Passion never rests. For Kate Bennett – the director of Skagit County’s Leadership Skagit program – those words have served as a guiding force throughout her life.
Bennett is a nonprofit powerhouse who served in executive positions with the American Red Cross, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Washington and Alaska, and the Island Hospital Foundation in Anacortes, Wash. before taking the helm at Leadership Skagit 10 years ago. During that time, she has led what’s arguably the most successful leadership development program in the county, commonly known as Leadership Skagit.
This intensive program, which operates within the nonprofit Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County Foundation, began in 2003 and has 500 graduates. It’s designed to inspire people to serve as active leaders and to prepare them for community leadership roles. Shell’s Puget Sound Refinery has partnered with Leadership Skagit since 2008, and 16 employees from the refinery have successfully graduated from the program.
“We have a tremendous impact on Skagit County,” said Bennett. “We’re intentionally building a foundation of leadership and creating a fabric of shared experience and direction to allow leaders to meet big challenges and work on them together across our community.”
Each year, Leadership Skagit selects 25-35 participants who represent the county’s private, public and nonprofit sectors for a nine-month civic leadership development program. The goal is to create a network of leaders whose increased awareness and commitment to serve will energize Skagitonians to shape the county's future.
Sean Cornett serves as the refinery’s production excellence manager and graduated from the program in 2014.
“I gained a lot from being around such a diverse array of people from all industries, functions and backgrounds,” he said. “It forced me to step outside of the tunnel vision that many of us grow accustomed to and helped me become more empathetic.”