The Washington Executive Leadership Academy (WELA) is an exemplary leadership program created by, and for, our community and technical college system. WELA is a one-year program designed to help current college exempt employees compete for, and succeed in, vice-president and president positions in Washington State. WELA assists participants in increasing their visibility and connections within the two-year college system while building their system knowledge and leadership capacity.
The Academy combines in-person experiences with on-line work, reading, and campus-based learning experiences. College leaders brief the WELA class on important system and institutional issues and procedures. The WELA class takes part in community and technical college system-wide conferences and meetings, as well as improves their resume writing, application strategies and interview skills through direct feedback on their current performance in these areas. Their background and readiness for a vice-president or presidential position will be assessed, and an individual plan developed to fill in gaps in skills and experience.
The Leadership Academy's in-person sessions take place five times during the year, beginning with an intensive one-week opener in July. Two-day sessions are scheduled each academic quarter. The closing four-day session is scheduled in early July, overlapping with the next year's group. Throughout the program participants engage in on-line learning, discussion groups, and carry out personalized projects.
Two mentors are assigned to each WELA participant. By working with mentors who are successful leaders within the Washington community and technical college system, WELA members get individualized insight into the day-to-day challenges of the position to which they aspire. They also gain practical skills which enhance their job performance in their current position.
Participants should expect to attend three Association conferences (scheduled in summer, fall, and winter, for an additional five days away from campus) and to devote an average of 1-2 hours per week to the program and between sessions. Additionally, participants are encouraged to attend at least one meeting of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. The Trustees Association provides a reduced-rate registration fee for their three annual conferences. The Fall Legislative Plenary Session and the Winter Legislative Contact Conference can be particularly instructive to WELA participants.