Office of the Secretary Aspiring Leader Academy gears up for third cohort

In January 2021, a team of 12 DSHS colleagues who work in the Office of the Secretary graduated as the second cohort to complete the Office of the Secretary Aspiring Leader Academy, a monumental task undertaken and a journey that began even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can’t imagine the struggles and nuances you had to navigate to accomplish and complete this academy,” praised Dana Phelps, DSHS deputy chief of staff, at the ALA’s virtual graduation in January.

Now soliciting applications for a third cohort that will start in May, Phelps calls the academy a leadership development program that helps DSHS become a diverse, equitable organization and is an important way to advance diverse leaders. Participants learn six core competencies as part of the academy — vision, interpersonal skills, transparency, getting results, developing self and developing others. New for the 2021 academy will be a dedicated session on equity, diversity and inclusion.

Participants choose mentors to help guide their leadership journeys. They also develop individual leadership projects that, for the last cohort, ranged from orienting new Insurance Services employees and helping residents transition to the community after living at the Special Commitment Center to implementing statewide tribal relations processes and applying Agile Scrum practices at DSHS.

“At the end of the day it felt like we really hit the mark in ALA, that you all got from it what you went into it to get from it,” said DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange. “Every time we get to work with someone we get to learn different perspectives that maybe we didn’t have before. You all were able to engage in this … People were fully engaged and you were also engaged in your regular jobs, which is no easy feat even outside of a pandemic.”

Applications for the next cohort are due by Friday, March 26. The 2021 Office of the Secretary Aspiring Leader Academy will start May 12 and is designed for any Office of the Secretary employee, regardless of title or position, who has a desire for an intensive leadership development opportunity. The only prerequisites are that an applicant must be a permanent employee and be able to commit time to attend all nine in-class or virtual monthly sessions and complete self-development and group assignments.

All Office of the Secretary employees should have received an email with detailed academy information, including how to apply, from Dana Phelps. If you are interested in learning more, please speak to your direct supervisor or contact Sheila Anderson, who facilitates the academy.

If you work in another DSHS administration and are interested in a similar opportunity, please check with your direct supervisor as most administrations have leadership academies as well.