Leadership panel delivers advice, inspiration

In honor of Black History Month, Human Resources’ Office of Workplace Equity and Inclusion hosted its second annual “Leadership Insights” panel. This year’s focus on authenticity and professional development evolved into a dynamic conversation with leaders from the University and South Florida
Leadership panel delivers advice, inspiration

More than 280 faculty and staff members engaged with a group of esteemed speakers, who shared pivotal experiences and decisions that shaped their careers and personal growth. They discussed the importance of mapping a career vision, overcoming challenges, expanding networks, and ultimately serving as leaders in their communities and careers.

Panelists for the event included Kysha Harriell, clinical professor and executive director of the Office of Academic Enhancement, University of Miami; Henri R. Ford, dean and chief academic officer, University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine; Renée Dickens Callan, executive director of Student Life, University of Miami; Ebony Smith, executive coach and president Ebenum Equation; and Rueben Stokes, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion subject matter expert and adviser to corporate leadership teams.

The discussion, moderated by Ryan Holmes, associate vice president for the Division of Student Affairs and Dean of Students for the University, was opened by Beverly Pruitt, assistant vice president and Title IX coordinator, Workplace Equity and Inclusion, and Donald Spivey, special advisor to the president on racial justice and Distinguished Professor of History. In their remarks, Pruitt and Spivey shared the timeliness of the conversation and importance of the University’s united front in the pursuit of racial justice beyond the campus community. Several senior leaders were notably in attendance including Jeffrey Duerk, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Jacqueline A. Travisano, executive vice president for business and finance and chief operating officer. Closing remarks were offered by Mary Harper Hagan, vice president of Human Resources, who summarized the wisdom shared.

Throughout the virtual event, key themes arose as panelists shared their approaches to success. The following are some words of wisdom from the conversation. Missed the event? View the full recording here.

Resiliency: success happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Resiliency is like building muscle. When you haven't worked out in a long time and you go to the gym and work out for the first time, you're really sore the next day and it hurts a lot. But, if you keep going over time, you get stronger and stronger and you learn how to adapt.

Kysha Harriell

We don't always get what we want when we think we deserve it. We don't always win every battle, and we don't always win every debate. Those moments are important because they teach you how to hang in there, how to bounce back, even if you’re disappointed with the initial outcome.Renée Dickens Callan

Adversity: never quit, never give up.

Become a dilemma flipper. Recognize that this is not a problem that can be solved, it is a dilemma that must be managed for its opportunities and threats.­Ebony Smith

Integrity is everything. If excellence is the currency, then the scaffold for this excellence has to be integrity.Henri Ford

Authenticity: Remain true to yourself.

Bringing your whole self to work is important and bringing your authentic self to work is extremely important. But the reality is that many environments do not immediately accept that. Coming in, you've got to learn the hierarchy of that organization and then begin to chip away at that. Look for those little opportunities when you can begin to assert yourself and use those as stepping stones for yourself and for others in that organization.—Rueben Stokes

The leader who can bring people back to the middle and then help them see other people's humanity and the shared common experience is a leader who will thrive in an organization that's under disruption and distribution right now.—Ebony Smith 

What others had to say.

If you missed the event, we’re sharing key takeaways from attendees.

“What an amazing event! The panelists had excellent perspectives, facts, and stories to share. There was so much real-time coaching, I couldn’t capture it all in my notes. The question-and- answer portion was also relevant, with some of the cultural bias we are witnessing in the world today. It was refreshing to hear real and meaningful discussions that benefited all attendees, regardless of race, gender, or age. I look forward to more events such as this one.”

Dominique Okonkwo, director University of Miami Information Technology, business application solutions

“This is how you grow … [by] listening to those people who have lived it.”

Addy Villanueva, sergeant, University of Miami Police Department

“An amazing way to start the day, with such an impressive group talking very powerfully about such an important and timely topic for us all!

Hakim A. Lakhdar, director of professional and intellectual life programming, University of Miami School of Law

“There were many insights learned from this esteemed panel that will help anyone navigating their career. What an amazing event to have during Black History Month. Looking forward to next year.

Titanya Ramsingh-Pierce, director, University of Miami Information Technology, strategic initiatives

“Leadership Insights: Authenticity and Professional Development” was hosted by the Human Resources’ Office of Workplace Equity and Inclusion in recognition of Black History Month. As part of the University of Miami’s commitment to creating an inclusive workplace, faculty and staff members are invited to explore other diversity and inclusion resources. Visit hr.miami.edu/diversity.

Do you have a favorite quote from the panel? We’d love to hear from you, let us know at lifeattheu@miami.edu.