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2017 Inaugural Cohort
Inaugural Cohort Closing Ceremony at Westminster Hall: November 2017
The inaugural cohort launched in 2017 with 80 women participating in the program. Some of the participants’ reflections are captured here:
Anna Borgerding, associate director, SMC Campus Center and URecFit
As our formal time comes to an end in the coaching groups, I’d like to share a few key experiences with you.
The first was when I received the acceptance notification. ... I was excited. This was going to be a great opportunity for me. I’ll be able to ask the list of questions I have for our prominent women leaders on campus. I’ll get specific advice for me and my career. I was focused on me and ready to start working on my personal goals. Unknowingly, I would embark on a professional journey that would support me in ways I wasn’t expecting.
The second experience was when I realized the UMBrella group paired me with a group of widely talented leaders and peers, with varying leadership styles. The seven of us came together and almost instantly we formed a bond.
The monthly meetings forged the opportunity to step away from doing, because let’s face it, we are all doers, and allowed us to focus on strategically thinking about our professional goals. Through the months we celebrated promotions, laughed, cried, expressed frustrations, discussed solutions to our barriers. The group of professional women, coming together for their own professional growth, had evolved into something much more.
I would witness Robertha in the Campus Center leading an event and had the pleasure of seeing Nicole’s formative leadership on Staff Senate. I was among women leaders that I was proud to champion and support.
Finally, the last experience I will reflect on was unexpectedly missing our last group meeting. I was upset. Not only for me, but more importantly that I had let the group down.
You see, although I started the coaching program to help me individually, I realized simultaneously the group was a cohesive and supportive network for my colleagues and ultimately for each woman sitting here today. My hope is that the work within this group does not end here.
One of the goals of this group is to “engage a community that supports the success of women.” As members of this community who have prospered from the UMBrella initiative, I hope we will continue to ask, "How can we be an active part of the network that supports women on our campus?”
Regina Spencer, contracting specialist
As a longtime employee of UMB, I have tried to keep myself balanced with work and things outside of the office. I can say that the UMBrella Coaching Program was one of the best programs that I benefited from. I came to the table with an open heart to receive what would be valuable to me in my future stay at UMB. I became part of a group of women who in the end became a team of empowered women. I have been fulfilled more than I could have imagined.
Michele Ondra, assistant director of library administration
The coaching program enabled us to take one hour per month to prioritize ourselves — for personal growth, for professional development, and to network with others on campus. The groups consisted of ladies from all over campus that had at least one thing in common — the desire to learn and grow. Each session included insightful programming from campus HR but also included us celebrating each other's successes and accomplishments. We laughed. We cried. We grew.
Carey A. Martin, accounting manager, School of Medicine
The UMBrella Coaching Program was wonderful to be a part of. We discussed topics and strengthened skills that can be used in the workplace and in our personal lives, such as communication, handling conflict, collaboration and goal setting. Through the program, I was able to expand my network and meet colleagues in other schools across campus. It was nice to hear different perspectives on issues as well as the similar struggles and insecurities we tend to face as professional women trying to balance work, our personal lives, and our overall health and well-being.
It was a true honor to have Jennifer Litchman as my coach. Her story of starting in the School of Medicine, getting her master’s degree in her 30s, and advancing to chief communications officer and vice president of UMB is so inspiring. Hearing about her success helped me to realize how many opportunities for growth there are on the UMB campus and prompted me to dream bigger about my own future.
Being a coaching participant helped me to better appreciate UMB as a workplace. The fact that a program exists to empower and grow women leaders on campus speaks volumes. The more women we have internalizing a leadership identity and developing a sense of purpose in their careers, the more likely positive change will result — in our school, in our communities, in our world.