CET's Executive Director shares:
Why did your organization want to be involved in the Global Leadership League?
We support the mission. We recognize that women still face barriers in our field, and we want to help the League create a space where strategies and solutions can be discussed. We also think the League’s unique approach to mentorship will be great for CET’s staff—we want the women who work at CET to have the chance to engage with women from other organizations.
As a leader at CET, I want to support the League so that I can develop a deeper understanding of the barriers women face. I’m in a position to create change and perhaps remove some of these barriers, at least at CET. So I want to engage in the discussion and learn ways I can be a part of the solution.
What inspires you in your work?
My standard answer has always been our students-- they are fearless in their approach to learning, and you can't help but be optimistic about the future when you spend time with them.
More recently, I have also been inspired by our staff. In my generation, most people sort of fell into study abroad because of parallel interests or career goals. I'm excited to see employees arrive at CET with a clear commitment to our mission. They figured out early that they want to pursue a career in study abroad, and they are now making it happen.
My own priorities have broadened so that I'm not just interested in creating quality study abroad programs, I'm also interested in creating great jobs and a supportive office culture. I know that these goals are linked: it's easier to do the first when you've accomplished the second.
Who has been a professional mentor for you and how did they influence you?
My boss and business partner, Kate Simpson, has been my mentor since CET became a part of Academic Travel Abroad in 1995. Kate exemplifies the best leadership qualities: she is empathetic and caring, but direct and honest when it comes to making tough business decisions. She is also passionate about our mission, and she works tirelessly to help us achieve our goals. One of the qualities I love about Kate is that she always strives to do the right thing—she demonstrates real integrity. I think that’s so important today: we all want to look up to our leaders and know that they are putting the interests of our students, partners, or teams above their self-interests. I’d like to think I’ve internalized many of Kate’s leadership qualities, and after so many years of working together, we can practically complete each other’s sentences.
Which professional development experience/s have been most important to you in your career?
I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to travel internationally with partners and colleagues, usually on site visits or to attend international conferences. Traveling on my own is great, of course. But with a traveling companion, you tend to see things differently—through their eyes—and you learn more. There’s something special about sharing the experience, even if that experience includes getting stuck in airports or eating bad food together. In fact, these moments are when we really get to know one another, and talk. Traveling with colleagues gives me the chance to hear about the challenges they face in their jobs, and I always come home feeling more connected to them, and better prepared to face my own challenges.
What excites you most about the future of this field?
Many things in our field are changing at once. There are new pressures to measure outcomes and make sure study abroad is a worthy investment. Traditional program models are giving way to more innovative models. Technology is making it easier for students to remain connected to their home campuses and faculty. Partnerships are becoming more innovative. And the study abroad population is changing, with more diverse students bringing a wider range of expectations to their programs. What excites me about all this change is that it forces us all to be more intentional and transparent about what we’re doing. In a way, we’re all held to a higher standard than ever before, and that’s good! I’m excited to think about how our programs will improve in the future.