Washington County Leadership Institute

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Our Story

In the early 1990’s, SCEC identified leadership capacity as a fundamental ingredient for economic improvement that was severely lacking in the region.  People in leadership positions were often uninformed about regional issues, lacked the motivation needed to build consensus, failed to think long term and work together as a region for economic improvement.  Towns tended to compete rather than collaborate and individuals who had leadership potential were frequently discouraged from assuming this role in their businesses, organizations or communities because they lacked confidence in their abilities or were cynical about the effectiveness of an individual. 

In 1996, working with the Maine Development Foundation and the University of Maine at Machias, SCEC gathered people from all around Washington County and designed the Washington County Leadership Institute (WCLI) to provide leadership training and educate participants about the many dimensions of economic and community development in Washington County.  SCEC secured seed funding for the development and inauguration of the program from the Maine State Planning Office.

Since the 1997 Alpha Class, WCLI has helped Washington County residents develop the skills, insights, and professional networks to become more effective community leaders. Whether that’s organizing a baked-bean supper for a friend in need, joining the downtown revitalization committee, volunteering at the food pantry, or running for public office, the 316 graduates of WCLI have discovered and/or invested in their own leadership skills and improved Washington County’s quality of life by working together.

Mission & Purpose

Providing participants with the skills, insights, and networks to be more effective leaders.

Training Leaders

To provide practical leadership training for participants who are committed to the well-being of the county.

Using Relevant Information

To ensure a data-driven approach in each session focused on and relevant to the local economy. Leaders will speak about their approach to leadership in their field, add their response to the information contained in available data, and demonstrate to participants the importance of credible advocacy

Working Collaboratively

To enhance the ability of individuals and communities to work together effectively and responsibly

Building a Network

To build relationships and networks among participants. 

Teaching Workplace Strategies

To teach strategies that can be put to use daily in personal and professional situations. 

Understanding Washington County

To deepen understanding of the geographic and economic diversity of Washington County. 

Seeking Opportunity

To empower individuals to seek opportunities for the county, work with change, and commit to improving the economic, environmental, and social needs of the entire region

Creating a Positive Impact

To positively impact participants’ personal lives and professional situations. 

Building Alumni Relationships

To actively involve alumni as trainers, presenters, and panelists; increasing their opportunity to build relationships and transfer knowledge.

Sunrise County Economic Council

In January 1997, SCEC and the University of Maine at Machias (UMM) launched the Washington County Leadership Institute (WCLI).  The program was coordinated through UMM’s Office of Special Programs until 2001, when the University determined they could no longer administer the Institute.  Sunrise County Economic Council brought the WCLI in-house and has coordinated the program since. 

In 2017, SCEC formed a WCLI Advisory Committee to work with alumni, sponsors, and others in creating a plan to ensure the Institute’s importance, impact and sustainability. After a year-long strategic planning process, the “Reimagined” program graduated the WCLI 2019 class in May 2019.

Advisory Committee

The Washington County Leadership Institute Advisory Committee was formed in 2017 to steer a yearlong strategic planning process.  Upon completion, the Committee transitioned to a program support role; providing knowledge and guidance to help put the plan into action.

Members: Susan Corbett, Dianne Tilton, Charley Martin-Berry and Will Tuell. Not pictured – Becky McKenna. 

Jennifer Peters

Jen Peters has 25 years of experience in economic & community development in Washington County.  While still working toward a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Maine at Machias, she was hired as Program Manager for Sunrise County Economic Council; transitioning to Assistant Director in 2010.

Jen administers several of the Council’s signature programs, including its scholarship fund for nontraditional learners, and trainings for small- and micro-business people. She has coordinated the Noyce award winning Washington County Leadership Institute since 2001 and stepped into the facilitation role in 2019.

A graduate of the WCLI Beta Class, Jen is a Leadership Maine alum and she participated in the Maine Community Foundation’s statewide Leadership Learning Collaborative (LLC). 

Providing insight, understanding, and inspiration.

Washington County Leadership Institute

Sunrise County Economic Council
7 Ames Way
Machias, ME 04654

Call Us:

(207) 255-0983