Don't miss out on the 8th Annual Leadership Lights the Way Gala!

Purchase tickets here!

Interested in sponsoring?  Call 509-321-3639.  Sponsors for 2018 included:

Kalispel Tribe and Northern Quest Resort & Casino 


Wells Fargo



BreakThrough, Inc.

Whitworth MBA

WSU Health Sciences

Happy Laundry

Tracy Jewelers

Lawton Printing Services

Referee Photo


Click through the photos from the 2018 Gala!

2018 Gala

Annual Gala Awards

King Cole Luminary Award

Leadership Spokane has created the King Cole Luminary award to recognize exceptional servant leadership that “lights the way” in the community. The first annual award was presented posthumously to King Forrest Cole at the Leadership Lights the Way Gala. Cole was the “father” of Expo 74 which revitalized the downtown, resurrected the Spokane River environs and led to the creation of dozens of other initiatives, including Leadership Spokane.  As President of Expo ’74, Cole was its main spokesman and promoter, but his real skill was his ability to get people to come together to achieve the impossible.

Award Criteria

  • Visionary leader: sustained belief in a dream in spite of prevailing opinion
  • Effective leadership: the ability to conceive, design and carry out a successful project, persevering over time against odds and in spite of personal sacrifice
  • Building Community: ability to persuade others to rally around an initiative and shape the future; the ability to lead from the front and the willingness to work in the trenches
  • Stewardship: the ability to hold an institution in trust for the greater good of the entire community

Nominations are being accepted until October 31, 2018. Thank you.

About King Cole

Cole was born in 1922 in Grand Junction, Colorado. After serving in the Navy during WWII, he graduated from the University of San Francisco with a law degree. He was assistant director of the Sacramento Redevelopment Agency and director of the San Leandro Community Development Office. He came to Spokane in 1963 to assume leadership of Spokane Unlimited, a business group with plans to rejuvenate Spokane’s downtown business district and jump-start a lagging economy.

At that time, railroad yards obscured the Spokane River falls that flowed through downtown. Plans for the urban renewal of Spokane, in conjunction with a 100 year celebration of the city began in earnest in the late 1960s. The idea of a world’s fair was born as a means to an end – a revitalized urban core and a restoration of the river and falls with a beautiful downtown park.

Cole traveled 700,000 miles in three years, garnering support from local, state and national leaders and the Bureau of International Expositions. He helped broker the deal between the city and railroad officials who agreed to a land swap for most of the needed property.

Expo ’74 opened May 4, 1974, to a crowd of 85,000. Speakers included President Richard Nixon, Gov. Dan Evans and Congressman Tom Foley. The event pumped an estimated $150 million into the local economy and surrounding region. Following the success of Expo ’74, Cole formed an urban planning and consulting business and worked as a consultant on a number of Expos and world’s fairs. He continued, until his death in 2010, to be a champion for community stewardship, urban renewal and for bringing together private and public partnerships to achieve goals.

  • 2018 Recipient: Rob McCann
    2018 Recipient: Rob McCann

    Rob is a magnificent leader with a grand vision of bringing hope and dignity to the less fortunate. Rob was nominated for his compassionate and effective advocacy of the homeless, expressed through his work in the planning, development and construction of the House of Charity Shelter, St. Margaret’s Shelter, and through his deft leadership as Executive Director of Catholic Charities. Rob skillfully manages 720 employees, 6,500 volunteers and oversees 13 programs. With his innovative leadership and influence, Rob has been instrumental in accessing state tax credits to build four much needed new housing communities in Spokane, with 125 more housing units to be built in 2019. Additionally, Rob has overseen the opening of the Catholic Charities’ Furniture Bank, providing essential household furnishings to over 800 low-income or formerly homeless individuals in Spokane. Rob’s leadership extends beyond Catholic Charities to his service in community boards including the United States conference of Catholic Bishops – National Advisory Board, Providence Health Care, SHMC Foundation, United Way and the Nazareth Guild. He also recently received the 2017 Sister Peter Claver Humanitarian Award.

  • 2017 Recipients: Elson Floyd and Lisa Brown
    2017 Recipients: Elson Floyd and Lisa Brown

    A native of North Carolina, Floyd is remembered as a can-do leader and nationally recognized academic leader. Before taking the position of presidency at Washington State University, he held respected positions at universities across the country. He earned a bachelor degree in political science and speech, a Master’s degree in adult education, and a doctor of philosophy degree in higher and adult education, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his tenure, Floyd brilliantly conceptualized a school that could train doctors to serve individuals across Washington, thus addressing the growing rural physician shortages. His leadership legacy is the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine which is currently accepting applications for the first class of physicians.

    Dr. Lisa Brown helped realize Floyd’s vision, helping to establish the College of Medicine as its most ardent supporter by rallying a world class team of leaders to build it. Prior to joining WSU Spokane as chancellor, Brown taught at Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University, and served in the Washington Legislature for 20 years where she was a passionate advocate for health sciences education and research, establishing the groundwork for the future medical school. She also became the first Democratic woman in the state to hold the position of Senate majority leader. Brown studied economics at the University of Illinois and at the University of Colorado where she earned a PhD.

  • 2016 Recipient: Scott Morris
    2016 Recipient: Scott Morris

    Scott Morris is a Spokane native whose focus has always been people. His out-front leadership and philanthropy, which are felt throughout the community and beyond, and his involvement and significant support for local, regional and national organizations and initiatives, earn him praise from many. Early in his tenure, Morris led the way in developing and implementing the first-in-nation tariff to provide enhanced energy assistance funding, lessening the burden for those most in need. Morris continues in his objective to provide value for customers, showcased by the customer satisfaction ratings exceeding 90 percent for the last 14 years, and demonstrates openness and transparency to help build employee confidence and trust in company leadership.

    Contributing to the strength of the Spokane community, he led the development of the Avista Foundation and is committed to the sustainability of the partnerships Avista forges for the betterment of dozens of communities, not just Spokane. Morris’ dream for giving something of significance back to the community was fulfilled in the Gathering Place Plaza, given to the City of Spokane, and he will expand his vision through a permanent and sustainable relocation of the Mobius Science Center for a $1-per-year lease, and proximity to some of the most spectacular scenery and learning opportunities in Spokane. His personal philanthropy has been equally large as he has provided significant support for organizations, including the Salvation Army, Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, SNAP and Gonzaga University.

  • 2015 Recipient: Don Kardong
    2015 Recipient: Don Kardong

    This year’s recipient, Don Kardong, born December 22, 1948, is a noted runner and author who represented the United States in the men’s marathon in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada. Beyond his running prowess, he is being awarded the King Cole Award for his visionary and effective leadership and keeping Spokane on the world stage much as King Cole did with the 1974 Expo. In the fall of 1976, Don suggested to a local reporter that Spokane should have a downtown run of its own and the newspaper published the story on the front page. Spokane was enjoying renewed interest in its downtown area after hosting the 1974 World’s Fair (Expo ’74), and a fun run that took advantage of the newly renovated downtown and Riverfront Park seemed a natural fit. Notably, on May 1, 1977, Don founded with a thousand runners the Lilac Bloomsday 12K. With his passion for fitness and Spokane coupled with extraordinary teambuilding skills, he built an annual race that now draws over 50,000 runners a year to our local area and keeps Spokane as part of the world conversation. It is one of the largest road races in the world. Don also was Executive Director for the Spokane Children’s Museum from 2002 to 2004.

    Leadership Spokane celebrates Don’s leadership daily and is proud to present him our third annual King Cole Award to honor the illumination he has provided Spokane for over four decades. Those interested in celebrating Don’s award on 30 January are invited to come and take part in this inspiring evening to congratulate him and acknowledge the impact of Leadership Spokane since its founding in 1982.

Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award

Leadership Spokane created the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award to honor the many contributions of the more than 1,100 graduates of the program since its inception in 1982. This award recognizes alumni who are the embodiment of Leadership Spokane’s mission of delivering dedicated leaders that collaborate in order to grow an active and diverse network that serves and strengthens our communities.

Selection criteria:

  • Leadership Spokane Graduate
  • Significance of contributions to the community
  • Service and commitment to Leadership Spokane
  • Demonstration of mentorship and service to others
  • Other factors for consideration

Nominations are being accepted until October 31, 2018. Thank you.

  • 2018 Recipient - Yvonne Smith
    2018 Recipient - Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne embodies Leadership Spokane’s dedication to service. Currently serving on the board of Numerica, College Success Foundation, and several other organizations in Spokane, Yvonne is deeply invested in her community. As the board president for Project beauty share, Yvonne uses her expertise to provide personal hygiene, cosmetics and beauty products to women in need in Spokane, boosting their confidence levels and helping them feel positive about their self-image. Project Beauty Share specifically reaches out to women in transition who have been victims of domestic violence or who have limited financial resources – distributing products to over 10 local nonprofit organizations. Yvonne’s leadership has been instrumental in equipping Project Beauty Share to initiate evolution within the beauty industry. Yvonne also is a dedicated advocate for Leadership Spokane through her three years of past service on the Leadership Spokane Board of directors, and her continued promotion of the program through bringing connections to the community.

  • 2017 Recipient - Ira Amstadter
    2017 Recipient - Ira Amstadter

    Ira Amstadter, a 2000 Leadership Spokane graduate, is emblematic of how our amazing alumni serve others passionately. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science/Animal Behavior from the University of Illinois and a Masters degree in Adult Education from the University of Arizona, Tucson. He has owned Express Employment Professionals in Spokane with his wife, Susan, since 1994. He was a senior program officer for the World Wildlife Fund in Madagascar, worked for the Brookfield Zoo as an elephant trainer and spent four years with the Peace Corps in Africa.

    Ira and his wife created and administer the DaZelda Scholarship which is awarded every year to an incoming member of the Leadership Spokane program. Bearing his grandmother’s name, the scholarship honors her memory and her spirit of zest, vigor and a bold sense of community. Ira and his wife give back to this community by helping deliver leaders who will follow in their footsteps.

    Leadership Spokane is proud to present Ira the third annual lifetime achievement award for his inspiring commitment to service above self. He volunteers at Sacred Heart, and not only encourages those he knows, but randomly acknowledges people on the street, passing out $2 bills to those he witnesses conducting good deeds. He is a true light for our community, even spotted in a gorilla suit on occasion, cheering children and giving a smile to all.

  • 2016 Recipient – Gloria Ochoa-Bruck
    2016 Recipient – Gloria Ochoa-Bruck

    Gloria Ochoa-Bruck, a 2012 Leadership Spokane graduate, was appointed by Mayor David Condon as the Local Government and Multi-Cultural Affairs Director for the City of Spokane in 2013. She is an adjunct professor at Gonzaga University School of Law. Ochoa-Bruck sees beyond education, social, economic, ethnic and political boundaries to create programs, processes and solutions that benefit individuals and the community as a whole. She is a member of the Hispanic Business Professionals Association, the Latina/o Bar Association, the Spokane County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee and Washington Women Lawyers. She also is the staff liaison for the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Multi-Cultural Affairs. Ochoa-Bruck is the first of her family to graduate from college and law school. Coeur d’Alene Living Magazine named Ochoa-Bruck as one of the top lawyers in Spokane in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Catalyst Magazine named her one of their Twenty Under 40 in 2012.

    A graduate of both Spokane’s and Tri-Cities’ leadership program, Ochoa-Bruck is the embodiment of serving others, most recently immeasurably strengthening the Latino Hope Foundation, which provides scholarships to Latinos to attend higher education in the local area. Her distinguished record across the state is far reaching. Mayor Condon writes: “Gloria has done outstanding work on criminal justice reform, intercultural communications, and much more during her time here.”

  • 2015 Recipient – Stacey Cowles
    2015 Recipient – Stacey Cowles

    Stacey Cowles was selected this year for his incredible support of both Leadership Spokane and for his extraordinary leadership within the region moving the Inland Northwest forward. He currently serves as the president of Cowles Company and is the publisher of The Spokesman-Review. His accomplishments are many and he has served on numerous boards and positions within the community, seeking to better the quality of life throughout our region. He is the founding chairman of the Downtown Spokane Partnership and past chairman of the Washington (State) Business Roundtable.

    He serves on the executive board of Inland Northwest Council and Boy Scouts of America. He is also a trustee of the Harriet Cheney Cowles Foundation. Executive Director Brian Newberry complimented his many accomplishments: “Beyond his commitment to building the region economically and also supporting a multitude of philanthropic causes, he remains an ardent supporter of Leadership Spokane and believes that investing in leaders will reap rich dividends for Spokane’s bright future.”