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T H E I N S I D E R   ◉ April 2019


Business Leadership Academy of Tacoma Wraps up 41st Year PROGR A M A IMS TO

AJ Gordon and Ajaipal Sekhon



he 41st annual Business Leadership Academy of Tacoma is wrapping up this month after a two-month-long schedule during which leaders, businesses, and individuals came together to network, learn, and develop leadership skills. Sponsored by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and Pacific Lutheran University, the program appears to be stronger than ever and offers a chance to connect with the regional business community. The academy’s leadership program kicked off in late January with a welcome session. In total, the program had 11 sessions through February and “The mentorship opportunity is great alum and director of growth and stratMarch, finishing up with a retreat. because I was able to sync up with my egy at SiteCrafting in Tacoma. “There Tom Pierson, president and CEO of mentee before the program to get an outwere about 35 of us in the 2006 class, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, plays a side connection, and throughout the proand 13 years later, I still see many of big role in the program itself — to ensure gram I am here as a resource, someone for them around — it’s amazing to see solid leadership in the Chamber and them to bounce ideas off of,” Gordon said. how all of us have grown. A few of the set up site visits during the program. Gordon’s mentee is Ajaipal Sekhon, a people I met during the program, I am “I’ve been passionate about leadership small business owner and dental profeshappy to call them my close friends.” programs and a part of them for 15 years sional at Defiance Den— eight years with the tal Studio. He said he academy — and I feel “I can say without reservation that I made a good decision; feels the program is exit is highly important citing, and he is eager to our community,” I’ve come in contact with some very inspiring local leaders to utilize the lessons Pierson said. “The as well as the individuals in my class who demonstrate learned in his business. program is a way for the desire to better themselves, and that has already “I can say without individuals to grow, reservation that I made connect, and learn produced a profound effect on my own growth.” a good decision; I’ve about what it takes come in contact with to become a leader.” some very inspiring local leaders as well This year, the Business Leadership Founded in 1978, the program as the individuals in my class who demonAcademy launched its mentorship prohas hundreds of alumni leaders, strate the desire to better themselves, gram, where leaders in the community many who still value the connecand that has already produced a profound work one-on-one with the volunteers. tions they made years prior. effect on my own growth,” Sekhon said. Each student is paired with a mentor, “It was such a unique experience, The program focuses on building bringing like-minded individuals together allowing for an extra support boost connections and helping individuals throughout the curriculum. Gordon for personal and business growth with understand the community and busialso remains part of the program on the the goal to have their passion enlighten nesses, while learning key traits to advisory committee and as a mentor. even further,” said AJ Gordon, program



becoming a leader. Throughout their time there, individuals had the opportunity to meet and listen to community leaders and their stories, take site visits, and learn leadership skills. Pacific Lutheran University professor Catherine Pratt has been an instructor and leader for the program for 10 years. “The university cares a lot about the program and community. We’ve been invested in the program for a long time, and we’ve been a part of the community for over 100 years,” Pratt said. “At the university, we care what happens here, and we want to develop leaders in our community.” Being an instructor in the Business Leadership Academy means Pratt focuses on organizing the leadership-development content, and leading discussions on how to develop as a leader. “We look at each individual and focus on helping them grow as a leader. We do some personal assessments and allow them to craft their own leader development plan,” Pratt said. Pratt said the program works well for those searching for specific resources to build their future because of its targeted curriculum. “I love the program because I learn from every group and see/hear what they care about and how they are emerging as leaders,” she said. With the South Sound business community thriving, and with Tacoma’s history and closeness, many feel the area is the perfect place to hold such a program. “South Sound is such a unique community, and it’s exciting seeing the people come together for a common purpose,” Pierson said, citing an example of a time when the community felt a local behavioral health hospital was needed. A partnership with CHI Franciscan and MultiCare was formed to breathe life into the potential hospital. “People come together for common purposes across all walks of life. It’s different than what we see in Seattle and King County,” Pierson said. On April 3, the program celebrated the success of its graduates with a luncheon, during which each of the 22 students and their mentors were recognized. “The program was transformative. I went from not knowing anything about Tacoma to knowing so much — the history, leaders, local businesses — and being able to share that with other individuals. The connections are amazing,” Gordon said.





TOGETHER Alissa Shay

Manager of Business Development

ashay@portgrays.org 360-482-1651 SOUTH SOUND BUSINESS


Profile for Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber

Business Leadership Academy 2019 SSB Article  

This is a South Sound Business Magazine article about the 2019 Business Leadership Academy.

Business Leadership Academy 2019 SSB Article  

This is a South Sound Business Magazine article about the 2019 Business Leadership Academy.