series of forums will feature community leaders who have done unique work in civic engagement and community building. Our goal is to inspire emerging leaders within the Seattle Works community to think outside the box and motivate action in our community.

How does it work? Glad you asked! Our forums will feature a different leader every quarter, they will have the opportunity to give a short presentation on the work they are doing and what inspired them to get involved. Then, participants will get to have an open discussion with speaker, ask questions, share experiences, and give input.

Our first forum features Debra Webb, who will discuss with participants the connection between art and social justice, her work in Yesler Terrace, and creative placemaking.

Leader Series: The Intersection of Art & Social Justice

Tue 5/13 | 6:30pm | FREE Register | Panama Hotel | 605 1/2 S Main St, Seattle

Join us in a discussion with Debra Webb, a leader in the Seattle community who is doing unique work in art, social justice and community engagement. Network with fellow community leaders, listen to Debra’s story and talk with her about her work. Get inspired to make a difference in your community.

About DebraDebra Webb

Debra’s artistic career is rooted in the passion for public art and a life-long commitment to social justice. She is a skilled project manager with fifteen years experience collaborating with leading artists, government agencies and diverse communities to develop arts-based initiatives that enrich and advance humanity. Debra holds an M.F.A. in Arts Leadership from Seattle University and a B.F.A. in Art History and Sculpture from the University of Colorado.

Debra recently published Placemaking and Social Equity: Expanding the Framework of Creative Placemaking, lectures on the intersections of art and social change, and is the proud recipient of Seattle University’s Social Justice and Community Engagement award. She sits on the Advisory Board of Yesler Terrace Youth Media, Yesler Arts Council and Chairs the Lincoln APP Arts & Culture Advantage. Debra is a mother, artist and ardent activist.

Register Now!

Have questions about LeadNOW? Visit or email




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 


Kristin Elia is Eternal Blue, Forever Green! November 11, 2013

Filed under: 10 Question Profile,LeadNOW,Volunteer — seattleworks @ 7:50 am

Gopal Rao1. Name: Kristin Elia

Neighborhood: Queen Anne

Occupation: Political Director

Years in Seattle: 3.5 years

2. Where is your favorite place to go in Seattle?

Olympic Sculpture Park

3. Your first interaction with Seattle Works was…?

The Bridge this past February!

4. What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in the Seattle area?

The grilled wild King salmon at Ponti Seafood Grill – so perfect!

5. Are you involved with any other Seattle nonprofit organizations?

Most of my direct volunteer work right now is through the Seattle Works LeadNOW committee, but I’m a supporter of great organizations like Futurewise, Fuse, the Washington Bus, and the Washington Trails Association.

6. Which coffee shop do you most frequent?

Seattle Coffee Works – if you’ve never sat at the slow bar and let their coffee experts drop some knowledge on you, then you are missing out!

7. What three words best describe your experience with Seattle Works?

Fantastic, Uplifting, Network

8. Mariners, Sounders, or Seahawks?

Eternal blue, forever green Sounders ‘Til I Die!

9. What is your most (or first) memorable volunteer experience?

I spent time during my senior year of college volunteering with a local school, helping a 6th grade class with one-on-one tutoring and other activities. Many of the students struggled with reading and language issues and their tenacity was truly inspiring. I became very close with the class and by the end of the year, they were all asking if they could come to my graduation ceremony and wish me farewell! It was incredibly memorable to have something as simple as volunteering a few times a week become one of my favorite senior year experiences!

10. What makes someone a Seattleite?

Opinionated about their coffee and beer, never using an umbrella despite the constant rain, and passive-aggressively telling you how it is.


This weekly 10 question profile is Seattle Works way of highlighting and saying THANK YOU to all that our volunteers, leaders, community partners, board members, committee members, etc do for our community! We’re asking the same 10 questions to various Seattle Works participants as a fun way to feature the different ways to be involved with Seattle Works and in Seattle.

Want to be profiled? Fill out this survey: and send a photo of yourself to

P.S. In case you’re interested, the inspiration behind these interviews comes from NY Mag’s weekly blog post.


Civic Boot Camp whips us into shape! August 30, 2013

Filed under: Influence,LeadNOW,Our Team — seattleworks @ 3:39 pm

photoLast week, our friends at City Club and History Link teamed up for the second round of their new project, Civic Boot Camp. We can’t stop talking about what a great experience it was! Boot Camp was built out of the idea that to make a difference in your community, you need four key things: knowledge, connection, trust and action. In turn, Boot Camp was equal parts history lesson, policy briefing, networking session and call to get off the couch and do something–all focused around the issue of the history and development of Seattle’s Waterfront. Seattle Works Program Manager Katie Tiehen and LeadNOW Committee Member Kristin Elia both attended and had this to say:

What did you think of Civic Boot Camp?

Kristin: I found the concept of the boot camp really intriguing–the idea that civic engagement should come from knowledge, connection, trust and action. I think structuring the entire day around that concept and bringing in something very tangible–like the waterfront–was the perfect combination for engagement. You could instantly connect the past, present, and future of the waterfront to various components of civic life in the city and how a more engaged public makes a big impact. And better than that, you could see how structuring future boot camps in other neighborhoods or areas could be based on something current that is directly impacting the community we live in.

Katie: I’m a history nerd, so was completely drawn into Boot Camp with the prospect of a Seattle history lesson–what I didn’t expect and was so excited to get–in addition to a crash course in urban development–was a really clear understanding of the players and paths to action in the current debate over the waterfront. The caliber of the guest speakers we had throughout the day was inspiring–and the group of fellow Boot Campers was really one of the most diverse and challenging (in the best way) groups I’ve encountered in a while! It was amazing to see and talk about how the past has really informed our present and future with regards to how we treat and see our downtown. It was also so inspiring to talk with a group of Seattleites about our shared vision for this place we live and love–we were a diverse group that shared a lot of the same values when it comes to the community in which we live!

What do you think was the most valuable takeaway?

Kristin: I thought the overarching waterfront component was one of the best pieces of the boot camp, but I also found direct action at the end of the day very valuable. We were able to engage with a community organization around the issue of the waterfront and create solid action by voting on a grant to support their work and the larger campaign overall. I found that to be a perfect, concrete end to a day filled with knowledge and engaging conversation.

Katie: I agree on the waterfront theme–I think it’s one thing to talk about civic engagement broadly and another to explore it through a really concrete, pressing issue that is affecting our community right now. I thought the idea of knowledge, connection, trust and action as the foundation for engagement was really interesting when it was introduced, but even more compelling when I really saw those pieces come together throughout the day. It’s really empowering to know the history, know the players and know the routes to change–I’m so excited to see which issue Civic Boot Camp tackles next year!

Want to learn more about Civic Boot Camp? Check out City Club–and stay tuned for announcements in the Seattle Works Weekly Email!


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.


Networking Among Volunteer Leaders February 19, 2013

We pride ourselves on training Seattle’s next generation of community leaders. We do this through several different programs, including The Bridge and HandsOn Leadership. Each year, Seattle Works trains over 200 people to be volunteer leaders in the community – and now we’re taking it to the next level.

We are excited to announce our new alumni network: 


Why are we doing this?

Past Seattle Works participants are valuable assets to our organization and can serve as a helpful resource to one another for those currently participating in our training programs. Seattle Works will cultivate these relationships and facilitate mentorship opportunities.

How will it work?

As participants go through our training programs, or lead through Team Works or Hot Projects there will be more focus on creating a cohort of leaders. Each cohort then will become their own circle within LeadNOW. Our hope is that each circle will then stay in touch with each other, help each other with issues they are facing in their leadership development and serve as resources to one another. We’ll also have a few circles in place that will be interest area focused for members to join; this could include fundraising, finances or transition to executive committee.

What will LeadNOW offer?

Under LeadNOW, we will host several events throughout the year:

  • LeaderSip – monthly happy hour events featuring different discussion topics
  • Pop-up leadership forums & workshops
  • Online forums through LinkedIn
  • Lecture series focusing on nonprofit leadership, governance and volunteerism
  • And much more…

What do I have to do to be a member?

LeadNOW membership is simple:

  • Be a graduate of The Bridge or HandsOn Leadership; or,
  • Be a past or present Team Captain or Project Coordinator; and
  • Yearly membership fee of only $50

What are the benefits of membership? 

  • Access to exclusive online forums & resources
  • Invitations to all LeadNOW events; plus one event for free!
  • Access to a wide network of individuals who are making an impact in their community
  • Make new friends and connections
  • A community to go to for growth & development
  • Opportunities to join different circles within the network

Stay tuned for more information about when we will have the first LeaderSip!

To learn more or ask any questions, email