This common phrase is the driving philosophy behind the Women Staff Leadership Development Institute (WSLDI) at Case Western Reserve University. Launched in 2011, WSLDI helps women-identified staff members at the university enhance their leadership and career development skills through education, coaching and the building of professional networks.
Angela Clark-Taylor, director of Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, and her team designed the year-long program to foster confidence in participants while teaching them how to make effective career decisions and generate positive outcomes in relation to career advancement goals.
Program participants spend 32 hours working toward an executive leadership certificate from Weatherhead School of Management, and engage in more than 40 hours of workshops and networking sessions on topics such as career visioning, communication and team building, understanding their unique institutional contexts, and diversity and equity in leadership.
Participants are selected by a board of program alumni, which includes a network of more than 130 women-aligned staff. The institute is also supported by a group of volunteer coaches and instructors.
Clark-Taylor said what is most impressive about the program is its stewardship of graduates from recent cohorts to serve as board members and coaches.
“To increase gender equity for women in society, we need to decide if we want a few women at the top to or if we want to create opportunities for all women-aligned individuals to have an equitable chance to contribute, develop, and lead at all levels,” Clark-Taylor explained. “WSLDI women have chosen that they will work to lift others up.”
Alicia Robinson is one of those women. A current coach for the WSLDI believes coaching is an integral component of leadership and professional development.
“I am grateful for the women in my life who have served as coaches, mentors, and guides throughout my experiences in higher education,” Robinson explained. “I look forward to building a relationship with a WSLDI cohort member this year and for years to come.”
This year’s WSLDI was designed by Clark-Taylor and Anastasia Martinez, assistant director of the Mather Center. For the 2021-22 cohort, coaches include Rachel Begley, Debbie Fatica, Martinez, Stacy Mitchell, Colleen Barker-Williamson and Corrie Zimerla; board members include Darlena Dillard, Amanda Koziura, Carlier Myers, Leah Shaw, Sophie Sureau and Teresa Underwood; and facilitators/instructors include Shirley Mosley, Laura Papcum, Heather Burton, and Angela Clark-Taylor.
For those interested in participating in the WSLDI at Case Western Reserve, applications open April in spring for the next academic year. Additionally, there are other opportunities for professional development shared in the Mather Center’s weekly newsletter that are open to those of all genders at CWRU. Faculty, staff and students can sign up for the newsletter.