Alumni in the News – Living the Union Mission

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Sabrina Puppin Opens “Fluid Perceptions” at Grand Hyatt Doha

Internationally known artist and U&U alumna, Sabrina Puppin, has just opened a new show named “Fluid Perceptions” in Doha. Learn more about Dr. Puppin and her remarkable work at this link.

What Makes Preachers and/or Pastors Great?

That is the question that UI&U alumnus, Dr. J. William Poole answered in his book, “What Makes Preachers and/or Pastors Great?” Dr. Poole concluded that they live by example as he examined the lives of four prominent African American ministers. Read more about the late Dr. Poole and his findings at this link.

Recipient of Union Honorary Doctorate to Deliver Convocation Address

La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and UI&U recipient of an honorary doctorate, will address psychiatrists at the APA Annual Meeting in San Francisco when she delivers this year’s William C. Menninger Memorial Convocation Lecture, titled, “Psychiatric Leadership to Expand Equity and Well-Being.” Read more at this link.

Be part of the Union Mission to be a world-changer by enrolling in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral program today. It all starts with You! Click below.

Dr. Kim C. Byas, Sr., Appointed Program Director of Innovative Master of Science in Health Care Leadership

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Dr. Kim C. Byas, Sr.

Kim C. Byas, Sr., Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.H.E., was appointed to lead Union Institute & University’s new innovative Master of Science in Health Care Leadership (MS-HCL) program.

As a seasoned health care professional, Dr. Byas has served nearly 40 years in various health care settings—including as regional executive with the American Hospital Association where he works with hospitals on federal advocacy, health care system transformation, and health policy.

Dr. Byas cites two very important reasons for the formation of this new program. “First, many of us dream of a health care system that provides the best care with the best outcomes possible—regardless of ethnicity, cultural background, or financial circumstances. As most know, our health care model falls short of achieving this.

Second, Union Institute & University’s historic and unique commitment to experimental adult education prepares motivated adults who want to work to improve health care access and eliminate health inequities.  Consequently, Union Institute & University has more than five decades of success in helping adult learners first transform their lives; and then transform their communities and promote social justice.  Union Institute & University is nationally ranked as the fourth best university for adult learners—individuals who work, support families, and have very busy lives while seeking to change the world.”

Dr. Byas was instrumental in designing this accredited and 100 percent online program that includes the following unique program features.

  1. Each student works with a senior health care executive who will be a mentor from start to finish. This feature is both unique and essential to the MS-HCL program because research shows that the most important determinant of long-term leadership success is mentoring. Subsequently, students will work with mentors in the field who can model behavior and help them navigate very complex health care settings.  Such mentoring will help each student become an effective leader in today’s rapidly changing health care field.
  2. To encourage professionalism and to foster enthusiasm for life-long learning, each student in the MS-HCL program will be given a membership of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE)—the premier professional organization for health care leaders.
  3. As part of the admission process, each student must identify a work-related project that is addressed throughout their coursework. At the conclusion of the program, each student will have a work plan or a finished project ready for implementation.
  4. In addition, the MS-HCL program offers coursework that emphasizes population health, social entrepreneurship, and data analytics. After completing this program in 12 months on a full-time basis, each graduate will be prepared to provide ethical and creative leadership that promotes social justice in health care.

Unlike MBA programs that cost at least two to four times more that the MS-HCL program, this program is also distinct and different from MBA in health care, MHA, and MPH degree programs in this one key way: The MS-HCL Program trains participants to lead financially successful organizations and foster social justice in health care delivery—not study policy or develop research models.  The MS-HCL program will impart practical knowledge and leadership skills for achieving social change, as well as fostering creative problem solving within an ethical framework.  Ultimately, graduates of the MS-HCL program will drive success within their health care organizations.

About Kim C. Byas, Sr., PhD, MPH, FACHE

Dr. Byas is Program Director, Union Institute & University’s Master of Science in Health Care Leadership degree. Prior to accepting this position, he served for more than 16 years as the regional executive with the American Hospital Association working with hospitals on federal advocacy, health care system transformation, and health policy.

He has more than 40 years of successful leadership and innovation in health care settings ranging from his role as the interim president/CEO, Institute for Diversity in Health Management; CEO of Kailo Alliance—a health care strategic consulting company; executive director of a multispecialty physicians group; and as adjunct faculty with DePaul University’s Master in Public Administration program and Loyola University of Chicago’s MBA in Healthcare.

Dr. Byas received his Ph.D. with a concentration in Ethical and Creative Leadership from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati; Master in Public Health from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and B.A. from Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

He volunteers with many not-for-profit organizations—including the National Association of Health Services Executives; the HCA Corris Boyd Scholarship Committee; the advisory boards of the Master of Health Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Master of Health Services Administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati; March of Dimes—Chicago and Illinois; the Advisory Board to the Office of Equity and Inclusion at The University of Michigan, and the Multi-racial and Multicultural Council of the National Rural Health Association.

He is a former board member with Union Institute & University where he served as vice-chair; a board member of the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University; and a founding board member and past chair of the Asian Health Care Leaders Association.


Oncology Research Fellowship, Harper‑Grace Hospital; Detroit, MI

Philosophy Honor Society, Wittenberg; Springfield, OH

Summer Research Fellowship, Michigan Cancer Foundation; Detroit, MI

Indiana State Hoosier Scholar; Gary, IN

Federal Government

Grant Reviewer for HHS Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

Adviser to the HHS Office of Minority Health

HPSA & MUA Advisory Committee, HRSA

Professional Associations

American College of Healthcare Executives

American Public Health Association

American Society of Association Executives

Asian Health Care Leaders Association—founding board member and board chair (2011-2013)

Chicago Health Executive Forum

Multi-cultural and Multi-racial Council of the National Rural Health Association

National Association of Health Service Executives—Chicago Chapter

Speaker and Trainer

Presentations at state, regional, national, and international conferences such as International Conference of Nurse Practitioners and Advance Practice Nurses in Rotterdam, Healthcare Financial Management Association, American College of Healthcare Executives, American Hospital Association, Federal Office of Rural Health, Health and Human Services—Office of Minority Health, March of Dimes, National Association of Health Service Executives, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in the online MS-HCL program for adults with at least three years of health care-related work experience. Click below to register or learn more.

Union Institute & University Elects New Trustee with Long History of Giving Back

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Richard C. (Rick) Stover of Dayton, Ohio has been elected to the UI&U Board of Trustees, effective January 24, 2019.

Mr. Stover, a retired businessman has more than 35 years of serving clients and providing solutions to the many complex business issues faced by companies doing business in the U.S. and internationally. He is actively engaged in his community and mirrors Union’s mission to engage, enlighten, and empower students to pursue a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.

“Giving back was instilled in me by my parents at an early age,” said Stover. “My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but they leant a helping hand to neighbors and strangers alike. My parents were my role models on how to treat people.”

Mr. Stover was drawn to Union’s mission.

“I think Union offers an important niche in adult learning. Union fills a critical gap for the working adult who needs to complete or expand his or her educational level,” said Stover.  “I respect that Union is mission driven.  I look forward to contributing to the mission by listening, being supportive and helpful, but letting management do their job.”

Mr. Stover’s election underscores Union’s commitment to its social justice values. Union serves diverse populations: minorities (44 percent), women (56 percent), and an older, adult population (average age of 39), and focuses on serving the underserved with curriculum that engages difference and applies theory to practice. Union serves a more than 25% undergraduate Hispanic adult learner population and is the only university in Ohio designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Hispanic-Serving Institutions Division .

Union President Dr. Karen Schuster Webb looks forward to Trustee Stover’s contributions and insight. “Rick is a servant leader.  He brings business knowledge and prior university board experience to Union, coupled with the desire to improve communities. We feel fortunate to have Rick join the board.”

His recent community activities include:

  • Citywide Development Corporation, Dayton, Ohio, – Board Chair, 2017-2018, Board Vice Chair & Audit/Finance Committee Chair 2015 and 2016
  • City of Dayton Schools Accountability Committee – Co-Chair, 2018, 2017 and 2016; Committee member since 2008
  • Financial Executives Institute – President – 2018; Vice-President, 2017, Director and academic liaison 2016; member since 2015
  • United Rehabilitation Services (URS) Foundation – Board member since 2010 and Capital Campaign member, 2017, 2016 and 2015
  • Better Business Bureau, Dayton, Ohio, Integrity awards, Judge, 2017 and 2018
  • Created PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) scholarship fund at University of Dayton in 2014 with continued fundraising efforts

Mr. Stover has also been a past officer or board member of many diverse organizations such as the Greater Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, Dayton Opera, Culture Works, URS, Special Olympics and many others.

Mr. Stover is a current lecturer at the University of Dayton. Trustees re-elected to new terms include Dr. Richard N. Aft and Dr. Shekhar Mitra, both of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Union Institute & University’s leaders are committed to the university’s purpose and mission. To learn more about our board members, click below.

Black History Month Spotlight – Student Examines Social Justice Impact of Musical Greats Etta James, Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, and Aretha Franklin

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In recognition of Black History Month, Union Institute & University is pleased to showcase the many contributions made by African Americans by featuring several Union alumni and others who are making an impact in their communities. This week’s spotlight is on Alyssa Harris, a student in the Master of Arts with a major in History and Culture. Read about Alyssa and her fascinating career as a blues singer and her plans for her second act.

African American blues singer Alyssa Harris is often the only “girl” in the room. She is building on that musical experience to explore the role that Black music has played in protests and movements and brings to her work reflections of the lives of musical greats Etta James, Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, and Aretha Franklin.

As a student in the Master of Arts program she is researching the social commentary, social justice, civil rights, and feminist underpinnings these famous singers faced and the legacies they leave.

“I relate to these celebrated ladies,” said Alyssa. “The music industry is a male-dominated culture. How did these extraordinary women navigate the waters? Even today, women are invalidated and treated differently.”

Alyssa has followed her dream as an artist and is now following her dream to enter academia.

“My ambition was to be a cruise ship entertainer. I have traveled the world, New Zealand, Panama, Europe, and the United States,” said Alyssa, who lives in Las Vegas. “I’ve had a wonderful first act. But now I want to put my stamp in the scholarly world. I want to be a community college lecturer or an advisor for college students.”

Alyssa chose Union to fulfill the second act. “I was very attracted to the flexibility the M.A. program offers as I travel for work and I needed a school that could work with my schedule.”

Professor Woden Teachout, says Alyssa encapsulates so much of what Union is about. “Alyssa is thoughtful and articulate and collegial. And she has done the first part of her coursework while working as a singer on a cruise line sailing around New Zealand!”

Alyssa credits her parents for her motivation. “I have been very fortunate to have my parents’ support in every endeavor that I take on. Not only do they believe in my dreams, they set a great example by being dedicated to their jobs, hobbies, and other things that they love – which  always reminds me to live my life with passion and zeal.”


It may still be a man’s world as James Brown sang, but Alyssa is striving for “Respect.”

For more than a half century, Union Institute & University has helped working adults realize their dreams of getting a degree so they can change the world. With online and low residency learning, you now have the flexibility you need to get the degree you want.
Be the world-change you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in the Master of Arts with a major in History and Culture.

My degree made me a global citizen

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Marsha Thomas

In recognition of Black History Month, Union Institute & University is showcasing the legacy and many contributions made by African Americans by featuring several Union alumni and others who are making an impact in their communities. This week’s spotlight is on Marsha Thomas, RN, who earned a Bachelor of Science with a major in Healthcare Administration/Planning in 1985.

Ms. Thomas was the first African American Parish Nurse/Faith Community Nurse in the Cincinnati region. A parish nurse integrates physical and spiritual health and wholeness by developing and leading programs within faith communities. (Source: All Nursing Schools)

Marsha Thomas accepts the 2018 Faith and Community Alliance Organization of the Year award.

A “registered nurse by training, but a missionary by calling” is the way Ms. Thomas describes herself. Her compassion has led her to help the hopeless and often the helpless in the health field. For example, at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Cincinnati, she designated health themes, including Red Dress Sunday, where she addressed the congregation to discuss heart health and what the red clothing represents. She speaks throughout the city and has won numerous awards for her innovative approach to faith and healing. Currently she is president of the Black Nurses Association of Greater Cincinnati and was nominated for the 2018 Union Distinguished Alumna of the Year.

Currently, Ms. Thomas is working on a new initiative in underserved countries. She is working with doctors to raise awareness about a new $50 C-section pack that can help save mothers and babies during difficult births.

Read about Marsha Thomas and her remarkable career that has taken her around the world in the Q & A below.

Q: What has your Union degree meant to you personally and professionally?
My degree laid the ground work for my professional career. I was the first African American in faith community nursing in Cincinnati, but I had to have a degree to climb the corporate ladder. I wanted to help people. I called Union and the next Monday I was a student. Community nursing is health education from birth to death. Because of my degree I have been able to help students help their communities all over the world.

Q: What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?
The flexibility Union provides is what I admire most. I had never heard of online education, but I found Union to be the school for me. My professors and their leadership were phenomenal.

Q: If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?
Think large. Don’t think small. Your Union degree makes you a global citizen.

Q: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?
To be able to consult on a global level. I also just completed a novel, “Moved by Love” a story of love, betrayal and redemption. My other great love is to travel and I am planning an escorted tour to the Benin Republic in August 2019. If you would like to know more about this journey, Marsha asks that you reach out to her at

Q: What is your passion away from work?
My passions are work and travel. I have travelled extensively, visiting and working in Ghana, France, Belgium, Germany, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Israel, Benin, Netherlands, and Jamaica

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be with the UI&U Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership, Master of Arts with a major in Health and Wellness, the Graduate Certificate in Health Education, or the Bachelor of Science in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation. It all starts with you. And it all starts at Union. Click below to learn more.

“What Are You Doing For Others?”

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Dr. Marlon A. Smith

Dr. Marlon A. Smith, Founder, Black Greeks Speak (BGS) Social Justice and Human Rights Council and Senior Manager of Policy and Engagement at BakerRipley.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 21, 2019, is a national holiday that honors the life and work of Dr. King. He often posed the question, “What Are You Doing For Others?” Read how Dr. Marlon Smith, 2016 graduate of the Ph.D. Humanities & Culture major, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Studies Specialization, whose dissertation is now a book, is answering that call.

Q: What is the Black Greeks Speak (BGS) Social Justice and Human Rights Council?
We are a member based policy and education studies organization that brings together Black Greek Letter Organizational (BGLO) members with the larger community in order to build a stronger coalition of civically engaged men and women that will help make real Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Beloved Community.

Q: What is the significance of a BGLO and BGO?
A: BGLO stands for Black Greek Letter Organizations and BGO is Black Greek Organizations. They were formed by African American college students in the early 1900s when segregation denied Black people entry into the broader college, university and public life.

Many famous African Americans have been members of BGO’s including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Shirley Chisolm, Colin Kaepernick, Alicia Keys, Omari Hardwick, Jada Pinkett Smith, Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Maya Angelou, and many, many more.

Q: What is the purpose of the Black Greeks Speak Social Justice and Human Rights Council?
The purpose is to bring together BGLO members with the larger community in order to build a stronger coalition of civically engaged men and women. The hope is to build stronger institutions that can more effectively address issues in communities of color. That means we have to help create a world wherein all people have the ability to exist as equally free moral agents without concern for racial, gender, and religious discrimination and hatred.

Q: What is the vision of the Black Greeks Speak?
BGS is dedicated to transforming a 19th Century Black Greek Letter Organizational member model for social justice and human rights engagement into a 21st century model that more effectively addresses contemporary justice and human rights issues in our world. In other words, we want to create a more innovate approach for BGLO members and our allies to build models for civic engagement.

Q: How did the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Studies Specialization, affect you?
The MLK program has provided me the opportunity to think deeply about ways that I might unite theories of social justice to real world advocacy and activism. Most importantly, it has distinguished my academic course work among others who study theories within black intellectual traditions.

Q: Your dissertation was entitled, “Reshaping King’s Beloved Community: The Experiences of Black Male Felons and their Impact on the Black Radical Intellectual Traditions.” What do you want people to know about this subject?
A: First, I want people to know the dissertation is now a book, published by Lexington Books. Second, I want people to understand that every human being has value, and simply placing labels on people such as the label “felon” doesn’t take away or lessen that human value.

Q: If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?
I think the advice I would give a Union student is to seek new knowledge and experiences where you can find it. If you are not careful going to school online can isolate you. So take much care to extend your network and experiences so you can truly become an interdisciplinary scholar.


About Dr. Marlon A. Smith

Dr. Smith is a servant leader dedicated to Union’s mission to transform lives and communities. He is known for his ability to bring together community leaders for dialogue on issues ranging from social justice and public policy issues.

His leadership on reentry and criminal justice reforms, with particular focus on the collateral consequences of incarceration on communities and families, has led to a new focus on the intellectual and political contributions Black male felons offer to the Black radical intellectual traditions. He has served as a minister in many capacities and in 2001, became program director for United Nations Advocacy for the General Board of Church and Society for the United Methodist Church where he researched and participated in international justice projects on race and poverty.

His civic involvement encompasses leadership roles with a wide range of local, state and national organizations including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., NAACP, Houston’s My Brothers’ Keeper, and the American Leadership Forum. He is also an Encore Public Voices Fellow. He is the author of two books: Black Lives Houston: Voices of Our Generations and Reshaping Beloved Community: The Experiences of Black Male Felons and Their Impact on Black Radical Traditions.

Read more about Dr. Smith and his work at this link.

Explore how you can change the world through a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Studies Specialization. Click below to learn more.

Union Institute & University Goes International

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Union Institute & University signs articulation agreement with the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ) effective January 9, 2019 at the International Conference themed CCCJ: “Forging Pathways for Future Empowerment.”

It’s official. Union Institute & University is breaking down higher education barriers worldwide with the signing of the new, historic articulation agreement with the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ) effective January 9, 2019.

This new affiliation underscores Union’s commitment to its social justice mission by removing barriers to a college degree on an international level and fulfills President Karen Schuster Webb’s commitment to equity of access to educational excellence around the world.

“Union is a world-class university with a distinguished social justice legacy,” said Dr. Webb. “We have had a long relationship with Jamaica through our alumna, former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. Providing accredited bachelor’s degrees to Jamaica’s citizens fulfills our mission to transform lives and communities through rigorous, relevant, and results-oriented education.”

Students from the Community Colleges of Jamaica will now have direct pathways to earn a bachelor’s degree in a variety of subject areas, including Criminal Justice Management.

“The new partnership allows graduates of CCCJ’s associate programs seamless transfer opportunities for educational advancement to the UI&U bachelor’s degree program and to validate and facilitate the transfer of credit between the two systems,” said Dr. Nelson Soto, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Union Institute & University.

Union is a leader in student-centered education with socially relevant and applicable learning outcomes in its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs.

“Union is the right partner to solve the need for higher education degrees worldwide due to its more than five decades of identifying and refining ways to structure and deliver education to meet the needs of online learners,” said Dr. Soto.

Transfer students from CCCJ will receive all UI&U academic services, including small classes, dedicated faculty who are practitioners in their fields, one-on-one program advising, writing and math tutoring services, access to its renowned 100 percent online library, and career services.


Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica officials congratulate Dr. Nelson Soto on the new articulation agreement.

Learn how you can transfer your credits today to complete your undergraduate degree by clicking on the link below.

Father of five values UI&U social justice mission

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Kongpheng Yang

Director of Enrollment, Sacramento Academic Center

Each month, faculty and staff are recognized for their enormous contribution to Union. This month the spotlight is on Kongpheng Yang, MAFM, Director of Enrollment, Sacramento Academic Center and a current student in the Ph.D. degree program.

Q: What excites you about being a part of higher education?
A: Being a part of higher education provides me with the opportunity to be a part of the student’s growth process. Also, knowing that once they do apply their education as one of the avenues to uplift their own life, and that their education will ultimately have a ripple effect in generational change around them as well.

Q: What attracted you to become a part of the Union family?
A: UIU’s Social Justice value really caught my attention. I too, believe that we all are interdependent and have a responsibility to one another.

Q:  If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?
A: I would love to run my own college/university to assist with the economically disadvantaged and underserved groups.

Q: What surprises people about you?
A: I have five children.

Q: What is your favorite book, and why?
A: “Leadership and Self-Deception” is one book that assists with seeing beyond just one’s perspective.

Earn your degree online, anywhere. Click below to explore your career options at Union Institute & University.

Dr. Patricia Hill Collins to Deliver Keynote at the Union Institute & University 2019 January Ph.D. Residency

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Dr. Patricia Hill Collins

Union Institute & University is honored to welcome Dr. Patricia Hill Collins as the keynote speaker at the 2019 January Ph.D. Residency Opening Dinner/MLK Legacy Presentation. Her address is titled Generational Power? Intersectionality, Youth and Activism.

“Dr. Collins is a renowned sociologist whose theories resonate with the UI&U Ph.D. program themes of social justice and engaging difference. Her scholarship focuses on the intersection of knowledge and power; she argues how oppression is related to the marginalization of the knowledge of the wider public by a more powerful few,” said Dr. Michael A. Raffanti, dean of Union’s Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies Program. “She also has theorized extensively on the concept of intersectionality, which centers on the interlocking nature of forms of oppression based on race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. This is an important concept for our students, who seek to understand and address systemic oppression in their scholarship and community work.”

Dr. Collins is Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Charles Phelps Taft Professor Emerita of Sociology within the Department of African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati.

She is an award-winning author and her books include Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (1990, 2000) which received both the Jessie Bernard Award of the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems; and Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (2004) which received ASA’s 2007 Distinguished Publication Award.

She is also author of Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice (1998); From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism (2005); Another Kind of Public Education: Race, Schools, the Media, and Democratic Possibilities(2009); The Handbook of Race and Ethnic Studies (2010) edited with John Solomos; On Intellectual Activism  (2013); Race, Class, and Gender: Intersections and Inequalities, 9th edition (2016), co-edited with Margaret Andersen; and Intersectionality (2016), co-authored with Sirma Bilge.

Professor Collins has taught at several institutions, held editorial positions with professional journals, lectured widely in the United States and internationally, has acted as consultant for a number of community organizations and served in many capacities in professional organizations.

In 2008, she became American Sociological Association’s (ASA) 100th president, the first African American woman elected to this position in the organization’s 104-year history. In 2017, she was the recipient of ASA’s William E. B. Du Bois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award, and in 2018, she received the Joseph “Sandy” Himes Award for Lifetime Scholarship from the Association of Black Sociologists.

Her most recent book, Not Just Ideas: Intersectionality and Critical Social Theory is scheduled to be published by Duke University Press in 2019.

Begin your new career pathway with a Ph.D. from Union. Click below to learn more.

Union Leaders – Dr. Glenn Kendall

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Dr. Glenn Kendall
Founder and Executive Director of Youthaven Public Ecovillage, Inc.

Union Institute & University’s historical commitment to ethical and creative leadership and the insights gained over the past 50 years as a leader in adult learning is the inspiration for the monthly series, Union Leaders.

This month’s Union Leader is Dr. Glenn Kendall. Dr. Kendall founded Youthaven Public Ecovillage, Inc. based on his UI&U Ph.D. study, “Understanding effective models of group care: enhancing group home services for homeless, abused, and runaway children.” This new group care model is for residential and non-residential foster care, homeless, and vulnerable youths. The innovative model is a public ecovillage, which means that the organization will expand the traditional group home model to include an edible landscape, an organic urban farming-to-plate program, and renewable and sustainable energy systems. Another central feature is an entrepreneurial and job development program (a modest business incubator). The Youthaven Board wants to offer something new and exciting in the field of group home services to residential and non-residential foster care, homeless, and vulnerable youths. Learn how Dr. Kendall has used his leadership skills to help children in the Q & A below.

Q: How do you define leadership?
A: I define leadership as the ability to establish a meaningful and sustainable relationship (you can say a type of sacred contract) among staff, clients, and stakeholders. Staff must dynamically involve stakeholders so that both serve as the guardians of the mission benefiting children most in need. Many people may think of leading in front; however, followership demonstrates that effective leadership is a synergistic and accountable process dynamically involving leaders and followers. All stakeholders must harmoniously work together to achieve the vision of the organization that lifts the hopes among some of the most traumatized children in our society.

Q: When did you first feel that you were a leader? What was the experience?
My leadership journey began when I was working for the Job Corps Program in Brooklyn, New York. One day I went to the center director and explained that staff needed more time to effectuate the desired evaluation results of corps members, or at least slow down the rate to early termination from the Center. In my judgment, the center director approved the dismissals of far too many Job Corps members who needed safe bedding; job training, placement, and G.E.D.; and a secure program to learn to become responsible adults. I said to myself, if given a chance, I will provide future adolescents opportunities to become successful adults without the burden of unwarranted early terminations.

Q: Share an example of how you have put leadership in action.
A: Founding Youthaven Public Ecovillage, Inc. is an example of putting leadership into action. I want to use an evidence-based model to change the paradigm for group homes, which focuses on respecting clients, expanding their horizons through enriched programs, and connecting their lives to the importance about nature. Young people can learn how to live in an ecological type of program or community, and thereby grow to better care for each other, our immediate environment, and the residence of nature–trees, animals, etc. Although funding and money are clearly necessary, on the global and local scales, money is less important when compared to having clean water, clean air, and healthy produce, the required elements needed to sustain all life. One example to put this type of leadership in action is to incorporate the use of solar panels, greenhouses, and edible landscapes on all our sites. Furthermore, Cincinnati has one of the highest percentages of children in poverty in the nation and a large number of former foster care and homeless children in the Ohio prison system. Foster care and homeless adolescents are much more susceptible to be incarcerated than other adolescents living in the general population. We have to find better ways to help vulnerable youths; a public ecovillage may be one solution.

Q: What leader do you admire most and why?
There are many leaders that I admire. A partial list includes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandala, Michael Moore, and political commentator Rachel Maddow. However, it is difficult to pick only one. But four leaders rise to the top for me. They are:

  1. President Obama: The first African-American President who won two terms of office.
  2. Abraham Lincoln: He kept the union together and created a model for abolishing slavery.
  3. Shirley Anita Chisholm: The first African American woman elected to Congress (representing Brooklyn, New York) and to run for the President of the United States during the Democratic primary during the 1970’s.
  4. Katherine Coleman Gable Johnson: A NASA mathematician. She was directly responsible for the safe trajectory and return landing for astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn. She did it without the use of computers. Without the calculation this African-American genius and the Black women who worked for the NASA, the space program would have significantly been impeded.

Q: What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?
The quote closest to my heart is one articulated by Martin Luther Kings, Jr., but the original author is no doubt Unitarian minister Theodore Parker addressing slavery in (and even outside) the United States during the 19th century: Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

About Dr. Glenn Kendall

Glenn Kendall, Ph.D., is the Founder and Executive Director of Youthaven Public Ecovillage, Inc. His passion has always been to help children and teens who are most in need of safe and caring homes. Throughout his thirty-five years of public service, he only worked for three employers. The last two were the City of New York as its Head Start Contract Manager to ensure mandated compliance affecting services for 12,000 children, and ten years later with the National Park Services, which included working as the Residential Supervisor and Clinical Director of a Job Corps Program in Brooklyn New York for 225 young people.

Dr. Kendall attended four graduate schools. He qualified for a Master’s from Teachers College, Columbia University. Later, he earned three degrees: A Master’s in Humane Education from Cambridge College, a Master’s in Theological Studies from Drew University, and a Ph.D. from Union Institute & University. All of his studies were designed to improve the group home model for homeless, abused, and foster care youths. He was a nominee for the UI&U Marvin B. Sussman Doctoral Award.

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