Pitt’s Hesselbein Global Academy Holds Inaugural Summit With 44 Student Leaders

Issue Date: 
July 20, 2009
Frances Hesselbein, second row, center, surrounded by a group of international students leaders.Frances Hesselbein, second row, center, surrounded by a group of international students leaders.

World-renowned business and government professionals shared their talent and expertise with 44 dynamic student leaders from the United States, Canada, and abroad who were selected to participate in the University of Pittsburgh’s inaugural Hesselbein Student Leadership Summit from July 11 through 14.

The by-invitation-only summit was part of Pitt’s Hesselbein Global Academy for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement, which was launched earlier this year with the mission of equipping accomplished student leaders to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The academy is named for Pitt alumnus Frances Hesselbein, recipient of the 1998 Presidential Medal of Freedom and chair of the board of governors of the Leader to Leader Institute (formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Mˆanagement).

A highlight of the summit was the July 13 Hesselbein Inaugural Ceremony, in Alumni Hall, that honored Hesselbein and recognized the student participants with an awards presentation. Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg delivered the welcome and opening remarks, and Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher gave closing comments. The evening’s guest speaker was Jim Collins, bestselling author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . And Others Don’t (Collins Business, 2001) and How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In (Jim Collins, 2009).

“Much has been written in this country and abroad about a global crisis in leadership,” said Nordenberg. “Whether or not one accepts that characterization, it is clear that only good can come from efforts to
improve upon the status quo. Here at Pitt, then, we sought to affect both positive and long-lasting change by looking to some of our most obvious strengths—young, vibrant minds; great strengths in education; distinguished international programs; and an intense commitment to leadership development. In conjunction with our distinguished alumnus Frances Hesselbein, Pitt created the Hesselbein Global Academy for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement, which aims to inspire, develop, and reward accomplished student leaders to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The academy also honors the life’s work of a national and international treasure, its namesake, Frances Hesselbein.”

Hesselbein said “The most rewarding part of the [summit] weekend for me was being with the students and watching them learn and grow and share their experiences as they interacted with their mentors. The summit affirmed my belief that this generation has the desire and ability to do great things in our society. I cherish the University of Pittsburgh, and having the opportunity to spend this time with such bright students who are so motivated to make a difference was a dream come true.”

Student summit participants were selected from colleges and universities across the United States, from New York to Hawaii; Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada; Makawanpur, Nepal; and Queensland, Australia. Participating Pitt students were Sudipta Devanath, a junior majoring in neuroscience, psychology, and sociology; Joseph Garbarino, a sophomore political science major; Molly Humphreys, a junior majoring in mathematics education and business; Alexa Jennings, a junior business marketing and management major; Michael Smith, a doctoral student studying pharmacy; and Aster Teclay, a junior majoring in political science and business.

The summit’s professional mentors were Tina Doerffer, program manager of the Leadership Development Program at Bertelsmann Foundation in Bielefeld, Germany; Elizabeth Edersheim, director of New York Consulting Partners in Scarsdale, N.Y.; Randal D. Fullhart, a major general in the U.S. Air Force and director of the U.S. Air Force’s Global Reach Programs in Arlington, Va.; Carla Grantham, congressional liaison for Diversity Recruiting and Talent Management in the U.S. Coast Guard in Washington, D.C.; Toshiko Inoue, financial advisor in AXA Equitable in New York, N.Y.; Charles O’Connor, senior vice president of Plan Sponsor Services and Tax-Exempt Retirement Services at Fidelity Investments in Marlborough, Mass.; Gregory Roberts, executive director and senior operating officer of American College Personnel Association at the National Center for Higher Education in Washington, D.C.; Keith Schaefer (A&S ‘71), president and chief executive officer of BPL Global, Ltd., Cranberry Township, Pa.; Betty Siegel, president emeritus of Kennesaw State University’s Siegel Institute for Leadership, Ethics, and Character in Kennesaw, Ga.; Tamara Woodbury, CEO of the Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council in Phoenix, Ariz.; and Sam Zacharias (A&S ‘64), Pitt trustee and principal of Gateway Financial Group, Inc., in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Mentors made presentations throughout the summit, including talks titled “The Entrepreneurial and Innovative Spirit of a Leader,” “Becoming an Invitational Leader,” “Power of Respect in Leadership,” “Leadership: What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “Multicultural Understanding in a Changing Global Environment,” “Communication Essentials,” and “Finding Your Purpose as a Leader.”