Sylvia M. Thomasson Educational Leadership Enhancement Program
palm tree image Sylvia M. Thomasson
Sunday, June 23, 2024

Class of 2010

Class members had the opportunity to explore the Florida College System during a year of transition. In 2009-2010, many colleges began the process to add baccalaureate degrees and many changed names. Participants learned that Florida is at the forefront of the community college baccalaureate movement and that other states are watching what we are doing.

Pasco-Hernando Community College, with Michelle Balon, Ed.D., as leader, assumed primary responsibility for coordinating the program. Dr. MaryEtta Fisher from College of Central Florida and Dr. Barbara Howard from Lake-Sumter State College provided program support.

2009-2010 agenda

SMT group with Governor Crist
Class of 2010 with Governor Charlie Crist.

Opening session
The 2010 class had the opportunity to collaborate with leadership program participants from other institutions at the opening session, which met in Naples in October. In addition to CF, LSSC and PHCC, participants represented Florida International University, Hillsborough Community College, Palm Beach Community College and Polk State College.

Highlights included Dr. Gwendolyn Stephenson, president of Hillsborough Community College, sharing Ten Things that I Know Now that I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago. Valparisa Baker facilitated a panel discussion with past program participants. Tracey Moore, professor of voice and theater at Western Kentucky University, presented Finding Freedom in Public Speaking. Katherine Johnson, president of PHCC, shared her Journey to the Presidency. Marie McDemond, president emeritus of Norfolk State University and interim dean at FIU, presented Interviewing Skills and Role Playing.

Foundational Components of Leadership
In November, the group met at CF and was welcomed by Dr. Jim Harvey, senior vice president at CF. Program participants Lois Brauckmuller and Marian Smith (along with LaKeshia Murphy who left the program midyear to pursue her master's degree) presented a session on Social Skills in Leadership. The presentation was based on the principles in Susan RoAne’s “How to Work a Room.” Donnah Ross, director of the CF Institute, shared information on Developing Leadership and Personal Skills for Career Advancement. She said it is important to evaluate your talents early on so that you can tailor your professional development. Her keys for leadership include seeking and taking responsibility.

The Leader within You
The consortium met at Lake-Sumter State College in January and participants were welcomed by Dr. Charles Mojock, president, and Dr. Barbara Howard, vice president of academic and student affairs. A panel discussion on leadership vs. management featured Dr. Devi Drexler, assistant vice president of student affairs; Dr. Gary Sligh, dean of general education and transfer programs; and Tim Kane, executive director of human resources. The afternoon session featured Anita Torres of Alternative Learning Designs, who led several hands-on activities to help team members explore their leadership styles.

Presidents’ Forum
In February, our college presidents shared details on their paths to presidency and insights on leadership. Dr. Charles Dassance of CF, Dr. Katherine Johnson of PHCC and Dr. Mojock of LSSC participated in an extensive question-and-answer session. Among their suggestions for effective leadership:

  • Recognize, celebrate and communicate the successes of your employees
  • Model, reinforce and teach a code of behavior
  • Reinforce the core values in your institution
  • Learn from your experiences
Paths to Leadership

The group returned to CF in March. A panel discussion focused on How College Leaders Envision and Plan for the Future. Dr. Rayanne Giddis, dean of academic foundations at CF, discussed the Critical Importance of Mentoring for Women in Community Colleges. Dr. Barbara Burrows, vice president for instructional affairs at CF, lead a discussion on the Path to Leadership and the Challenge of the Future.

Tallahassee visit
Legislative days in TallahasseeIn April, the group travelled to Tallahassee to explore the Florida education system from a top-down perspective. Team members heard from many of our leaders: Chancellors Frank Brogan and Will Holcombe, Rep. Anitere Flores, Rep. Bill Heller and senior staff of the Board of Governors and Florida College System. A stop at the Florida Supreme Court included a meeting with Chief Justice Peggy A. Quince who urged participants to be persistent and be patient. PHCC Attorney Steve Schroeder provided background information on the Florida Association of Community Colleges and its advocacy role, and led the group on tours of the old and new capitols. Governor Charlie Crist stopped for photo with the group after a press conference announcing rebates for energy-efficient appliances.

Class project
For our leadership project, the group created an online diversity program that can be used by a range of audiences from students to employees. The project is available online. The project was created with general information, but may be customized by each of our participating schools with campus-specific photographs and more.

Graduation took place on May 20, 2010, at Pasco-Hernando Community College. Michelle Balon welcomed participants and guests. Our graduation speaker was Dr. Michael G. Rom, author and director of Academy at the Farm, a successful charter school in Polk City. Participants presented the diversity program, which was well received. Graduation marked the end of the program for 2009-2010 participants, but participants recognize the program has opened doors to unlimited opportunities in leadership at our colleges and beyond.

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