The sixth cohort of the Women’s Staff Leadership Institute celebrated its graduation with a reception on Nov. 7.
Stacy Jones, director of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, shared a message of congratulations on behalf of Jennifer Frum, vice president for Public Service and Outreach and WSLI executive sponsor. Frum passed along her sincerest congratulations to the cohort members on their completion of this journey and for their courage to even take it on.
“You are now one of 63 women on this campus who can claim they completed this experience,” said Jones.
Jones went on to compare the milestone of completing the program to a mile marker during a marathon.
“You are all running a long-distance race in your professional career, in your service to UGA, and in your service to the state of Georgia,” she said. “Today you reached mile marker ‘Women’s Staff Leadership Institute,’ and while we recognize this accomplishment, we remind you that this is a race that you are still running. With each step and each moment of training, you become a better runner, and you become stronger when running with others beside you.”
The WSLI was created in alignment with the Women’s Leadership Initiative launched in 2015 by the Office of the President and the Office of the Provost. The program runs annually, and this reception marked the sixth year since its inception in 2017. WSLI is administered through University Human Resources’ Learning and Development and is facilitated by public service faculty member Emily Saunders, who serves in the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach.
“Programs such as the Women’s Staff Leadership Institute create spaces for our leaders to come together from across campus, enhancing collaboration, learning, and growth for all,” said Juanita Hicks, senior associate vice president and chief human resources officer for Human Resources.
She shared her excitement about witnessing the graduates’ journeys up to this milestone and beyond.
“Don’t underestimate the power of women supporting other women; continue sharing what you’ve learned with your staff and your colleagues,” Hicks said.
The Fanning Institute offers participants the chance to explore leadership opportunities, reflect upon key leadership traits and skills, and support one another in issues that women leaders face in higher education administration.
“The word grateful is what we’ve heard over and over again this evening—that’s really what I would say best describes this experience,” said 2023 cohort member Leslie Rogers, director of Learning and Development. “I’m just so grateful to the female leaders on campus who shared with us and who challenged us to be better, to dig deeper and to know that our voice matters when we are here on campus as leaders. And I’m so thankful to Emily and the other facilitators and faculty who led our sessions. The opportunity to be developed and poured into means more than I can put into words.”
Fellow 2023 graduate Sarah Baines, senior director of development and alumni relations in the School of Public and International Affairs, also expressed her appreciation for the experience and the opportunity to build her network.
“I want to thank everyone who played a role in creating and delivering this amazing program—it is truly transformational,” she said. “I value everything I’ve learned, all the people I have gotten to know in my cohort and the wonderful network I’ve been connected to as a part of this program.”
The 2023 graduates were welcomed as alumnae at the reception by program participants from previous cohorts. Over the last six years, the WSLI has steadily built its alumnae community, which now totals 63. This year, the WSLI established its inaugural alumnae board chaired by Heather Jordan, director of student services for the UGA Athletic Association and a graduate of the third cohort in 2019. Jordan shared her appreciation of the network between the program’s graduates and her excitement for the further cultivation of that community.
“I’m so proud of you because this program is an investment in yourself that you’ve taken the time to do,” said Jordan. “As alumnae, we’ve continued to invest in ourselves, carrying on this important work in our own units and across campus. We established the new Women’s Staff Leadership Institute alumnae board to sustain our learning and to pass it along, encouraging both participants and alumnae to flourish.”
The 2023 cohort also included Christy Anderson, associate director of startups and Innovation District programming; Tracy Anderson, assistant director of the Center for Family Research; Katie Burr, director of assessment in the Office of Instruction; Chandra Echols, head of finance and administration for UGA Libraries; Missy Jackson, director of nursing for the University Health Center; Leigh Knapp, director of finance and operations in the Office of Global Engagement; Emily Newdow, assistant director for facilities management at the Georgia Center; Krista Richmond, editor of Columns; and Kelley Saussy, senior director of operations and special projects in the College of Engineering.
The 2023 program ran from May through November, and participants met monthly for workshops and discussions. Find out more at https://hr.uga.edu/employees/training/WSLI/.