Feedback from our adult (AL) and youth (ALY) graduates:

“AL couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  I was brand new to the Federal Way community in 2002 as Executive Director of the FW YMCA.  AL provided me the opportunity to meet and work with many other community leaders in a very unique way.  Without it, it probably would have taken me at least 2 years to establish relationships with those same individuals.  Programs like AL provide leaders with the opportunity to learn and grow with others.  It increased my awareness of both personal strengths and weaknesses as a leader.”

Jay Thomas – AL ’03
VP of Major Gifts & Planned Giving
United Way of Pierce County

“Advancing Leadership has afforded me the opportunity to plant with a heightened sense of awareness and reap with a legacy steeped in commitment, family, love of community, and an ever ardent spirit to give back. Not having Advancing Leadership under my belt is akin to a wheel with missing spokes. I am better for its propelling me to higher heights and deeper depths.”

Nandell Palmer – AL ‘10
Owner, Write a Blessing Media
Founder, I Celebrate You

“ALY inspired me to be a leader and showed me the great joys of giving back to your community.  I had lived in Federal Way my entire life and was very excited to get the opportunity to meet the city’s leaders and to hear about their personal stories.  Whether it was starting a little league team or trying to reduce poverty and crime, the program helped me see that anyone can be a leader and make a difference.  Furthermore, learning about the economics, government, and politics of the city were things that I would not have learned from high school alone.  It was also a wonderful feeling knowing that our ALY advisor, my classmates, and other community members had so much hope and trust in us to be the future leaders of Federal Way.  I graduated from the program with a stronger sense of community and developed immense pride for the city of Federal Way.”

Amanda Quach – ALY ‘06
University of Washington 2011 graduate
Medical school candidate

“When I was accepted into AL 2000, I was new to town and felt extremely fortunate to be immediately thrust into such an impressive program with the caliber of classmates AL attracts.  I learned so much from the AL trainings and from my peers. The concept of ‘Leading the Way’ stuck with me. In the years since, I have encountered AL graduates in all of my volunteer endeavors. As a collective unit, we have contributed to the wellbeing of this community. Thank you, AL, for the quality training, committed graduates and projects you consistently produce.”

Jan Owen – AL ‘00
City of Federal Way Human Services Commissioner
World Vision volunteer
Communities in Schools mentor

“When I joined the second class of Advancing Leadership I had lived and worked in Federal Way my entire life. I watched it grow from a very small community into the population center that it is today. I was surprised how much I didn’t know about my hometown. I learned about the services other agencies and volunteer groups provide, and how they are all connected in some way.  In many cases I learned about community needs that aren’t being met, and how we can make a difference in people’s lives by getting involved. Not only did I learn about the community, I made many new friends in the business community that truly helped me perform better at work. I’ve moved on to a new fire department in Pierce County, and took on the challenging job of Fire Chief. I truly believe that Advancing Leadership helped me be a better leader. Today I understand the need to be connected to those we serve. Thanks AL!”

Jerry E. Thorson – AL ‘00
Fire Chief, East Pierce Fire & Rescue

“ALY is one of the greatest opportunities a high school student could achieve. It brings together the concepts of real world networking and leadership with the excitement and fun of a day camp. The lessons learned in ALY will only be developed and perfected during a lifetime. It sets the basis of essential leadership, team building, and personal confidence skills that will prove useful in anybody’s career. Personally, ALY allowed me to test myself on how much I was going to let people in and how much I was willing to push myself. It gave me more confidence in speaking up and participating. Also it taught me how to be open-minded and to collaborate rather than to argue. I would not say ALY changes people; it simply amplifies the best qualities out of each individual to show the world what we have to offer. Currently I am a student at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies and I can firmly say that ALY has only prepared me more for my college experience.”

Kevin H. Lee – ALY ‘10
University of Washington student

“I enjoyed ALY so much because it gave me a way to explore the city in a different way and great connections with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I learned a lot about how being a leader had multiple avenues, and I grasped a better understanding how many different parts create a city and keep it running. During my time in ALY, I became a new person. It got me more involved with my community and school and I felt like I could make a difference in some way or another. My favorite experience is the chances that I got to meet the upcoming “generations” of ALY kids. Meeting them was enlightening and so much fun. It was good to see that I was part of something that changed my life so dramatically and that the tradition is continuing.”

Brittnee Bali – ALY ‘09
University of Washington student


“Advancing Leadership is a one of a kind and it has improved my quality of life.  The AL community experience inspired me to redirect my career focus to community development credit unions with an emphasis on asset building through community partnerships.   These projects have touched communities around the country,  with new programs and $7.6 million in grant funding to create microenterprise small business programs, pay-day loan alternatives and financial education programs.  Advancing Leadership taught me how community stakeholders can rally around common values and achieve great things.  AL friendships last forever and the facilitators remain my closest mentors.”

Scott Butterfield – AL ‘04
Credit Union Consultant, CUDE, CUCE, CCUE

“After ALY I gained a lot of confidence and ran for senior class representative. Although I didn’t win, I used my leadership skills to help me start a little smaller by running for president of Asian American club and winning. Now I help run a club that donated money to Japan when they had the flood, reads to elementary students and does other helpful things around our community and even beyond that. I have also started talking more in my classes and taking on more of a workload by stepping up and being a leader when we do group projects. Overall I have grown and achieved a lot from skills I gained from the program.”

Ming Lane – ALY ‘11
Student, Federal Way High School

“Advancing Leadership establishes a network of involved community leaders.  The relationships I enjoyed through Advancing Leadership have continued 10 years later with ongoing communication, collaboration, and partnership efforts that make a difference here in Federal Way.  Advancing Leadership is a tremendous program that promotes leadership development in the Federal Way Community.”

Brian J. Wilson – AL ‘00
Chief of Police, Federal Way Police Department

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