Fall 2017 MLDP Students Reflect on Leading A Cohesive Team at Northern Stage

Management Leadership Development Program provides students with the opportunity to reflect on their leadership experience and build the skills to be a more effective leader both on and off campus. Crucial to this experience is the off campus visit where students travel to an organization to see how these essential skills are implemented in different fields and workplaces.

Fall 2017 MLDP students visited Northern Stage and had the opportunity to explore the back-stage area with Alek Deva, Development Manager & Institutional Relations. Northern Stage is a nonprofit organization located in White River Junction, Vermont that puts on shows and performances designed to have a lasting impact on audience members.

At Northern Stage, students explored leadership predominantly through discussions and activities with actors as well as with Deva and Amanda Rafuse, the Gurley Brown Associate Director & Interim Director of Development. From these interactions, students saw how abstract leadership concepts, such as the ability to promote group cohesion and effectively work together, manifested themselves in real world scenarios.

As one example, Deva detailed the struggle to ensure the success of productions with the help of his team, especially given the stress of working in the acting industry where jobs tend to be slim and far in between. Still, Deva emphasized optimism. As William Roussell ’20 reminisced, “Leadership involves acting in a way that is least stressful on the team.” This attitude is essential as it allows the team to remain focused on the goal: providing a positive impact on members of the Upper Valley community through performance. 

Jiachen Jiang ’20 echoed a similar point stating, “Success of leadership is not always tied to material gain.” At Northern Stage, Deva and his team strive to deliver excellence with every performance.  

By hearing firsthand about the experiences of the actors and others essential to operating Northern Stage, students gained knowledge about not only leadership, but also about how nonprofits work. As Hunter Cohen ’20 remarked, “Non-profits have more responsibilities than for-profits, because they have to satisfy donors in addition to operating a business.” Because Northern Stage operates as a nonprofit, group cohesion is all the more important. Leading by example and ensuring everyone is committed to the mission of the organization enables the organization to succeed in impacting the community. 

Written by Alexandrea Keith '20, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Communications