Ethical leadership conference empowers Saint Michael’s students

January 23, 2024
Cat Cutillo
Social Media and Community Content Specialist

Two dozen students gathered on January 12 and 13 for full-day conferences focused on ethical leadership. Most of the students were in leadership positions on campus and were attending voluntarily to participate in the small group workshops, presentations, and skill building.

“You all have potential and, frankly, the responsibility to be a leader when the opportunity arrives,” Heidi St. Peter, Director of Purposeful Learning, said in her welcoming.

Heidi St. Peter (Photo by Cat Cutillo)

Todd Johnstone-Wright, Director of the Undergraduate Professional Endorsement Program, started with a brainstorming session about framing leadership. He asked the students to think about how they’ve been taught to lead. The students responded with answers that included uplifting people rather than dictating, sharing leadership, being flexible to situations, being a role model and being organized.

“Do some people lead from the sidelines?” Johnstone-Wright asked. He explained that the goal of the conference was for students to put what they learn into practice for the spring semester in their leadership roles at St. Mike’s.

President Richard Plumb (Photo by Cat Cutillo)

President Richard Plumb welcomed the group and said, “You’re entering a time where leadership is needed and it’s never been challenged more than it has right now,” he said. “You have to know who you are…you’re going to have to have a set of morals and ethics to follow.”

Plumb – who grew up as an athlete, participating in rowing, wrestling and football – said he felt like he stumbled into being a leader.

“I didn’t plan to be a leader.” Plumb said. “I learned leadership through sports, and I was able to take everything that I’ve learned from sports and apply it to leadership.”

Plumb added, “I encourage you as you start on your journey to really get to know yourself. Have something that’s going to guide you.”

Eben Widlund (Photo by Cat Cutillo)

Eben Widlund leading an exercise at the conference (Photo by Cat Cutillo)

Workshops were facilitated by staff and faculty, including Amir Barghi, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics; Jeff Favreau, Director of Public Safety and Emergency Operations; Lara Scott, Director of MOVE; Joe Speidel, Career Education Coach; Jerry Swope, Department Chair and Associate Professor of Digital Media and Communications; Rosemary Yargici, Director of International Student and Scholar Services; and Eben Widlund, Director of the Adventure Sports Center.

(Photo by Cat Cutillo)

“Saint Michael’s College views Ethical Leadership as a unifying theory that provides students with a framework to recognize when to lead, to choose how to lead, and support their practice as leaders no matter the context,” Johnstone-Wright wrote in an email after the conference.

St. Peter said the experience “had us growing as a community of learners, considering leadership and building awareness and understanding of ourselves and one another.”

According to St. Peter, one student participant wrote in their evaluation that the experience, “expanded my knowledge of what being a leader really means, and what a leader has the potential of being and looking like. It brought a lot to my awareness surrounding integrity and inclusion.”

Follow us on social.