A Reflection on Valencia’s Emerging Leaders Program

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The application is open for Valencia College’s 2021-2022 Emerging Leaders Program, a cohort-based program that allows employees to explore their personal behavioral drives and practice employee competencies through self-reflection, exploration, individualized learning and engagement with colleagues from across the College. The cohort can expect to discover new skills, fail forward and grow together. Applications are due for the 2021-2022 cohort on or before Friday, June 25, 2021, at 5 p.m. Read about the program and how to apply.

Chris Brown, teaching lab supervisor, completed the program in spring 2021, reflected on his experience with the program, formerly called the Virtual Leadership Development Program. 

By Chris Brown, Teaching Lab Supervisor

Leading through change isn’t just a neat way to say “managing during COVID”; it’s a real skillset to be learned and fostered. A lot has changed in the last year, and Valencia is taking real steps to meet our needs as leaders. I had the honor of taking part in the first cohort of the Virtual Leadership Development Program (VLDP). Our fearless leaders, Natasha McIlmurray (coordinator, organizational design and development) and Lauren Thomas (professor, mathematics) took us through eight modules on topics like emotional intelligence, equity and collaboration. At the end of the course, we each had a chance to demonstrate our leadership style with a short presentation.

VLDP creates opportunities to reflect on your own leadership and experiences while meeting amazing peers and guest speakers. Natasha and Lauren gave us ample time before each session to read and discuss content, saving our meetings for critical conversations with leaders here at the College and beyond. We examined our own styles and covered strategies that could help us work together more cohesively. Some of my favorite sessions were those in which we practiced creative thinking, conflict management and collaboration. Once we grew comfortable with each other, we were able to dig deep and discuss real experiences that have shaped who we are as leaders.

For me, the core lesson of VLDP is to build trust with those around you. At our College, leadership isn’t all hierarchy and competition. Valencia is creating a network of people who work toward the same goal, but with different styles and strengths. That goal we share is student success, yet it’s deeper than that. We at Valencia have a saying that represents our core values: anyone can learn anything under the right conditions. This means that anyone can learn to lead. If we build a safe environment, invite in new experiences, and grow together as people and students, then Valencia will be ready for any change that comes our way.

If you have the chance to join the Virtual Leadership Development Program, I can’t recommend it enough.


  • Natasha McIlmurray said:

    It was a pleasure having you as part of the cohort, Chris! Thank you for your reflection & willingness to share.

    PMWed, 09 Jun 2021 15:51:57 +0000Wed, 09 Jun 2021 15:51:57 +0000pm21,3:51 pm

  • April Montallana said:

    Sounds awesome! Great article Chris! 🙂

    PMWed, 09 Jun 2021 15:55:16 +0000Wed, 09 Jun 2021 15:55:16 +0000pm21,3:55 pm

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