The University Record, June 24, 1998

12 women staff members to hone leadership skills in new program

By Mary Jo Frank
University Relations

Twelve women staff members have been selected to participate in Awakening the Leader Within, a professional development program launched this month by the Commission for Women and Human Resource Development, a unit of Human Resources/Affirmative Action.

The forum for aspiring leaders, led by Ann Arbor psychologist Robert Pasick and JoAnn Allen, professor emeritus of social work, will focus on enhancing participants' leadership abilities. Participants will meet five times over a six-month period to develop and practice skills that will expand their capacity to lead, explains Karen S. Dickinson, co-chair of the Commission for Women (CFW) and a customer relationship manager in the Information Technology Division (ITD). The idea for the pilot forum emerged from a series of CFW-sponsored programs on the topic of leadership during the 1997-98 academic year.

The program is based on a peer development model, Pasick explains, in which individuals in similar positions help each other foster leadership skills in addition to developing their own leadership potential.

Of the more than 50 women who expressed interest in participating in the forum, 21 indicated they would be able to attend all five sessions and applied. The women selected represent a cross section of non-instructional staff, Dickinson says. The women are at a point in their careers where they are ready for advancement into leadership roles but may not have all the confidence, knowledge or experience they want or need, Dickinson notes.

Robert B. Holmes, director of Human Resource Development (HRD), says he believes "and many others in the University do as well, that each member of the University community has leadership skills that can be refined and improved. Those skills can be applied in many settings, at work, at home, in volunteer and civic roles, and in many other ways. Awakening the Leader Within is a topic of importance to all of us, in all of our lives."

Participating in the Awakening the Leader Within pilot forum are K. Norah Daugherty, administrative assistant, Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences; Patricia M. Dragon, assistant librarian, University Library; Lynne E. Dumas, events coordinator, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies; Shekinah Errington, senior graphic artist, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics; S.Yvette Jenkins, program manager, 21st Century Program, LS&A; Josefa R. Keller, technical library assistant, University Library; Linda R. Kennedy, administrative assistant, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies; Bitsy Lamb, service foreman, Transportation Services; Kristin A. Miller, administrative assistant, Grounds and Waste Management Services; Barbara A. Schulke, technologist, ITD; Kimberly A. Stoll, senior financial analyst, University Library; and Kathie E. Wilder, office assistant, Treasurer's Office.

Applicants responded to a series of questions about their work history, long-range career goals, and the strengths and experience they would bring to the program. They also submitted two letters of recommendation from supervisors and other members of the University community.

"There was an outpouring of support on behalf of the nominees by a number of high ranking people in the University who were extremely enthusiastic about the program and about the women who wanted to participate," Dickinson says.

"Each applicant had some very positive things said about her. It is extremely empowering to have colleagues you respect take time to write about why you deserve to participate in this kind of program," Dickinson adds.

Human Resources/Affirmative Action and CFW are exploring future ways of collaborating together.