Decision-making, adaptability, diversity, conflict management, community connection, and community engagement are just some of the skills learned by Piedmont Community College’s (PCC) inaugural cohort of the Institute of Leadership Training and Development. The College’s leadership team chose seven PCC employees to participate in a two-month, six-session training to help these emerging leaders better understand the next leadership level and meet the needs of the College and community.

The Institute of Leadership Training and Development was spearheaded by Dr. Pamela G. Senegal, President, PCC, for crucial conversations in leadership. A program planning committee made up of Melissa Robbins-Mann, Dean, Business Studies and Emerging Technologies; Rosalind Cross, Director, Federal Programs; and Laurie Clayton, Controller and Director, Human Resources, made arrangements for the cohort to hear from accomplished leaders that demonstrated proven teaching methodologies to deal with issues at varying levels of leadership.

Each week had a central theme, including “A Call to Lead,” “Community Connections,” “College Culture,” and “Controlling the Narrative,” among others, with guest speakers from PCC’s leadership, Roxboro Mayor Marilyn Newell, and representatives from North Carolina Campus Engagement and the Dispute Resolution Center. The final session focused on the theme “Paving the Road to Resolution,” where Dr. Senegal conveyed specific points to the group, such as understanding equity, self-reflection, investing in professional development opportunities, and being clear about the “why” of their actions.

“As a college, we were extremely excited to develop and offer this opportunity to our employees,” said Robbins-Mann.  “We ensured our inaugural cohort offered many perspectives as some employees were new in their first year of professional employment, some were new to PCC but had years of experience elsewhere, and others had been with the College for more than a decade or two.”

“We had a goal to build a sound foundation for these emerging leaders to guarantee, as they grow at PCC and as working professionals, they have the building blocks to lead teams to success,” said Cross. “In doing so, they will also be able to form strong relationships with members of those future teams and help their surrounding communities thrive.”

The participants in the inaugural cohort were Hunter Ashworth (Institutional Researcher), Tammy Duncan (Foundation & Gifts Coordinator), Tina Lawrence (Human Resources Business Analyst), Allegra Modlin (Director, Advising & Quality Enhancement Plan), Kailey Oakley (Career Coach, Person County), Donna Whitlow (Distance Education Instructional Design Specialist), and Jonathan Willis (Director, Continuing Education Programs).

At the conclusion of the final session, participants were presented a certificate of completion, then shared their institute experience with members of their cohort.

“My initial mindset going into our first session was that I, by no means, am a natural leader,” said Jonathan Willis. “At that time, I found myself having difficulty describing my strengths in relation to leadership, as all I could honestly see were weaknesses and shortcomings.”

Willis continued, “However, as I found myself progressing through our trainings, required readings, and lectures, this mindset began to change. I realized that my perceptions of personal vulnerability were producing a fear that led me to believe that I was not capable of standing in a leadership role. That was until I found my ‘why.’ When performing a leader’s duties, I will not lose sight of the ‘why’ behind my actions—a profound desire to serve the public. This ‘why’ will allow me to stay focused, combat that vulnerability, and live into what is perhaps the greatest value for a leader to hold, courage.”

PCC will continue this training with the next cohort of employees, ranging from eight to ten, to be selected by the College’s leadership team in the Fall 2023 semester. This will be an annual training with new cohorts forming in the fall of each year with the hope to continue to expand and elevate the leadership abilities of the Piedmont Community College employee body.

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