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Whitworth Institute of Leadership Receives $500,000 Endowment from AgWest Farm Credit

February 9, 2023

The Whitworth University Institute of Leadership has received a generous corporate gift from AgWest Farm Credit, formerly Northwest Farm Credit Services, one of the West’s leading agricultural lenders.

The $500,000 endowment will support the training and guidance of the institute’s fellows who seek to make innovative and sustainable impacts on their communities through positions of leadership.

The Whitworth School of Business launched the Institute of Leadership in 2021. Its board members have expressed deep appreciation for the gift. Institute of Leadership Chair and Visiting Instructor Kevin Parker says the institute is thriving as a direct result of AgWest’s support and vision. 

“Their vision of impacting the region is being lived out through the institute, and it has been a privilege,” he says. “If it wasn’t for AgWest, the institute would still be an idea circulating in the halls of the business school.”

The Institute of Leadership’s reinvention of leadership training is built upon an intensive model, engaging participants in a three-part series of off-site retreats. Participants learn foundational leadership and communication skills and explore the history of leadership theory and practice. They are encouraged to collaborate with one another, creating a vibrant community of change makers with sights on making a difference in their professions. 

The Institute of Leadership and AgWest operate under similar beliefs – that good business is good life and is the bedrock of our communities and the organizations they care about. 

This charitable gift was made to honor longtime Northwest Farm Credit Services President and Chief Executive Officer Phil DiPofi, who recently retired. 

“Phil DiPofi is a highly impactful leader who was committed to developing servant leaders not only at our company, but in the Spokane community and throughout the Northwest,” says Linda Hendricksen, AgWest’s chief engagement officer. “This endowment honors Phil’s significant contributions to AgWest and perpetuates his vision and impact to how we learn, grow, lead and change.”

In addition to the endowment, AgWest Farm Credit will continue to donate to the institute’s annual operating budget. Its commitment greatly contributes to the growth of leadership offerings curated by the Whitworth Graduate Studies in Business Program in support of the many communities AgWest Farm Credit serves. 

“We are thrilled to see the Institute of Leadership continue to grow and feel grateful for this investment from AgWest,” says Tess Abbott, associate director of the Institute of Leadership. “It is abundantly clear that there is a demand for a program like this, as our fellows rave about their experiences and our inquiry list grows every day. The off-site design of this program enables participants to fully immerse themselves in the curriculum, which leads to deep connections within the cohort and transformational growth. We look forward to welcoming our third cohort this fall and many more in the future!”

The institute requires a nine-month commitment from its fellows. The cohort is capped at 20 participants, ensuring an environment where fellows feel comfortable sharing where they’re at and where they hope to go. An invitation from a staff member, board member or former fellow is required to apply for the program. Fellows are chosen from that applicant pool based on the best possible combination of demographics and dynamics for the upcoming year. More than 150 nominations are now being reviewed to fill the 20 available spots in the third cohort. 

For more information about the Institute of Leadership or to request an invitation to apply, click here

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of more than 2,500 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or