Lisa Lefeber examines the rubber ducky that was a humorous stand-in for her award from Leadership Snohomish County. The real awards were lost in transit.. (Photo by Jay Dotson)

Lisa Lefeber examines the rubber ducky that was a humorous stand-in for her award from Leadership Snohomish County. The real awards were lost in transit.. (Photo by Jay Dotson)

Leadership awards recognize economic, community efforts

Among those honored by Leadership Snohomish County was the Port of Everett’s incoming CEO.

EVERETT —Leadership Snohomish County recognized Lisa Lefeber, the Port of Everett’s incoming CEO, for her efforts to boost economic growth with a rubber duck.

You read that right — a rubber duck.

Leadership, a nonprofit group that trains future leaders, held its annual awards ceremony last month at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.

When the “real” awards were lost in transit, executive director Kathy Coffey had to think on the fly.

“I decided to present large rubber ducks. They can’t be crushed, they are bright and they always rise to the top even when held under water,” Coffey said.

The description can also apply to leaders who must be “adaptable and think out of the box when life does not go their way,” she said.

“Lisa Lefeber loved it,” Coffey said. “She said we can get rid of the awards and just give the ducks with a plaque every year because people loved the symbolism and whimsy so much,” she said.

On Oct. 16 Lefeber will become the 101-year-old port’s first female CEO.

Lefeber received the Deborah Knutson Women in Leadership award.

Named for the late leader of the Snohomish County Economic Development Council, the award recognizes a woman in the county who shares a passion for job growth and economic development.

Knutson’s daughter, Erin Knutson Williams, presented the award to Lefeber at the nonprofit’s fourth annual Leadership Day. More than 350 people attended.

“We are beyond blessed in Snohomish County to have such a pool of amazing and talented candidates to choose from,” said Knutson, a business developer for the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee.

“Leadership Day was born out of a unique time four years ago,” Coffey said.

“In 2016 – a time when our country was more divided than any time in recent years that I can recall – we decided we wanted to establish an official Leadership Day here in our county. We wanted to bring individuals together – regardless of political affiliation, socioeconomic status, race, religion or title,” Coffey said.

The event raised $28,000, which will be used to fund the group’s programs and scholarships. Since its founding in 1998, Leadership has invested $800,000 in the community. More than 800 have graduated from its leadership development program.

Other award winners also received rubbers ducks. The real awards were eventually found and delivered, Coffey said.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County received Leadership’s 2019 Community Partner Award.

The Snohomish County chapter has more than 22 club locations and 15 school-based sites that offer programs that serve local youth.

Bill Tsoukalas, executive director of the county chapter, accepted the award.

The Distinguished Alumni Award went to Seema Sharma, a 2016 graduate of Leadership’s nine-month leadership development program.

“Seema is connected to Domestic Violence Services, served on their board and found ways to build bridges into her world with DVS. She worked with her husband Arun Sharma to create a major gathering of the Southeast Asian Communities here in Snohomish county,” Coffey said.

Diane Kamionka, interim executive director of the Northwest Innovation Resource Center, presented the center’s Mentoring Leadership Award to Jan Vandebos. The serial entrepreneur has founded and built multiple successful businesses, Kamionka said. The resource center assists early-stage entrepreneurs and inventors.

“Jan has a passion for helping entrepreneurs who know their subject matter but need assistance with all of the elements of starting a successful business,” Kamionka said.

A new honor, the “Leadership in Human Resources Award,” was given to James Trefry, administrative services director with the City of Arlington.

Ashika Vijay, president of the Snohomish County Human Resources Association, presented the award.

It recognizes an individual, a department or organization that demonstrates an outstanding commitment to furthering the Human Resources profession in Snohomish County, Vijay said.

Said Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert: “James is a champion for each employee he supervises, and encourages them to focus on growing their skills, oftentimes pushing them out of their comfort zones.”

Leadership Day 2019 sponsors included Tulalip Tribes, Kaiser Permanente, Sno-Isle Libraries, Snohomish County, Seahurst Electric, McKinstry, Herald Media, The Everett Clinic, Mountain Pacific Bank, City University of Seattle, Community Transit, BECU, Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation and the City of Everett.

Janice Podsada;; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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