By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
Women can be successful at whatever they put their minds to, especially in leadership positions. That is what Miss Arizona 2019 and Grand Canyon University Honors College alumna Jacqueline Thomas hoped students would take away from the panel she hosted Wednesday on campus.
Thomas’s blog and LLC, Lady Leaders, does work around the Valley to help empower women to unlock their leadership potential by providing them with knowledge and experience from mentors in leadership positions in numerous fields. GCU’s Honors College, led by Associate Dean Breanna Naegeli, was one of the first organizations to partner with Thomas and offer another resource for female students interested in careers in leadership.
“Lady Leaders is committed to providing tangible resources, tools and mentors for women,” Thomas said. “With the panels, that is one of the direct ways that I give back to the next generation, because when I was younger I didn’t have these tangible tools, resources and mentors for me to be successful, I kind of had to figure it out on my own.
“Now that I have been blessed with this network and resources, I want to be able to give it back. That’s the soul purpose for these lady leader panels.”
For Wednesday’s panel, the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions Dean Dr. Lisa Smith, Executive Vice President of Operations Sarah Boeder and Senior Vice President of Faculty Operations Kelly Palese contributed to the discussion as panelists and shared their leadership stories and advice.
“I care about everyone … Sometimes I just want to mom everyone, but that’s just not my job,” Palese said when asked about the biggest hurdle she has had to face in her career. “You can’t nurture everybody … When you’re in leadership you’re not going to be everyone’s friend.”
Palese also shared what being a leader means to her.
“I look at it different now,” Palese said. “It’s my job and responsibility to make sure my people have the tools, resources and knowledge to be successful in their jobs.
“You need to walk into your career with boatloads of humility … Always look for opportunities to learn something new.”
Boeder shared her experience leading hundreds of employees from many states by explaining the two tenets of a good leader: Taking ownership and being a trailblazer.
“Open doors other people can run through,” Boeder shared. “There’s a lot of purpose in the moves you make."
She also told the audience about the importance of being able to identify positive and negative thoughts when thinking about what you are capable of and the importance of listening to the positives rather than negatives.
When in doubt or in need of answers, Boeder emphasized the importance of listening “to the voice from God.”
For Smith, the key to being a successful leader is found more in one’s ability to see their own self-worth and stop comparing themselves to others.
“Be authentic to who you are,” Smith said. “Don’t duplicate someone’s life because it won’t work … everyone is uniquely created by God”
Smith also advocated for being observant and learning new things from superiors, to be able to pick up on what qualities you’ll choose to adopt into your own leadership, and what qualities you won’t. When you take on a leadership position, she discussed the importance of working as a team.
“Balance delegation with doing the work,” Smith said.
At the end of the event, students were able to approach Thomas and the other panelists for further tips and suggestions.
“It was incredible,” said freshman Julia Caddow. “I loved how they said to be authentic and to have confidence and humility because that’s something you can forget to work on when you’re focusing on homework and different things. It’s important to focus on yourself and who you are … I’m really glad that I came.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].