2019 Regional Leadership Conference Recap: Dynamic Leadership. Real Talk.

By: Corinne Lumens, Alicia Teel, Maggie Wilson Posted: 10/25/2019

Featuring National League of Cities’ Clarence E. Anthony, Alisha Valavanis of Seattle Storm, and Tony Mestres of Seattle Foundation

At our 2019 Regional Leadership Conference, business, government, labor, and community leaders explored how we can work better as a regional team and challenged attendees to expand their roles in the “relay race” of civic problem-solving. 


RLC Quote Bubble - Clarence AnthonyThroughout the conference, speakers and attendees embraced our theme and engaged in "real talk."

Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities, delivered an opening night keynote that set the stage for having frank conversations. He also urged attendees to "get out of their lane" and stand up for important issues.  

On Wednesday night, we also presented this year’s Senator Scott White Regional Leadership Award to Mayor Nancy Backus of Auburn. The Senator Scott White Award is presented to individuals who build bridges between competing interests, demonstrate a willingness to take on big problems, and move policy issues from discussion to action.

Thursday started with a call for more authentic, constructive communication from Seattle Foundation’s Tony Mestres. Mestres outlined five "Seattle Nice" behaviors that are easy to fall back on but ultimately keep us from working through our challenges. As an antidote, he put forth a new framework, "Seattle Real,"
Seattle Nice vs Seattle Real
Our day two panels had wonderful discussions on how to lead with creativity, effective partnerships, and the diversity of place, people and work.
RLC Quote Bubble - Senator Nguyen

We heard personal leadership journeys from Technology Access Foundation’s Trish Millines Dziko, GardnerGlobal, Inc.’s Jaebadiah Gardner, Housing Connector's Shkëlqim Kelmendi, and Hon. Claudia Balducci of King County.
Attendees also enjoyed an interactive role-playing game on Thursday, where they stepped out of their usual world views and tried to see a polarizing issue from another perspective.

RLC Quote Bubble - Alisha Valavanis

Our Thursday lunch keynote discussion featured Alisha Valavanis, CEO and general manager of the Seattle Storm, and Diana Birkett Rakow, vice president of external relations for Alaska Airlines and Chamber board chair, who talked about leadership and the power of team.

On our final morning, we discussed regional housing and the perception of business.

As the conference closed, our Chamber CEO Marilyn Strickland and Amazon's Eileen Sullivan shared how excited they are for leaders to carry this ethos of real talk and Seattle Foundation's "Seattle Real' vs Seattle Nice' out with them into our region.

Going Forward

You can find a Twitter stream of our conference highlights here.

Thanks to our presenting sponsor:

Thanks to our airline sponsor:

Thanks to our event sponsors: