Building Leaders From Within

The CORO Fellowship project has two big supporters at UCR: Vice Chancellor Ron T. Coley and Provost Paul D’Anieri

Inaugural Southern California CORO Fellows: (top row: Jorge Ancona, Peter Graham, Tiffany López; (bottom row) Bobbi McCracken, Michael Nduati, Jadie Lee and Georgianne Carlson. UCR File

Vice Chancellor Ron T. Coley and Provost Paul D’Anieri have a shared vision: build UC Riverside’s future leaders.

How? By fostering and developing UCR’s own staff and faculty. For a second year in a row, UCR has sent personnel to participate in the CORO Fellowship program, a one-year leadership training session aimed at strengthening the skills of UCR’s own employees.

CORO is a San Francisco-based non-profit whose mission is to prepare people for leadership roles via hands on, collaborative learning. This is the second year the fellowship expanded to include participants from all UC campuses.

In the inaugural 2015 Southern California cohort 16 faculty and staff participated, including seven from UCR:

  • Michael Nduati, associate dean of Clinical Affairs, LACE director, and director of Hospital Medicine;
  • Tiffany Ana López, professor in the Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production and Tomás Rivera endowed chair;
  • Peter Graham, professor of philosophy and associate dean of Student Academic Affairs;
  • Jadie Lee, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources;
  • Georgianne Carlson, associate vice chancellor and chief financial administrative officer for the Office of the Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services;
  • Jorge Ancona, assistant vice chancellor of Alumni and Constituent Relations;
  • Bobbi McCracken, associate vice chancellor of Financial Services.

The 2016 UC-wide cohort, already in session, has 42 participants. Of those, 22 are part of the Southern California group, eight of which are from UCR. The Southern California cohort is made up of UCR, UCI, UCLA, UCSD and UCSB. UC President Janet Napolitano encouraged this systemwide initiative.

Having a campus with strong leaders translates into a successful organization, said Coley, whose office sponsored the 2015 cohort.

The fact that both staff and faculty are willing to participate in CORO “speaks to the fact that our community really appreciates the value of leadership… exercising it, becoming more expert at it,” Coley said.

Commitment to the year long experience required all-day sessions once a month and putting in additional hours to complete their end-of-year project, “Recommendations for UC Revenue-Generating Business Contracts.” It was then presented to key UC stakeholders at the Office of the President.

Being a CORO fellow meant having access to UC’s senior leadership, which gave the team insight and in-depth understanding of how the UC system operates. Also, having a mix of staff and faculty created opportunities for participants to learn from everyone’s job and think of ways to help each other at UCR and across the UC campuses.

Provost Paul D’Anieri said supporting leadership training for both staff and faculty is something that he – and the rest of the leadership team – value. They want to support this type of environment, from the bottom up, he said.

UCR has many employees with great skills and his job, along with Coley and the rest of the leadership team, is to identify those skills and support the employee with training to reach their full potential. Having a mix of staff and faculty participate in programs such as CORO is an opportunity for them to gain exposure and understanding of each others’ experience and job responsibilities. UCR is the only campus that sends both staff and faculty to this CORO program, he said. Both he and Coley are working on strategies to reinforce leadership here at UCR, he said.

“Our emphasis on CORO is really only the beginning of leadership development,” D’Anieri said.

Michael Nduati, for example, said CORO helped shape his goal of becoming a dean. He also completed the program understanding the importance of having a macro vision. In the medical field, he is now looking at how UCR and the rest of the medical campuses can have a larger impact across California.

“I’m thinking about the collaborative power and the impact as a whole UC system, working together, rather than working as individual campuses,” Nduati said.

The skills learned are skills that can be implemented immediately, said Peter Graham, who in the future sees himself as a dean, a provost or vice provost. The fellowship gave him a new set of tools to grow as a leader and to perfect things such as effectively running a meeting, delegating and creating a culture of empowering people who work with him.

Also, based on recommendations from the inaugural Southern California cohort, the CORO Women’s Initiative for Empowerment was created. It’s a three-month program where currently 25 female UC employees participate in, and in which Tiffany Ana López serves as the only adjunct faculty facilitator within that group. During the sessions, for example, the women focused on role-playing how to negotiate when “high stake” ideas are on the table, López said.

“There is a need to cultivate more female leaders in the UC, something this branch of the CORO program seeks to address,” López said.

2015 CORO fellows reflect on their experience

Jorge Ancona

I can say without hesitation that the CORO program through UC has been one of the best leadership experiences in my 23 years with the University of California.

CORO gave me the gift of self-awareness; how I am perceived, an appreciation for that which I can offer, and stronger confidence in my ability to lead.  It provided the tools to recognize and understand that which I am experiencing and the ability to adjust as needed. A quote that really resonated for me from the program was “We don’t learn by doing, we learn by reflecting on what we’ve done.”

Georgianne Carlson

Although rigorous, the CORO program was the best leadership development program that I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in. The tools and methods covered in the program content were relevant to my position as associate vice chancellor and chief financial and administrative officer in BAS, and easy to implement. An unexpected benefit of the program was that it provided me with an opportunity not only to connect with leaders from other UC campuses, but also to build upon existing relationships with colleagues from UCR in a completely different setting and role. I can’t say enough about how valuable the program has been to me and highly recommend it.

Peter Graham

This ended up making a really big difference as a manager, as a supervisor, as someone that is goal-oriented. Developing people skills, communication… a lot of this is emotional intelligence, finding constructive and productive ways to get things done.

We acquired a tool set; for example, how to spend a budget for courses and reorganize staff. You recognize that there are the things you know – and the things you don’t. But then there are things you know that you don’t know … and if you don’t know them, you make a decision in the dark. This is when you bring in people to help you think things through. You have to become really methodical about thinking things through, on any topic.

Jadie Lee

The CORO Fellowship helped me build a network of colleagues from across the system. It gave us unparalleled access to campus leaders. We had a lot of time with them. That was an incredible experience. It helped to get a deeper understanding of the complexity and also the possibilities [within the UC system].

I came back with a deeper understanding of the role of a leader and the importance of a leader in creating an atmosphere to thrive.

We worked on a project on exploring revenue-building opportunities for the UC System and made a presentation at the Office of the President and to various chancellors who were there… it was gratifying to work on something that will have a systemwide impact.

Tiffany Ana López

I think CORO is an amazing leadership organization. What we learned became very generative for our students…and for mentoring our colleagues. It gives you really specific tools to make the work more impactful, from managing meetings, to innovating initiatives, managing teams, asking questions. Another thing CORO has done, is it has allowed me to focus on the specificity of the UC.

For me, it’s about thinking of the UC as a business, thinking how we move the UC forward, seeing it as a whole. The success of UC depends on all of us, staff and faculty.

Michael Nduati

What I wanted to know was how all these pieces fit together.

One special piece from the fellowship is that you get to interact with the senior leadership team from every UC, you get one-on-one time with them and you learn about strengths and weaknesses. You get crucial insights you don’t get to hear on a daily basis.

For the future I’m thinking of how we can set up a relationship with all UC medical schools, how to bargain together with business vendors, for example.

One of the things we wanted to highlight was how important and valuable it is to include a combination of staff, faculty and administrators in one place. It allows you to see things from other peoples’ perspective and it creates synergy.

The 2016 Southern California CORO cohort, UCR  participants:

  • Kendrick Davis, director of medical education, research and evaluation, co-director of LACE and assistant adjunct professor
  • Rebeccah Goldware, chief of staff for Research and Economic Development
  • Jennifer Hughes, associate professor of history
  • Mariam Lam, associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, director of southeast Asian studies program and associate professor of comparative literature
  • Nosang Myung, professor of chemical and environmental engineering and department chair and co-associate director for the Winston Chung Global Energy Center
  • Veronica Ruiz, assistant dean and chief financial and administrative officer for School of Public Policy
  • Sharon Walker, associate dean at Bourns College of Engineering, John Babbage chair in environmental engineering and professor of chemical and environmental engineering
  • Gillian Wilson, professor of physics and astronomy at the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Are you ready to nominate a CORO Fellow? Find out the details.

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