Women leaders visited this class, comprising most of the discussion for the term. Each one of them brought a unique perspective to the class and held different positions of leadership on campus and in Oregon.
Mamta: Mamta Accapadi is the Dean of Students here at Oregon State University. She used her hairstyle as an extended metaphor for her journey as a leader in higher education. She talked about how she felt she had to hide aspects of herself to forge her way into positions of power in higher education in a way that she would not have to do if she were male or if she were White.
Kathleen: Kathleen Moore is an author and professor at Oregon State University. She spoke about a philosophy of hope and “doing what’s right,” stating that those two perspectives are not subjective. Though Ms. Moore’s writing was beautiful, it was hard to understand her leadership philosophy; what is right differs for each person–it is very subjective.
Juana: Juana Bordas is the author of Salsa, Soul, and Spirit, a book on multicultural leadership and the transformation of leadership into a collective process. She presented the idea of sankofa, working together for the greater good of a people. Her approach to leadership needs to be embraced by the corporate world to see more equity in this world.
Luanne: Luanne Lawrence is the VP of Advancement at OSU. She focused largely on women learning to “brand” themselves to potential employers. While the skill is important–being able to articulate one’s strengths–I found the idea of women branding themselves as an extension of a masculine perspective. It made me think of women being sold, being commodities.
Betty: Betty Roberts was the first Supreme Court justice for the state of Oregon. Betty talked about how different opportunities were for women when she was trying to become involved in politics and law. One of the most important things she said while visiting was, “The basics, we think, are done. They’re not.” That quote epitomizes Betty’s impact and her undying desire to create change she believes in.
Tim: Tim McMahon works closely with University of Oregon’s Center of Community and Diversity as well as the university’s Leadership Center. Tim brought the only male perspective to class, which was interesting for us all to see. Several times Tim mentioned the need to live and lead on the edge of chaos. He indicated that being safe does not always mean being productive.
Allison: Allison Davis-White Eyes is the Director of American Indian Initiatives at OSU. Allison’s speech to the class cautioned against us, as women, pigeon-holing ourselves; she encouraged us to seek diversity of experiences. One thing Allison said that resonates with me is, “If you don’t create your own narrative, somebody will create it for you.” She inspired me to consider the narrative I currently maintain and that which I want to develop.
Celeste: Celeste Walls is a Speech Communication professor at OSU. It was interesting, considering her vibrant presence and her current subject discipline, to hear that she considers herself an accidental leader. She spoke about how she resisted taking on some of the brunt of leadership, but said, “Leadership is about having motivation to change and having that motivation outweigh resistance.”
Each of these speakers left us with their distinct view of leadership, allowing us to understand that leadership is personally defined and looks different for each person.