Visiting scholar discusses servant leadership
April 02, 2012
The MacArthur School of Leadership held its third annual speaker series that included a lecture by Dr. Lea E. Williams, who spoke of overcoming obstacles.
By Becca Stripe / Staff Writer
On March 29 the Palm Beach Atlantic University Alumni Association held its third annual Catherine T. MacArthur School of Leadership Speaker Series.
The free event took place in the DeSantis Family Chapel and was open to both the school's students and the public.
"As I survey the agenda of activities of this evening, two words lead to mind and I think that those two words can be laced throughout the various presentations and remarks," said PBA President Bill Fleming to the audience. "Those two words are faith and leadership."
Alumni Association President Shaun Castillo presented the MacArthur School of Leadership Alumna Award to Ivette Hernandez Miranda.
The recipient graduated from the MacArthur School of Leadership in 1997 in the organizational management program.
Dr. Jim Laub, the dean of the MacArthur School of Leadership, presented the very first Jerms McGraw Second Chance Scholarship to Stefanie Tucker, a soon to be PBA graduate.
"We're in the process of developing the foundation of funding for this scholarship," said Laub. "So far we've been able to raise the initial amount required to begin to give the scholarship, but it's in a pretty small level."
Laub explained how the school would like to start giving the scholarship to a number of students for each of the three semesters.
The MacArthur School of Leadership had the honor of having Dr. Lea E. Williams speak on the topic "Race, Gender and Leadership."
Williams shared with the audience about the lives of a select group of women of color who exemplified the principles of servant leadership as defined by Robert K. Greenleaf and as seen in the traditions of communities of color that predate Greenleaf.
"Servant leadership is a big thing that I'm most passionate about," said grad student Carter McMasters. "I liked what she said about not paying back somebody who has helped you in the past, but to help someone else in the future will be paying that initial person back."
Williams discussed the strong role played by faith in leadership journeys of these women and their commitment to causes of social justice and equal rights.
"She's a good resource of course with a lot of helpful information and has a wealth of knowledge," said undergraduate student Tara Ewing. "I liked everything she said about being a servant leader, knowing your purpose, finding your purpose, and marrying it. It helped me look at the bigger picture of where I'm at now and what I can contribute a little bit more to what I'm doing."
"I think it was a wonderful seminar and very appreciated because a lot of the things she said kind of personally touched me," said Ewing.
"I look out and see all of the wonderful students who are here, and I know as nontraditional students, you have many challenges," said Williams. "You have obstacles that you overcome to get this very important piece of paper and to get an undergraduate or graduate degree."
Williams has pursued African American and women's studies from numerous vantage points. She worked at the United Negro College Fund for 11 years early in her career, concluding as vice president of educational services, and is former founding executive director of the National African-American Women's Leadership Institute, Inc.
"I think it's always instructive to hear about other people who have overcome some of those challenges so that you know that you're not alone," said Williams.
As an independent scholar, she is the author of Servants of the People: The 1960's Legacy of African American Leadership, which was published in 1996. Palgrave-Macmillan published a second edition in 2009. She also has authored more than two dozen articles on education, often minority-themed.
The last half hour of the event was opened up for a question and answer session with the audience, where there were several questions asked of Williams.
"At any given opportunity I'm guaranteed to learn something," said ministry leadership student Nicole Rice. "However, Dr. Williams spoke to my spirit because going into ministry leadership it is vital that I have something to be in touch with, someone or something that I can relate to."
Williams presently serves as associate vice chancellor for academic affairs/institutional planning, assessment and research at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.