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Auburn Deputy Mayor Nancy Backus Receives Distinguished Alumni Award


AUBURN, Wash. – June 19, 2012 – Auburn Deputy Mayor Nancy Backus was honored with the 2012 Leadership Institute of South Puget Sound’s Distinguished Alumni Award. The Dena Laurent Sorenson Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes an alumnus who exemplifies the spirit of leadership and the goals of the Institute.

Recipients are chosen by a panel of the previous class speakers which act as representatives of each year’s class. Presenting the award, former Distinguished Alumni Jerry Ruston noted, “If you need a sympathetic ear, someone to laugh with, a shoulder to cry on or a strong back to help carry the load, this is the person you need. She is the type of person others gravitate to and want to spend time with because she makes you feel better just being around her.”

Backus, a 2007 graduate of the Leadership Institute, has been an Auburn city councilmember since 2003. She serves on the board of the Valley Regional Fire Authority, actively participates in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and at the national level with the National League of Cities (NLC) Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) Policy Committee.

She also has been the president of the Miss Auburn Scholarship Program for the past 32 years. During that time the program has helped award scholarships to 536 young women totaling $560,000. Backus is a highly respected manger at the Boeing Company. Recently she was giving the task of taking a department that had a high team turnover and dissatisfied workforce and was able to stabilize it, improve moral and bring it back in to the fold.

“In her very busy private life as well as her very busy public life this years recipient represents what the Dena Laurent Sorenson Distinguished Alumni Award is,” noted Ruston. “A leader who models the way, inspires a shared vision, challenges the process, enables others and encourages the heart.”

This year marks the Institute’s 14th graduating class and over 400 alumni have come through the program. Backus is the 8th recipient of the Distinguished Alumni award. Past winners are: Bob Lee (2005); Anne Baunach (2006); Lynn Norman (2007); Nancy Colson (2008); Debbie Christian (2009); Clarissa & Jerry Ruston (2010); and Gail Spurrell (2011).

Since 2005, Leadership Institute alumni submit nominations and those nominations are reviewed by a committee comprised of the class speakers. Laurent Sorenson was a member of the first class of the Leadership Institute in 1999 and the very first class speaker. She epitomized every aspect of a great leader in both her personal and professional life. She took her role as class speaker very seriously and promoted the Leadership Institute at every opportunity and attended every banquet even when very sick. She waged a courageous 5 year battle, but unfortunately passed away from cancer in 2006 and this award was renamed in 2007 in her honor. The award gives the Institute the opportunity to review accomplishments of graduates and recognize their leadership activities; a measure of the success of the Leadership Institute is the alumni’s participation in their community and work environment. They not only participate, but innovate, share their vision and inspire others.

The Leadership Institute of South Puget Sound is a structured, quality, tuition-based adult leadership development program, organized to prepare adults for future civic and business leadership positions. Leadership Institute is administered by the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Kent, Greater Maple Valley/Black Diamond, Covington and the Southwest King County Chambers of Commerce. For more information visit www.auburnareawa.org/leadership.htm.

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