The ASCENT Leadership Program was started in 2010 under the sponsorship of the Oregon Department of Administrative Services (DAS), Support Services Division (SSD) as part of a strategic planning effort under the leadership of Jan Dean, SSD Administrator.
Two organizational development and training professionals created the SSD Managers’ Leadership Program (MLP) and the SSD Aspiring Leadership Program (ALP), now referred to as the Transformational Leadership Program (2021). This development program was built from earlier versions administered at the Oregon Department of Human Resources and the Oregon Employment Department.
In 2012, DAS-SSD and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) collaborated to enhance and expand the 2012 ASCENT Leadership Program outside of DAS to make the leadership program available to more state employees.
In 2013, the ASCENT Learning Coalition (ALC) was formed by an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to establish sustainable governance and resourcing of the ASCENT Leadership Program and allow for more agencies to participate. ODOT and DAS provided the initial financial and staff resources to create the program's foundation and establish a limited scholarship fund. The coalition agencies share the staff salaries and all other program costs are covered through participant tuition. The ALC is the result of this early collaboration and is grounded in ORS 190 to maximize benefits through inter-agency efforts.
The current coalition is made up of eight agencies. ASCENT has served over two thousand state employees from 23 different state agencies.