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Approaching a Rising Generation of Leaders

By Dean Tom Gilligan

“Where Leadership is Earned” is not just a snappy phrase. Our core purpose is to educate leaders that create value for society—and frankly, to be a significant business school we must charge toward that goal, not just wait for it to walk through our doors.

We recently made a significant addition to our leadership development capacity that is both purposeful and bold.

Veronica “Ronnye” Stidvent has joined us from the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Before returning to the university, where she earned her undergraduate degree, Stidvent served in the White House as special assistant to the president for policy and as assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Labor.

What makes her arrival particularly significant is her seminal role in the development of the Hispanic Leadership Initiative (HLI), which includes Subiendo: The Academy for Rising Leaders, programs focused on advancing leadership education among Hispanic students.

At McCombs, Stidvent will continue her work as the director of the HLI while also serving as a lecturer in the new Department of Business, Government and Society. Her work with HLI is designed to elevate leadership opportunities for the largest and youngest minority group in the United States, a changing demography that brings both challenges and opportunities.

One of the challenges is reaching out to a rising generation of Hispanic youth who, in some cases, do not see themselves as potential leaders. Last year, Stidvent launched the Subiendo Academy, a four-day intensive summer program that brought aspiring high school seniors together with leadership examples such as Sara Martinez Tucker, MBA '79, former undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and Kenneth M. Jastrow, BBA '69, MBA '71, former chairman and CEO of Temple-Inland.

In the words of one participant, “This program gave me something a classroom never could—a dream.”

I encourage you to seek out Stidvent and hear the story of the Hispanic Leadership Initiative. You’ll recognize that her passion for developing leadership capacity among students of diverse backgrounds is genuine, and her accomplishments show that she can and will have an impact here at McCombs.

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