Campus News

March 22, 2010

HERS alumnae guide new leadership program

Women who want to be college presidents, and those who want to lead from where they are, can boost leadership skills and professional development under a new campus program, “Take Charge: Women and Leadership at Emory.”

The program is based on the national HERS (Higher Education Resource Services), an educational nonprofit providing leadership and management development for women in higher education administration.

“Taking Charge” plans to offer two sessions a semester for the fall and spring semesters of the upcoming academic year to put women in the University on the trajectory to higher positions and responsibilities.

“Taking Charge,” says Alicia Franck, chair of the Women in Leadership subcommittee of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, which is spearheading the new program, “has been designed to take the information, best practices, format and structure of the national HERS program and adapt it for Emory. The program is an opportunity for a broad spectrum of women in our community to benefit from the leadership lessons that HERS alumnae bring back to our campus,” adds Franck, associate vice provost for academic and strategic partnerships.

PCSW Chair Lisa Newbern says, “To me, it’s a matter of access and time. HERS is an expensive program; Emory has only sent one to two women each year. Plus, it’s time intensive.

“Offering sessions at Emory really opens it up to anyone to participate, and it’s a way for the women Emory has supported to give back — passing on the knowledge to others at the University in a way that is cost-effective, respects time and offers opportunity for professional growth,” says Newborn, who heads communications for Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

Right now, the program is free and open to “as many as are interested,” says Kim Loudermilk, a senior associate dean at Emory College and a HERS alumna.

“We hope to have an interesting mix of women at various points in their careers. Leadership takes place at all levels.”

“We’re asking [participants] for a certain type of commitment to build a strong network and consistency,” Loudermilk says, noting that the program will be a “great networking opportunity” involving women from across the University.

“After the first-year curriculum is complete, we will assess feedback and participation,” she adds.

At the March 17 kick-off, following the monthly PCSW meeting, Mary Brown Bullock, visiting distinguished professor of China studies and president emeritus of Agnes Scott College, told the group “I had an awful lot to learn after I became president of a college.” Her list included financial resources management; human resources management; fundraising; and strategic planning.

In reflecting on what she needed to know in order to be a successful executive, Bullock said of HERS, “I could have used that program.”

Tiffany Worboy, coordinator of academic programs in Emory College, says, “What I see this new program doing is removing some of the guesswork behind that type of information-sharing — and making those connections more explicit for women across the board at Emory. The HERS alumnae who are guiding this program are demonstrating what being a leader is all about: inspiring others to be the very best they can be and to giving back to a larger community.”

Assistant professor of medicine and HERS alumna Jennifer Gooch says, “The best aspects of the national program are transferable to ‘Taking Charge,’ which will facilitate interactions between women that might not ordinarily connect. “

“Through HERS, I can count in my virtual rolodex several current and former university presidents, many deans, directors and department chairpersons. The [Emory] program will provide a similar opportunity to establish connections with other women leaders — both present and future.”

Her advice to would-be women leaders: “Take advantage of every opportunity to meet the leaders in your department and institution and learn from them. Take career development courses and go to retreats, seminars and conferences. The material will be good, but that will only be part of the bargain. The people you meet at those events will also be looking for opportunities to network and may become long-term professional connects — even friends.”

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