Alumni On The Move - October 2019

Joe Darza

Puget Sound Leadership Discovery, Class of 2014

EDI: Hey Joe! CONGRATULATIONS on your new job AND your recent move across the country. Tell us more about it.

Joe:  I recently took a new role within my current company as an Enterprise Account Manager with BlackLine, where we sell Month-End Close Automation software. In my new role, I manage our Fortune 500 companies located in the New York area which necessitated the move to be closer to them.

EDI: How did this opportunity present itself?

Joe:  I restarted my career at BlackLine and took an entry-level role in the business development team in 2017 in order to break through into sales. One thing I learned at EDI was that your career is never a straight line, and when I saw opportunities, I took them (e.g. Being onsite with clients and experienced executives, cold calling CFOs to set up business meetings, etc..). I went to every company networking event I could and introduced myself to every single C-Suite at the company.

The natural progression of someone in business development would be to work in Inside Sales, but when this role opened (typically reserved for someone 10+ years of sales experience) my mentors advocated to senior leadership to look at me for the position.  

EDI: From the short amount of time since going through the EDI program in 2014, you’ve moved around (geographically) quite a bit. What were the driving forces that led you to these opportunities?

Joe:  When I graduated from EDI in 2014 – My biggest takeaway was to take control of my career. Having spent about 7 years of my career in Finance and Accounting roles, I came to the realization that I wanted to work in sales. My opportunity to pivot came when a chance happy hour with a friend who worked at BlackLine, a FinTech Company.

The driving force for me was realizing that in order to drive significant change in my career trajectory I had to do things that felt uncomfortable and reorient my thought process. These moves have really helped me continue to grow and think as a professional.

EDI: You’ve stayed engaged in the Seattle community (even though you moved to Cali a couple of years ago) and we noticed that you came back to Seattle and helped out with supporting Summer Search. Why is that important to you?

Joe: Organizations like EDI and Summer Search mean a lot to me because they have shaped the way I think about things personally and professionally. They’ve opened up doors that I might not have seen for myself, and I want others from my community, whether that’s ethnic, socio-economic, etc… to be afforded the same opportunities.

EDI: Is there anything from your EDI learnings that you’ve been applying to your new job?

Joe: Something I find myself quoting a lot to my colleagues is Vanna’s Speak to Persuade™ class. Vanna’s main message was that every SINGLE conversation, no matter how small, should be a persuasive one. In sales, a lot of people think of making a sale as this singular event. In reality, it’s the culmination of many discussions with various stakeholders that lead you to the sale. When the time comes to ask for the order, 95% of the work should already be done. I think about this even in simple emails back and forth with clients.

EDI: If you could give one piece of advice to the 2019 EDI class what would it be?  

Joe: Take chances and take control of your career. It really is about defining your brand and deciding where you want to go which just so happens to be two of the classes in the discovery program. In the end, if you make a mistake you can always pivot. But, if you don’t decide, and just allow events to guide your career, you’ll find that others are more than happy to define your trajectory for you.  

EDI: Thank you, Joe! We love seeing your adventures in Cali and can’t wait to see what you end up doing in New York!

Joe: Thanks! I enjoy seeing what all the alums are up to and going to events like Inclusion Fusion always reminds me why I continue to be involved.


We are proud of our alums and the impact they are making around the world. Each month we feature an alum that we have heard is making waves in their company or in their communities on our Alumni On The Move series. If you’re an alum or know one that is really making a positive impact for those around them let us know! We feature anything from alums starting their own companies or side hustles, receiving a promotion, taking a risk and trying a new industry or organization within their own company, joining non-profit committees and Boards, or winning awards! Contact us at to be featured!!

Alumni On The Move - September 2019

Mae Numata

Puget Sound, Class of 1994

EDI: Hi Mae! CONGRATULATIONS on being honored as a Director of the Year from the Puget Sound Business Journal! That’s huge!

Mae:  Thank you very much!  I have been fortunate to have many wonderful mentors and coaches in my life – including many associated with EDI.  I am quite humbled.

EDI: How did you first get involved with serving on Boards?  

Mae:  My first involvement on boards was in the nonprofit world in 1986 when my then banking CEO asked that I take his place on the Ryther Child Center board.  That is where I found my love for community service and it simply grew from there through my involvement in many other nonprofit boards and their capital/endowment campaigns.  I firmly believe my involvement with nonprofit boards provided me with a great baseline of board education and leadership experience that prepared me for the for-profit board world.  There are definite differences between the two, but the governance issues, growing shareholder/organizational value and board dynamics can be similar.

EDI: What would you recommend to EDI alums about how they can start getting involved? And what’s in it for them to serve on Boards?

Mae: I am frequently asked: how do I join a corporate board?  My initial return responses are: what nonprofits are you involved in and what leadership positions on those boards have you had?  I recommend getting one’s feet wet first by joining a nonprofit board whose mission he/she is passionate about.  It is important to learn about governance, strategic planning and demonstrating collaboration and leadership.  Nonprofit boards are also comprised of diverse professionals, so it is a great opportunity to expand one’s network and learn from others’ perspectives.

EDI: Why is it important to you to serve on Boards?

Mae:  I have always loved sitting on nonprofit boards as I wanted to give back to my community.  It also provided me with a safe haven to experience chairing various committees and collaborating with a diversity of professionals and personalities for an organizational mission I was and am passionate about.  I now thoroughly enjoy sitting on corporate boards, but again, they are ones that I firmly believe in their “mission” and strategic direction.  For example, I am a former banker with over 20 years of experience in the industry.  Having grown up in banking, I felt I had come home when I joined the Columbia Bank board.  When I joined the Oberto Brands board, I wanted to support a family-owned company whose products were part of my childhood and always in my golf bag! 

EDI: Why do you think it’s important to have diversity on Boards?  

Mae: Diversity brings better performance to a company/organization as it adds different perspectives and voices to be shared and heard at a strategic level.  I believe that companies/organizations truly want their personnel to reflect the communities and customers they serve in order to be more effective and successful.  It is therefore incumbent on boards to do the same.

EDI: You were a part of the first EDI cohort in 1994. You’ve served as a volunteer (program chair) and then on the EDI Board. You recommended your daughter-in-law, Ashlyn, to go through EDI’s Leadership Discovery program in 2018. What is it about EDI that keeps you involved and engaged over the years?

Mae: Back in 1994, I was a SVP with KeyBank of Washington and had just moved away from the Finance area into Corporate Development – a newly created position reporting to the then CEO, Debbie Bevier.  Debbie encouraged me and supported me in my executive leadership development as she saw something in me that I did not know myself.  She was my ultimate female executive role model and it was also through her support that I chaired the program for three years – so in essence I went through the EDI program for four years!  I attribute my leadership accomplishments to Debbie, subsequent (and many) other mentors, and EDI.  Having gained so much, it only made sense that I give back and remain involved with EDI in its growth and strategic direction as a board member.  I am very proud that Ashlyn went through the program and I hope Boeing will support her in also participating in Leadership Navigation in the future.  I continue to encourage my son, Jerry and my daughter, Kristen to attend EDI, along with my nephews.  Hopefully soon!

EDI: If you could give one piece of advice to the 2019 EDI class what would it be?  

Mae:  Be passionate about what you do – whether it is in your personal life, in business and/or in community service.  Life is short -- so make certain you truly enjoy what you are involved in!

EDI: Thank you Mae, for all that you do for not just EDI but all of the communities that you serve! Feel free to give a shout out and moment of recognition to any/all of the organizations that you’re currently supporting.

Mae: I am privileged and grateful to sit on three corporate boards: Columbia Bank, OSCCorp Inc. (the successor board to Oberto Brands after its asset sale last year), and GeoEngineers, and also two nonprofit boards: EDI and Girl Scouts of Western Washington.  This would not have happened without the guidance and support of many individuals over the years, but more importantly, I am very thankful to my family:  my husband Larry of 34 years, my son Jerry and his wife Ashlyn who is a 2018 EDI graduate, and my daughter Kristen.  I want to continue to make them proud.

Finding Meaning in Work

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Employees crave meaningful work and a sense of purpose. Studer (2018) suggested that individuals place greater importance on the meaning of work than they do on workplace happiness or making a high salary. He also found that the lack of meaning in one’s career contributes to high employee turnover.

Realization and Justification Perspectives

In today’s business environment, leaders in the workplace provide employees some level of autonomy, control, and a place to utilize their skills. However, some employees are still finding the meaning in the work they do elusive (Ge Lepisto & Pratt, 2017). Maybe what is required is a new lens to look at how leaders and employees can control this outcome of meaningful work.

Let’s do this by looking at meaningful work using two perspectives. The first is the ‘realization perspective’ and the second is the ‘justification perspective.’ Each provide a unique perspective depending on which lens meaning of work is viewed.

Realization Perspective. The ‘realization perspective’ is fairly well developed and concentrates on how an employee perceives if they are being used for purposes other than what they value as important. The leader influences these perspectives. In the leader-follower model, an employee’s perceived value depends on the relationship between the employee and the leader. Though relationships are integral to trust, one way the leader could enrich the employee’s perspective is by providing intrinsic motivation and removing leadership constraints such as prescription, domination, inauthenticity, and limited autonomy.

Justification Perspective. The justification perspective is less developed, though the idea is aligned with uncertainty, ambiguity, and the value the individual places on self-efficacy and personal performance. Employee work experiences are subjective and are viewed through the employee’s norms, values, and perceptions of self-worth (Ge Lepisto & Pratt, 2017). Stated another way, through self-efficacy, employees will question the work they are doing and question whether or not the work they are doing has value. They will also question the reason for them doing the work, and if they cannot align the work they are doing with their values, the result can cause an insecure feeling.


The realization perspective is how well a leader communicates the value of work to employees through motivation and also through the removal of leadership constraints. The justification perspective is how well the employee understands self-efficacy. Employees with a high self-efficacy are intrinsically guided by personal values, and these individuals will battle potential constraining, impoverished working conditions. Without this intrinsically guided moral compass, employees may be destined to work that has no meaning.

Have you heard about EDI’s partnership with CityUniversity of Seattle? EDI alums are able to challenge 12 credits towards a Master's in Leadership at CityU and receive a 15% discount on tuition! ** for more information contact enrollment advisor, Melissa Myers at or call her at 253.896.3215**


Studer, Q. (2018, Aug 05). Leaders help employees find meaning, purpose in their work. Pensacola News Journal.

Lepisto, D. A., & Pratt, M. G. (2017). Meaningful work as realization and justification: Toward a dual conceptualization. Organizational Psychology Review, 7(2), 99–121.

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Blog post written by: Dr. Gregory Price is the Associate Dean in the School of Applied Leadership at City University of Seattle. Leadership studies support an individual’s independence and self-efficacy. Challenge courses you have taken in leadership and apply them to the Master of Science in Management and Leadership. Printed with permission from the CityU School of Applied Leadership blog.



CityU - Steps to Success in Public Speaking & Being Persuasive

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There have been episodes in my life where I have been asked to speak in front of an audience. Although I don’t consider public speaking a favorite activity, I do tend to enjoy it, and the enjoyment factors are even better once I have had a chance to prepare for and reflect on the experience.

“Speaking to an audience can be fun. Some may not enjoy it, but it can be learned.”

Over the years, I learned that communication, patience, and emotional intelligence were important aspects in building a successful career. Persuasion, a communication trait, is the art of influencing others but there are differences between persuasion and influence. Persuading someone is more than having the ‘gift of gab.’ In my experience, when I am looking to influence another, I have to believe in what I am sharing. By being honest with myself tends to create trust with others. Trust building, to me, is central to my ethical and moral compass. 

Having held leadership positions in different parts of my career, it wasn’t until I earned my MBA in Marketing where I came to appreciate three approaches to communication. With the benefit of hindsight, it is these three approaches which helped drive my success. Knowing which form to use often depends on the audience you are trying to reach. Here’s a brief synopsis:

  • Inform: consider tactics marketers use to compare two products, like Coke and Pepsi.

  • Remind: think Coke Cola commercials that show people having fun. Do you need to be persuaded or informed? No. These commercials are reminders to drink Coke.

  • Persuade: marketers will use language that promise happiness, create anxiety, or limit availability. Which works on you?

Influence is an action designed to change people’s perception on how they may view you or a product/service. For any of these opportunities, consider the words you speak in conversations or the images you show in presentations. To change people’s perceptions, we can draw on four approaches which generate action:

  1. Get attention. Present information quickly that strikes at the heart of those in your audience. The emotion used in the story will keep a person’s attention. Do this by asking a thought question, point out a statistic and discuss the reason for it, etc.

  2. Positive perception. Perceptions are closely related with judgement, a derivative of emotions. Consider evoking a positive emotion through your tone, the words you choose, or through an image you show, such as a graphic showing an increase in revenue. Then, tie the tone to the image.

  3. Content sharing. Be deliberate in your communication. Inspire others through storytelling. Profiling people who have accomplished extraordinary feats work well. Bottom line: Emotional stories get shared.

  4. Trigger words and actions. Emotions underline decision-making, and those emotions come from experiences. Thus, persuasion comes easily when communication evokes emotions from experiences people can easily understand and associate.

Now that we have established that persuasion is best delivered through engaging an audience’s emotional response, the question becomes which of these appeal to a given audience? The answer: It depends. Consider for instance:

  • Aww…. The emotional response you get when you see a cute little puppy. The puppy evokes the ‘awe’, but putting people in the story can create a desired emotional response.

  • Resentment over injustice. You’ve seen how emotions about saving this or that can hit a nerve or trigger an action. Natural disasters prompt responses of this kind.

  • Surprise. Showing or expressing happiness can be a very powerful narrative. Working hard on a project and gaining praise for a job well done can evoke powerful human emotions of happiness.

  • Fear/Anxiety. People tend to want to be clean. So when you tell stories about how poor reactions occur to things such as bad breath, dirty hair or clothes, an unkempt yard, etc. you tend to see the images these evoke in an emotional way.

  • Self. People like to feel important. Encourage this action through your words, images, and stories.

To be persuasive means to establish common ground with your audience, bring them into your world by shaping the story you are sharing. Storytelling is a great way to bring this journey alive in a public speaking engagement. Informing the audience with visual images and auditory key words builds trust and drives the experience for your audience through connecting with their affect. When you speak, be yourself. If you’re presenting, be different. Done together, combine the two communicative methods.

Have you heard about EDI’s partnership with CityUniversity of Seattle? EDI alums are able to challenge 12 credits towards a Master's in Leadership at CityU and receive a 15% discount on tuition! ** for more information contact enrollment advisor, Melissa Myers at or call her at 253.896.3215**

Greg Price.jpg

Dr. Gregory Price is the Associate Dean in the School of Applied Leadership at City University of Seattle. Degrees in M.Ed in Instructional Design, M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, MS in Management and Leadership, and Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership.

CityU - Steps to Success - Corporate Entrepreneurial Leadership


Corporate Entrepreneurial Leadership

By Dr. Gregory Price


Got an idea for a new business, product, or service within your organization, but feel nobody is listening? Organizational leaders who are not seeing growth in their core business risk losing momentum and market share in their business. They may also observe lowered employee morale and possibly witness a brain drain. When this happens, it can be difficult to recapture a sustainable presence.  Corporate entrepreneurship can be an answer to this slide.

What is Corporate Entrepreneurial Leadership?

Corporate entrepreneurship is defined as individuals and/or teams within an established company that can leverage its assets and resources to build a new product, service, or new business that can stand alone and contribute to the organization’s market position, revenue stream, and organizational mix.  Several organizations have used different models to gain the most from the investment in their employees.  Google is probably the most talked about organization that has moved down this path. They give employees 15% of their workweek to focus on innovation such as new product development, services, brand development, and the like.

Researchers have identified four different models in use today, they are: The Opportunist Model, the Enabler Model, the Advocate Model, and the Producer Model.  Each model has specific qualities, depending on the organization’s purpose and goal.   Organizations that adopt any one of these models can position themselves as a more competitive player in their industry.

The Opportunist Model – Often individuals will get their organizations started on corporate entrepreneurship through this model.  Organizations that may find this model useful may not have any corporate entrepreneurship model in existence.  What is more, the leaders of the organization may not even be aware that they need to create one.  Yet, employees and their entrepreneurial tenacity, against all odds, may develop something and present it to leadership. The Opportunist Model is born.

The Enabler Model – The model is driven by the organization.  A process within the organization is set up allowing employees to develop new concepts should they be willing to do so and are given adequate support.  The opportunities that employees are allowed to develop must fit within the strategic direction of the organization. And, in the end, the employees will claim no stake in the outcome. The Google model discussed previously follows this path.

The Advocate Model – The model fits within the organizational structure where leaders have created a culture of innovation.  In this scenario, innovation is a staple of the organization.  The model allows for budgets and organizational structure is assigned as businesses are created. For employees, the model has depth where the organization provides support and assistance to the extent that employees can go on retreats.  The retreats are 180-day contracts where business plans are built and leadership teams review the proposals.

The Producer Model – The model exists in mostly larger corporations where funding is a function of the model.  The objective is to encourage employees to develop and innovate. One aspect of this model is to encourage cross departmental collaboration, build disruptive businesses, and create careers outside of current business units.  Internally, the organization has gone so far as to develop an Accelerator Program to support those entrepreneurially inclined.

Have you heard about EDI’s partnership with CityUniversity of Seattle? EDI alums are able to challenge 12 credits towards a Master's in Leadership at CityU and receive a 15% discount on tuition! ** for more information contact enrollment advisor, Melissa Myers at or call her at 253.896.3215**


Dr. Gregory Price

Dr. Gregory Price is the Associate Dean in the School of Applied Leadership at City University of Seattle.


Alumni On The Move - July 2019

Carmen Marttila

Puget Sound Leadership Discovery, Class of 2013

EDI: Hi Carmen! We heard about your recent career change and would love to learn more about it. Help tell our readers, what’s the recent change that happened?  

Carmen: Recently I decided to take a leap of faith and make a complete career change. After being in the banking industry for over 15 years, I accepted a position with Junior Achievement (JA) of Washington as Regional Director for their Northern Region.

EDI: How did this opportunity present itself?

Carmen: I have been a JA volunteer for many years, in addition about 4 years back I joined their Regional Board and become their Board Chair in 2017. Right about this time JA went through some Executive level leadership changes and the new JA WA State President and CEO, Natalie Vega O’Neil approached me with the opportunity to join her leadership team.

EDI: What made you decide to change from the banking industry to non-profit?

Carmen: After much thought and consideration, I decided to accept because I am at a point in my life where it has become more and more important for me to give back in more significant ways. After volunteering with a number of nonprofits, teaching financial literacy to at-risk youth and low income adults, I realized the importance of reaching individuals earlier and in my opinion, no organization does that better than Junior Achievement. With their pillars of success – Financial Education, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Readiness JA teaches K-12th grade kids the skills needed to own the economic and financial success in a global economy.

EDI: Did you face any challenges along the way? If so what?

Carmen: Many factors made this transition a challenge. Number one being the fact that I had never worked for a nonprofit organization.  

EDI: How did you overcome those challenges?

Carmen: I tapped into a lot of what I learned going through EDI- I put my Behavior Styles learning to work as I needed to understand and adapt to my new team’s diverse learning styles to be the effective communicator and leader JA hired me to be. Banding and Networking has been critical to my transition and success as I am responsible for raising the funds needed to bring JA programs to my region’s schools and youth. Speak to Persuade has been critical to my focus on bringing in new donors and supporters.   

Carmen (center) at the JA Bowling Classic fundraising event

EDI: How are you able to apply your experience from KeyBank to JA?

Carmen: I would say that my results driven mentality, my ability to adapt to change and I must thank KeyBank for giving me opportunity in 2013 to participate in EDI’s Leadership Discovery. This most of all has given me the tools to be a successful leader at KeyBank and now Junior Achievement.  

EDI: What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?

Carmen: I hope to continue to be successful in bringing awareness to the community of the value of teaching the JA curriculum at our schools to empower our youth to become the entrepreneurs and leaders we know they can be, while engaging the business community to give their financial support to a nonprofit invested in the youth that will become the workforce of the future.

EDI: If you could give one piece of advice to the 2019 EDI class what would it be?  

Carmen: Keep looking forward, learn from your mistakes and use that knowledge to propel you to becoming the leader you know in your heart is waiting to take flight.

EDI: Thank you so much for your time today, Carmen! We miss seeing you at our EDI Board Meetings!

Alumni On The Move - June 2019

Cecille & Florexis Velasco

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2012 & 2011

You’re known at EDI as the family that’s gone through the program (with both of you going through the Leadership Navigation Program & your brother Barney Herrera a graduate as well). What was it that appealed to you to go through the EDI program?

Florexis: I was looking for a leadership program tailored towards minority leaders and also saw the track record of some of the alumni.

Cecille: I noticed positive changes in Florexis' career and he was always talking about how he was applying the training in his career and personal relationships.  The training really helped him elevate his leadership and interpersonal skills.

What was it about EDI that made you think to recommend it to your brother, Barney?

Florexis: I conveyed how much the program helped me in my career and in my business ventures and how it helped me to fine tune and develop my leadership skills further. 

Cecille:  It was easy for me to recommend to Barney because the training helped me so much in having more self awareness and having awareness with others I work with in and outside of Boeing, both professionally and personally.  Plus, the people I've connected with in the program are amazing!  We still meet up every year and are known to be 'the best' class in EDI history (that was self proclaimed lol).

You’ve recently opened a gym! What made you decide to open your own gym?:

Florexis: Both of my Grandfathers were farmers and supported their families by having their own businesses, so I've always had the entrepreneur spirit.  The Anytime Fitness Franchise just made sense for us to dive into because of our passion towards fitness and since turning pro as a competitive bodybuilder and physique competitor.  I've been coaching many clients on nutrition and competition prep and I love helping people reach their health and fitness goals! 

Cecille:   I love doing group fitness and training in large groups to keep me motivated and to make connections with other fitness minded individuals.  Florexis and I researched several businesses and franchises to start and the Anytime Fitness business model made the most sense because we both love to work out and commit to a healthy overall lifestyle which includes training, flexible nutrition (we are both foodies) and sharing this passion with others.

What steps did you take (or goals did you set) to make this happen?:

Florexis: I did a lot of networking and connecting with other Anytime Fitness owners and other gym owners as well to get their feedback on the business model, understanding what it takes to start up, operate and sustain a gym business.  I did a lot of studies on the track record of the company and franchises, demographics, competition, pricing, and development plans of the cities we wanted to purchase our franchise territories in. 

Cecille: I'm very numbers oriented so I did a lot research on the Anytime Fitness' overall past performance and the how the average franchises have performed nationwide and worldwide.  I researched the revenue, expenses and profit averages to help us create our pro forma statements and to help fine tune our business plan and year to year projections.  After more due diligence the numbers and averages just made a lot of sense and we decided to move forward.

How were you able to apply your prior work experience at Boeing to going the entrepreneurial route?

Florexis: I am able to apply a lot of my experience from Boeing into our gym business.  Project management and financial management are key elements, but most importantly being able organize and prioritize what seemed to be an endless list of action items has helped to ensure we have a plan and keep things progressing.  Conflict management and problem resolution has also helped in dealing with overwhelming tasks and difficult people.

Cecille: I am able to apply my customer service and customer management skills into our gym business, especially now so as we are enrolling members and setting up personal training programs.  I also deal with a lot vendors at Boeing and I am able to apply these skills when working with our Anytime Fitness vendors.  We have several vendors we have to work with concurrently and my Boeing experience really comes in handy to stay organized

Have you faced any challenges along the way? If so, what?:

Florexis: This whole business has been a major challenge since it's been our first time setting up a franchise and there are so many steps in opening up a gym.  

Cecille: Not knowing what to expect has been very challenging and there have been many unforeseen events along the way.

How did you overcome those challenges?:

Florexis: Staying organized and knowing who to reach out to for guidance and help has really helped overcome the challenges we've faced.  The franchise has a great support system and I constantly reach to those that have already done this successfully and that have opened up several gyms. 

Cecille: We have franchise business consultant that has helped us overcome challenges but not being afraid of asking the right people for assistance also has helped overcome these challenges.  Leveraging our network and contacts has helped us deal with specific challenges and we continue to build on these relationships knowing that we will need their additional guidance.

What do you hope to accomplish on your new journey?:

Florexis: I hope to launch and operate our first gym and be able to scale all the experience and learnings into our next few gyms.  We want to build an awesome fitness community in our Lynnwood gym and help as many people as we can along their health and fitness journey! 

Cecille: I want to help women and moms find a community in our Lynnwood gym and have a place where they can connect and have fun while training.  Too often I feel like women in general are always putting others first and I want to help them make their physical and mental health a priority, so they can continue to give to others.  We're also aiming to set an example to our 3 kids to live a healthy lifestyle while also building a business you're passionate about...while helping others!  But what I'm most looking forward to is getting my parents in the gym.  With the right support and guidance, I'm ready to see my Dad running around the soccer field with all the grandkids!

Is there anything from your EDI learnings that you’re applying to your current position? (if no, that’s fine!)

Florexis: Emotional intelligence is very critical and being able to adapt to situations that are high pressure and dealing with a diverse set of people.  I am able to be self aware and approach situations with the right leadership style and continue to make progress. 

Cecille:  The skill to adapt in difficult situations and being able to deal with customers is where I apply a lot of my EDI learnings.  We are in the service and people business and having the emotional intelligence and having self awareness and awareness of others styles really helps.

If you could give one piece of advice for the 2019 EDI class what would it be?:

Florexis: Go after your passion and make a career from something you love to do and apply your EDI learnings! 

Cecille: Take a chance on yourself but continue to seek advice and guidance from those that have already accomplished what you are aiming to do.

If you’re interested in more information or applying for a membership to Florexis & Cecille’s gym, we’ve linked to their membership page in the button below.

CityU - Steps to Success - Leadership & the Importance of Saying Thanks


Leadership and the Importance of Saying Thanks

By Dr. Joel Domingo

Of the many descriptors that people associate with good leaders—proficient, charismatic, intelligent, compassionate, etc. there is one that people rarely use—thankful. When was the last time you thought of a leader who demonstrated or even led with thankfulness.

Thankfulness, which can be thought of as actions and gratitude, which is associated with attitudes are both generally understood within a context of good behavior and polite social norms. However, when put into the perspective of being an effective leader, they are powerful concepts.

Researchers of leadership have long explored the qualities of a “virtuous” or “real” leader. One approach, known as “authentic leadership” starts with questions of how can leaders be more genuine and lead from a place of conviction. A question commonly explored in this approach is, “How can leaders lead from a place that demonstrates their commitment and service to their people?”

These ideas highlight the need for leaders to be purposeful, relational, and centered on the belief of the talents and skills of others. When leaders demonstrate a belief in people, positive effects occur including employees that are more engaged and creative (Chaudhary & Panda, 2018), and are motivated to go beyond to help others (Cottrill, Lopez, & Hoffman, 2014). Central to this belief in people is developing and demonstrating thankfulness and gratitude for those in the organization.

Gratitude can be motivating, inspiring, and even empowering to others. Consider when you were personally thanked by a leader or someone you looked up to. What did that word of thanks and encouragement do for you? Did it transform or encourage you?

The way leaders demonstrate gratitude is not about simple gestures and platitudes but requires a level of intentionality (and creativity) that when practiced, can expand a leader’s ability to influence others and bring out the best in them. Leading with intentionality is something that leadership authors Kouzes and Posner (2017) call “Encouraging the Heart.” In their book, The Leadership Challenge, they outline several principles to consider when encouraging others. Each tie into gratitude. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Expect the Best. Setting high expectations for people is a good thing, so believe that people will rise to those expectations.

  • Pay Attention. Notice the little things that people do and when you mentioned that you appreciate them for the little things, watch how motivating that is!

  • Personalize Recognition. Get to know people’s likes and dislikes. People appreciate it when you take the time to know them personally and whether they like public or private recognition.

Leadership at its heart is about people and relationship. As leaders, the simple act of thanking others is something that cannot be overlooked and can be one of life’s most powerful motivators. Albert Schweitzer once said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.”


Have you heard about EDI’s partnership with CityUniversity of Seattle? EDI alums are able to challenge 12 credits towards a Master's in Leadership at CityU and receive a 15% discount on tuition! ** for more information contact enrollment advisor, Melissa Myers at or call her at 253.896.3215**

Dr. Joel Domingo

Dr. Joel Domingo is Associate Professor in the School of Applied Leadership at City University of Seattle and leads the Doctor of Education in Leadership program.



Chaudhary, R., & Panda, C. (2018). Authentic leadership and creativity. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 67(9), 2071-2088. doi:10.1108/IJPPM-02-2018-0082

Cottrill, K., Lopez, P. D., & Hoffman, C. C. (2014). How authentic leadership and inclusion benefit organizations. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 33(3), 275-292. doi: 10.1108/EDI-05-2012-0041

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations. Retrieved from


Alumni On The Move - May 2019

Jeff Racicot

Portland Leadership Discovery, Class of 2016

EDI: Hey Jeff! We heard about your recent promotion into management. CONGRATULATIONS! We would love to learn more about it. Help tell our readers, about the recent promotion.

Jeff:  As of December 2018, I began my leadership position as the manager of metering services at BPA.  This is a great opportunity to use my newly established tools recently acquired through the EDI program.  This opportunity requires the ability to provide good customer service, along with using technical skills to solve complex problems.  I’m excited!

EDI: How did this opportunity present itself?

Jeff:  I put my name in the hat when the position became available.  One thing EDI helped me with is to “put myself in the pipeline” and continue looking for opportunities to improve.  After leadership training and taking on increasingly challenging projects/roles, this was a chance to put myself out there and it worked out nicely.

EDI: Where there any intentional steps that you took to prepare yourself for a management role? If so, what where they?

Jeff:  Constantly finding opportunities to lead projects, give presentations, or take leadership training were all intentional steps that have prepared me to move forward.  In addition, while in EDI I sought the guidance of a mentor.  All of these steps helped propel me forward and gain the confidence needed to move into leadership.

EDI: Now as a manager, have there been any challenges that you’ve faced? If so, what?

Jeff:  Being a first time manager is a huge paradigm shift.  All of a sudden, you are noticed at every step.  What you say matters more.  How you act leaves stronger impressions.  These are all challenges, but I also find them as opportunities to continue using leadership skills and self-awareness to lead effectively.

EDI: How do you overcome those challenges?  

Jeff:  I like to treat challenges as opportunities.  As taught in EDI, you have to lean in.  Lean in to the hard talks, the difficult conversations, the conflicts, etc.  These all are opportunities to leave a positive outcome.

EDI: What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?

Jeff:  In my new role, I hope to make a positive difference with my staff, the organization, the agency and ultimately the Pacific Northwest.  As a manager in a large Power Marketing Agency that serves the Pacific Northwest, I hope to use all of my leadership potential to make a positive difference.

EDI: Is there anything from your EDI learnings that you’re applying to your current position or during the transition? (if no, that’s fine!)

Jeff:  Understanding behavioral styles has been a nice tool to have.  Behavioral Styles were taught in EDI, and I have embraced the fact that my personality and behavior are two different things.  You can adjust your behavior to adapt to other behavioral styles, and this has been helpful.

EDI: You balance a lot having been promoted to management, being a family man with a wife and three kids, volunteering for EDI as a program chair this year and last year…how do you ensure you have work/life balance?

Jeff:  I make it a priority to make sure I’m focusing on the right things in life.  It’s like brushing your teeth – as soon as you make all the important things in your life a priority, it becomes easier because you now know where you put your energy.  Being an EDI program chair is great by the way.

EDI: If you could give one piece of advice to the 2019 EDI class what would it be?  

Jeff:  Enjoy the ride!  Leadership and growth is a never-ending journey.  Embrace the journey and always keep learning.

EDI: Thanks so much for your time, Jeff! Congratulations again on your promotion and we can’t wait to hear more from you as your journey unfolds!

Jeff:  Thank you!


We are proud of our alums and the impact they are making around the world. Each month we feature an alum that we have heard is making waves in their company or in their communities on our Alumni On The Move series. If you’re an alum or know one that is really making a positive impact for those around them let us know! We feature anything from alums starting their own companies or side hustles, receiving a promotion, taking a risk and trying a new industry or organization within their own company, joining non-profit committees and Boards, or winning awards! Contact us at

CityU - Steps to Success in Team-building


Collaborating Across Departments

By Dr. Jan Lüdert

In order to thrive, organizations and institutions need to ensure that its various departments work together towards achieving greater goals. Leading across an organization to enhance interdepartmental collaboration is key to improve interpersonal communication and enhance innovation. In fact, effective interdepartmental collaborations are the hallmark of both cross-functional as well as organizational success.

Interpersonal and Interdepartmental Communication

To a large extent, skillful communication is the language of leadership. Most of us can recall an instance of effective and less productive interdepartmental collaboration and can appreciate how interpersonal communication often lies at the heart of success or failure. To be successful in leading collaborations across departments, two intersecting areas of communication are essential:

  • Interpersonal or face-to-face communication – the process by which individuals exchange information, feelings, and meaning through verbal and non-verbal messages.

  • Interdepartmental communication – the formal pathways by which an organization and its leaders facilitates interpersonal communication on specific tasks and projects.

To enhance interpersonal communication requires leaders gain insights into different ways and preferences of how people communicate and what motivates them. To improve interdepartmental communication, consider the concept of “an organization without boundaries” and the so-called “workout process” as discussed in the Harvard Business Review. Particularly helpful is the insight that leaders tend to spend too much time and effort figuring out what interdepartmental processes are at play instead of bringing people together to realize cross-functional exchange. The workout process can be helpful to bring teams together at various junctures to address interdepartmental needs. Through this process, teams realize and appreciate other department’s perspective and gain interdepartmental insights they need to thrive in pursuit of common objectives and goals.

As Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, once wrote, “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” Certainly, and as outlined in this short post, effective collaboration across departments and between individuals is founded on open and ongoing communication.


Dr. Jan Lüdert

Dr. Jan Lüdert serves as Associate Program Director for the Leadership Training Programs in the School of Applied Leadership at City University of Seattle.

Have you heard about EDI’s partnership with CityUniversity of Seattle? EDI alums are able to challenge 12 credits towards a Master's in Leadership at CityU and receive a 15% discount on tuition! For details on the Master of Education in Leadership visit their site.

** for more information contact enrollment advisor, Melissa Myers at or call her at 253.896.3215**