This past Tuesday, June 2, 2015, we held our final session and closing reception for the inaugural class of the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women. The day was bittersweet for sure. It was exciting to see the program graduate its first class, but over the past ten sessions the group grew to be quite close and I think it is safe to say we are going to miss spending every other Tuesday morning together.
Over the past five months we have covered so much ground. With the help of an outstanding group of speakers, facilitators, and panelists, the participants were able to:
- Understand their personal leadership style.
- Practice communicating with authority, projecting a professional presence, having difficult conversations, handling crisis communications, and networking.
- Learn how to negotiate effectively, identify organizational culture, and excel within organizations.
- Develop their personal brand and a road map for the future.
This list does not really do the spirit of the program justice, because the impact of the program that has left all of us involved in awe is the bond that was built between the participants. Through each session of the program the participants were each other’s greatest teachers. They shared with, supported, and bolstered each other in a way that made the program quite remarkable.
The 100+ guests at the closing reception were a testament to how important the program was to participants. I was able to meet spouses, family, friends, coworkers, and employers, all of whom were gushing with pride for “their” participant.
The reception included an impressive lineup of speakers including Towson University’s Interim President Dr. Timothy Chandler, Vice President of Innovation and Applied Research Dyan Brasington, and Vice President of University Marketing and Communications Josianne Pennington, and Baltimore City’s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake. The program participants also elected two of their classmates to speak on behalf of the class: Amy Bennett and Jodi Schwartz.
At a loss for words to summarize the program myself, I will borrow form Amy’s speech:
Speaking from my heart, this class exceeded my expectations and led me to the answers I was seeking at the start….Why did TU develop the Professional Leadership Program for Women…why not just a leadership program for professionals? What does gender have to do with it and why should I be interested in a class with women only?
I can tell you that my career norm – like most of yours – has always been to assimilate with men. I’ve never experienced the camaraderie of a woman’s majority so I never knew I could miss it. I have a better appreciation now for having collaborated, discussed, solved problems, and shared perspectives with each of you. What I have learned through this powerful cohort of female leaders is invaluable.
Having the opportunity to be a part of the team that supported this inaugural class of the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women has been one of the most distinct honors and pleasures of my career. I am grateful for everyone who worked on this with me, the amazing participants, and Dr. Maravene Loeschke for having the vision!
And now, it is time to look towards the next class scheduled to begin in January 2016! For more information about the program or to request an application, please the website.