The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Rockefeller Leadership Fellows

RLF Reflection: Doing Diversity Right

On November 12, Amanda Donald-Phillips gave a presentation on how diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives can be improved to better serve black women.

Following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Amanda argued that because many companies’ DEI initiatives were inherently performative and reactionary in nature (as they were formed directly in response to these tragedies), implemented policies were ignorant of black women’s inequality in the workforce (with respect to occupational segregation, and the wage gap in which black women are paid 38% less than white men, and 21% less than white women). After later explaining black and brown workers’ restriction to service jobs and low retention in the corporate workplace, Amanda concluded that DEI initiatives have failed black women.

RLF Reflection: Empowering Your Team

On April 9th, Megan Cornell gave a presentation on using empowerment to maximize group potential. Megan explains that oftentimes, expectations shape performance and using empowerment as a tool can drastically improve outcomes both on an individual and team level. She believes that as a leader, it is important to build trust and be present as a leader so that you can effectively empower your team and produce the best outcomes for everyone involved. She provides six concrete ways that we can implement empowerment in our teams, including: sharing information, creating clear goals, creating an atmosphere where you can learn from mistakes, celebrating successes/failures, supporting a learning environment, and letting teams take on power and responsibility.

RLF Reflection: Crisis Leadership

On the 8th of April, Arun Maganti, a member of the synchronous RLF cohort gave a presentation on leadership strategies to manage a crisis. According to Arun, there are 3 models that allow to classify a crisis. The situational crisis communication theory classifies crisis based on how they are communicated (i.e. as an accident or a predictable crisis). The response theory classifies crisis based on how leaders react to the crisis (i.e. to deny it or diminish its gravity). Lastly, chaos theory states that it is not possible to predict how a crisis unfolds and, for this reason, crisis can’t be classified.

RLF Reflection: Community and Intentional Leadership

This quarter flew by, and it’s crazy to think that March 4 was our final Rockefeller Leadership Fellows session of the winter term. As the final RLF presenter of the quarter, Janae Harris discussed community and intentional leadership in a presentation titled “We’re All in This Together.” The presentation’s name is a timely one given the past year in which Americans have been politically polarized and physically separate. People lack access to the community spaces we once took for granted as a source of interpersonal bonding and local involvement. However, despite the multitude of different ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted and isolated everyone, we all experience many levels of community: in our clubs, teams, and other extracurricular activities. We are also all part of the Dartmouth community, and we will all experience communities both in the places we will work and the places we will live. 

RLF Recap: "Building Your Credibility Through the Quality of Your Work"

After a fascinating slate of speakers during the winter, RLF ended on a (characteristically) fantastic note with its final session of the term. Dartmouth Class of 1999 alumna Allison Bawden was the speaker for the session, and she focused on skills to help build credibility as a member of an organization and as a leader. As a Director in the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and past professional experience in auditing, evaluations, and testifying to Congress, Bawden has learned first-hand the importance of impenetrable credibility. Bawden imparted this knowledge to the Fellow during the session, enabling the Fellows to pursue their post-graduation plans equipped with the skills necessary to build credibility in whatever they choose to do.

RLF Reflection: Community-based Leadership

On March 5, 2021, Janae Harris gave a presentation on community and intentional leadership. Janae defines community-based leadership as, “emergent leadership where community members become concerned about a topic and develop leadership to make change.” She believes that it is important to identify the five major components of community-based leadership in order to understand the way that community-based leadership can be applied. These components include initiation and spread of interest, organization sponsorship, setting goals, recruitment and plan implementation. It is important to understand community-based leadership because it can allow people to mobilize people from their community around an issue that impacts it. Janae breaks down the different steps in community-based leadership to help us gain a better understanding of they way grassroots organizations and movements function. We can then apply these same skills to other forms of leadership in the different communities we are a part of. Janae believes that by being intentional, having empathy and integrity, as well as being adaptable, we can be more effective community leaders.

RLF Reflection: Psychological Safety and Leadership

On February 25, Rachna Shah gave a presentation on psychological safety. Psychological safety exists within a team setting and refers to a shared belief held by all team members that a team allows for interpersonal risk taking. According to Rachna, psychological safety represents the sweet spot between anxiety and apathy. She believes that we should follow four steps to promote psychological safety within teams: (1) demonstrate inclusivity and understand that team members may come from diverse backgrounds, (2) encourage learning, (3) ensure that team members feel secure in contributing, and (4) foster an environment where team members feel safe in challenging others’ ideas. By establishing an environment conducive to psychological safety, teams can advance curiosity, creativity, respect, and trust.

RLF Recap: "Storytelling and Advocacy: Tools for People-Powered Policymaking"

After spending the last session of RLF focusing on recruitment strategies, the Fellows returned to regular programming this Thursday with Shasti Conrad as the speaker. Conrad has spent much of her career working on public policy, including earning an MPA at Princeton. Her time working in this field has taught her the importance of messaging as a leader, knowledge which she shared with the Fellows. Specifically, Conrad focused the session on utilizing storytelling as an advocacy tool for people-powered policy making.  


RLF Recap: "Thinking about Truth, Speech, Knowledge, and Leadership"

The 15th session of RLF was hosted by Tuck Clinical Professor Curt Welling, who is also an alumnus of both Dartmouth College (1971) and the Tuck School of Business (1977). Professor Welling has decades of experience in both the private and non-profit sectors, upon which he drew to share his understanding of the important of truth with the Fellows. To discuss this crucial topic, concepts important to leadership were introduced, including filters, bubbles, and the philosophical understandings of terms such as truth, knowledge, and belief.

RLF Recap: "How to Frame Three Hard Cases"

The halfway point of the term was marked with a stimulating session of the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows program, taught by Government Professor Sonu Bedi. A scholar of legal rights, Professor Bedi utilized his extensive knowledge of the rationale for and against different controversial rights in crafting the session. Through the example of three such rights, Professor Bedi taught the Fellows a new strategy for approaching difficult conversations during his time with the students.


The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences