Washoe County Leadership Academy


The application period for the 2024-2025 cohort of the Washoe County Leadership Academy is now closed. Those who have applied will be contacted soon. 

What is the Washoe County Leadership Academy?

Now in its third year, the Washoe County Leadership Academy is back and better than ever in 2024! The Washoe County Leadership Academy, or WCLA, is a 9-month educational and leadership program unlike any other, promoting knowledge of local government and providing training to hone leadership skills in conjunction with the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Cooperative Extension and Western Industrial Nevada (WIN).

One full day per month from August until the following April, participants of the WCLA will be exposed to various aspects of Washoe County services, from the Sheriff's Office to the Libraries, and just about everything in-between. Learn how community partners are preserving Lake Tahoe, what makes Washoe County unique with a visit to Gerlach and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitor Center, who Eilley Bowers really was with a tour of her historic mansion, and how Washoe County is leading the way to better outcomes with investments into wraparound homeless and behavioral health services. This program sheds light on the inner workings of local government and provides insight on how to get more involved in your community. Best of all, forge friendships, make memories, and learn skills that will last a lifetime!

Each WCLA cohort will also design and complete a county-based class project to put their skills into practice, all the while developing their personal and professional networks.

Approximately 35 individuals from across the county will be selected to participate. 

What's included?

  • Nine jam-packed days of learning, connecting, and growing, including learning about your own strengths, team building with your classmates, and behind-the-scenes tours and special activities.
  • Transportation to and from sites in a chartered bus.
  • A custom jacket featuring the Washoe County Leadership Academy logo.
  • A catered meal will be provided each day, plus snacks.
  • Do you live in Washoe County, more than 50 miles away from Reno? A hotel room the evening prior to each day of the Academy will be provided to make morning start times easier.

What does the program cost?

The program is completely free to selected participants.

Because Washoe County is investing in participants of this program, we hope selectees will invest in Washoe County by attending each day of the program and participating fully. ** (please see requirements listed under Application Information)

Why Participate?

  • Get a close-up look at how local county government works, better understand the breadth of services available to constituents, and how the county impacts your everyday life.
  • Grow your network to benefit yourself and your organization as it spans across the professional spectrum to gain new business and community contacts.
  • Walk away with increased knowledge of the community, new friends, and pride in having completed a community project that will impact the county for years to come.

Application Information

**Important expectations and requirements you should know prior to applying to the WCLA:
  • Each WCLA day occurs on a Friday during traditional work hours. Your place of business should be aware and accepting that you will be absent from work on each of these days prior to accepting a slot in the Academy.
  • Activities may include walking, standing, and sitting, and require the stamina to complete a full 9-hour day, with lessons taking place both indoors and outdoors.
  • Regular interaction with your cohort partners and Washoe County staff is expected. Being inquisitive is a plus!
  • Ensure you can commit to attending the WCLA sessions by reviewing the dates provided at the bottom of the page. While participants are encouraged to attend every session, no more than two days may be missed. Any additional absences will result in dismissal from the program, regardless of the circumstances. Each missed day requires a robust makeup assignment to be completed before continuing with the program.
  • Proactive participation in the class project is an important aspect of successful completion of the WCLA. This may require outside hours on your part to interact with your teammates.
  • Applicants should have the goal of increasing their knowledge of local government, their personal and professional networks, or other personal reasons for participation. Applicants should not expect the opportunity to promote services to their classmates, promote personal opinions about policies, or promote themselves for the purposes of political or personal gain. Due to the nonpartisan aspect of this program, active candidates for elected positions or sitting elected officials will not be accepted for a position within the WCLA.
  • Currently, WCLA is geared toward non-employee residents, so Washoe County employees are not eligible to apply. Additionally, applicants must live in Washoe County to be considered; employment or conducting business in Washoe County does not qualify.

Application Period: May 22, 2024 - June 21, 2024. The application period for the 2024-2025 cohort is now closed. 

Review Period & Participant Selections: 

A committee assessment of the applications received will take place through July 8. The top 50 candidates will be identified, followed by phone or Zoom interviews. The final 35 selectees for WCLA will be selected and notified no later than July 12.

The program launches August 16, 2024, and will continue through April 25, 2025, culminating with a graduation ceremony. 

Applicants that may need accommodations to participate in the Academy are encouraged to contact Commissioner Support prior to applying.


Applications Closed

2024-2025 Dates and Themes:

Welcome to the Washoe County Leadership Academy. Today we launch the Washoe County Leadership Academy with a bang! On this introductory day participants will get to know their fellow teammates with whom they will be spending the next nine months, as well as key staff members running the program. The morning promises to be fun, engaging, and will open the door to creating lasting relationships. Then, we lay the foundation for the program including an overview of the role of local government in your daily lives. And finally, an introduction to the class project that will allow participants to leave a legacy in our community.

We begin the day early, with an empowering speaker and filing breakfast as part of the WIN Breakfast series. After breakfast, beautiful Incline Village and Bowers Mansion Regional Park are on deck for our day dedicated to The Gems of Washoe County. Visit striking Lake Tahoe and take a private tour of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center to learn how this iconic lake draws crowds to Washoe County from around the world, and what we can do to protect its majesty. Then, stop by Bowers Manion Regional Park to learn about the Comstock millionaires that made this a welcoming place for all, and the many programs taking place here each spring and summer.

Rural Washoe County, its Native History & Sustainable Future will take participants to parts of Washoe County that are a mystery to many, including the Black Rock Desert, home of the international festival Burning Man and a visit to Gerlach’s community art trail. No trip to Gerlach would be complete without lunch at Bruno’s Country Club. Later, enjoy the opportunity to meet with native tribe storytellers with a visit to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum & Visitor Center. A special guest host of Wild Nevada airing on PBS Reno, joins us for rural Washoe County stories along the way, and the day wraps with information on what Washoe County is doing to create a sustainable future.

From Womb to Tomb, Washoe County is by your side. Today, we explore how Washoe County assists citizens throughout their lives including a visit to Washoe District Health, a trip to the Registrar of Voters, the Washoe County Clerk’s Office, the Recorder’s Office, and Senior Services to learn of the many resources available to keep seniors in our county healthy and engaged. Finally, an intriguing visit to the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office is scheduled, including a look at their tissue recovery program so that you can continue to impact others even after death.

Dedicated to Public Service day will explore the innerworkings of Washoe County and discover the people and services that keep our community thriving. What do I need to start a business? What is a master plan? Where is my snowplow? From snow removal to property development and code enforcement, our public service employees work tirelessly to ensure that the county runs like clockwork. Our day will kick off with a spotlight on the Community Services Department, where you'll meet the faces behind the scenes and learn about their important work. We'll also hear from the dedicated crews of Truckee Meadows Fire & Rescue, who play a vital role in keeping our community safe. And no tour of Washoe County would be complete without a visit to the South Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility (STMWRF). See firsthand how our cutting-edge technology and process improvements are turning "yuck" into clean and safe water, all while promoting sustainability and public health. Ask not what you can do, but what your doo-doo can do for you. You won’t want to miss this incredible day of education, appreciation, and fun!

Once again, we will begin our day with the WIN Breakfast, walking away ready to be inspired! We then proceed to our Law & Order Day, introducing participants to how Washoe County maintains safety and order in our community. The day will begin with a trip to the District Court in downtown Reno where you will receive a tour of the court, hear about its haunted history, and how Reno became a hotspot for hopeful divorcees. The role of the District Attorney, the Public Defender and district court judges in maintaining law and order will be discussed. Then, visit the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and see the important role it plays in public safety. Participants will also take a look at the Jan Evans Juvenile Detention Center to better learn how troubled young citizens are provided opportunities to rehabilitate and adjust their lifestyles. With a special look at the forensics lab and a visit with a K-9 officer, today is going to be a memorable one.

It’s February, and with that, everyone is thinking about hearts. This month, participants will explore the softer side of the heart as we take a deep dive into The Heart of the County: Helping our Vulnerable Populations. Today we will learn about the county’s Built for Zero housing model with on-site exploration of county facilities made for houseless individuals, discover programs for those in recovery and transitioning to permanent housing, and an intriguing and spirited visit to the now-shuttered, former mental health institute, with a look at how behavioral health has been handled in the past, and what Washoe County is doing to impact our citizens in the future.

It’s Calm Through Chaos, and today we bring you excitement and then relaxation in unique ways. Today, we visit the Regional Emergency Operations Center for a greater understanding of how Washoe County works across jurisdictions and cultures to create calm in the storm during an emergency. Participants will gain an understanding of the multiple moving parts and roles of emergency management, about Washoe County’s emergency communications strategies, and the tools we use to gain perspective on what the community is sharing online on topics of importance. Take a peek at the 9-1-1 dispatch center and gain a whole new appreciation for these everyday heroes. After a busy morning, we head over to Washoe County Regional Animal Services for a greater view of what their staff do to keep animals safe and calm in their scariest of moments, being lost, quarantined, or even abused. We then take your nerves down a notch as we enjoy the beautiful downtown Library for a greater understanding of the many offerings of the Washoe County Library System and the reprieve that libraries offer to everyone in our community. From craft projects to legal aid, we promise you it’s more than simply books!

Today marks the culmination of the Washoe County Leadership Academy! We will yet again start our day at the WIN Breakfast before presenting their class project to county leaders and elected officials. Enjoy a celebratory cake and receive a plaque to proudly display your achievement as a graduate of the Washoe County Leadership Academy. We hope that you will leave this Academy with a greater understanding of the county, yourself, and what you can do to improve the community.

Questions?  Contact the Washoe County Commission Support Team at 775-328-2003 or email commissionersupport@washoecounty.gov.  
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »