Nurturing Diverse Leadership

August 4, 2023
  • Leadership and Management
  • Learning Mobility
  • ascend
Illustration of the changing face of leadership.

By Johnika Dreher, AACRAO ASCEND Program Coordinator

When I decided to become the ASCEND Program Coordinator, it was fueled by an unwavering passion for nurturing diverse leadership talent in the field of enrollment management. My journey with ASCEND, as a cohort member, allowed me to witness firsthand the immense value this program brings to individual professionals and the broader field.

As the new coordinator, my vision is to build upon the program's strong foundation and propel it forward to cater to the unique needs of each new cohort. With these goals in mind, I am committed to achieving the following:

  • Enriching the Cohort Model: Beyond the program year, I plan to enhance the cohort model, providing ongoing support for participants' professional development and engagement. We aim to foster a tight-knit community that continues to thrive long after the formal program concludes.

  • Enhancing the Curriculum: To ensure our participants remain at the forefront of the rapidly evolving landscape of higher education, we will enrich the curriculum with emerging topics. Emphasizing areas such as data literacy, project management, disruptive innovation, and well-being will empower our participants to lead with confidence and adaptability.

  • Expanding Professional Development Opportunities: To broaden horizons and open new doors, I am eager to establish valuable partnerships with corporations and institutions. These alliances will enable us to offer a diverse range of professional development opportunities, unlocking potential avenues for growth.

The significance of the ASCEND program cannot be understated, particularly in the context of increasing representation and inclusion in enrollment management leadership. By cultivating a focus on community building, coaching, and competency development, ASCEND provides participants with crucial real-time resources and support systems that are often lacking for professionals from marginalized groups, especially those in mid-level roles within higher education institutions. My own success throughout the accelerated year-long program owes much to the cohort-based model that fostered collaboration, mentorship, and camaraderie.

Looking ahead, I am excited to take on the responsibility of guiding future cohorts and collaborating with ASCEND alumni to fully realize our vision: a truly diverse enrollment management profession where leadership reflects the rich tapestry of the students we serve. With careful coordination and sustained investment, ASCEND will continue to be a transformative force in our field.

I invite you to join me and ASCEND alumni for an upcoming workshop titled "Developing Inclusive Leaders: The ASCEND Program for Enrollment Management Professionals." The workshop will take place on Wednesday, August 30, at 3 PM EST. We will explore the invaluable experiences of our program and discuss the essential role it plays in cultivating inclusive leaders.

The ASCEND Program Coordinator role represents more than a professional endeavor for me. It embodies a deep commitment to fostering an inclusive, vibrant, and representative enrollment management community. Together, we can shape a brighter future for our profession and empower leaders who will make a lasting impact on the lives of students and institutions alike. Join me on this exciting journey of growth, collaboration, and transformation.


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