Leadership Whatcom

2020 Application Deadline – Monday, September 8

The goal of Leadership Whatcom is to develop the next generation of active leaders for Whatcom County.  Participants will  strengthen leadership skills, gain awareness of regional issues and build networks across Whatcom County’s many communities.

Leadership Whatcom alumni actively contribute to the region’s economic and cultural vitality.

Decision makers representing local businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, universities, schools and community residents 18 years of age or older are eligible to participate in this 10-month community based leadership program.

Leadership Whatcom participants meet one Friday per month for a full day session at various locations across Whatcom County. During the sessions, participants gain practical skills for leading teams of all sizes. They will also examine a variety of leadership approaches using assessment tools, community case studies and learning from guest experts.

Click to Apply! Deadline is September 8
Leadership Whatcom scholarship information

Program Objectives/Goals

Leadership Whatcom programs develop community leaders and citizens with insight and skills to:

  • Work together on tough issues, even those that can be polarizing or divisive
    LW trains participants to work with conflict productively and find common ground.

 Involve multiple stakeholders and perspectives to creating lasting solutions

  • LW provides rich experiences working in diverse groups of all sizes. Participants develop action-
    oriented skills and strategies for promoting dialogue in mixed groups.

 Work with complexity, issues are never as simple as they seem 

  • LW encourages a nonpartisan look at tough issues. Participants use situational analysis tools to
    examine complexity and assumptions that may stand in the way of creative solutions.

 Leverage community assets and work with unlikely partners 

  • LW promotes an assets-based approach. Participants expand networks, perspectives
    and ways of working with them.

 Recognize that we can accomplish more together than we can alone 

  • LW trains participants in action-oriented, team leadership skills; participants apply in the community.

Submission Guidelines

Please submit this completed application no later than 5:00 pm, Monday, September 8, 2020.

Applications can be submitted by email to guy@bellingham.com or mailed to Leadership Whatcom, c/o BRCC, 119 N. Commercial Street, Suite 110, Bellingham, WA 98225. Tuition payments should be made payable to BRCC. If you have questions about this application, call Guy Occhiogrosso at 734-1330.

Selection Process And Criteria

All applications will be handled confidentially and reviewed for completeness. A selection committee member will review finalists and contact references provided by the applicant. Leadership Whatcom does not discriminate against applicants and participants on the basis of race, age, ethnicity, religion, gender, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, political affiliation, disability or occupation.
Financial need and payment arrangements will not be a factor in the selection process.

Diversity of perspectives and an interest in learning to bridge them is a core value of Leadership Whatcom
– program content will draw on participants’ experience and diversity in terms of personal demographics, professional/community experience, perspectives and values.

In selecting the Leadership Whatcom Class, we will evaluate applicants on:

  • Commitment to community involvement
  • Expressed interest in developing and applying leadership skills during the course
  • Professional and personal involvement in the community
  • Ability to attend and participate fully in the scheduled program
  • Contribution to group diversity

Commitment To Full Participation

Program participants are expected to attend all scheduled program dates and participate fully.

Monthly session days are a full day commitment, start at 8:30am and end by 5:00pm which may require you to arrange your work schedule and/or secure support from your employer to participate.

Please review the 2020-2021 program dates. If your schedule does not permit you to participate in all session dates outlined below, please consider applying in the future.


LW Program Tuition for each participant is $1,200 for Chamber members & $1,500 for non-members. Participants may choose to obtain sponsors who recognize the benefits of leadership development to help cover the tuition. Potential sponsors could include participant’s employer or professional, civic, or faith groups. After acceptance into the program, tuition is payable in full by Monday, September 14, 2020. In extenuating circumstances, alternate payment schedules and tuition assistance are available. Please contact Guy Occhiogrosso for details on program payment plans and tuition assistance.

10-Month Program Session Days

Leadership Whatcom program days take place on Fridays from 8:30am – 5:00pm.

Orientation & Sense of Place – September 18, 2020

The class explores Whatcom County’s distinct communities and local historical legacies that continue to impact Whatcom County’s unique “sense of place”.  Participants meet their 2017 cohort members, alumni lunch guests and review the learning objectives, leadership styles and team building tools covered in the 11 month program.

Legal Systems & Public Safety – October 16, 2020
The class explores the broad continuum of professionals serving in the fields of public safety, law and justice. Case studies examine unique challenges border communities like Whatcom County face. Participants examine the principles of facilitative leadership and creative strategies for helping urban and rural communities achieve the promise of justice for all.

Economic Vitality – November 20, 2020
The class explores the economic health of Whatcom County. Session tours and discussions include employers who invest in the future of Whatcom County’s rural and urban communities. Participants investigate situational leadership strategies and tools that support a culture of participation and adaptation to changing conditions.

Education, Research & Innovation – December 18, 2020
The class celebrates Whatcom County’s many institutions of higher learning and life-long education. Community case studies explore innovations emerging from the Pacific Northwest region. Participants explore leadership approaches that generate the research and shared knowledge necessary for innovation to take place.

Creating Healthy Communities & Meeting Basic Needs – January 15, 2021
The class examines principles of inclusion and dignity. Case studies help to illustrate the challenge of meeting the basic needs of safety, food and housing in rural and urban areas of Whatcom County. Participants examine servant leadership models and consider how to use these strategies.

Government Systems & the Public Good – February 19, 2021
The class explores how governmental approaches are used to care for the public good. Community case studies focus on the public resources and shared infrastructure that contribute to our quality of life. Participants explore the principles and practices of ethical leadership with elected leaders, public agency staff and community groups working with them.

Effective Leaders are Reflective Leaders – March 19, 2021
The class explores a variety of assessment and reflection tools leaders can use to step back and take a fresh look at a familiar situation. Participants explore the principles and practices of transformational leadership. A community conversation with guests and alumni  is hosted in the afternoon to practice discussing complex issues productively.

Community Stewardship & Quality of Life – April 16, 2021 
The class will study the many forms of caring and creativity that take place every day in Whatcom County. Case studies explore nongovernmental, faith-based and arts organizations who contribute to the well-being of Whatcom County. Participants explore principles and practices of visionary leadership.

Putting Leadership Skills into Action & Evening Reception – May 14, 2021
The class reflects on personal goals for leadership development, networking and team communication and challenge by choice results over the course of the 11 month program. Participants share ideas on how they can more  actively care for Whatcom County in the years to come. The evening reception honors 2019 graduates with family, colleagues and friends.

Showcase Milestones and Share Success – June 18, 2021
The class shares leadership awareness insights and challenge by choice learning and skills development.

Sponsored by: