The Leadership Academy Takes Flight

On Tuesday, October 11, the new cohort of Valencia’s prestigious Leadership Academy gathered for the first of eleven workshops and began building their leadership team. From professors and administrative assistants, to web developers and security officers, this year’s academy is comprised of 17 Valencia employees from a variety of departments, campuses, and backgrounds.

“I was so surprised to see how different we all are,” said Becca Shevlin, a professor of English. “I did not know what to expect, but I am so happy the committee chose such a diverse group of people in terms of status, experience, and field.”

Upon first meeting each other, the cohort shared stories about who they were, where they grew up, and what leadership meant to them. Despite their diverse beginnings, the participants quickly realized they were all in the room for the same reason – to learn how they can become better leaders.

“At first, I had imagined the Leadership Academy would be rather stuffy,” said Melanie Hardy, a web and portal developer, “that it would be a group mainly driven to add something to a résumé.” As the day went on, however, Melanie found herself in an “environment where conversation was not only encouraged, but expected – we were pushed to open up and build relationships with each other from the very beginning.”

Little did these participants know, that on their first day, leadership meant spending hours in the sun behind the Criminal Justice Institute, solving brainteasers in the dirt, rearranging themselves around sticks, and moving cinder blocks from one place to another – all in the name of team building.

When asked what she thought of the first workshop, Gwendolyn Noel, a senior technical document specialist said, “it was filled with energy and passion as we worked on various team-building exercises. We were beginning to build trust in the group – an important part of leadership.”

This year, the academy transitioned from the Valencia Chapter of American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) to the Office for Organizational Communication and Development, making all full-time supervisors and non-supervisors eligible to apply.

Brent Nakagama, who is responsible for managing the academy said, “The self-management, knowledge sharing, networking opportunities, and leadership skills participants gain from this program, continue to make a positive impact on their lives long after the academy is over.” Making connections with colleagues and learning through interaction and application are all aspects of the academy that create a solid professional development format for participants.

Amy Love, a career program advisor, and Fontella Jones, an academic advisor, are co-facilitating this third annual Leadership Academy, and both are former participants. This year’s academy will run from October 2011 to September 2012. If you have any questions about this cohort, or how to apply next year, please contact Erin Tuttle at or at extension 8257.

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