Advancing Leadership class raises $13,000 for Federal Way gardens foundation

The Advancing Leadership class of 2014 raised $13,000 for the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation. - Contributed photo
The Advancing Leadership class of 2014 raised $13,000 for the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation.
— image credit: Contributed photo

A big check, a big announcement and big stories of solidarity and success highlighted the Advancing Leadership class of 2014 graduation showcase on June 20.

This annual event marks the completion of nine months of leadership and personal skills training, team building, community field trips and mentorships for a class of 32 local men and women. In addition to program sessions, Advancing Leadership participants chose a team project to design, organize and implement that would positively impact the city.

The 2014 class decided to work with the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation to raise funds, expand on existing programs and build capacity for the nonprofit’s next phase of growth. The class assessed the Federal Way Community Gardens’ needs and offered assistance in three areas: redesigning the Day of Organics and Gardening event to appeal to a wider audience and raise more support, creating a new summer gardening camp program for kids and assisting with a multi-year strategic plan to help the foundation reach its goals.

At the graduation showcase, hosted by Grace Church of Federal Way, the 2014 class presented the foundation with a check for $13,000 – the net proceeds from the Day of Organics and Gardening held in May. Cynthia Kannenberg, Federal Way Community Gardens board president, thanked the class, saying their work advanced the foundation’s progress forward “by at least three years.” The new graduates will continue working with the foundation during the summer camp program, and one graduate, Karen Saunders, has joined the foundation’s board.

This year’s Advancing Leadership graduates are: Layne Barndt, Federal Way Rotary; Ryan Beaver, Weyerhaeuser; Jeff Bellinghausen, South King Fire and Rescue; Amanda Besel, Valley Cities Counseling and Consulting; Eric Black, community leader; Allison Brumley, Getting Smart; Leslie Deakins, Federal Way Public Schools; Joe Ganem IV, South King Fire and Rescue; Madison Gridley, Highline College; Julie Hiller, Coldwell Banker Danforth; Casey Jones, Federal Way Police Department; Lu Larson, Woodstone Credit Union; Amy Longenecker, community leader; Chris Mickelsen, Federal Way Police Department; Joyce Molgaard, St. Francis Hospital; Tammy Money, Multi-Service Center; Craig Nicholson, Weyerhaeuser; Danni Orne, Life Care Centers of America; Stelian Paraschiv, GNTI Inc.; Mikki Pieruccioni, Weyerhaeuser; Deanne Plunkett, Advancing Leadership; Jessicka Rambus, Washington Schools Risk Management Pool; Kristine Reeves, Washington State Department of Commerce; Kathy Ristine, Federal Way Public Schools; Karen Saunders, Federal Way Public Schools; Hollie Shilley, city of Federal Way; Douglas Shore, Federal Way Public Schools; Shawn Simpson, Federal Way Public Schools; Shawn Slattery, Clearly Windows; LaWonda Smith, City University of Seattle; Lindsy Vezikov, BECU Federal Way Crossings; Barbara Whitehurst, Multi-Service Center; and Kristi Zimmerman, Grace Church.

Following the presentation of the graduates, Advancing Leadership Executive Director Teri Hickel shared her plans to step away from her position after the 2014-15 program year.

“Advancing Leadership is better and stronger than ever,” Hickel said. “I don’t have to leave, I don’t want to leave. It’s simply the right time for Advancing Leadership and for me. That is the best position to be in when making a decision like this.”  The Advancing Leadership board will begin searching for a new executive director this summer.

For more information about Advancing Leadership, visit To learn about the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation, visit


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