Career Development

President’s Leadership Institute cohort completes first year

Oglethorpe University’s first President’s Leadership Institute (PLI) concluded this month, wrapping up a series of monthly engagements with key leadership topics, “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown and conversations with the president and members of the Senior Administrative Leadership Team (SALT).

“This was a resounding success for these faculty and staff leaders as well as for Oglethorpe,” said Dr. Laura Renée Chandler, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “PLI had breadth and depth. Participants not only received exposure to a wide range of topics and decisions senior leaders have to make, but they also explored in-depth what it means to be an effective leader. I am confident each of them will make their mark on this campus.”

Members of the first cohort were:

Amanda Whooley, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Autumn Johnson, Senior Admission Counselor
Blake Petty, Director of Residence Life
Cecil Rose, Associate Director of Student Success
Ethan Hawkland, Assistant Director of Admission
Iona Wynter Parks, Lecturer in French
Isabelle Martinez, Assistant Director of Business and Finance
Jeffrey Collins, Senior Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies
Jessica Winestock, Senior Academic Program Manager
Katharine Zakos, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Division I Chair
Katie Clark, Admission Counselor
Lejla Marijam Ibrahimbegovic, Lecturer of Core Studies
Lisa Conley, Director of Career Development
Marisa Atencio, Assistant Dean and Director of Global Education
Miriam Smith, Senior Director of Title IX and Equity
Rhana Gittens, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies
Sari-Jai Walker, Assistant Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities
Stephen Herschler Mattern, Professor of Politics and Core Co-Director
Thania Saintil, Advancement Coordinator

“I was hesitant to participate in PLI, but I am grateful that I did,” said Dr. Amanda Whooley. “In addition to learning skills, knowledge and tools that enhanced my ability to support all constituencies of our university community, more than anything else, the PLI gave me a heightened sense of support and belonging at OU as well as a sense of shared purpose among staff, administration, and faculty.”

Dr. Kathryn McClymond presents to the President's Leadership Institute participants

Dr. Kathryn McClymond speaks at the final session of the inaugural President’s Leadership Institute in May.

In addition to Brown’s book, “Dare to Lead,” members of the first cohort spent time with President Nick Ladany and members of SALT exploring personal leadership styles, analyzing trends and challenges within higher education and at Oglethorpe, and engaging in team-building and networking activities.

“The President’s Leadership Institute allowed me the opportunity to establish a great network between faculty, staff and administrators,” Ethan Hawkland said. “Through a collective effort, our cohort really emphasized the significance and value that each member plays in their respective areas and came together to visualize what the future of Oglethorpe will look like. The opportunity to view different areas of higher education through the unique lens of the Senior Administrative Leadership Team, to learn how each vice president advanced their career, and to gain a newfound sense of leadership has prepared me for a life-long career in higher education.”

Nominations for the second cohort were submitted this week, and participants will be selected in the next few weeks. The program will run from September 2023 to May 2024.

“PLI has been an amazing opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the world of higher education,” said Miriam Smith. “It has given me the opportunity to explore and gather a greater understanding of how an institution functions as an entity. We typically get so stuck in our own functional areas, so it has been great being able to engage in constructive conversation with colleagues across areas.”

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