Cook Leadership Academy alumni return to speak with academy students

Students in the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy will hear from program alumni on the importance of empowerment through their communities on October 27 as part of the Wheelhouse Talk series .

Presented by the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, the Wheelhouse Talks series hosts community leaders to share their leadership experiences and philosophies with Grand Valley and CLA students.

This year’s CLA alumni panel includes J ustin Arnold ’12, director of Workforce Development at the Champaign County (Ill.) Regional Planning Commission ; D’Shyla Hodge ’21, specialist of Environment Protection for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Allyson Putt ’15, manager of Public Policy and Advocacy Strategy at Detroit People's Platform ; and Julian Sanders ’21, coordinator for the Mid-Michigan Region for U.S. Senator Gary Peters, moderating the discussion.

CLA Program Manager Abby Sachs said the four CLA alumni speaking on Friday embody empowered citizenship in their professional and personal lives. 

“One of our panelists noted that this event will be ‘inspirational and aspirational,’ and my hope is that attendees will leave feeling motivated to engage with their communities in new ways,” Sachs said.

Friday’s panel continues the Hauenstein Center’s fall series focused on empowered citizenship . Throughout the fall semester, the Hauenstein Center will host authors, lecturers and scholars who will explore the responsibilities facing citizens on national and global scales.

“Sometimes leading is empowering others to lead,” Putt said. “Mentorship was an important and powerful part of my growth. It's a great big world out there and we need a lot of good people to make it a better place. As the old adage goes: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’”

Sanders said he remembers his time as a CLA student, listening to the speakers in the Wheelhouse Talks and imagining his life beyond college and the CLA. Now, as an alumnus offering guidance, Sanders said he hopes he can provide perspective to the current cohort of CLA students.

“It is imperative for me to help current students visualize what can transpire if one commits to the dedication and mastery needed to achieve their goals and embrace all that’s in store on their journey to fulfillment,” Sanders said.


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