The Spark We Needed

With the air of change all around us, CMU’s Leadership Institute is working to provide students with a more holistic leadership development experience than ever before. With change comes challenge, and the Leadership Institute staff found the right people to facilitate the change process effectively. David Walter and Natalie Woods worked alongside Assistant Director Jesi Ekonen as the Spark Leadership Series Co-Coordinators over the course of last year’s Spring semester and throughout the summer to create a new program that would introduce leadership to undergraduate students. In essence, they were the Spark we needed for change to occur seamlessly.

The LI’s programs follow an unwritten progression, and Spark is the introductory leadership program, in which students participate to identify their personal leadership style, understand how their styles relate to other styles, and for students to fundamentally understand that leadership occurs in different ways for every single person. Over the course of four sessions, students understand Fiedler’s Contingency Model, which follows the Leader-Match Theory. Different leaders are strongest in different situations. This idea rings true for our team; David and Natalie have different leadership styles and possess unique skill sets that aid in the success of Spark.

Participant Quote: “Spark changed my view of leadership. I thought leadership was being in charge, making all the decisions, and having all the answers. Now I see that everyone can be leaders in their own way and that I can learn from others when I take a step back.”

A short thank you:

David and Natalie, you’ve done a tremendous job understanding, creating, and implementing leadership development curriculum that has influenced the lives of many students. Thank you for being engaged and passionate staff members who contribute to the Leadership Institute’s success.

PS. Thank you Jesi Ekonen for the support in my transition as a Grad Assistant into the Leadership Institute’s staff.


Spark Leadership Series Recap Video Filmed and Edited by Bo Parker


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