​University launches cross-sector leadership fellowship

Program to draw from Batten, Law, Darden programs

The University recently launched a in interdisciplinary leadership program for graduate students in the Darden School, the Batten School and the Law School which aims to help students solve complex problems.

The Tri-Sector Leadership Fellows Program will include six sessions with guest speakers chosen by the three faculty facilitators. In the first class, 24 students are taking part in the program, eight from each school.

Second-year Darden student Annie Medaglia, president of the Darden Business & Public Policy Club, played a strong role in creating the program. Medaglia said interactions between the fields of law, business and public policy are crucial in approaching major social challenges.

“The goal of every session is to have the person who’s speaking … to talk about one or a few instances in which they really employed skills that are from all different sectors,” Medaglia said. “By learning through specific examples and talking through strategy and the way that they’ve done things, the students are able to learn from the best practices for problem solving in really challenging environments.”

The first class session, held in September, offered selected students the opportunity to meet and discuss misconceptions about graduates from their respective disciplines.

Darden Prof. Mary Margaret Frank is one of three faculty advisors who led the pilot session, along with Law Prof. Julia Mahoney and Batten Prof. Marc Ferzan.

Frank said that all professions encounter problems that require cross-communication.

“[In the workplace] we have a lot of people who are shouting what we should be doing and not enough people listening for ways to collaborate and find places we can agree,” Frank said. “My hope is that at a very early stage in peoples’ careers we are setting them up to be better listeners, to be able to hear across the sectors.”

Frank said she hopes to see continued interactions of the Tri-Sector Fellows beyond the required sessions.

“We have speakers quite frequently [at Darden] and I’ve been able to extend an invitation to some of our speakers series to these Tri-Sector Fellows at other schools,” she said.

The most recent meeting of the Tri-Sector Fellows featured an address from University President Teresa Sullivan titled, “Principles for Better Government Design and their Application (or Not) to Public Universities.”

Sullivan spoke on numerous current events, including the recent Ebola outbreak, the U.S. Census, the University’s strategic planning process and new financial model, and how state funding and regulations impact the University.

Future speakers may include diplomat Carlos Pascual, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and Ukraine, Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, and Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, the House minority leader in the Virginia General Assembly.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the three schools participating in this program. The Darden, Batten and Law Schools are participating. The Education School is not involved with the program.

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