The King County Bridge Fellowship is a 16-week professional development program that expands participants’ mindsets, strengthens current competencies, and helps participants develop new skills. The Fellowship, open to all full-time and TLT employees, was reestablished in 2013-2014 by King County Executive Dow Constantine. Bridge Fellows participated in a rigorous application and interview process before joining this year’s cohort.
The program is supported by the Learning and Development Team in the Department of Executive Services and is led by Debra Baker. Together they have created a rich course that encourages participants to explore new possibilities, for themselves and for the organization.
Over the course of the program, participants engage in classroom learning, group projects, presentations and career development activities, as well as interviews and site visits to explore the County’s agencies and their priorities.
Additionally, participants explore topics and themes such as growth mindset, leadership, teambuilding, coaching, trust building, identifying mentors, equity and social justice, interviewing techniques, resume building and public speaking.
The program has been a meaningful opportunity for the participants. Read on to hear more from two Bridge participants.
Ann Moses, Performance Management Program Manager, KCIT
My first job with King County was staffing the King County Charter Review Commission in 1996. It is a citizen committee responsible for reviewing the King County Charter at least once every ten years. I fell in love with public sector service during this project and have worked for King County ever since! I got involved with Bridge because it felt like the right time to stretch my “work wings.” The idea of being able to be part of a cohort of individuals from throughout King County who came together to learn about the County from a “big picture,” holistic perspective was exciting.So far, the program has opened my eyes to what human potential and having a growth mindset really means. Working on our group project has been a source of significant and meaningful growth for me. I’m really excited about the fact that I’ve already started to apply many of the concepts I’ve learned in Bridge here at my department in KCIT. Additionally, the support and comradery that has developed within our cohort as a result of time together is proving invaluable.
“I love Bridge!”
If someone asked me for advice about jump starting their career or gaining professional development skills, I would tell them to take a deep breath, muster up their confidence, and jump in! Bridge has taught me how important it is to keep your mind open to all sorts of future possibilities. It has also reminded me of the importance of perseverance. If a particular door that you would like to have open for you doesn’t, it is important to keep going. Something – that is a “just right fit for you” – is out there!
Michael Rheubottom, Rail Station Custodian, DOT
I joined the County in 2013 through the Parks Department at Marymoor Park. This was so significant because it was a huge achievement for me. I had no one on the inside, and no prior relationships with anyone from parks. I am grateful and l feel blessed for the opportunity (thank you Cortney Pletz!). That’s how I got my foot in the door into the County and the rest is history. I love working for the public.What led me to Bridge is that I’m very self-motivated, and it may sound funny but I love the chance to utilize my brain and put it through stress by learning. I was feeling very complacent where I was and I knew Bridge would be a new journey. No more feeling stagnant because it would be a chance to utilize other abilities I possess. I thought why not apply? I also wanted to debunk the whole stereotype of how we view custodians.
“This program has done wonders for me.”
My confidence, I feel, is at an all-time high. I have applied the material we’ve learned in Bridge to my personal life, and also it’s helped change my thought process on how to deal with different, difficult situations. The best phrase I have learned in Bridge is “yes and…” We can all agree and disagree but disagree respectfully. I feel that is key to teamwork and for morale.
But our Bridge cohort project is hands down the best experience! Interviewing fellow King County colleagues across the County was so real, candid and informative. The way me and my team formed all our ideas and suggestions into one will last with me. Having a beginner’s mindset really stood out because when that is used, either in a work setting or in public venues, it creates respectful and honest dialogue.
“The relationships we made along this journey are probably the biggest surprise for me.”
I never went into this program thinking I would meet so many different individuals who would all leave such strong positive impressions on me, and so many great takeaways.
If someone asked me how to jumpstart their career or how to gain professional development skills, I would tell them to never stay complacent, and just go for it. Every new opportunity your department or the County offers, go apply for it. If you don’t get selected don’t look at it as a failure or let it deter you, but use it as motivation. Demonstrate that you are hungry to grow within your department and stay relentless. One thing I learned from my time here in the County is to try to use as many resources as possible because there are so many ways to enhance your skill set, learn new skills and create visibility through training or programs such as Bridge. This is a real special experience for me and I feel it’s right to allow more dedicated and motivated employees to experience the Bridge Fellowship.
Debra Baker, lead Bridge course instructor, DES
Bridge Fellowship course Instructors also include Maggie Chumbley, Rowena Jackson, Susan Navetski, Theresa Roscoe, and Lili Stansberry.
As a 2014 Bridge Fellow, I am honored to facilitate the continuation of this program. The Bridge Fellowship participants are acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to be effective, thoughtful and competent leaders in King County. It is very exciting to see that we are developing and inspiring a new group of “People Leaders” in King County.
Mike and Ann’s stories have touched me deeply. Each Bridge participant has a powerful story of how they’ve grown. Please take time to ask them about their experience!