The Past 365 Days of CougsFirst!
When I was hired as the Executive Director of CougsFirst! a little more than a year ago, we set out on some pretty lofty goals. Today, I’m excited to reflect on the incredible journey we’ve been on throughout the last year!
GROWTH IN REACH & IMPACT
Our flagship event, the CougsFirst! Show, was both our largest and most fun yet! Not only did we implement a full day of education and networking, we hosted the first ever CougsFirst! and Washington State University Career Expo in Bellevue. Hundreds of Cougs joined us to network, learn, and do business together.
President Schulz delivered an excellent keynote and we were joined by WSU coaches and former athletes to discuss financial literacy, NIL, and more topics currently impacting our beloved school.
Our membership has grown by over 97% and we’ve added businesses in a diverse array of industries to our network. Not only has our membership grown, our social media reach and newsletter list has grown 5x. We are truly reaching Cougs far and wide.
SERIES OF MONTHLY EVENTS
Prior to 2022, CougsFirst! hosted 2-3 events per year – A show in Seattle, Spokane, and in recent years, a golf tournament in Pullman.
In the past 12 months, we’ve hosted networking events in Seattle, Woodinville, Bellevue, Kirkland, Tacoma, Spokane, Vancouver, and Pullman. We’re also looking forward to an event planned in Yakima this Fall!
We’re bringing Cougs together to make our mark on the business landscape in Washington!
HIRING A ROCK STAR TEAM
For the decade prior to 2022, CougsFirst! was entirely ran by dedicated volunteers.
I’d like to give a big shout out to founders and current board members, Jack Thompson and Glenn Osterhout. Thank you for your dedication over the years and having the foresight to see the potential growth for this organization.
Shortly after my hiring, I was given the green light to bring on more team members. We’ve since hired Angela Lenssen and Corissa Cruzen to join our team. Both of these talented and passionate individuals have helped us expand even further. We’ve tapped into new markets, experienced exceptional growth, and have taken our brand to the next level. I’m excited to work with this stellar team day in and day out!
LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY TO EXPAND
With the growth we’ve experienced, came some exciting innovation! We were able to implement a new association management software, work with some great partners to release amazing videos, and launch our first-ever app. We even started hosting a podcast with 26 episodes and counting!
Our internal processes have improved, allowing us to focus more on outreach and collaboration with our members, partners, and exhibitors. Everything from social media management, video and photography work, to registration and check in for events has been leveled up! And we will continue to look for creative and innovative solutions to reach more Cougs.
As we strengthen partnerships with our member businesses, Washington State University, and key stakeholders in the Washington State business community, we aim to create a robust ecosystem for Coug-owned and -managed businesses to thrive!
The past year has been an incredible chapter in the CougsFirst! story and we are filled with gratitude for the unwavering support from the Cougar community.
From engaging events, thought leadership, and business education, to expanding our network and supporting aspiring Coug entrepreneurs via scholarships – we’ve achieved some remarkable milestones together!
The success of CougsFirst! truly lies in the passion and dedication of our volunteers, staff, and member businesses that have contributed to our collective journey.
As we look ahead to the future, we are excited about the opportunities that lie before us and remain committed to nurturing the CougsFirst! spirit to foster a business environment that WSU alumni and friends can thrive in!
Here’s to an even more exceptional year ahead, filled with growth, connections, and shared success. Go Cougs!
“Cougle-It” for Products, Services, and Hiring!
Search the CougsFirst! Business Directory to find Coug-owned, -managed, and -affiliated businesses in all industries. If you’re looking for a new car, insurance, mortgage lender, or more, Think CougsFirst!
Video produced by Dryland Media.