Alumna engages in LeaderShape at Dominican

As a former LeaderShape participant, Dominican alumna Leighia Fleming returned to the University the week of June 2 as a way to give back to the influential program as a cluster facilitator in the LeaderShape Institute Bay Area Consortium at Dominican.

 “It’s emotional,” Fleming said as Dominican welcomed 51 students from eight Bay Area colleges to the six-day learning curriculum. “To be back to a place that did so much for my growth and my development is so rewarding. It means so much to be back to a place that molded me into the individual I am … It feels good to be home.”

Fleming, a Phi Delta Kappa member who received her BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences at Dominican before earning her masters in Organizations and Leadership (with a concentration in Higher Education and Student Affairs) at the University of San Francisco, is now coordinator of Student Judicial Affairs at the University of California Merced. She has been working with leadership fellows at UC Merced, focusing on decision-making, values and integrity.

Fleming decided to apply to be a cluster facilitator after Le’Trice Curl, her supervisor at UC Merced who was a facilitator at Dominican’s LeaderShape Institute in 2009, suggested she should.

“It’s nice to have it come full circle,” Fleming said.

LeaderShape is a 25-year old organization that has taught over 40,000 college students how to lead with integrity. It was founded at the University of Illinois and is now a nonprofit.  More than 40 Dominican students have graduated from LeaderShape since 2004, including Fleming who was selected to attend the national conference in Champaign, Ill. in 2009.

Fleming returned to Dominican and suggested that Dr. Denise Lucy, executive director of the Institute for Leadership Studies in the Barowsky School of Business, organize its own LeaderShape conference.
“Going there was phenomenal,” Fleming said. “That was eye-opening to see different perspectives. I learned that in order for me to be successful I had to be vulnerable in some ways. I had to be open to other people’s opinions and perspectives and appreciate them.”

Fleming, who was a Pacific West Conference All-Academic team member and heavily involved in ASDU government and the Black Student Union at Dominican, helped organize the inaugural LeaderShape conference at Dominican. Now as many as nine other local colleges and universities have been sending their students as well.

Led by ASDU president and vice president Kevin Sunga and Yema Khalif, Dominican students who participated in the LeaderShape Institute Bay Area Consortium this year were Matthew Choma, Mandy Gilbertson, Crisha Carlos, Donovan Hernandez, Shana Leadbeater, Jannel Mariano, Jessica Marshall, Sandra Rivera, Maurice Brady and Sayra Soriano. The six-day session culminated with a graduation ceremony in Angelico Hall on June 7.

“These students are going to have a lot of self exploration and a lot of learning about whom they are, where they want to go and the bigger view of the world,” Fleming said. “When I first did LeaderShape, it impacted me to be a better person and learn to speak up and stand firm and true to the beliefs I had.”

Fleming supervised and guided a group of 13-14 students in her “family” through the leadership development process. That she did it at Dominican was significant. It is her goal in life to come back to a liberal arts school and have an impact on students’ lives, perhaps someday as a university dean.