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portia simpson miller

“Journey, Break Every Rule” Docudrama Features Union Alumna

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The Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, Union alumna and former two-time prime minister of Jamaica, was featured in the docudrama “Journey, Break Every Rule.” The film premiered in Kingston in February. As Jamaica’s first female prime minister, she admits that she had indeed broken some rules as a fierce defender of the poor. Her three “p”s– persistence, productivity, and (putting) people first–led her to the highest political office in the land. Read more in this article from the Jamaica Gleaner.

As a leader in the Jamaican government, Simpson Miller has a track record as a fierce advocate for education. She strongly supports alternative models for those who are not well served by traditional forms of education. Often described as the “heart and soul” of her people, Portia has made remarkable inroads and contributions in her country. From her early days in the House of Representatives, in her positions as minister of a number of offices, to prime minister, she always met challenges head-on with a rare degree of integrity, focus, and positive vision for the future.

 

Voice of the Voiceless

A common refrain throughout Portia Simpson Miller’s long service was that she was the “voice of the voiceless in the corridors of power.” Her efforts and long-term commitment to address the concerns of women, the elderly, the poor, and the disenfranchised are renowned, as is her advocacy for social change, and her unwavering efforts toward peace in an increasingly violent world.

Portia’s deep understanding of community leadership, and her commitment to engage all citizens to be change agents, reflects her lifelong efforts to advance people’s lives through education and empowerment.

As prime minister, Mrs. Simpson Miller lived her creed and also breathed life into our university’s aspirational vision. During a visit to Union, Portia told the audience:

“One committed individual can influence an entire community to come together for a positive purpose. From strong, positive communities we can build strong, positive nations which can transform the entire world.”

Her abiding belief in our individual abilities to give back and to continually strive to make a difference, coupled with her heartfelt desire to improve the lives of her people, make her as an exemplary Union alumna, but even more so, as a citizen of the world. The university awarded her the university’s highest honor, the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2001.

 

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

thoughts on notre dame

A Union Ph.D Student Shares Thoughts on Notre Dame

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thoughts on notre dame

On April 15, 2019, the world watched in shock and dismay as flames engulfed Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, burning the building’s delicate and recognizable spire and most of its roof. Luckily, the interior avoided extensive damage thanks to its stone vaulted ceiling. Also, many works of art and religious relics were moved to safety. With rebuilding already underway, interest in the structure and its history has increased. Art historian and Ph.D. student Bruce Maggi shares some thoughts on Notre Dame the significance of the iconic structure.

 

Q & A with Bruce Maggi

Q: Can you give us a brief history of the cathedral? 

A: Notre Dame de Paris is more than 800 years old. It sits on a small island called the Ile de la Cite in the middle of the River Seine in the heart of Paris. The cathedral was built over the course of 200 years; it was started in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was completed in 1345. It was built on the ruins of two earlier churches, which were themselves predated by a Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to the Roman god, Jupiter.

Notre Dame was, at one time, in a stage of total disrepair and close to the point of being demolished, but was later saved by Napoleon who himself was crowned Emperor in 1804 inside the cathedral.

The cathedral was one of the earliest structures built with exterior flying buttresses. These buttresses allow for the tall walls and large amount of stained glass windows. The buttresses act basically as an exoskeleton that takes the weight of the room off the walls and directs it out of the main building.

 

Q: What attracts people to visit the cathedral? 

A: Notre Dame de Paris is visited by approximately 14 million visitors per year, even more than the Eiffel Tower. Notre Dame has been visited since its completion. It falls as part of the Reliquary route that worshipers would use across Europe during the Middle Ages. The cathedral houses numerous relics that are very important to the Catholic Church, including the Crown of Thorns of Christ and piece of wood said to be from the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

 

Q: What should people know about the cathedral that they don’t know?

A: Numerous cathedrals and churches share the name Notre Dame. Notre Dame means “Our Lady,” for the Virgin Mary.

The cathedral contains one of the oldest surviving wood timber frames in Paris, involving around 52 acres of trees that were cut down in the 12th century. Each beam is made from an individual tree. For this reason, the lattice of historic woodwork that burned in the fire was nicknamed “the Forest.”

If you look at a photo of the cathedral from before the fire, you’ll see a rooster on top of the spire. This rooster was not a purely decorative bird. In 1935, three tiny relics—an alleged piece of the Crown of Thorns and some bits of Saint Denis and Saint Genevieve (the city’s patron saints) were secured inside the metal bird’s body. The idea, the story goes, was to create a sort of spiritual lightning rod to protect the parishioners within.

All 20 of the bells in the cathedral except for Emmanuel (weighing 13 tons) were melted down to make canons during the French Revolution.

 

About Bruce Maggi

Maggi is a Ph.D. student with a concentration in Humanities & Culture at Union Institute & University. He is also an art history professor at Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway, SC. Maggi earned a M.Ed. in 2006 and a M.A. in 2014, both from Union Institute & University.

 

PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

law enforcement career

CJM Degree Impacts Law Enforcement Career

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law enforcement career

Union is saluting our Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice Management (CJM) students, staff, and alumni through the month of May in recognition of National Police Week, celebrated nationally from May 12–18, 2019.

This week we spotlight Sergeant Brian Kinney, Homicide Investigator, a CJM alumnus. Sergeant Kinney discusses the impact his CJM degree has on his life and law enforcement career.

 

Q & A with Sergeant Brian Kinney

Q: How does a CJM degree benefit the community?

A: The CJM degree benefits the community by providing a better-rounded officer who has been exposed to contemporary techniques within a justice organization, interpretation and analysis skills, and better communication tools. I also believe the degree makes for a more empathetic officer.

Q: How does a CJM degree benefit a Law Enforcement Officer?

A: I believe the degree provides an officer with better decision-making skills. In addition, the degree allows the officer to be eligible for promotion.

Q: What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

A: My degree has given me a sense of accomplishment. I am the first male in my family to graduate from college. I am also a role model for my children. They watched me work full time and still complete my degree.

Q: What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

A: Union allowed me flexibility and the ability to schedule classes around my work schedule. The program advisers understood that I worked full time and my classes had to be built around my work schedule.

Q: If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

A: Stick with it. Don’t quit. Your degree will open up professional opportunities that didn’t exist before.

Q: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

A: My greatest accomplishment is my family. My wife and two children have supported me every step of the way professionally and personally.

Q: What is your passion away from work?

A: My passion away from work is to spend as much time with my family as possible.

 

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

 

Oh, the Places They’ll Go! Union Graduation 2019

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Graduating from college is one of life’s significant milestones. On May 5, 41 adults celebrated this achievement with their families, the president, faculty, administrators, and staff from Union Institute & University.

“We couldn’t be more proud of our graduates. Earning a degree is life changing, and we know that Union graduates are world changers,” said Dr. Jay Keehn, executive director at Union’s Florida Academic Center in Hollywood. “What makes Union unique is we know each student. We understand the struggle of working full-time, raising a family, and completing a college degree. Now they will go out and impact not only their lives and their families, but also make a difference in their communities.”

Uplifting Words from Dr. Webb

Dr. Karen Schuster Webb, president of Union Institute & University, welcomed the graduates and elevated them with these words: “To all our students: We trust that your Union education has – in the words of our mission – engaged, enlightened, and empowered you to become change agents and leaders. We look to each of you – in your own ways – to continue to make a difference in your own communities and to carry the Union legacy forward.”

Union Institute and University graduatesDr. Webb acknowledged the sacrifice of the students, and also the families – the mothers, fathers, grandparents, sons, and daughters who supported each student along the journey. She congratulated the students on earning their degrees by borrowing time from family and friends, by balancing their time and energy between jobs and community commitments, and through sheer discipline and hard work.

 

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Call 800-861-6400 or 305-653-7141 or visit the Florida Academic Center located at 4601 Sheridan Street, Suite 400, Hollywood, 33021. To learn more about course offerings, admissions and financial aid resources, visit www.myunion.edu.

Union Ranked Among Nation’s Best

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Washington Monthly 2018 College Rankings

Union Institute & University was recently ranked by Washington Monthly as among the nation’s best.

Union ranked second among Best Bang for the Buck Colleges (page 44), and scored #11 for Best 4-year Colleges for Adult Learners (page 32). Union also ranked #54 as a higher education model in Washington Monthly’s 2018 College Rankings (page 76). Washington Monthly ranks schools that welcome low-income students and focus on the opportunity to transform their lives and communities. The researchers look at social mobility as a priority, and factor in price and percentage of students receiving Pell Grants.

Union’s founding in 1964 was a result of presidents coming together from 10 colleges to create a new institution that could break down barriers to higher education and better serve working adults and others seeking to find alternatives to traditional higher education.

“This new ranking underscores and validates Union’s commitment to its social justice mission by removing barriers that so many experience as they strive to attain a college degree,” said Union President Dr. Karen Schuster Webb.

“We are committed to equity of access to educational excellence around the country and the world. In addition to degree completion programs that offer high transferability rates and accelerated learning paths, we are working to improve pathways for stackable certificates and seamless bridges from one degree level to the next. Union is the right partner to solve the need for higher education degrees 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. Webb.

According to Washington Monthly’s September/October 2018 College Ranking publication, “The rankings are often listed alongside (or above) U.S. News. We rate schools on three equally weighted criteria: social mobility, research, and public service. Instead of rewarding schools that reject 95 percent of applicants, we give high marks to colleges that enroll lots of low-income students and help them graduate and earn a good living without too much debt. We factor in pure research spending and the number of undergraduates who go on to earn PhDs. And we give extra weight to colleges that send their graduates out into the world to serve the community at large.” (Carey, Page 15).

Mollie Miller, M.B.A., Director of Institutional Research & IRB Coordinator, in Union’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness said, “Washington Monthly provides a unique perspective within the higher education ranking landscape. Rankings such as these demonstrate Union’s global standing compared to peer institutions and universities.”

Founded in 1964, Union has perfected the adult delivery model: Specialized distance-learning programs that combine online and classroom coursework with high-touch faculty attention, designed for students regardless of where they live and work. UI&U academic services include 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.

Union Institute & University undergraduate students achieved a successful outcome measure (graduation rate) of 70% at 4-years (according to IPEDS Outcome Measures – Winter 2018).

To learn more about Union Institute & University and its career pathways designed for the working adult, click below.
Michael Raffanti Ph.D

Professor Michael A. Raffanti has gone to the dogs!

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Michael Raffanti Ph.D

Tacoma resident Michael A. Raffanti, Ed.D., J.D. has gone to the dogs! Dog rescue that is. He recently co-founded a non-profit organization called Mila’s Mutts to collaborate with a rescuer in Mexico to get dogs off the street, provide veterinary care, and transport them to the U.S. where they are adopted into “fur-ever” homes.

“Like so many animal lovers who travel to Mexico, I was astonished and saddened by the number of dogs and cats roaming the streets of La Paz, which we began visiting in 1999. Early on, we would feed strays, but were disappointed by the lack of options for us to help these animals more substantially. That changed when we discovered that it was relatively simple to transport dogs back to the U.S.

I had heard about individual “rescatistas” living in La Paz who open their homes to stray animals purely out of compassion and great personal cost, caring for sometimes more than 20 dogs. I was introduced to an amazing rescatista, Ceci, about a year ago and since that time I have become more involved in supporting her amazing rescue efforts. Desiring to make a more substantial contribution to Ceci’s labor of love, I am partnering with like-minded friends to form Mila’s Mutts so that we can support Ceci’s work in rescuing Mexican dogs and finding homes for them in the Pacific Northwest. I believe this comports with our social justice mission at UI&U; we reduce suffering for these dogs and work collaboratively, across cultures, to bring more compassion into the world.”

If you would like to help Michael and Mila’s Mutts, reach out to him at Michael.Raffanti@myunion.edu.

 

About Dr. Michael A. Raffanti

Dr. Raffanti is Dean of the Ph.D in Interdisciplinary Studies Program. In addition to administering the UI&U Ph.D. program, he teaches seminars in research and educational studies, and supervises dissertation research. Dr. Raffanti has a varied professional background in education and social justice. While practicing poverty law in San Francisco, he collaborated with community members in launching a law academy at an urban high school, which precipitated his movement from law to education. While earning his teaching license, he directed the education department of an AIDS service organization and developed HIV prevention programs for adolescents, gay and bisexual men, and communities of color. Dr. Raffanti has taught third grade in urban settings and served in a variety of educational leadership roles. He also taught at-risk high school students in a weekend community college program. Michael has online/blended university teaching experience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at Western Governors University, Fielding Graduate University, Pepperdine University, Southern Arkansas University, and California Institute of Integral Studies. His research interests are in leadership studies, social justice education, diversity, and qualitative research methodologies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and history from University of Portland, a master’s degree from The Evergreen State College (education), a Juris Doctor from Boston College of Law School, and a Doctor of Education from Fielding Graduate University.

 

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University Ph.D program that incorporates interdisciplinary study to expand your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click below to learn more.

Union Provost Dr. Nelson Soto Appointed to Ohio Department of Education’s Finish for Your Future initiative

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Dr. Nelson Soto

Dr. Nelson Soto, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Union Institute & University, has been named a member of a new initiative to improve access and outcomes for adult learners in Ohio. Finish for Your Future initiative is sponsored by the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, Randy Gardner.

Dr. Soto will be part of one of the working groups that will make recommendations in the following four areas:
1. Closing the Equity Gap. Identify successful strategies Ohio can implement to close the equity gap among underrepresented minorities and with adults in enrollment and completion.
2. High Impact Practices. Research Ohio focused, high impact strategies to increase adult learner enrollment and improve adult learner outcomes.
3. Policy Improvement. Make suggestions for institutional and state policy improvement that can be implemented statewide.
4. Return on Investment. Research the return on investment (ROI) from two vantage points; return on investment for Ohio’s adult learners as well as for Ohio’s postsecondary providers based upon increased adult learner enrollment and success.

“Dr. Soto has a unique view of adult higher education and marginalized populations, including adults, having spent his career serving the non-traditional student. His insights will be valuable as he sheds light on new ways to help adults complete their education and move their careers forward,” said Union President Karen Schuster Webb.

Dr. Soto looks forward to working on issues close to his heart. “I have spent my career working to remove barriers to higher education degrees,” said Dr. Soto. “This working group will make great strides in uncovering impediments to marginalized and underserved populations.”

The appointment also underscores Union’s commitment to its social justice values. Union serves diverse populations: minorities (44 percent), women (56 percent), and an adult population (average age of 39), and focuses on serving the underserved with curriculum that engages difference and applies theory to practice. More than 25 percent of Union’s undergraduate students are Hispanic adult learners, leading to Union being named 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 .

Dr. Soto holds a Ph.D. in educational policy studies from Indiana University, Bloomington, a master’s in education, and a bachelor of arts in business from the University of Cincinnati. He came to Union from Harrison College, Indianapolis, where he served as associate provost and vice president for curriculum and instruction from 2010 to 2013. Prior to Harrison College, he served as an assistant dean in the graduate office at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) from 2008 to 2010 and as an instructional development specialist at IUPUI’s Center for Teaching and Learning from 2005 to 2008. Dr. Soto has served as faculty at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis in the School of Education; at Indiana University, College of Arts and Sciences; University of Missouri-Columbia, College of Education; and the University of Cincinnati, University College.

In addition, he serves or has served on several boards, including the Hoxworth Blood Center Community Advisory Board, Harvard Business Publishing Advisory Board, Cengage Private Sector Advisory Board, Pearson Service Learning Board, and was chair of the Harrison College Military Advisory Board. He has received numerous grants for his research and efforts, including from the Office for Professional Development, Research Grant ($20,000), the Alliance for Graduate Education and Professoriate Dissertation Grant, a Professional and Organizational Development Network Grant, and the Maris M. Proffitt and Mary Higgins Proffitt Fellowship at Indiana University.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University Ph.D. program that incorporates interdisciplinary study to expand your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click below to learn more.

United States Army veteran chooses social work major to make a difference

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James Terrell

Social Work Month is an opportune time to reflect on the important contribution social workers make to our communities. James Terrell, a United States Army veteran, chose the UI&U Social Work Bachelor’s degree program because he wants to make a difference. Read more about James and his goals in the Q & A below.

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?
A. My goal is to work with the Veterans Administration to help veterans who are battling PTSD and depression. I deployed in 2008 and three to four months after our return from Iraq, two guys in my squad committed suicide. I feel compelled to help my fellow veterans.

Q: What led you to this program?
A:  I attended a job fair and met a Union representative. I knew that Union was for me because I had to work fulltime and attend college on my own schedule. Union fit that requirement for me.
I had to complete a 400 hour internship that allowed me to get real work experience. The internship only furthers my appreciation of social workers and the important work they do. Social workers are on the front line helping the homeless, the hungry, the marginalized populations in our communities.

Q: Why did you choose Union for your studies?
A: I chose Union for its flexibility and online degree program.

Q: If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?
A:
I would say have a direction or goal. The goal can change, but have a plan.

Q: Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?
A:
I was fortunate to have strong mentors in my late teens. A teacher and a pastor took an interest in me and helped me with direction.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in the Social Work Bachelor’s degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click below to learn more.
Carleen Robinson Ph.D social work faculty member

Social Work faculty member credits mentors with her success

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Carleen Robinson Ph.D social work faculty member

Each month, faculty and staff are recognized for their enormous contribution to Union. Today’s spotlight is on Carleen Robinson, PhD., LCSW Part-time Social Work Faculty. Learn more about Carleen in the Q & A below.

Q: What excites you about being part of higher education?

A: Throughout my life I have been mentored primarily by outstanding African American female educators who encouraged me to advance my education. Later many multi-cultural/ethnic educators expressed similar sentiments that reinforced this message. So now that I am a part of higher education, I get excited thinking about all the special people who made it possible and whose confidence has helped bring me to this point. More importantly, I feel I have an obligation to transfer the same spirit of direction, guidance and nurturing to students regardless of their background and/or circumstances. Making a contribution to the future of persons who are doing their best to succeed and accomplish educational goals is a profound responsibility. As an adult learner I can relate to students on so many different levels especially by demonstrating how theory and practice can be successfully combined. I consider higher learning to be the main pathway to self-determination, independence, career growth and development.

Q: What attracted you to become part of the Union family?

A: There are multiple reasons I became part of the Union family. First, the positive team spirit exhibited by the Social Work administrators’ group who hired me. Then, I was trained on the cutting–edge learning format via CTL and learned to utilize this for development of effective online teaching methods. I really felt it was special and unique to be using a videoconferencing platform such as GoToMeeting to connect with students across the nation. I was particularly impressed by the ability to engage with social service agencies throughout the country. It really helped to have the convenience and supportive location of the Florida Academic Center staff and faculty. Last, but not least, I continue to be impressed by the way students feel free to express enthusiasm, a consistent level of preparedness to work hard and strong commitment to their educational goals which in my opinion is a tribute to the quality of education at Union.

Q: If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?

Ideally as a seasoned clinical researcher, I would love to be a Principal Investigator (PI) of a major research study examining various topics such as “The Impact of Stress on Adult Learners and the Family.”

Q: What surprises people about you?

I am a vocalist who throughout my formative years was trained in classical music. After high school I performed with two music groups: The Afro-Asian Music Ensemble (Jazz-recorded 2 albums) and JAMONTRAD. The acronym stood for Jamaica, Monserrat & Trinidad, and we performed R&B, Reggae and Calypso music.

Q: What is your favorite book and why?

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou. Naturally, given my musical background, the title of the book immediately caught my attention. This book was inspirational and came at a time in my life to help me rise above many challenges. I felt empowered by Maya Angelou’s story especially when faced with obstacles during the early phases of trying to obtain a college education. It continues to be a standard reminder for me of the “need to stay positive and despite difficult experiences to continue to persevere.”

 

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in the Union Institute & University Social Work Bachelor’s degree program that incorporates social justice advocacy. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

Dr. Timothy William Quinnan President of Richmont Graduate University

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Dr. Timothy William Quinnan

Union Institute & University’s historical commitment to ethical and creative leadership and the insights gained over the past 55 years as a leader in adult learning is the inspiration for the monthly series, Union Leaders.

This month we feature Dr. Timothy William Quinnan, the newly appointed president of Richmont Graduate University. Dr. Quinnan is one of a group of 26 Union alumni who are serving or have served as a college president. Learn more about Dr. Quinnan and his leadership skills in the Q&A below.

Q: How do you define leadership?
A: Leadership is the mindful use of persuasion rather than power to achieve a desired goal.

Q: When did you first feel that you were a leader? What was the experience?
A: It was in my late teens, particularly in athletic or social settings, that I first noticed others gravitating toward me for advice, support, and direction, even when there were other team captains or event coordinators. Back then, I wasn’t comfortable in the role and, in fact, tried to avoid it! Which is why it surprised me that I somehow succeeded in almost every instance that I led. In college, more co-curricular opportunities came my way and I began to embrace them, sensing that leadership might be an innate strength. Moving forward to the start of my career in higher education, I consciously, actively sought out opportunites. It was a recognition that I could never reach my professional goals without experiencing the rewards, challenges, and deep learning that attended leadership.

Q: Share an example of how you’ve put leadership in action.
A:
I have long held that creativity is the soul of leadership, perhaps above all other factors. Consequently, I strive to promote work settings where innovation is prized as a means to enhance staff performance and organizational impact. An example would be the “Next Generation Initiatives” grant program I launched at the University of Texas at Arlington. Annually, we invited staff, faculty, and students to propose utterly new and experimental programs/services to improve student success by providing seed grants to pilot test them. Those demonstrating high impact were soon institutionalized as new, cutting-edge ‘best practices’ in our operations.

Q: What leader do you admire most and why?
A: Oh my, that’s impossible for me to answer. There are too many leaders I admire to choose one. For me, it’s more about the qualities displayed in life-defining moments or major crises and less about the entire resume of that person. That said, I tend to find historical figures the most compelling. Perhaps this stems from my aversion to a flood of contemporary experts who promise instant leadership success if one buys their book or attends their seminars. Maybe I’m an outlier but I still lean toward believing that leadership is more organic and less learned. Also, I’m awed by those who transformed the very nature of the fields they worked in, from politics, to the arts, to business. Only leaders who lift the worlds they inhabit to new and unprecedented heights have truly achieved their full potential.

 Q: What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?
A:
“The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility” T.S. Eliot

Too many in positions of leadership forget how long it takes to get there and how easy it is to lose.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. It all starts with You! And is all starts at Union Institute & University. Click below to choose the degree program that is right for you.