First Cohort Completes Women & Leadership Program

Women & Leadership celebrationThe first cohort of 16 students from Antioch University Santa Barbara’s inaugural 10-month Women & Leadership Certificate Program graduated on Saturday, October 11, 2014.

Certificates were presented by AUSB President Nancy Leffert, PhD, and Program Director Judy Bruton, JD, MSW, in a ceremony on the downtown Santa Barbara campus’ rooftop, following several groupings of student panel presentations. Visit AUSB’s Facebook page to view photos from the panels, certificate presentation, and celebration.

AUSB’s innovative W&L Program supports career advancement through Values-Based Leadership across professional and community contexts, with a hybrid curriculum that combines virtual learning and three on-campus weekend residencies (which took place in January, May, and October of 2014, for this cohort).

Women & Leadership certificate presentation“I’m so impressed by the passion of the students who completed this program,” said Dr. Leffert. “They already have begun to apply the skills and knowledge they gained to projects in their communities and careers to help foster leadership and confidence in women.”

Throughout the year, each student collaborated with peers, faculty, and community mentors to develop and implement an Experiential Leadership Project, which were presented during the graduation reception panels.

In her introduction, project faculty Polly Chandler, remarked, “As [the W&L students] worked on their projects, they discovered their leadership style and their leadership voice.”

Women & Leadership celebrationOne graduate, who attended W&L from Fairfax, VA, created a program targeted at female high school seniors in her area to encourage careers in law enforcement. The first group of students completed the program to rave results, and it is now serving as a model for other programs in nearby cities. Another graduate created a leadership program for women at her place of employment, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, which attracted close to 150 women for the first event. A third student created a program similar to W&L supporting the empowerment and leadership of girls in Thousand Oaks, CA.

“The Women & Leadership Program helped me discover my next career move and gave me the confidence that women look out for each other and do great things in each other’s light,” said graduate Sonia Barbey.

During the graduation reception, many of the students shared that they were initially apprehensive about the program; some saying that they hadn’t worked well with other women in the past, while others lacked confidence in leadership positions going in. However, every single graduate said that they received immeasurable value from their experience. Among the assembled guests were several women from the community who had been invited by graduates to consider participating in a future cohort.

Women & Leadership panel presentations“Perhaps today instead of a glass ceiling, we have a more porous ceiling,” said Dr. Leffert. “But as long as there is any type of barrier at all, there is a need for this program, and I’m thrilled that this first group of students are working for positive change.”

The program’s inaugural graduates were: Esther Aguilera, Bonnie Baranoff, Sonia Barbey, Lisa Cardoso, Jill Dumain, Sarah Ettman-Sterner, Jean Flanagan, Cassie Gibson, Keri Goldberg, Kim Heidt, Alisha Holley, Phyllis Krekel, Nicole Louderback, Julie McGloin, Trudie Olsen-Curtis, and Tracey Ryan. While a majority of students came from a corporate environment, several were from the political and non-profit arenas.

“The W&L program taught me that leadership is more than just being a good leader,” said graduate Kim Heidt. “Leadership is how you show up in life, it is part of your DNA and refining it becomes essential as we build our communities, our families and our careers. Now I am more present, a better listener, more empathetic, and I learned how to set healthy boundaries with my time and my schedule.”

For more details about the Women & Leadership Certificate Program, or to register for an upcoming Information Session, visit www.antiochsb.edu/wal.

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