Surprised and Honored

During last night’s Leadership Kitsap Class of 2013 Graduation, the Leadership Kitsap Alumni Association–as they do each year–recognized one alumni with an award for continued community service.  I was surprised and honored when Leadership Kitsap Alumni Association President, Connie Mueller, began reading a nomination about work with Bremerton Beyond Accessible Play and awarded me the 2013 Outstanding Alumni Award.

S1460004Leadership Kitsap is a twenty year old servant leader training program.  Their graduates include community leaders from business, government, and non-profits.  Their yearly projects have changed lives in our community in so many ways.

I offer my sincerest thanks to Leadership Kitsap, to the Leadership Kitsap Alumni Association, and to my fellow graduates for this honor.  Since I graduated from Leadership Kitsap in 2005, I have appreciated being part of a long list of alumni that continue to make a difference in our community.  It was a special treat that I was nominated for the award and coaxed into attending the graduation ceremony by my good friend (and my boss’ boss) Rick Tift.  It’s an odd coincidence that we met nine years ago when he interviewed me for admission into Leadership Kitsap’s Class of 2005.

To support Bremerton Beyond Accessible Play and the Evergreen Rotary Park Beyond Accessible Playground, you can donate to our Buy-A-Square-Foot campaign.  Every $20 donation means we can purchase more beyond accessible equipment for the children.

To read the award nomination that was read at last night’s ceremony, click below.


Please accept this nomination of Ms. April Mills for the 2013 Leadership Kitsap Outstanding Alumni Leadership Award.  She exemplifies all the attributes desirable in the graduates of the LK program.

April is a leader both on the job as well as within the community.  At PSNS & IMF, she leads a group of 75+ volunteers in a wide variety of command-level change efforts.  These initiatives are often complex and difficult.  She has encouraged a wide variety of employees to expand their influence and try to make a real difference in their workplace.

In 2011, one of April’s friends took her 7-year-old special needs child to a park in Gig Harbor.  This park was specifically designed with special needs children in mind.  The Sehmel Homestead Park in Gig Harbor has a playground with wide ramps that lead to places formerly reserved for children without challenges.  April used her networking skill, commitment and passion and partnered with other parents of special needs children to establish Bremerton Beyond Accessible Play.  With April’s guidance and leadership, the organization successfully secured commitment from the Bremerton Parks and Recreation department for space at the city’s Evergreen Rotary Park.  They started raising the necessary funds by taking $20 donations online for each square foot of ground surface needed for the proposed playground.  They successfully approached both the Bremerton City Council and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board for grants.  The group has successfully applied to a variety of community service groups to secure additional funds.  The result is that work on the playground is set to begin in the fall of 2013.

Currently, there are limited accessible playgrounds on the West coast, with only one within the extended community in Gig Harbor.  Thanks to her leadership and effort, April Mills is working with her team to bring this facility to our local community.  She is greatly admired for her energy and passion surrounding this initiative; as a full-time employee at PSNS & IMF and mother of three, April has an already full plate.  Her commitment to this endeavor requires additional effort that she happily gives to see it to completion.

April Mills has taken the philosophy of Leadership Kitsap to heart.  She has embraced the beliefs of servant leadership, civic volunteerism, collaboration, diversity and continuous community improvement and accepted the challenge to bring Bremerton a facility that will be open to all and allow diverse groups the ability to play together.  Not only will the fruits of her efforts provide a wonderful playground for special needs children in our community it also provides the opportunity for adults who have handicaps that prevent them from using a playground with their children the opportunity to fully participate in a part of parenting that many of us take for granted, the opportunity to take our child to a playground and push the swing or help with the merry-go-round.  April’s efforts provide a community benefit without equal and will leave a lifetime legacy for the City of Bremerton.  She richly deserves to be named LKAA Outstanding Alumni for 2013.


Richard L. Tift

Leadership Kitsap Graduate, Class of 2000

1 thought on “Surprised and Honored”

  1. I am so very proud of you and all that you accomplish, and for the wonderful young woman that you are. I love you bunches!

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