Celebrating Ten Years of MLDP

The Rockefeller Center is honored to announce the 10-year anniversary of the Management and Leadership Development Program, fondly known to many as MLDP. What began as a pilot program in 2009, has impacted the lives of over 1000 leaders from the Dartmouth undergraduate and alumni community. MLDP is a one-term program designed for sophomore, junior, and senior undergraduates from any major who are looking to expand and develop their leadership in theory and in practice. Students meet weekly to engage with a variety of guest speakers and hands-on learning in core management and leadership skills.

When Andrew Samwick took over as Director of the Rockefeller Center in 2004, the co-curricular offerings that existed at the Center consisted of a few small programs. He sought to expand leadership programming dramatically. With a five million dollar gift to start such programming from Fritz Corrigan ’53 and Glenda Corrigan, MLDP got its start.

Sadhana Hall was brought on in 2008 and by 2009, she revamped the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows, and launched an intensive pre-internship training program in Washington, DC that took place fall, winter, and spring. “We learned a lot about how to do leadership development from these programs” reflects Samwick. “The scope of programming got larger as Sadhana found ways to connect it to existing programming.” Now as the Deputy Director of the Rockefeller Center, Hall has launched a whole continuum of programs in addition to MLDP including, the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) and the Dartmouth Leadership, Attitudes, and Behaviors program (D-LAB).

The first iteration of MLDP had 21 student participants and nine 90-minute sessions that covered topics ranging from What makes a good leader?, Writing in the Workplace, and Business Etiquette. By winter 2010, the program was offered to interested sophomores, juniors, and seniors and the Center continuously makes revisions to improve and grow the program. Through quality improvement, Hall says, “We further confirmed what must be included and narrowed in on the most necessary skills to start a journey from practical wisdom. Doing the right things at the right time for the right reasons.”

Throughout its 10 years, MLDP continues to maintain the same goal of creating an understanding of management and leadership. One of the essential elements to the program is the Personal Leadership Challenge. This program-long activity asks students to identify goals that will push them outside of their comfort zone to strengthen their leadership capacity and increase confidence. 

This experiential component allows a real-world application that is personally relevant to the student’s life and gives them skills they can use in the workplace.  Dean Anderson ’21 shared, “For my Personal Leadership Challenge, I set ambitious goals for myself. I planned on forming a new organization on campus.” Jack Kerin ’20 found the Personal Leadership Challenge, “…boosted my confidence. Being led into the ambassador role pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and it was an exercise in leadership in and of itself.”

Robin Frye, Program Officer for the program, has seen many small and large positive impacts to student involvements all over campus. “From building comradery on sport teams, to starting new organizations, to solving interpersonal disputes in work groups, MLDP has given students the ability to make their lives and the lives of others more productive all while practicing skills that will serve them well in the workplace.”  Maria Smith-Lopez ’21 shared, “I experienced a lot of personal growth, especially considering the short time frame of nine weeks. This growth, along with now being equipped with tools to continue to grow, makes me confident in my ability to work with others and encourage the best in them.”

The program today includes nine weekly sessions and an off-campus session to explore leadership in a local established organization. Frye developed the off-campus sessions to close the loop on understanding leadership at all levels. She says, “It’s important to see how leadership is done at the institutional level to understand how you as an employee would fit into the mission.”

Kelly Caputo ’19 had the opportunity do research for MLDP during the summer of 2017, comparing the skills required by employers in today’s workforce to current MLDP sessions. “Being knowledgeable about skills that constantly change is important for all undergraduates,” remarks Kelly. “MLDP has shown me that leadership is more of an umbrella term, what makes someone a leader are the skills such as initiative and verbal and written communication.” Kelly finds that MLDP has become more efficient and interactive because of the increased role of student program assistants and the program’s emphasis on reflection.

“To me MLDP always stands out because of the scale.” Samwick says. “We plan a great program so lots of students can participate, and then we give it to a lot of students.” In the last few years, a typical term will have about 50 students complete the program.  The impact of MLDP will be felt for years to come by the over 1,000 students who have been a part of the program so far. William Phinney ‘21 shared, “I learned how to command respect and have confidence while still being mindful and humble. I think I will encounter many situations in the future where I can directly apply MLDP lessons.”

The Rockefeller Center is honored to celebrate the impact of the Management and Leadership Development Program and looks forward to its continued growth.