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Press Release

Tuesday, June 14

Second AWBI Leadership Washington Graduates

Program to prepare the next generation of industry leaders and advocates accepting applications for 2016-17 class

SPOKANE — The Association of Washington Business Institute’s (AWBI) second class of Leadership Washington graduated at the association’s annual Spring Meeting June 14 in Spokane.

Leadership Washington is AWBI’s premiere program to cultivate and educate the next generation of Washington industry leaders graduated today. The ceremony was held at The Historic Davenport Hotel as part of the evening of events.

Each year’s class, sponsored by Battelle, kicks off at AWB’s annual fall Policy Summit at Suncadia Lodge in Cle Elum. Over the course of nine months, the 10 Leadership Washington members gathered at seven different locations across the state. At each session, participants were exposed to diverse industry sectors, including agriculture, export/import operations, energy, health care, high-tech, military and manufacturing.

"The popularity of this program is growing as more business owners and executives see the value in cultivating their next company leaders and industry advocates,” said AWBI Director Amy Anderson. “Giving these young professionals a first-hand look at the diverse industry sectors, how they work together to strengthen the state’s economy and how state policies impact them will give the next generation leaders a distinct edge."

The program began in 2014 as a way to buffer what many call the “silver tsunami,” or the flood of baby boomers now 65 and older who are heading toward retirement at an estimated 10,000 per day. The goal is to prepare the generation to fill that employment gap with the knowledge they need to be successful.

"We realized a couple years ago that there was an unmet need within businesses to assist with ensuring a smooth transition from the current leaders to the next generation,” said Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business. “Leadership Washington gives participants the tools to successfully take the helm of the business and steer it in the right direction and, more importantly, understand how their industry can work alongside others in the state to grow jobs and opportunity."

Members of Leadership Washington’s 2015-16 class are:

  • Karen Blasdel, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories
  • Emily Braunwart, Grant County Economic Development Council
  • Mark Brunner, Landau Associates, Inc.
  • Cara Coon, Umpqua Bank
  • Eric Johnston, SCJ Alliance
  • Daniel Kittle, Lane Powell
  • Michael Malott, State Farm Insurance
  • Sean Moore, State Farm Insurance
  • Austin Neilson, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Marie Thomas, Energy Northwest

High resolution photos of class members can be downloaded here.

The Institute is currently recruiting for the third class that will hold its first meeting at the AWB Policy Summit Sept. 13-15. For more information and how to apply to the program, contact Amy Anderson at 360.943.1600 or The deadline for applications is June 30.

About the Association of Washington Business
Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes nearly 8,000 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 92 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit

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