SFA leader chosen for prestigious national academy

NACOGDOCHES, Texas ­— Dr. Michara DeLaney-Fields, chief diversity officer at Stephen F. Austin State University, was one of three dozen higher education leaders from across the country chosen to participate in the 2023-24 Executive Leadership Academy.

ELA is a yearlong program jointly sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Council of Independent Colleges and the American Academic Leadership Institute. The selective program prepares experienced provosts and vice presidents to become successful presidents or move to positions of greater responsibility.

DeLaney-Fields said her SFA mentors, including Dr. Steve Westbrook, former SFA president, and Gina Oglesbee, SFA interim president, helped prepare her for this opportunity.

“I am immensely grateful to Dr. Steve Westbrook for his endorsement and leadership throughout the year,” she said. “I also appreciate Gina Oglesbee for her mentorship throughout the process thus far. I am humbled by the opportunity to expand my leadership journey in higher education with mentors and leaders nationwide.”

The ELA program includes an individualized professional experience plan designed to fill gaps in the participant’s skills and experience; mentorship by the participant’s current president and the ELA program director; individualized executive coaching; and peer-to-peer participant-led webinars, regional gatherings and activities.

“Through this experience, I hope to gain the in-depth knowledge necessary to continue anchoring and evolving others to grow and succeed,” DeLaney-Fields said.

ELA participants attended their first seminar last month and will return to Washington, D.C., in June 2024 for a second seminar.

“It is more essential than ever that future leaders are well-equipped to serve our growing diverse student population,” said Mildred García, AASCU president. “The Executive Leadership Academy offers a critical opportunity to strengthen higher education’s leadership pipeline by bringing together equity-minded, purpose-driven leaders who share a common goal of being in service to students.”

To view members of the 2023-24 ELA cohort, visit the ELA website.