BUAA Leadership Summit a Success


On Friday afternoon, Stephen E. Gorman, MBA ’78 led a concurrent session titled "Managing Change," during which he detailed several real-life examples of successful change at companies where he has worked.

Nearly 150 of today’s and tomorrow’s leaders converged on the Hilltop for the inaugural Bradley University Alumni Association Leadership Summit on June 13–15. Focused on professional development and networking, the event featured a number of alumni and faculty who are renowned for their leadership expertise.

President Joanne Glasser kicked off Thursday’s welcome reception, noting the year of hard work that went into planning the weekend. “This is what happens when you dream big dreams,” she said. New graduate and national speech team champion Jacoby Cochran ’13 then took the stage to share some invaluable advice: “In order to be an effective leader, you must first learn to follow.”


Watch Leadership Summit highlights at

Friday’s agenda included a keynote by Bradley’s Robert A. McCord Endowed Professor for Executive Management Development Dr. Charles Stoner, three concurrent sessions, luncheon roundtables, and a gala dinner highlighted by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood ’71 HON ’11. The day’s topics ranged from breaking the glass ceiling (Marietta Colston Davis ’81) and managing change (Stephen E. Gorman, MBA ’78) to forming effective online networks (Leslie Schultz ’07 and Brett Ellis ’04) and understanding leadership styles (Todd Popham, MBA ’04).

Summit attendees returned Saturday to hear keynote speaker Nuria White Fernandez ’82, COO of the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority, before participating in the final concurrent sessions covering subjects such as managing up (Orlando Ceaser ’73) and managing conflict (Calvin G. Butler Jr. ’91). The day ended with an Avanti’s Gondola luncheon and remarks by Glenn Ross, MBA ’87.

— C.M.

Lessons from the Leadership Summit

“Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress — adopt and go.”
— Stephen E. Gorman, MBA ’78


“Leaders personally inspire others to learn, change and EXCEL.”
— Todd Popham, MBA ’04


“Learn to let go of the past. Bury it, and move forward.”
— Marietta Colston Davis ’81

“You can’t get out of life without leaving an impression on somebody.”
— Orlando Ceaser ’73


“Conflict happens. Go right at it, and achieve amazing results.”
— Calvin G. Butler Jr. ’91


“We live in a culture of perfectionism. The biggest mistake is not to take risks because you are afraid to try.”
— Dr. Laurence G. Weinzimmer ’83 MBA ’85



Leading by Giving Back

On August 21, LaHood was named the first Honorary Senior Distinguished Fellow for the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley. In the role, he will participate in national public policy symposiums on campus, as well as guest lecture in University classrooms. 

The Summit Gala featured a special address by The Honorable Ray LaHood ’71 HON ’11.

As the 16th U.S. Secretary of Transportation, LaHood was the first Bradley alumnus appointed to a president’s Cabinet. Yet, it was the University’s president he mentioned first. “For those of you who have watched what has been happening on campus since she became president, you know that Joanne Glasser is a leader, but the real trait of her leadership,” he explained, “is that on her birthday she would spend it here with us.”

LaHood said he believes Bradley is the place that set him on course for his 36 years of public service because he and his wife, Kathy Dunk LaHood, MBA ’87 (center, with President Joanne Glasser), met leaders here. He also stressed the importance of mentoring in the development of strong leaders, encouraging attendees to “adopt leadership skills from others who are successful.”

He then reminded everyone of a debt: “We owe it to the University that helped us mature, become leaders, and earn a degree to give something back.” He told how one Bradley Fund call for $100 to David Markin ’53 HON ’06 resulted in the Markin Family Student Recreation Center. 

After joking he didn’t have a three-point plan for becoming a great leader, LaHood shared life lessons he learned from his family while growing up on Peoria’s East Bluff — “Work hard. Play by the rules. Faith in God.”

He closed with the best advice he’s received on the subject. “You can’t be a know-it-all,” he said. “You recognize what your limitations are, and then you surround yourself with good people. … Be a little humble.”

— C.M.



Building a Multicultural Organization

Two weeks after the Summit, Crain’s New York Business magazine named Fernandez No. 31 on its 2013 list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York. Read the story at

Nuria White Fernandez ’82, chief operating officer of the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), gave the Summit’s final keynote. Her address, “Leadership and Diversity: Going Global in Your Own Backyard,” examined how to build and manage an open and engaging organizational culture.

A native of Panama, Fernandez first embraced diversity when she traveled more than 2,000 miles from home to attend Bradley. Now, with 55 percent of her 68,000 employees being minorities, she is adept at overseeing multicultural environments. She explained that sometimes language is the only obstacle to advancing a great minority employee. In fact, she noted that half of all English speakers learned English as a second language.

One audience member asked her about people with disabilities and their status as minority workers. Fernandez acknowledged that more efforts need to be made to employ them, stating that it is vital to “look beyond any limitation and focus solely on the qualifications for the position.”

Before closing, Fernandez shared a brief overview of her role in the Hurricane Sandy cleanup. She showed a multitude of post-storm photographs and detailed how the MTA prepared for and continues to recover from its impact.

— C.M.



Effective Transitions to Leadership

Dr. Charles Stoner, Robert A. McCord Endowed Professor for Executive Management Development at Bradley, opened the Summit’s second day with his keynote, “The Day After Tomorrow: The Development and Nurturing of New and Emerging Leaders.”

His eye-opening review of the challenges faced by upcoming professionals included startling facts such as 30 percent of new managers fail in their jobs and leave their organizations within 18 months.

To address these issues, he offered four foundations of transitioning to leadership. First, embrace your new role as a leader instead of a doer. Realize that although you have technical skills, you probably have underdeveloped interpersonal skills that could make it difficult to deal with peers, superiors and political nuance. Shift your everyday focus from micro issues to the bigger picture, and, finally, become an adaptive leader of change instead of simply being the recipient of information and directives.

— C.M.