Brandman University’s Ed.D. program paves a path for women leaders
Like a thread woven through a tapestry, Brandman University’s Ed.D. program connects women helping them build leadership skills and a network of support throughout the regions of the Association of California School Administrators.
Graduates of the program shared how Brandman’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership guided them toward being transformational leaders. Melanie Dopson (Ed.D., 2016) is the director of secondary education for the Elk Grove Unified School District. Candice Flint (Ed.D., 2017) is the principal at Mariposa Elementary School in Mariposa and Jennifer Ramos (Ed.D., 2016) is a history teacher in the Elk Grove Unified School District and also teaches at the college level as an adjunct.
Transformation in action
Jenn Ramos (right): As a high school teacher, I have taken the lead on implementing our school’s Get Focused, Stay Focused program. The Get Focused, Stay Focused curriculum helps develop an online career and education plan that can be used for advisory and academic coaching purposes and can be updated as students grow, change or face transitions. The personalized 10-year program provides the focus and intrinsic motivation to succeed in college, at work and in life. In our first full year of implementation, our school was awarded a Gold Ribbon from the State of California.
Candice Flint (left): In general, it made me more strategic in how I make decisions. We did some work in one (Ed.D.) class about the multigenerational workforce. It was totally relevant to my site because we have millennials, Gen X and still quite a few baby boomers. I did some extra research and brought it back to my staff. It was really eye-opening. There were some great activities that we did in the program to get you out of your seat. I was glad they (Mariposa Elementary School staff) found it as fascinating and helpful as I did.
Melanie Dopson (right): I received my doctorate in February (2016) and I was already applying for a promotion (from principal of Katherine L. Albiani Middle School to a districtwide directorship), which I did get. I think the leadership skills acquired during the program really helped me in the interview process. Skills I learned come into play every day: being able to relate to people, being able to negotiate, being able to work with people from all walks of life. It really helps you go from one level to the next.
On learning to lead
Flint: “I think one of the biggest things was the program helped me be more reflective. It also helped me understand how to move an organization, whether during times of change or a recession.
Dopson: The program gives you a level of confidence that you just don’t have before you start. Each step you take, each challenge you conquer, gives you more and more confidence.
Advice for other women
Flint: I tell women to go for it. I believe women’s voices and perspectives need to be heard. We need to be where things are happening rather than have
things happen to us. Even if you look at education, there are lots of principals and even directorships but a very small percentage of superintendents who are women. Even though we make up the majority of mid-management, we still are barely above the glass ceiling.
Dopson: I would say be confident in yourself. You’re the one person holding you back. It’s amazing to me how many men will just jump in. Women tend to be more conservative, to feel they have to have all their ducks in a row before applying (for a position). We have to not be afraid. We need people who are humble and gracious and willing to learn. A lot of the women whom I see have those skills but lack confidence in themselves. If you can, find a woman mentor. That’s an invaluable asset.
Ramos: Find women leaders who you respect and take the time to build meaningful relationships with them. Learn from their experiences and the wealth of knowledge.
Who inspired you?
Ramos: Dr. Marilou Ryder, my dissertation chair. (Ryder is an associate professor at Brandman.) I was so intimidated by her at first but once I took the time to get to know her, I was so in awe of her. I can honestly say that my dissertation experience would not have been same without her as my chair. She pushed me to be the best researcher and writer I could be and, at the same time, encouraged and supported me through the dissertation process. As a teacher, I do the same with my students.
Flint: Dr. Cindy Petersen. (See box). I knew her through ACSA before I started at Brandman. I’m in awe of what she’s been able to do. She brings so much heart to everything she does. She’s incredibly supportive.
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