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The Miami Foundation Partners with FIU Center for Leadership for Miami Fellows VII Program

If you want high potential professionals to be taught leadership skills, go to the experts.

That’s the thinking behind the Center for Leadership (CFL) at Florida International University (FIU) being called upon for the leadership development portions of the Miami Fellows program. Each year, this program from The Miami Foundation, serves as a learning laboratory for 16-18 young, civic minded individuals who are inspired by the community and have demonstrated leadership abilities and dedication to do more.

The largest organization of its kind in Florida, The Miami Foundation has awarded more than $150 million in grants and scholarships, and acts as an administrator and clearing house for individual philanthropists. The Foundation’s Miami Fellows Class VII begins in late April and runs for 15 months. As always, the Fellows range in age from 27-37 and have been working in their careers for 5-15 years. These Miami area residents come from both the public and private sectors and include people who have or want to pursue elected office as well as those dedicated to non-profit causes.

Meeting of the minds

The capabilities of FIU’s Center for Leadership came to the attention of The Miami Foundation when Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO of the organization, attended CFL’s Leading Decisions, a program specifically designed for accomplished leaders, including company presidents, CEOs and other C-suite executives who hold pivotal decision making roles in their organizations.

"By attending the Leading Decisions program, I experienced firsthand the powerful skills of the team at the Center for Leadership in presenting relevant information and helping each attendee discover and strengthen their own skills," said Mr. Soto. "We have a significant leadership training resource (in the FIU Center for Leadership) that provides local perspective, and I wanted the Miami Fellows to be able to tap into that asset."

“We’re delighted that Javier’s experience in the Leading Decisions program opened up the possibility for our center to partner with the foundation for their Fellows program,”

says Mayra Beers, Ph.D., Director of Operations for the Center and a Knight Research Fellow. “We get so excited about sharing our brand of leadership, one that focuses on a deeper understanding of self, and how that awareness informs our decision making. This is a tremendous opportunity for these young, highly energized professionals.”

Vance Aloupis, Statewide Director of The Children’s Movement of Florida, was a member of the Miami Fellows VI class and a part of the selection committee for this year’s cohort. “Much of the Miami Fellows’ experience was about the understanding of leadership and its challenges – particularly, on a community level,” he says. “It was through the partnership with the FIU Center for Leadership where we, as Fellows, were encouraged to understand and overcome those personal barriers to leadership that each of us faced as young professionals.”

Expanded Role

Suggestion for paragraph: While FIU’s Center for Leadership was involved in the leadership training of Fellows Class VI, the Center has since been tapped by The Miami Foundation to play an expanded role in their current program.

“Clearly, the Center for Leadership is the local entity most involved with leadership development, so it’s natural to rely on the experts,” says Charisse Grant,

Senior Vice President for Programs at The Miami Foundation. “For our last class, the Center presented terrific sessions for the Fellows. This time, we want the Center to be even more involved.”

Industrial psychologist Garth Headley, CFL’s Associate Director, Marketing & Corporate Relations, will serve as the co-director of the CFL portion of The Miami Fellows program. Mr. Headley also served on the Fellows Selection Committee this year.

“Through our extensive and ongoing research with the highest level of corporate executives, we have been able to ascertain from seasoned leaders what makes for ethical and effective leadership and what they in return look for in high potentials,” says Mr. Headley.

“As with all of our programs, we hope to offer these insights to the Fellows, as a way for them to access the expertise of those who have been there and done that - a way of reaching into the future and grasping the lessons for use in the present,” he adds.

Center hosting opening lab

Ms. Grant reports that, for the first time, the Center is being called upon to conduct the first “leadership lab” for the class, a three-day session.

“We chose the Center for Leadership for the opening lab because this gives our Fellows a framework they can use as they go through the subsequent months of the program, a framework of what makes a strong and effective leader,” shares Ms. Grant, who says that the Center will also be used for other sessions throughout the 15-month program.

“This type of intense and concentrated programming is one of the ways the Center excels,” says Mr. Headley. “Just as each of our programs is customized, our faculty members will present research and insight in a style specifically designed for The Miami Fellows to engage these participants based on their age, career experience and aspirations.”

Mr. Headley points out that the Miami Fellows have a unique and rich opportunity. “These up-and-coming leaders can learn now about the many facets of leadership, instead of waiting ten years or more to observe other leaders,” he says. “They will be positioned to launch their own careers armed with insight about themselves and the components of great leadership. That’s a distinctive advantage to get at such a young age.”

 Originally Published in CityBizList - May 17, 2013