May 24, 2018
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Leadership institute to enter 15th year


MACHIAS, Maine — The Washington County Leadership Institute will begin this month its 15th year of providing training to develop local leaders.

The institute, founded in 1996 by the University of Maine at Machias and the Sunrise County Economic Council, helps local people develop leadership skills so they can more effectively work toward a better Washington County.

“This institute shines the spotlight on the bright possibilities here,” Linda Cross-Godfrey of Eastport, one of the WCLI’s founders, said recently. “We now have 225 people out there thinking positively and knowing they can make a difference.”

SCEC was honored by the Maine Community Foundation with the 2009 Elizabeth C. Noyce Award for Nonprofit Excellence for its work in leadership development.

Realizing that Washington County needs residents who appreciate the diversity of the people, businesses and communities that make the area unique, participants in the current session, which will run January to April, will examine challenges and opportunities from a countywide perspective. They will learn how an investment in one area affects the entire county.

WCLI’s Omicron class will spend more than 70 hours in leadership sessions, group activities and team building exercises. It will explore different parts of Washington County the members may not have seen before and will discover how they can, collaboratively, make Down East Maine a better place to live, work and play in.

The institute includes nine daylong sessions from Steuben to Princeton and all points in between.

Axiom CEO Susan Corbett, who participated in the 2007 class and recently was named by the Bangor Daily News as one of 11 people to watch in 2011, characterized her experience in the course as transformational.

“The Washington County Leadership Institute experience opened my eyes to the community, its people and its resources,” Corbett said. “I was able to meet people I would not otherwise have met, see parts of Washington County that I had never visited and learn about the industry sectors that contribute to Washington County’s economy. WCLI is a must for professional growth and development, and fun too.”

WCLI participants come from all walks of life: bankers, educators, clergy, stay-at-home parents, volunteers, nonprofit workers, engineers, journalists, public policymakers and small-business people have received certificates for their participation. This blend of perspectives is a big part of what makes the program work.

SCEC Assistant Director Jennifer Peters added that the $575 tuition should not be seen as a barrier to participation. Scholarship funds are being sought to help individuals who want to attend.

“Our sponsors have been great,” she said. “They introduce the class to their own organization and talk about how their business or organization looks at different leadership skills and why these skills are so important. They give real-world examples. It’s a different spin on ‘leadership’ and what it means to be a leader.”

Last year’s sponsors included Bar Harbor Banking & Trust, Camden National Bank, First Wind, Machias Savings Bank, Maine Development Foundation-Leadership Maine, RHR Smith & Co., University of Maine at Machias, Washington County Community College and the Washington County Council of Governments.

Applications for the class are available at SCEC’s offices at the Machias Telebusiness Center on Stackpole Road and online at For more information or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact Jennifer Peters at 255-0983 or

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