Seattle Works

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

HandsOn Leadership gets a facelift February 13, 2014

Filed under: HandsOn Leadership,Lead,Training — seattleworks @ 5:03 pm
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Every once and a while we must take a step back and look at our programming and identify ways in which we can improve the content, structure and overall feel. Some nip and tuck is sometimes the result of this type of evaluation.

Over the past several weeks Katie and I have been working hard to better understand how to prepare HandsOn Leadership participants with the tools and skills for completing projects with a nonprofit organization. And of course, in true Seattle Works form, figure out ways in which to make the training as interactive as possible.

We are excited to share with you the new and improved HandsOn Leadership:

Session One: Who are you as a leader?

The first session is all about getting to know others and getting to know yourself as a leader. Participants identify the project that is of most interest to them and are split into teams. Through interactive activities, you’ll learn about different work styles, practices in leadership and how you react to conflict.

Session Two: How do you manage a project in a nonprofit?

We walk you through how to work with nonprofits, breaking through some of the stereotypes, common misconceptions and the basics of how the nonprofit sector operates. You’ll get some project management best practices and have time to work with your team and representative from the project nonprofit on how to apply what you’ve learned so far.

Session Three: How do you put it all together?

Before coming up with your next steps and outline your project workplan, you’ll gain some more insights in project management. With plenty of team time to put everything you’ve learned to practice, you’ll present your plan to the group.

Next Steps: Execute the project!

Once you’ve completed the training, you’ll have next steps and a basic workplan to start your project with the nonprofit you’d been working on. Attend an orientation session with your nonprofit partner and new team to brainstorm how you’ll tackle your project–and then you’re off! You’ll work with your team to manage all aspects of the project on whatever schedule you decide works for you over the course of the following months. Seattle Works will check in along the way, but this is your chance to really put your skills as a leader and project manager to work!

So there you have it! Our new and improved HandsOn Leadership. I know you want to be part of it!

Sign up for HandsOn Leadership today! Our next series is Wed 3/12, 3/19 & 3/26, 6-9pm!


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 


The A-Team Gets Connected July 3, 2013

Filed under: Our Team,Training — seattleworks @ 11:14 am
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The AmeriCorps team attended the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago. We were all very excited about two things: learning new practices and meeting other AmeriCorps–those currently serving, as well as alums.

We met the other three AmeriCorps National Direct – two of them serving at HandsOn Central Ohio and one at Chicago Cares. We discussed our awesome experiences, laughed about the many interesting and hilarious moments, and of course – bonded over a slew of amazing food at Ping Pong Dim Sum. Here’s what we took from it:

IMG955521_1Ben: It was great meeting other AmeriCorps members that are currently serving across the country. We had the opportunity to connect with them and share insights and stories around volunteer engagement and the different ways we bring people together. They will be valuable connections for future activities, projects and networking.

Tomilyn: It was so fantastic to meet all the other AmeriCorps serving in National Direct. National Direct is a small program different from the main avenues people serve in AmeriCorps. While I had encountered other Vistas, it was great to get together with the 6 folks who are doing similar work from Ohio to Chicago. I also learned about opportunities to connect with AmeriCorps alumni here in Seattle! Can’t wait to tap into this amazing network of dedicated public servants. IMG954497_1

Irina: It was awesome meeting those who started serving at the same time we did, to see how far they had come in their organizations, what they accomplished, and what their next steps were. It was also encouraging to meet AmeriCorps alums who were doing great things for the community – whether it was working for another nonprofit, founding their own organization, or working internationally on a completely different area of interest. We learned that AmeriCorps alums go far and I’m proud to be part of that legacy – 800,000+ strong and counting!

Interested in learning more about AmeriCorps? Check out the details and current openings!


National Conference on Volunteering and Service 2013 June 27, 2013

Filed under: Our Team,Training — seattleworks @ 11:36 am
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Last week, five of us ventured out to Washington D.C. to attend the ever-so-inspirational National Conference on Volunteering and Service, hosted by Points of Light.

Conference was huge–4,000+ people from different backgrounds, organizations, and practices came together. There was dancing (specifically between Karl Rove and Donna Brazile), volunteering, learning, leading – and showing that service can and will unite to improve our communities.

Now, before we get to the good stuff, here’s a picture of our team looking snazzy in D.C.!

NCVS Blog Post

We all took something from Conference – whether it was meeting someone we admired, realizing that we’re doing a great job, or just plain learning something interesting – and we’d like to share some of the awesomeness with you!

Irina: My favorite “ah-ha” moment was when I heard Jeremy Heimans speak about the organization he co-founded, Purpose. Purpose is a global home for building movements and new ventures that use the power of participation to change the world. While I was completely in awe of the organization, I was more impressed with how passionate Jeremy was about civic engagement. It made me realize that what we do at Seattle Works is essential in uniting our communities. I came back from Conference even more energized and excited about the mission of Seattle Works!

Tomilyn: Learning about building civic movements was an incredibly powerful seminar. Normally we’re focused on our use of media in small picture terms – how many likes do we have? Will enough people sign up for my class? This took those great responses to a whole new level, showing how enough people can ban together to create a movement and real civic change.

Ben: It was awesome to realize just how much Seattle Works does – and that we’re really good at what we do! Throughout the conference not only were we mentioned, but people were soliciting our opinion on social media, board training and general volunteer engagement.

I learned a great deal by chatting with representatives from other HandsOn Network affiliates throughout the country. Gaining insights into how they mobilize volunteers, train board members and the wide variety of different programming within the network. It was great to meet other people and learn from their expertise. Being part of this Network is just an incredible resource not just for us to learn from what others are doing–but to also enlighten other organizations on Seattle Works best-practices while we all work towards a more engaged community nationwide.

Katie: My top moment from the conference was helping facilitate a session on innovation across the HandsOn Network. I had great conversations about how Seattle Works builds a “culture of innovation” in our office – and got to share CommonWealth with our peers across the country! It really drove home that we’re doing really innovative stuff at Seattle Works – and others are watching!

Tara: I was moved, and inspired to act, by the stories of HandsOn Network affiliates who responded to Hurricane Sandy. It’s one thing to hear on the news that the storm caused $50 billion in damage or that large sections of New Jersey were without power for up to six weeks. It’s entirely another thing to hear from people who responded to the need and helped mobilize volunteers in setting up shelters, organizing donations, restoring shorelines and gutting homes. Some of these groups had a pre-existing disaster response plan and some of them figured it out along the way. Across the board, I was amazed by their dedication and ability to rise to the occasion. It has moved the nagging thought at the back of my mind that Seattle Works should have a plan for our role in a time or crisis to a project I’d like for us to tackle this year.

There’s an underlying theme in what everyone learned: just like our affiliates, Seattle Works is doing great things! While working M-F 9-5, sometimes we don’t stop to realize that we’re actually living out our mission – to connect volunteers, develop emerging leaders and inspire dialogue. Thanks to Conference, not only did we meet passionate people, have fun, learn new practices – but we also confirmed that we’re pretty awesome!

Interested in learning more about what happened at NCVS 2013? Read the highlights here. 

We’re looking forward to Conference 2014 – Atlanta, here we come!


What Inspires You? March 22, 2013

Filed under: Training — seattleworks @ 12:28 pm

I had the opportunity to attend YWCA‘s amazing Inspire Luncheon yesterday, featuring America Ferrera (yes – Ugly Betty!) as the guest speaker.

While the event was short (hello, greatest lunch hour I’ve had in a while), I learned a lot. Below are some of the quotes I thought fit well with the theme – as they were inspiring:

“Talent is universal; opportunity is not.” – America Ferrera. The work of the YWCA is so important because it gives women, children and families the ability to use their resources, skills and talent for things that will better their life – rather than using it for survival.

– “Being homeless takes away more than just a roof over your head.” – A speaker whose life was transformed by YWCA.

– “We serve people who don’t look for a handout but a hand-up.” YWCA looks for women who are ready to change their lives for the better.

“You don’t need to give up what you love doing in order to do something you think will help change the world more. Find what you love and make it into something that will change the world.” – America Ferrera.

The luncheon was successful – and not only in that it made everyone think of just how lucky Washington State is to have YWCA, but also how much money was raised ($339,495 to be exact) to help fight against homelessness and racism.

Want to learn more about YWCA? Check out their next Inspire Luncheon Tues April 30, featuring guest speaker Geena Davis at the Washington State Convention Center.



Technology and Nonprofits is Symbiosis at it’s Best February 7, 2013

Filed under: Training — seattleworks @ 11:57 am
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Last night, Tomilyn and I attended the NetSquared Greater Seattle (N2GS) 2012 Big Wins. We were excited to hear about some of the most exciting nonprofit technology moments of last year from an equally exciting panel: Joe Mirabella from, Kevin Espirito from Microsoft and Susan Elderkin from Washington Trails Association

The presentation from all three panelists was interesting, inspiring and definitely note-worthy – so here’s a few of our favorite topics:

Kevin Espirito:

– Discussed how the Microsoft Corporate Citizenship works to serve communities and help people. Microsoft encourages their employees to engage in their communities by volunteering their time or donating their money. We love any company that encourages community engagement – woo hoo!

– Introduced the Local Impact Map – a great way to explore the positive impacts of local programs promoted and supported by Microsoft around the world. People can access this map to view impact stories through videos and pictures, instead of just text. We thought this was a fantastic way to get people connected worldwide.

Susan Elderkin:

– WTA dreams of a community of hikers (and all trail lovers) that want to contribute to the current body of information and connect with others in the community. Their way of keeping people connected is by encouraging hikers to upload photos, blogs, comments, etc.

– Mentioned a struggle of how to get people living outside of the Seattle/Puget Sound area to interact. Susan mentioned such great success in email open rates and membership, we’re confident WTA will have no problem finding a solution!

Joe Mirabella:

– One of his best words of advice: elevate individual stories to the spotlight and hearts and minds will start to change.

– mobilizes support of gay rights globally, and Joe discussed how there is a need to be able to work with people that may not have a phone, as well as have the option to be able to text to sign a petition. Working internationally can be difficult – but it sure is worth it.

Needless to say, we had a blast learning about how different technologies helped these 3 organizations in 2012. Interested in learning more about how N2GS can help – or just a do-gooder techie? Join N2GS for their next Meetup on March 6. Details to follow on their Facebook!

Also, big thank you to Fremont Brewing Company, who  graciously donated tasty Universal Pale Ale!