ELP 2011-2 Graduation
After nine months of self assessment, training, experiential learning, interviews, and developmental assignments, the Executive Leader Program 2011-2 arrived at graduation. As friends and family gathered in Towson, Maryland, to celebrate the culmination of the demanding journey with their loved ones, the atmosphere in the room was one of both anticipation and relief. This ELP class included 156 participants from the U.S. and Virgin Islands, coming to the program from over 30 agencies. By realizing the value of continual learning, many of the participants stretched themselves and went to places they never thought they would ever go as a result of ELP.
Sharon Barcellos, Program Manager for ELP, began the ceremony with remarks in which she noted that 5 ELP participants were previous graduates of Graduate School USA’s New Leader Program. Other participants were recognized as they were currently finishing degrees or experiencing career changes or job promotions due to their participation in this program.
Dr. Jerry Ice, President and CEO of Graduate School USA, congratulated the participants on a job well done and quoted, “Individuals lead an organization by influence, not by power. For many, it is the informal influence that one can have in transforming an organization. Employees at ’the bottom‘ should not work just to make their boss happy. The boss, in turn should also work to make their employees happy.” Dr. Ice’s advice to the graduates was: “Learn to anticipate what is going to happen next, learn by observation, and concentrate on and build upon your own strengths.”
In the Executive Leader Program, all teams are required to nominate one of their peers to speak at graduation. The following participants were chosen based on their leadership skills and dedication to their team.
Calvert Birmingham, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Finance: “When I began the program and met you all at orientation, I didn’t feel like I belonged in the company of you all. I didn’t know why I had been chosen by my agency. I had no idea that upper management was grooming me for a leader position.” As a result of the program, Calvert was has been able to tap into his inner strength and learn and capitalize on his potential. This has gotten Calvert to where he is today, in the position of associate accountant within his agency.
Rachel Stofocik, U.S. Department of Education: “Going through ELP was like going through labor. When you’re ready to give birth you know that you are becoming a mom and that will sustain you for a lifetime. On this graduation day, completing ELP has helped me to know that becoming a leader, will also sustain me for a lifetime.” Rachel also spoke about the support she received from family and friends who helped her through this process. Regarding her equally supportive ELP team, she added: “Getting to know each of you has added value to my life.”
Marcos Correa, U.S. Department of State, commented on the wealth of knowledge that was in the room that was truly inspiring to him. He asked the audience to reflect on the journeys that got them to this day, saying “There are no elevators in leadership. Only stairs.”
Sheryl Shaw, U.S. Department of Agriculture, APHIS, likened her experience to both The Prayer of Jabez and the movie character Shrek. She told the audience of graduates that ELP has been an answer to prayer, and that Shrek had many layers, explaining that “ogres are like onions with many layers.” Sheryl shared that ELP had helped her peel back her many layers and rediscover herself. “Speak possibilities,” she quoted. “Quiet the voice in your head that says I can’t.”
Congratulations, ELP class of 2011-2! As we heard at your graduation: “If you choose to sit or dance — I hope you dance.”