There is a rich vein of untapped leadership talent in our community that we need to find ways to exploit to make our communities stronger and more resilient. I’m speaking of the wealth of talented young professionals with energy, passion, commitment and community focus to help us find creative solutions to the challenges we face.
For the third year in a row, our Wenatchee Valley Business World magazine is preparing to honor 30 individuals in North Central Washington under the age of 35 for their leadership. Nominations from the community are due on Friday and can be submitted via a link on The World’s home page. Being named a 30 Under 35 honoree is a prestigious honor because of the types of people who have achieved that position.
The list of previous winners includes Wenatchee Valley Chamber Executive Director Shiloh Schauer, Emily Lamb, the risk officer at North Cascades National Bank, Jamie Arroyo-Garcia, the owner of Grandview Window cleaning; Sarah Cornell of 501 Consultants, Kevin Bromiley of Jeffers Danielson law firm, and Sean Patton of Cordell, Neher & Co., to name just a few. The youngest person honored was Natalie Merrill, who had just graduated from Eastmont High School.
Each year, it gets more difficult narrowing the list of individuals down to 30 because of the quality of the nominees. Reading through their biographies is an inspiration.
Last year’s group made important contributions to the community both individually and as a group. We tapped local banker Cori Bautista to participate in a panel for candidate debates that The World sponsored. Anni Hisey, who owns Academic Associates Learning Centers, served as a presenter for an education forum we put together this spring along with the Community Forums Network. The Community Foundation of North Central Washington sponsored a luncheon and invited the 30 Under 35 honorees to participate in a workshop with a Harvard professor with expertise in developing leadership.
But the most impressive leadership accomplishment of last year’s group was a project they took on for the Wenatchee School District. They interviewed a few dozen executives in the valley to learn how businesses and schools could work together to create a more vibrant and relevant educational experience for students.
The project, led by Lamb, Hisey, Tina Duffey (then of the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust), David Bentsen of the Speidel Law firm, and Travis Richardson of Allthrive Landscape and Irrigation, involved developing a series of questions, conducting interviews and creating a white paper that showed tremendous enthusiasm for developing partnerships between businesses and the district. Superintendent Brian Flones and the Wenatchee School Board were inspired enough to fund a position to begin tapping into the resources of the community more effectively.
The team discovered that the business community was eager to work with the school district to engage students in meaningful projects through internships, mentoring and projects. They also uncovered a number of barriers that would need to be addressed to make those collaborations work.
The 30 Under 35 group picked the project, developed the questions, conducted the interviews and presented the findings to the superintendent and school board. What they achieved proved that we would be remiss if we don’t find more ways to tap into the leadership potential of our young professionals.
Surely, there are some fabulously talented and driven young leaders who have not been nominated and we’d appreciate hearing about them. To make a nomination, please visit wenatcheeworld.com and click on the link for 30 Under 35.