Cultivating Leadership in DUE

Anna Babbi Klein, Communications Manager, DUE

In 2002, the same year that MIT piloted the Leader to Leader (L2L) program, President Emeritus Paul Gray described leadership in higher education in this way, "universities, as a class, are for the most part led by people who have had no formal training as leaders…What makes such leadership possible is that along the way you get some very good mentoring, which helps develop the necessary skills."

Since then, the L2L leadership development program has become an essential way for MIT to actively mentor and build its internal leadership capability. L2L fellows are chosen via a highly selective process and then take on a year-long commitment to gain new skills and insights from faculty, MIT’s senior leadership, and each other. In true MIT fashion, the program employs both a theoretical leadership framework, based on the Sloan School of Management’s model of leadership, and hands-on leadership experiences.

In December 2014, four DUE staff graduated from the L2L program, congratulations!

  • Kim Benard, Assistant Director, Distinguished Fellowships, GECD
  • Peggy Eysenbach, Development Officer, Experiential Learning, Edgerton Center
  • David Randall, Associate Dean, Student Support Services
  • Ingrid Vargas, Advisor, Special Projects and Initiatives, Office of the Chancellor (and formally in the Office of Admissions)

In reflecting on her L2L experience, Ingrid Vargas explained, "Among its most rewarding components is the focus on developing greater self-awareness. The detailed 360 evaluation helped us gain a better understanding of our personal strengths and weaknesses, and each fellow is assigned a coach to help keep us on track toward our individual personal development goals."

David Randall described L2L as, “…a transformative experience. It gave me the opportunity to learn from the leaders at MIT, exposed me to parts of the Institute that I knew very little about and, perhaps most importantly, connected me to people with whom I would have never had the opportunity to interact.” 

Kim Benard echoed the value of, “…being able to work with people all across the Institute. It was enlightening to hear the perspective of people who were not student-services focused, and understand how the Institute functions as a whole.” 

Peggy Eysenbach gained insight into successful leadership at MIT.  She noted,  “A great privilege of L2L is hearing from leaders across the Institute.  What struck me were the common themes of needing to plan, investing in people and understanding mission as a driving force in our work.”

In putting their leadership skills to work, the L2L fellows are asked to collaborate and address a real challenge at the Institute.  Kim Benard and David Randall were on the same project team focusing on Community Giving @MIT. Kim described this aspect of the program as, “…rigorous, but I was delighted to be able to work alongside such stellar colleagues. We were each able to draw from our own strengths to propose a new approach to the Community Giving campaign.”

Ultimately, the impact of the L2L program is reflected in the day-to-date actions of the fellows and the work they do in DUE and at MIT as a whole. David Randall explained, “L2L has resulted in me being more intentional about my leadership and thoughtful about the decisions I make. It also pushed me to reflect on myself which, if you are going to be a good leader, is something you need to do constantly.”

The four new L2L alumni join six previous DUE alumni of the program:

  • Julie Norman, Senior Associate Dean and Director, UAAP (2004)
  • Elizabeth Reed, Senior Associate Dean (retired), DUE (2006)
  • Jim Bales, Associate Director, Edgerton Center (2008)
  • Malgorzata Hedderick, Associate Dean, Global Education and Prehealth Advising (2008)
  • Victor Grau Serrat, Co-Director, D-Lab (2010)
  • DiOnetta Jones, Associate Dean and Director, Office of Minority Education (2012)