On May 26, 2016, Leadership Washington County (LWC) honored the 17 community and business leaders who have successfully completed the nine-month long program with a graduation reception held at The Meadows Casino, racetrack and hotel in Washington, PA. Program participants range from leaders in health care, to banking, to individual business owners and to everything in between. Despite their differences in profession, they all completed the program with similar goals in mind: to grow professionally, as well as personally, and to positively impact Washington County.
The group wasted little time on the later goal as plans began last October to raise money and pounds of food for The Greater Washington County Food Bank as part of the class project. Over the last eight months, three LWC teams planned various fundraisers and food drives across the county while working in a friendly competition with their other classmates. In total, the participants of LWC donated $25,512 and 22,146 pounds of food to the Food Bank. At the graduation reception, the group held a presentation ceremony with Heidi Hoffman, Greater Washington County Food Bank’s Donor Relations Coordinator. Ms. Hoffman remarked, “The work and dedication this group of community leaders has shown is outstanding. They have gone above expectations and are a true testament to the good work that is happening in Washington County. We are grateful for this support”. In addition to the monetary, food and goods donated to the Food Bank, the group also spent a day at the organization volunteering last month.
The 2016 graduates of Leadership Washington County will walk away with more than a greater understanding of leadership, but with knowledge of our community and a network to rely on for years to come. Over 75% of the program’s graduates go on to serve on a local not-for-profit board and volunteer with various organizations. 2015-2016 class participant, Bob Rak Director of Finance for the Pittsburgh Opera said, “I joined the 2016 class of Leadership Washington County to be able to expand my network of colleagues and contacts in our community and I found that and a lot more. I found an inspiring group of hardworking professionals that care about their community, grew my skills as a leader and communicator through thought provoking training, and learned of the challenges, opportunities and great work that’s being done in the community that I’ve called home for 17 years. This experience, these connections and this knowledge will be an invaluable asset to me as I continually work hard to be a fully engaged member of my community.”
Leadership Washington County is a nonprofit organization led by Jeff Fondelier, LWC Board President/Vice President of Operations at Community Action Southwest and Katie Unger-Chipps, LWC Executive Director/past Leadership Washington County Participant. It was formed in 1998 as a cooperative effort between the United Way of Washington County and the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. More than 230 leaders have graduated from the program since its creation. Applications for the 2016-2017 class are currently being accepted at http://palwc.org/.