The Leadership Institute of South Puget Sound spent Wednesday as guests of Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn (47th District), for an inside look at state government.
The Leadership Institute, administered by the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce, educates adult civic and business professionals on regional policy issues, leadership development and networking opportunities.
"My goal was to provide an inside view of state government to many of the current and future leaders in my community," said Fain, an Auburn resident who represents much of the city in the Washington State Senate. "Democracy is a two-way street and citizenship comes with responsibility. The responsibility to learn about your government, and the right to question your leaders.
"Seeing the seat of government and meeting with those who are responsible for making policy in our state will give these leadership candidates a perspective that supplements what is learned in the classroom," Fain said. "My hope is that they were able to take away an in-depth understanding of state government and use that knowledge to influence decision makers."
Students attended interactive sessions with guest speakers including: State Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson; State Auditor Brian Sonntag; Secretary of State Sam Reed; Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn; Department of Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant; Washington State Patrol Chief John Baptiste; Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington; and public affairs consultant Carolyn Logue.
"A major theme from the speakers was about their leadership skills and how they go about getting the job done. They all embraced the idea that a leader doesn't let things happen, they make things happen," said Ginger Passarelli-Senecal of Black Diamond, a small-business owner, attending the event.
Nancy Wyatt, COO and president of the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce, thought the day was a major success.
"One of the key elements that students have been hearing today is partnerships and how they need to be able to communicate together," Wyatt said. "The biggest takeaway today is that they don't need to be afraid to come down to Olympia and talk to their elected officials to learn about how they can be involved."