Pilot program develops, strengthens leadership skills

April 18, 2023 (Volume 46, Number 16)
Article by Brian Vernellis

President Philomena V. Mantella in front of room speaking, people seated at desks watching

President Philomena V. Mantella addresses program participants March 29 during a session on conflict management and communication.

Since mid-February, 25 members of the GVSU community have been participating in a biweekly pilot program to develop and cultivate their leadership skills.  

The Leading Lakers: Leadership Pilot Program is in its final week, guiding participants through sessions devoted to topics on leadership, including conflict management, strategic mindset and building trust. The program’s final session is April 25.

“We recognize that in order to have good succession planning, you need to continuously work on developing the next generation of leaders,” said Paul Stansbie, associate dean of the College of Education and Community Innovation. “We want to be purposeful in being proactive in developing something. 

“There's no guarantee that anyone who participates in this program gets a leadership position. If they have the skill set necessary to be successful, they can not only lead from the front if they eventually get that position, but also in their current positions. Additionally, they have skills to influence units in their divisions to be more successful.” 

The program’s foundation emerged on the basis of feedback from the AP Committee and university affinity groups and organizations. Stansbie said deans, additional members of university leadership and departments (Human Resources, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Division of Inclusion & Equity, Information Technology, Academic Affairs) collaborated to organize and build the program’s architecture. 

The cohort embodies a cross-section of the GVSU community including staff and administrative professionals as well as faculty members. 

“We deliberately picked folks who had mixed backgrounds,” Stansbie said. “We have some who are early in their leadership journeys. There are others who are well-established. And in terms of who they lead, it ranges from peers and colleagues to students.”

Recognizing the program’s importance, President Philomena V. Mantella visited the program on March 29, offering words of encouragement to the class and support for its mission. 

“You have a big responsibility because you are the inaugural group,” Mantella told the cohort. “With that, you can provide us with really critical feedback on how to move this forward. 

“Leadership development needs to emerge in a stronger way to elevate our competencies, give people places to work together and expand one’s network, and, most importantly, secure what you think you need to work on individually for your own leadership journey.”

The following faculty and staff members were members of the first cohort: Maha Baalbaki, Melissa Baker-Boosamra, Hunter Bridwell, Alison Christensen, Puneet Chowdhary, Jason Cronkrite, Mitch Eastlick, Myesha Gholston, Marilyn Gilbreath, Thalia Guerra-Flores, Jaime Guzior, Brooke Hotchkiss, Spencer King, Samah Mansour, Justin Melick, Adrian Mora, Randy Ortquist, Gabriel Pena, Kathleen Perschbacher, Justin Pettibone, Allison Sall, Brent Tavis, DeMarcus Turnbough, Anna White, Quincy Williams.

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This article was last edited on April 18, 2023 at 10:5 a.m.

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