Skip to main content


Seattle Fire Department (SFD) Executive Leadership Academy

Cohort 2: SEPTEMBER 2019 to JUNE 2020

Executive Leadership Academy: Historical Context and Background

Upon his appointment as Chief of the Seattle Fire Department, Chief Harold Scoggins established leadership development as a strategic priority for the Seattle Fire Department. The Seattle Fire Department has recognized the importance of training and preparing the next generation of leaders in Fire Services and the Executive Leadership Academy plays an important role in focusing on the leadership development of the most senior leaders in King County Fire Services.
Together with an Advisory Board (members listed below), SFD Executive Leadership Team, and key stakeholders, we established the ELA’s existing objectives, curricular content, recruitment, and admissions processes. In addition, we continue to invite feedback from current and former participants in the ELA program (through mid-point feedback forms), Union Leadership, and the Race and Social Justice Team to continually assess and hone our approach towards leadership development in fire services.

ELA Advisory Board

SFD ELA Advisory Board members are:

Harold Scoggins, SFD Alan Vickery, SFD Matt Cowan, Shoreline FD Jay Hagen, Bellevue FD
William Mace, SFD Tom Walsh, SFD Bruce Kroon, Bothell FD Chris Santos, SFD
Helen Fitzpatrick, SFD Bryan Hastings, SFD Jay Wittwer, Tukwila FD Tim Munnis, SFD
Julie D’Alessandro, SFD Kenneth Stuart, SFD & IAFF27 Dave Van Valkenburg, Kirkland FD

Program Objectives

The overarching goal of the Seattle Fire Department Executive Leadership Academy (SFD ELA) is to develop the current and next generation of the Seattle Fire Department’s leaders by creating and offering a learning and development experience for leaders (both inside and external to SFD), who are committed and dedicated to enhancing their own leadership development. Equally important, we expect that ELA participants will also promote the development of their colleagues and their sponsoring organizations.

Key Elements of the SFD ELA

The ELA combines in-person sessions (approximately 6-8 in the first year), professional 1:1 coaching, psychological assessments, independent work, and ongoing team projects to help individuals accelerate their leadership development and build skills for effective leadership in the fire services context.
All participants work on self-designed team projects that are deemed to be important by their sponsoring organizations. These teams are self-managed and members are required to set and organize their own team meetings to work on these projects. The team project charters and processes are built during the first year of the Academy. Each team will present their projects several times over the course of the first year to receive feedback on meeting project objectives. In the second year, the teams will continue to meet and report out on progress, submitting a final report at the end of the second year.

Program Commitment

SFD ELA Participants are expected to commit to the following:

  • We encourage participants to attend all sessions to optimize the learning and development experience. To receive a certificate of completion, participants must attend 80% of in person workshops: (6-8 sessions, occurring approximately every 6-8 weeks, full days on Friday, with specific dates to be announced in September). Participants should contact the program coordinators in advance to inform them that they will not be able to attend a particular session.
  • Complete all psychological assessments (3 occurring throughout the first year, with one assessment involving peer feedback).
  • Complete at least 4 coaching sessions with expert leadership coach.
  • Participate in Quarterly team progress reports in Year 2 with the respective Chiefs of participating Fire Departments.
  • Anticipated workload is an average of 2-5 hours/week over 2 years.

Sponsoring Organizations are expected to commit to the following:

  • Pay the full stipend for their participants attending the Academy.
  • Cover time off to attend the Academy workshop sessions throughout the first year.
  • Support for ongoing team projects.
  • Participate in Advisory Board Meetings.
  • Meet with their participants to discuss the progress they are making in the Academy at least once per quarter.

Who should apply?

Based on the directive provided by the sponsors of the Executive Leadership Academy, we are inviting senior leaders (including non-uniformed professional staff) within SFD and other King Country Fire Departments to apply for the second offering of the Academy.

  • As part of the recommendation from the leadership of SFD, this program is targeted towards senior leaders in King County Fire Agencies. Participants should have experience managing large-scale projects and supervising others in a formal leadership capacity.
  • Leaders within SFD and outside of SFD are encouraged to apply. Priority will be given to those from Fire Service Departments within King County.
  • Non-uniformed/professional staff are also encouraged to participate in the Academy program.
  • Target class size: 35-40 participants per cohort, with 1/3 of the cohort’s participants from SFD, 1/3 from Zone 1, and 1/3 from Zone 3.

How will participants be selected into this program?

Each application will be reviewed by the UW/CLST teaching team and scored on developmental readiness for the program. This readiness is assessed by scoring application responses on the following criteria (jointly established by the UW/CLST team and the ELA Advisory Board):

CRITERION Meaning
Organizational Citizenship Do the applicant’s responses demonstrate a service orientation and willingness to help others? Is there a demonstrated willingness to subordinate their own needs for the good of others and put in the extra effort needed?
Diversity of Perspectives Do the applicant’s responses show willingness and ability to bring in significantly different points of view? Is the applicant able to engage with diverse groups and solicit a broad range of opinions to find common ground when making decisions? Are the responses supportive of and active proponent of an inclusive work environment, seeking to develop a positive relationship with all stakeholders and constituents?
Developmental Readiness Do the applicant’s scores on the CLST DRA assessment show a willingness and ability to learn and lead?
Motivation Do the applicant’s responses demonstrate a high level of motivation for investing in development while also demonstrating a learning orientation? Does the applicant indicate a desire to seek feedback to enhance leadership potential and question the status quo? Do they seek to improve how they work with others, invest time and energy in developing others, and strive to achieve the most positive impact on the people they lead and serve in the community?
ABILITY Do the applicant’s responses demonstrate an ability to take other individual’s perspectives and systematically examine challenges and opportunities ranging in degrees of complexity? Do they function as a positive role model for leadership with their peers, leaders, followers and those they impact in the community? Do they demonstrate thoughtfulness about taking the time to make and justify difficult decisions? Do they champion developing leadership in the people they work with in their organization? Do responses indicate that they can build plans and establish goals and metrics to effectively support and evaluate performance?

Admissions Timeline

July 15: Applications Open
August 15: Begin Application Reviews
August 26: Present Recommendations for Applicants to SFD Leadership, SFD Advisory Board and SFD RSJI
Sept 3: Applicants notified of Decisions
Sept 27: First day of Class

If you have any questions about the application or selection process, please email Christina Fong at [email protected]

By clicking on the ‘Apply Now’ button above, you will access a Google Form with a few short answer questions to stimulate reflection on your leadership development and what you’d like to give and get out of the SFD ELA. You will also enter your email to receive a link to the Developmental Readiness Assessment that will contribute to the overall portfolio that you submit to the ELA.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis (see timeline as described above).