Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Leadership: Beyond the yellow brick road

Transforming the world of Oz was a team effort by Dorothy, the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow. What was their secret to success? How did they lead? Here at the University of Washington, we know that successful leadership begins with learning to lead and includes meaningful—and multiple—ways to practice and sharpen those skills.

The new Husky Leadership Initiative offers undergraduate students opportunities to discover who they are as leaders, grow their leadership abilities, and make a real difference in the world.

In fall, 2012, the Husky Leadership Initiative kicked off the year with the successful event, U Lead, We Lead. U Lead We Lead used the ancient art of storytelling to start a contemporary conversation on leadership with UW undergraduates and community leaders. The conversation continued throughout the school year with the Spring Training Leadership Conference, a leadership certificate program, informal fireside chats with local luminaries, and now—putting learning into practice—the first UW team leadership scholarship award.

Ackerly Foundation representatives and students

Diana Ackerley and Foundation Executive Director Kim Ackerley Cleworth join the first recipients of the Ackerley Learning to Lead Together scholarship. Students, from left, are Carter Case, Marina Kelsh, Angela Feng, and Max Sugarman.

The Ackerley Learning to Lead Together scholarship program supports undergraduates developing their leadership potential in collaboration with peers through innovative team projects that build strong communities. The first Ackerley Learning to Lead Together scholarship was awarded May 7 at the Spring Celebration of Service and Leadership to Max Sugarman, Angela Feng, Carter Case, and Marina Kelsh for their project, “Empowered Eco-Education: ¡Vamos a comer!” Their project will offer lessons around the topics of food, nutrition, and access to healthy food as an environmental issue. They aim to serve elementary school students and their parents and high school students within Seattle’s South Park community.

From left: Christopher Ackerley, Foundation Executive Director Kim Ackerley Cleworth, Ginger Ackerley, and Ted Ackerley

From left: Christopher Ackerley, Foundation Executive Director Kim Ackerley Cleworth, Ginger Ackerley, and Ted Ackerley

Generously funded by the Ackerley Family Foundation, this scholarship is a direct reflection of the family’s belief that leadership is honed through learning and experience. “Learning to lead and learning the meaning of leadership is a very basic part in all of our roles in life,” says Ginger Ackerley, who along with her late husband, Barry, established the Foundation. “Within the Foundation some of us have titles, some of us do not, however we all lead; we have to in order to complete our mission. I would hope the recipients of the Ackerley Learning to Lead Together scholarship would join us in an effort to be a positive influence in our world.”

Team Dorothy reached their goal by recognizing the skills each team member brought to the job at hand. The Learning to Lead Together scholarship program enables UW team members to learn to lead collaboratively and experience the ways they complement each other to accomplish a greater goal.

“Leadership is more than a position of authority,” says Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. “It is a set of practices and behaviors incorporating teamwork, respect, responsibility, and civic engagement.”