MCC promotes professional development for women in higher education

MCC women participate in a professional development day designed for them.
MCC women participate in a professional development day designed for them.

More than 100 women at Metropolitan Community College participated in an interactive program aimed to address the needs of changing demographics among college students and diverse communities by having discussions on professional growth and networking.

This is the second year MCC’s office of inclusion and engagement hosted The Juncture. The annual symposium offered a day filled with synergy, collaboration, student-focused solutions and allowed women the chance to share experiences to fulfill personal and professional continuous improvement within higher education.

Women talked about ethics, experience, mentoring, balance and networking all while honoring women of higher education’s different journeys and paths.

MCC employees shared as participants in panel discussions and small groups professional knowledge, skills and attitudes embedded in higher education. They also offered best practices to develop career plans, tools to strengthen professional growth and the importance of mental and physical self-care.

Women who have served in both higher education and other fields were also able to share personal insight into navigating between personal and professional roles and responsibilities.

The event highlighted several women as keynote speakers:

Dr. Andrea Hendricks/ Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Dr. Andrea Hendricks, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Dr. Andrea Hendricks, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources and Deputy Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City discussed making sure women find balance in their lives, recommending such techniques as developing a personal board of directors.  She also stressed the need for women to support one another in the business world, suggesting that female leaders work to prioritize helping women advance.

Hendricks leads a broad portfolio of work, including employee engagement programs, EEO programs, organizational development, and diversity and inclusion programs. Over the past 20 years, Hendricks has worked in the non-profit, higher education and financial services sector leading diversity, development and training strategies and programs. Prior to her current position, she served as associate dean of Student Services on the MCC-Penn Valley Campus.  She said she was thrilled to be back on campus and talking to women.

Dr. Jackie Vietti, Retired President of Butler Community College
Dr. Jackie Vietti, Retired President of Butler Community College

Dr. Jackie Vietti, Retired President of Butler Community College talked about leadership qualities, asking the group to define what makes a good leader. In her closing remarks, she stated that “loving your people” is one of the most important things a leader can do.

Vietti, who has worked in public higher education for more than 35 years, provided direction and leadership for community colleges and higher education systems in Kansas and Missouri and the 19-state region of the Higher Learning Commission.

For more than 17 years, she served as president of Butler Community College, the second largest public community college in the state. After retirement, Vietti was named Interim president of Emporia State University while she continued to work on behalf of public education and communities across Kansas, serving as a guest lecturer, an evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission, facilitating numerous initiatives, and as a member of a number of boards, including El Dorado Inc., Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital, and the Kansas Board of Regents Postsecondary Technical Education Authority.

Ms. Ellen Heffernan, Partner the Spelman Johnson Executive Search Firm Group
Ms. Ellen Heffernan, Partner the Spelman Johnson Executive Search Firm Group

And Ellen Heffernan, Partner the Spelman Johnson Executive Search Firm Group educated the crowd about the dos and don’ts of career advancement, covering everything from job interview etiquette to how to approach negotiations once a job offer is presented.

The Spelman & Johnson Group is a national executive search firm that works to fill leadership positions within higher education. Since its inception in 1991, SJG has assisted virtually every type of higher education institution identify, recruit, and hire senior leadership.

Heffernan graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in economics and government. She joined SJG in 1996, after a ten-year career in higher education that included positions at Smith College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is also a national speaker on topics related to recruiting and professional development in higher education and serves as faculty for several national higher education association professional development programs. Heffernan also currently serves on the board of the National Association of Executive Recruiters.

MCC women who participated in discussions included Shelley Kneuvean, vice chancellor of for financial and administrative services; Kathrine Swanson, vice chancellor of student success and engagement; Kathy Walter-Mack, chief of staff; Jackie Gill, MCC Business & Technology campus president , Christina McGee, director of employee relations; Tarana Chapple, ‎associate dean of instruction; Kim Fernandes, director of disability services; Diane Beal, faculty; Jessica Halperin, sociology instructor; Crystal Johnson, social sciences and business division chair; Melinda Johnson, associate dean; Christina Medina, communications and public relations; Karen Moore, dean of student development; Mindy McCallum, dean of instruction; Yvette Sweeney, dean of student development and Nancy Harrington, faculty.

The event was sponsored by the Spelman Johnson Group, the MCC Chapter of the AAUW and the Chancellor’s Office. The initiative was a joint effort developed by Kathy Walter-Mack, the MCC chief of staff and Robert N. Page Jr, executive director of inclusion and engagement.

A 20-member committee made up of both faculty and staff from all five MCC campuses helped to provide the best experience possible. Jessica Calderon, in the diversity and inclusion office, handled logistics for the event.