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Advancing Leaders in the Arts

Applications open on February 1, 2019.

Advancing Leaders in the Arts is an intensive cohort program that provides arts and culture professionals with the essential concepts of effective leadership; helps them define their individual leadership style and personal mission; and, helps them write their individual professional development plan.

We are inviting applications for the 2019 cohort, which can accommodate 16-20 individuals. Each participant will be required to commit to:

  • Five half-day active-learning sessions (9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.), held at 501 Commons' office in Seattle. Each session contains a mix of content, discussion, and practice.
  • Three 45 minute one-on-one coaching sessions (by phone or in person)

Advancing Leaders was developed by Dr. Mark Light of First Light Group, LLC. Dr. Light is a trusted leadership coach, who has held several executive roles in arts organizations.   For many years he was a popular faculty member who taught nonprofit professionals at DePaul University and Case Western Reserve University. He is also the author of three books.

How it works

Classroom sessions

Each participant will be required to attend, in person, five half-day active-learning sessions (9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.). The classroom dates are listed below. All sessions will be held at Pacific Tower, 1200 12th Avenue South, Seattle, WA. Lunch will be provided.

  1. Leading Self (Monday, April 8, 2019): Create a personal development plan including: strengths (informed by Gallup’s Clifton Strengths Finder profiles); vision, values and personal missions.
  2. Leading Now (Wednesday, April 10, 2019): Explore inclusive ways of leading increasingly diverse organizations and serve increasingly diverse communities.
  3. Leading Others (Friday, April 12, 2019): Use the human resource and political frames to gain pragmatic tools focused on employee engagement, talent management, and relationship building.
  4. Leading Work (Friday, May 10, 2019):  Consider the importance of allies and coalitions, and revisit the structural frame to explore and practice decision-making and problem solving, including cause and effect protocols, and operational planning for each participant’s chosen work project.
  5. Leading Change: (Tuesday, May 14, 2019): Introduce and deepen understanding of organization change, major leadership approaches, and ethical leadership and practice.

The classroom sessions will be an engaging mix of content, discussion, and practice. Woven throughout the sessions will be an emphasis on bringing greater diversity, equity and inclusion into today’s arts organizations, focusing on all groups of individuals that interface with the arts.

Individual coaching

To support learning and accountability, each participant will receive up to three 45-minute coaching sessions, either onsite or via telephone, upon mutual scheduling agreement between Dr. Light and the participant.

Read the 2019 Program Guide for complete details.


Advancing Leaders provides relevant and pragmatic leadership and management skills that participants can use immediately within their organizations, and as they move into positions of greater responsibility. The sessions are structured so that participants can practice these skills within a confidential cohort of peers. The individual coaching sessions further help participants understand and leverage their leadership skills. Finally, the program will provide a forum for arts leaders to discuss best practices in leading increasingly diverse organizations and engaging increasingly diverse audiences.

Eligibility and participation fees

The program is open to arts and culture professionals in King County who

  • Are currently employed part-time or full time with a nonprofit organization whose primary mission is in the areas of arts, culture, or design
  • Can commit to attending all five classroom sessions in person and three coaching sessions over the phone
  • Are committed to developing their leadership capacity with the support of coach and peers
  • Are in any stage of their career

While the application to the program can come from an individual or an organization, the intent is to encourage organizations to sponsor their employees in the program, providing full support for their engagement in the program and integrating the program results into their work. This will enable the program to contribute to building organizational as well as individual capacity.

There will be a short application and an interview process to determine eligibility and capacity to commit to the program.

Organizational BudgetFee
$150 – $299K $95
$300 – $499K $195
$500 – $1M $295
$1M – $1.5M $395
$1.5M – $3.5M $495
$3.5M – $5M $595


Applications open: February 1 – February 28, 2019
Interviews and notification: March 2019
Classroom Sessions: April 8, 10, 12 and May 10, 14, 2019, from 9:00 am. - 1:30 pm
Coaching: April 2019 – May 2019


Online applications for the Spring 2019 cohort will be available February 1, 2019. Contact Catherine Nueva Espana at or Kerry Kozuki at for questions.


This program is possible with the generous support of  4Culture and the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture.