The 2017-2018 King County Bridge Fellowship cohort, which started in June, are continuing to explore leadership and development opportunities for themselves and for the organization. Twenty three employees are working through the course, participating 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. The fellowship is expected to wrap up in November, with a formal graduation and presentation.
The program is supported by the Learning and Development Team in the Department of Executive Services and is led by Debra Baker. It is part of the County’s Investing In You commitment to provide leadership and development opportunities to employees. The Fellowship, open to all full-time and TLT employees, was reestablished in 2013-2014 by King County Executive Dow Constantine. The program was expanded in 2017.
The program has been a meaningful opportunity for the participants. Read on to hear more from three Bridge participants.
Beth leDoux, Snoqualmie Watershed Technical Coordinator, Department of Natural Resources and Parks
I started at the County almost 15 years ago in the Science and Technical Section at the Water and Land Resources Division. I spent 10 years there and as my technical experience grew I was intrigued by the awesome work being done in salmon recovery and was thrilled to get the position I have now.
Bridge was an opportunity to really dive into personal and professional growth for me. I wanted to develop my leadership skills in a meaningful way so that I could be better at my work and share what I was learning with my colleagues. I went for it because I was ready to be engaged and see what it means to truly be a part of King County.
Bridge has helped me to take a step back, look at situations, evaluate my role in them and be more thoughtful in my responses. Using coaching skills to support my colleagues, I am more helpful and better prepared to work with them and help to discover their own solution or next steps. Coaching allows me to be helpful without owning the solution or having to solve a problem. Also, developing a personal mission statement has helped me to identify what inspires me to do my best work every day, and has really helped me get my feet firmly planted in my career.
As far as developing yourself professionally, I would say find a way to dive into who you are or what makes you tick, and allow yourself the time to focus on clarifying your personal and professional goals. By doing this you naturally find how you can best contribute to the County or any job, really. We get stuck in thinking leadership equals management. Through Bridge I am learning that leadership is so much bigger than that – that I can lead by being present to those around me by listening and asking real questions. It’s empowering.
Christine Alba, Fiscal Specialist III, Records and Licensing Services Division, King County Department of Executive Services
I started at the county in June 2016 because I wanted a career with a good work/life balance. In my role I am able to use my finance, operations and customer service background and serve the public. I will soon be transitioning to a Special Duty Assignment and am really excited for this as a step to broaden my skills.
Bridge seemed to be a great way to put my career on an upward trajectory, while learning more about the county as a whole. What really made me say “let’s do this” was the idea of working together on the group project. I enjoy tackling a new challenge, especially with a team of people.
The Program has given me the confidence and skills to become a leader, with a passion for process improvements and building efficiencies. Bridge has also given me insight into the challenges and opportunities that other departments and employees face every day. I am looking forward to using the new skills and growth mindset I have gained with Bridge to lead my current and future departments in continuous process improvements.
To someone interested in jump starting their career at the county, I would say utilize all of the available resources and take charge! Take advantage of programs like the Bridge Fellowship, KC eLearning to expand your knowledge, classes or trainings offered, and make an appointment with the Career Support Services center. Get to know understand more about your strengths and the career path you want to take.
Jeffrey Steuby, Transit Custodian II, Metro Power and Facilities, Department of Transportation
I initially started at King County with a drug and alcohol correctional rehabilitation facility as a special detention officer. I then became a part of Metro Facilities through the lay-off recall program King County Human Resources provides.
My work at King County has afforded me the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life and cultures. That said, my work at Metro Facilities has allowed me the opportunity to work on myself both professionally and personally through the supervisory support around me. This support and encouragement, in turn, has led me to the Bridge Fellowship.
I saw Bridge as a challenge to grow and stretch myself outside of my comfort zone with likeminded employees. The concepts and tools taught in Bridge can be life changing if you are mindful and intentional towards them, and yes, it’s been life changing for me. A number of ideas have really resonated with me in the program. In particular, the concept of developing yourself into a compassionate leader or supportive coach, a deep or active listener on a respectful quest for understanding, and an individual who strives to be in a growth mindset through open-minded learning and curiosity. My experience in Bridge benefits my department by helping me become a more thoughtful leader, and it has also helped me adapt to workplace change quicker and with more patience.
It’s never too late. Whether you have been employed in the county 30 years or two years, be open to opportunity and change. Be intentional about your life and goals. We sometimes have to get out of our own way to meet our ambition; The Bridge Fellowship can help you do that.
Debra Baker, Bridge course instructor, Learning and Development, Department of Executive Services
As a previous 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.
Each Bridge participant has a powerful story about what they have learned. Please take time to ask them about their experience!
To learn more about the Bridge Fellowship visit www.kingcounty.gov/Bridge.
The Bridge Fellowship graduation will be held Thursday, November 2, 2017 at King Street Center. To attend, please RSVP to Debra Baker directly at Debra.Baker@kingcounty.gov.