Leadership Lights the Way Gala 2018


January 27, 2018 will be the next Leadership Lights the Way Gala at Northern Quest Resort & Casino.

Please check back in October to purchase tickets and for more information about the auction event.

Leadership Lights the Way Gala 2017

Thank you for your support! Our annual fundraising gala held January 21, 2017 at Northern Quest Resort & Casino was sold out! 

Thank you for joining us to celebrate leadership in our community!


Click through photos from the 2017 Leadership Lights the Way Gala!

2017 Gala Spotlights

Thanks to our 2017 Sponsors

Northern Quest Resort & Casino, WSECU, TransCanada, Wells Fargo, Itron, WSU Health Sciences Spokane, Gesa Commercial Services, BreakThrough Inc., Happy Laundry, LifeMap and Group Health.

If you or your organization are interested in becoming a sponsor for the Leadership Lights the Way Gala, there are several sponsorship levels available. Please contact Executive Director Brian Newberry at

We greatly appreciate the continuing support we receive from all of our sponsors. Leadership Lights the Way!

Thanks to our 2016 sponsors

Northern Quest Resort & Casino, Avista, Itron, Tracy Jewelers, Wells Fargo, Global Credit Union, BreakThrough Inc., EWU, Gonzaga University MBA, Washington Trust, Happy Laundry, TransCanada and Sir Speedy.

We greatly appreciate the continuing support we receive from all of our sponsors. Leadership Lights the Way!

Fourth Annual Leadership Lights the Way Gala, 2015

Thank you to all for making the fourth annual Leadership Lights the Way Gala a night to remember. The Committee team led by Monica Wales delivered an elegant evening where we were able to celebrate our alumni and celebrate Spokane. It was a night made possible by the amazing generosity of our sponsors and silent auction and wine donors. It was an honor to recognize Don Kardong, as our third ever King Cole Award recipient, and Stacey Cowles, our first ever Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award receipient. While it was Superbowl weekend, and the “Twelfth Man” always helps the Seahawks, we also can certainly acknowledge that Leadership Spokane has been the “Twelfth Man” for Spokane over 32 classes and 1100 graduates. The Gala’s success helps punctuate that fact. Thank you all for Lighting the Way.

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 leadership: 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 also pick up the shovel
  • Stewardship: the ability to hold an institution in trust for the greater good of the entire community

About King Cole

Cole was born in 1922 in Grand Junction, CO. 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.

  • 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

    Leadership Spokane proudly announces that Mr. Don Kardong, founder of Bloomsday, is our third recipient of the King Cole Award, to be presented 30 January during our Leadership Lights the Way Gala at Northern Quest Casino.

    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
  • Significant contributions to the community
  • Service and commitment to Leadership Spokane
  • Success within his/her profession, peak of career
  • Past awards and achievements
  • 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

    Mr. 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.”