As I reflect on my time in the 2016 Leadership Academy, I find myself a bit overwhelmed by the whirlwind that was this experience. Importantly, this whirlwind was quite positive and growth-fostering. The most important part of this experience was spending time and building relationships with thoughtful, invigorating people. As I’ve said to my fellow LA participants on far too many occasions, I love building authentic relationships, and this experience allowed me to do that, while fostering my growth as a leader. One may think of leaders in very narrow terms, emphasizing those who are great speakers, who hold positions of power, or who are outspoken about their passions. The Leadership Academy taught me that leadership takes many forms. The outgoing, outspoken person can be a leader, but so can the quiet person who dominates less space.
Most importantly, neither of these leaders can do it alone. I was very fortunate to have great mentors during the Leadership Academy, specifically Dr. Lali McCubbin, who helped me complete my project. In a field that can seem very large, forming these connections gave me a home outside of my graduate program. These connections extended beyond the Leadership Academy, as I have been able to maintain relationships with my mentors who are current leaders in Division 17. This home full of wonderfully diverse leaders with the passion and creativity to make positive change reinvigorated my passion of social justice. Living in Oklahoma, advocacy can begin to wear you down because there is so much adversity to social justice work. By learning from others and hearing their leadership stories, I was able to go back to my community impassioned and eager to make change. The Leadership Academy changed how I approach my work, as I now think more critically, intersectionally, and globally when approaching situations. I cannot thank Division 17, my fellow LA participants, and my mentors enough for providing me the space to develop into an authentic, relational leader.
The SCP leadership academy was a remarkable experience for me. Prior to our first meeting, I had assorted ideas and fantasies about the LA and as one might imagine, my initial ideas were challenged along the way. Through our conversations and projects, I learned more about myself, both personally and professionally, than I had ever anticipated. I also experienced my leadership preferences and capacities as organic facets of myself, which fundamentally altered how I view and “do” leadership today. I am very grateful for the 2016 LA community for providing a space that felt conducive for my learning and growth. The people and connections among us are my favorite aspects of the experience. Lastly, I recognize the privilege I have as an LA participant (e.g., having access to SCP executive committee meetings, raising division-related concerns to stakeholders) and sincerely hope that it continues to be extended to other SCP members.
“To identify as a Counseling Psychologist, is to identify as an advocate of social justice, and in this cultural context, I feel a responsibility to be a leader in this domain.” This was the sentiment of my application to the SCP Leadership Academy. I applied with the expectation of learning “nuts and bolts” of what it takes to be a leader, how to lead, when to lead – maybe some self-care tips here and there. There were “nuts and bolts” in SCP LA, however, I did not expect the experience I received… it was, to say the least, TRANSFORMATIVE.
Today, as I reflect back on my experience in the SCP Leadership Academy, I find the impact difficult to put into words. I truly felt challenged and changed – and I am not quite sure how to describe that process. I was challenged to grow in my understanding of leadership, to stretch and expand my own bias about the “leader”. How empowering to realize that I can lead at any time and from any “position” by my own choice. I changed as I looked at myself: thinking through who I am, and how it affects my own leadership style and leadership strengths – and my shortcomings, was powerful. It has changed the way I frame the inevitable mistakes that I (and all other “leaders”) make as we navigate our space. It has also created a desire to serve and to lead, in SCP and elsewhere.
I also met some incredible Counseling Psychology professionals and students. If you are sitting around an SCP Leadership Academy table with our incredible faculty and cohort – and do not at some point feel a bit of imposter syndrome, you are not doing it right! What an awesomely diverse and talented group of people. It is exciting to know that I get to share a field with so many wonderful individuals.
And so, SCP Leadership Academy was incredible. And this reflection will not do it justice, but I am thankful that I was able to have such a transformative experience.