By Claudia Zequeira
Katie Tagye, director, organizational design and development, has been at Valencia College for all of her professional career and is proud to share it.
“I like trying out different things, and when I first started at the College I wasn’t sure if I’d have that opportunity,” said Katie. “I have, and as a result, one of the things that I’m most proud of is the relationships I’ve made. Getting to work on the three larger campuses as well as working in Student Affairs, Academic Affairs and Organizational Development and Human Resources has really given me a breadth of opportunities to meet different people.”
Her first jobs at Valencia were as a student development and student services advisor almost two decades ago. Katie also worked as a student development coordinator and eventually transitioned into teaching, first as a Student Success instructor (the course is known today as the New Student Experience) and then as a speech communication professor. In between her time in the classroom teaching speech communication and her current role, she also worked as a faculty fellow in the Collaborative Design Center.
Katie holds a bachelor’s in English language arts education, a master’s in mental health counseling and another master’s degree in interpersonal communication, all from the University of Central Florida.
In her current role, which falls under the umbrella of Organizational Development and Human Resources, and which she began in 2016, Katie wears many hats. The position, she said, also allows her to use her natural creativity on a daily basis and keep people connected in meaningful ways. Some of her current job functions also include overseeing Valencia’s leadership development programs, managing the Collaborative Design Center at West Campus and partnering with faculty and staff to think about using design to solve challenges. One example of this partnership is the way Katie is supporting the redesign of the Seneff Honors College, among others.
“What I do in general is I work with faculty and staff when they want to solve problems,” she said. “I facilitate conversations and I facilitate the process of solving those problems … part of my job is to make sure all voices are heard and included.”
Her supervisor, Carla McKnight, assistant vice president of organizational development, agrees.
“Katie blends institutional knowledge with innovation and creativity. She brings Valencia’s deep history to every conversation, and always pushes us to be forward thinking,” said Carla. “She is authentic and insightful — using both characteristics to advance the mission of our organization. Katie is the ultimate thought partner. She is always there to talk through ideas and help move work forward. We are fortunate to have her as a part of the Valencia community.”
Some recent challenges she has faced — and welcomed — in response to the coronavirus pandemic include redesigning the April PIVOT 360 session from a face-to-face session to a virtual one. The sessions have been redesigned and will be facilitated over the next two weeks.
Katie mentioned changes in how we deliver service to both faculty and students in recent weeks seem to have brought out the best in Valencia faculty and staff, who she said are going “above and beyond” and “flexing their creativity” to keep the College going during a trying period.
“I hope the community, and especially our students, see how hard the College is working to ensure their work isn’t interrupted by this pandemic,” she said.
And it’s that mission of service to students, to the community and to each other that’s kept her professionally engaged and motivated all these years. In addition, Valencia’s people have kept her here.
“Since I’ve worked all my professional career at Valencia, I really have made friends with the people with whom I work,” she said. “So, work often affords me the opportunity to play, laugh and generally enjoy the company of friends. I also feel really connected to the mission and work of the College. The work I do is work that I could do in other places, but I feel so very lucky that I get to do it here.”
In her free time, Katie, a Florida native who grew up on the Space Coast, likes traveling, reading and exploring with her son, Isaiah. She also loves to bake.
“My favorite things to make are cookies and homemade bread,” she said.