Innovation = Collaboration + Leadership: UMass Boston Program Celebrates Collaborative Leaders

Andrea Wight, Center for Collaborative Leadership | June 29, 2017
Innovation = Collaboration + Leadership: UMass Boston Program Celebrates Collaborative Leaders

Image by: Kahrim Wade



True collaborative leadership involves fostering a network, through dialogue, so that a web of leadership exists.



Over 300 Boston-area civic and business leaders came together on Friday for the Center for Collaborative Leadership’s sixteenth annual “Changing the Face of Leadership” luncheon. The lunch celebrated the 47 graduates of the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) – a nine-month curriculum that prepares rising leaders - from some of the major organizations in Massachusetts – to unlock the power of collaboration, and propel them from superb implementers of strategies to leaders who are able to craft and drive strategy within their organization. Highlights are detailed below.

Emerging Leaders Program Class of 2017 Surprises the Center with a Gift

A key differentiator of the Emerging Leaders Program is that all three sectors (corporate, nonprofit, and government) engage in learning together. Those who have been through the program understand the value of having all three sectors represented. Therefore, the alumni created the "Pay it Forward" annual fundraising campaign to help defray costs for nonprofit participants. The class of 2017 used the public platform of the luncheon to express their gratitude for their leadership development experience, and pay it forward so that others from the nonprofit sector can have the same impactful experience.

A fellow in the 2017 program who helped coordinate the surprise, Andrea Macone, stated, “Participating in the Emerging Leaders Program impacted our cohort in such meaningful ways that we wanted to express our gratitude to the Center for Collaborative Leadership. In a truly collaborative process, we worked as a group that included this year’s fellows, ELP alum, and UMass Boston staff to raise funds that can be used to toward sponsoring a fellow in next year’s cohort. We hope that our gift will inspire current and future alumni to stay involved and give back.”

Kudos to the ELP class of 2017, as well as all others who were involved in the surprise, including: Chris Antonucci, Phil Carver, Dee McNamee, Geoff Phillips, and Kahrim Wade.

Innovation = Collaboration + Leadership

Panelists Jason Robart, Diane Hessan and Katie Kingbury on stage

The theme of this year’s celebration was Innovation = Collaboration + Leadership and featured a panel presentation moderated by Pulitzer Prize winner for distinguished editorial writing, Kathleen Kingsbury of the Boston Globe. Panelists were serial entrepreneur Diane Hessan of C Space and c-suite executive Jason Robart of Zaffre Investments and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

When asked about mistakes made along the way in regard to addressing resistance to change, Robart noted that there will always be resistance to change because change is hard. He strives now to make change easier by understanding people’s needs. He realized a long time ago that he “can’t use logic and data to address change. Change is emotional.”

Kingsbury followed up by asking whether the panelists ever thought there should be a time for a business to take stock of what it has accomplished and stay the course. Panelists were hard-pressed to respond, however Hessan stated, “I get it. People get tired of change. Just when you think you can stop for a moment, something happens.”

She went on to say that, “It should be more stressful if you are not changing. Learn to take comfort in knowing that someone is always thinking ahead.”

Leading the Way Awards: Tina Potenti and Chancellor Motley

Leading the Way award photo with Jorge Haddock, Tina Potenti, Sherry Penney, Lisa DeAngelis and Chancellor Motley

The fifth annual Leading the Way award was presented to Tina Potenti, an alumnus from the Emerging Leaders Program Class of 2013, and vice president of Bank New York Mellon. The award recognizes an individual who has risen to the level of significant responsibility, leveraged a broad network and worked collaboratively to affect outcomes, is involved in the community, and serves the Emerging Leaders Program.

Potenti leveraged her own experience to elevate herself and others. Founding the Cupcakes Anonymous network, she provides accessible support for women seeking health and fitness improvement. Inspired by Potenti’s successful efforts, an ever-growing number of her ‘cupcakes’ are changing their own lives in kind. Her acceptance speech demonstrates that the values of the center were well-learned, and it is why she is leading the way.

Potenti stated, “Continue to crush your goals. Just be sure to always reach out your hand to empower the person behind you.”

In addition, Dr. Sherry H. Penney, founder of the center, presented UMass Boston Chancellor Keith Motley with an honorary Leading the Way award for his 10 years of dedication and service to the university, the community, and the center. “Keith’s values are the values of the center —collaboration, teamwork, and inclusion.” Penney said.

She continued, “Moreover, Keith epitomizes the newer (and I say better) characteristics of leadership. He is not only collaborative, but also transactional, adaptive, authentic, and charismatic, especially charismatic. With all of these excellent leadership characteristics, it is no wonder that when Keith leads, you want to stand up and lead alongside with him.”

Motley was humbled and returned the praise to Penney stating, “There was no model of someone like me leading. Dr. Penney blazed a path for all of us in this city. You are the star here, not me. I am honored to stand with you.”

Collaborative Leadership in Action

The saying, "it takes a village," is true. The impact of collaborative leadership was evident at this event.  

As stated by board chair, Dr. Deanna Yameen, "True collaborative leadership involves fostering a network, through dialogue, so that a web of leadership exists. For health reasons, Lisa DeAngelis left the office two months ago—and completely unplugged from work. The center’s staff, board, and alumni board did not miss a beat." 

Lisa DeAngelis did indeed foster a strong network that created the web of collaborative leadership that allowed the center to host a successful event. The impact of this web was seen and felt by everyone present at the event. 

Tags: celebration , collaboration , event , innovation , leadership , networking

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