Thursday, April 26, 2012

Debbie Barton - Interview 2

As promised here is the second interview for the ORGL Masters program.  Some of you may recognize this individual, Debbie Barton, as a mentor or fellow classmate.

I asked Debbie to provide a picture, as I do all individual's that I interview, and regarding the picture she provided she responded: 

"I had to think about the “image” I wanted to portray, and decided that I just wanted to give you “me”, since everything I do is part of “me”. This is me on a hike near Palouse Falls earlier this spring. Pretty amazing place." 

I had the pleasure of first meeting Debbie Barton at the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Organizational Leadership Masters Program celebration.  It was there that I was first introduced to her great kindness and warmth.  When I first met Debbie I was greeted with such a softness and genuine desire to get to know who I was and how I was involved with the program.  The kind of warmth and kindheartedness that Debbie displayed was a rarity and it was truly a pleasure to not only meet her but to have the opportunity to get to know her.  Seeing as the first time I met Debbie it was at the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the ORGL Masters Program we agreed to have a phone interview later the next week.  I could not help but wonder if it was possible for her to possess the same endearing qualities on the phone that she had in person.  Often times not having face to face contact with an individual makes it more difficult to get the sense of who they are.  However much to my own delight everything I had come to experience Debbie as in person exuded itself on the phone.  When speaking with Debbie, the hectic and busy world was put to a stop and the focus became the conversation that was being held between you and Debbie.  This was a strength I saw Debbie posses as a leader.

I first asked Debbie what caused a woman had not only been practicing veterinary medicine but who had proved to be very successful at to shift career change, focus, and enter into the Organizational Leadership Masters Program in 2007 and finish early 2009?  Debbie responded by saying she was motivated by a feeling she had developed in her private veterinary work, which at that time she had been involved in for approximately 30 years.  The feeling that she had developed left her feeling that she was missing a key component of what it took to lead or to be a leader.  Debbie had worked in practices owned by others, her own practice, as well as being involved in national organizations surrounded by great, strong, leaders.  It was through these experiences that she thought she would be able to ‘get it right’ and pick up the skills of being a good leader.  She reflected and said she never once felt let down or blamed those around her for “not instilling” that feeling of being a good leader or knowing how to lead.  She instead felt it was more a feeling that she was missing something, she “still did not have it right” and she simply did not want to die not knowing what she is missing.  She remembers she began to question and doubt whether it was even possible for one person to be a complete leader because she kept searching for a person who seemed to have that same “AH HA” moment she herself was looking for and nobody seemed to have it.  Nobody seemed to have the total picture of what it was like to “envision the future and form and solid team.”

I asked her why this program?  Surely there were many other programs out there that covered the same topic and skill set of leadership.  Debbie remembered cutting out an advertisement of the Boise (the place where she had been living) newspaper, that was for an organizational program located at Boise State.  This is something she never did, she was not one to cut things out of newspapers and save them.  Debbie remembers cutting out the advertisement and making a folder for it thinking that one day she might just do that.  Over the years she never forgot about the advertisement and finally one day once her children had grown and moved out of the house she decided to act on the pressing thoughts she had been having. 

Debbie decided to research what University’s and programs would be the best fit for her.  Debbie had looked at both the COML and ORGL masters programs at Gonzaga University.  When asked why she chose the ORGL program she responded by saying after having sat in on a class and looking at the classes offered in both programs as well as the books for each she had felt that the ORGL masters program fit her and her needs best.  Once she had decided on Gonzaga University she made the decision that if she was going to embark on this new life and journey she was going to have to fully embrace it.  Knowing that she learned best in classroom format, she knew online classes would not be the right fit for her.  Therefore, she packed up her car with her animals, rented out her house in Boise and found a house on the South Hill of Spokane Washington to rent out while she went to and completed her masters at Gonzaga University.     

I asked Debbie about her favorite memory while she attended the ORGL program and she initially laughed because she said she had so many!  However there were two she shared that specifically stood out.  The first memory she reflected on came from a place when things that are the most difficult become the most impactful.  She remembers being in the 502 Leadership of Imagination class where they told her to “draw the space around the stool.” She first remembers thinking that the concept was ridiculous and she “could not believe she was paying tuition dollars for this.”  However, as the course and lesson plan continued Debbie began to realize what a critical piece not only to the ORGL course but to her life this was.  I do not want to reveal what exactly to “draw the space around the stool” means, for those of you who have yet to take the course, but as a whole what Debbie took away from that lesson was to consider other perspectives and not to jump to one specific judgment. 

The second noteworthy memory that Debbie shared involved the communication audit in the COML class required.  Debbie had decided to conduct her communication audit on the organization she was working in at the time, for she was working part time as a veterinarian while in her masters at Gonzaga University.  She would journal everyday, writing down how the specific details she was studding would change or stay the same within the organization.  One day she while she was journaling, just as every other day, and she found herself having a déjà vu moment.  She was writing details down she had written down before.  She went back into her journals and it was there that she saw the same details she had been describing days before.  This is what made her realize when it comes to communication, one of the specific details of the organization she was studding, there are patterns.  There are not only patterns but time must be given in order to establish the patterns but to also remedy and establish new patterns. 

I asked Debbie now that she had graduated the program what was she currently doing?  Debbie told me that since graduating she had the privilege to start working for Washington State college of veterinary medicine.  She works in a split position between two departments.  Half of her job consists of teaching in the veterinary hospital.  She teaches fourth year students, students in their clinical year, and oversees the client/animal patients with the student.  Overall, the students have a lot of freedom.  They enter into the room with the client/animal patient and introduce themselves, conduct a pre-examination, and review the medical history.  Then the student reviews all the information over with Debbie leaving them both to enter back into the room where Debbie then reinforces all the information and conducts a repeat examination, acknowledging the work done by the student and together the two come up with a treatment plan.  The other half of Debbie’s job is to help teach and correlate the Cougar Orientation and Leadership Experience (COAL).  This is designed for 1st year students and it is an orientation at the beginning of the year that is taught out in a camp style form.  Debbie also manages to teach other lecture/small group classes where leadership principles are taught, learned and instilled. 

As I ended the interview I asked her if there was one thing she uses on a daily basis, if any, that she had learned from the ORGL Masters Program.  Debbie sighed and said there had been so many things she had learned and feels like she uses on a daily basis but if there just had to be one thing she would have to say that it would be connected to the model of servant leadership and would consist of her being more empathetic.  I asked if she felt the program had instilled this in her or if it had simply strengthened it.  Debbie said she had felt that she already had a sense of empathy and showed it within her work, family, friends, etc.  However, she felt that the ORGL program had affirmed it and she now finds herself using it every single day in her own leadership journey.   

Regarding the quote I asked for she responded: 

"My quote was tougher. There are so many that I have “come to live by”. But I guess the one that keeps repeating itself in my head, and that I see many versions of in the literature, was first coined by Stephen Covey in his book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”: 

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” 

If in doubt, that’s what I try first . . . always. It is about wondering and being curious. It’s where I start my students in leadership."

Friday, January 20, 2012

This is the start of a series of interviews with professors, fellow alumni, and guests, and we have decided to start with a well-known professor.  Many of you will be familiar with the name and face, for he has had the opportunity to teach quite a few of you. 

I had the pleasure of sitting down and meeting with the Organizational Leadership professor, Tony Andenoro.  I found myself laughing upon entering his office, the designate meeting spot we had agreed upon for the interview, because as I was walking down the hall, towards his office, I was able to hear his animated voice, as he was finishing up a phone call.  That is Tony, larger than life personality! As I entered his office, a place I had not been in awhile I noticed the warm, fun, and charismatic environment Tony had created.  You knew exactly whose office it was upon entering.  There was nothing boring about this office space, no bare space, dull colors, or quietness.  It was a welcoming space that was covered with photos, license plates, meaningful sayings, and above all my all time favorite, his candy dish always fully stocked!  Tony greeted me, with a big smile on his face, clapping his hands together, saying, “Are you ready to do this?” As if we were about to run a track meet!  That was the exact enthusiasm he brought to his class everyday.  “I sure am!” And so, the interview began….  

Tony has been teaching in the program for about five years now and has seen the program mature and transform into what it is today.  When asked about the changes he has seen within the program he reflected with an ever-expressive pause and let out a playful laugh.  He quickly apologized and explained his reaction; the dynamic in the program has changed dramatically.  When he first entered, the program was located in the Schoenberg building.  For those of you who have seen the building, you know what a drastic change it is from Tilford.  The Schoenberg building is a small, dark, closed in, little building located on the edge of campus where very little sunlight enters.  Tony remembers making a lot of ‘hallway decisions’ where professors would end up running into one another, gathering in discussion, and thereby deciding on topics. 

When Tony first entered into the program, about 5 years ago, he entered in with 3 other individuals.  As he spoke, he paused and reflected on the shift he has experienced within the past 5 years.  He noted there was a definite newness and focus in energy when the program moved from the Schoenberg building to the Tilford building.  Aside from the new physical environment there was also a new dynamic in the energy felt.  The floor that the ORGL program moved to in Tilford was a floor of leadership studies and joined the CLP (Comprehensive Leadership Studies), COML (Communication and Leadership Studies), and PhD in Leadership Studies programs.  The programs being on one floor brought diversity and allowed strengths to develop through collaboration.

When asked how Tony would like to see the ORGL program continue in its path of development he reflected a moment and excitedly responded, “exploring the idea of concentrations!”  For any of you who have had the opportunity to have Tony as a professor you might remember he speaks with a level of passion and excitement that is contagious and uplifting.  I could not help but giggle as he elaborated on his response, only because the excitement he displayed was one of a small child on Christmas day.  Tony said he would like to see the program add specific courses and work towards developing concentrations that would best guide the students into the specific fields and topics for the aspirations they desire.  Building off of this, regarding the hopes and goals for the ORGL program, Tony responded by saying he does not want this to be the perfect program, but instead he wants perfect programs!  Tony believes there is no such thing as a perfect program, so we need to bring our focus creating a context that supports and challenges the students they serve.  Tony believes if the program focuses on creating a dynamic environment that is flexible and grounded in diverse opportunities for application, they can create perfect programs for each of the students that enroll in ORGL. Key ideas in his vision for this include a renewed emphasis on advising students, a strong connection to community, and lastly real intentionality placed on the graduate student research experience. 

Lastly, when asked what were his goals for the next upcoming few years, true to Tony’s form he gave a typical response in an atypical way.  He responded by saying he would like to make tenure.  However, unlike many professors when asked why that was his goal he said it would mean a lot to him because he sees it as the recognition and acknowledgment of what he has done to help students.  Having had the pleasure of learning from Tony, I can say first hand that this is the kind of professor Tony Andenoro is, a professor who puts his students first and is willing to go above and beyond to help them grow, learn, and succeed.

Tony is encouraged by quotes.  He uses them constantly and challenges his students to do the same.  Therefore, being a past student of Tony, I gave him a taste of his own medicine and asked him to give me a quote that speaks to him and tell me why.  The quote he gave me was by Frederick Douglass.

Where there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground”

Tony used this quote in 2005 to motivate him while writing his dissertation.  He said that he used to think it meant that the process needed to be perfect.  However, now be believes the quote to mean there is hope and progress within the struggle, and the process needs to be embraced more fully!

Aside from teaching fulltime, Tony has also been working research regarding his time in Zambia that addresses moving beyond the principle of accompaniment to create sustainable options for the international communities that Gonzaga students visit, specifically how to teach leadership through struggling.  He is also working alongside Patrick Ferro and several other faculty members in an effort to develop emotional intelligence in university engineering instructors to create more socially engaged and interpersonally competent engineering graduates.  The two are working on a grant to further this research create implications that extend well beyond Gonzaga.  Tony is also the Vice President and 2012 Conference Chair for the Association Leadership Educators, which provides collaborative opportunities for scholars, practitioners, students, trainers, and consultants in the field of Leadership Education.  Not that he isn’t busy enough, but he recently got married in October 2011!  A Big Congratulations!