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

Rockefeller Leadership Fellows

RLF Reflection: The Role of Community Building in Leadership

On our October 22nd session, Tola Akinwumi gave her presentation on why community building should be at the forefront of our leadership philosophies. Citing a TedTalk, she defined community as a group of people with shared interests and goals building “common unity” between minds, spirit, citizenship, and people. Tola outlined some of the necessary ingredients to build community: engagement and continuous effort; collective guidelines to inform norms and community culture; and collective goals based on an understanding of community and individual strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, the benefits of community building are that the more community building is done, the greater the community will be! Based on Tola’s presentation, I began to see it as a positive feedback loop; the more people were engaged in community building, the stronger the community would become, and the more they would community build together.

RLF Recap: Fall Retreat 2020

Members of both the synchronous and asynchronous cohorts of the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows Class of 2021 attended the annual fall retreat on September 25-26, 2020.

RLF Retreat Day 1 (September 25, 2020)

The first retreat of the year began with a session hosted by Eugene Korsunskiy, one of the lecturers for the famous Dartmouth class ENGS 12, Design Thinking. Eugene began the session by asking the Fellows to complete a simple drawing exercise. Despite the simplicity of the instructions, the ensuing discussion revealed that many of the Fellows reported struggling with the activity for various reasons, which prompted Eugene to point out that many of the Fellows had self-imposed rules on what was meant to be a simple task. The reason for feeling stuck was that the Fellows where pulling ideas for their drawings out of schema, or specific categories of ideas, such as different types of smiley faces. When all the ideas in one scheme are depleted, we can feel stuck, but by learning to recognize our body’s physiological signals to being stuck, we can overcome the issue by consciously moving on to a new schema of ideas.

RLF Recap: "How Should I Lead? Exploring Leadership Theories from Origins to Contemporary Times"

For the third session of the program, the Fellows were joined by Dr. Stephen Gonzalez, the Assistant Athletic Director for Leadership and Mental Performance at Dartmouth College. With the week’s assignments focusing on leadership philosophies and values, Stephen’s focus on leadership theories was apt. Stephen began by introducing the evolution of leadership theories through time, from the “Great Man Theory” that supported monarchies to the more modern theories that are endorsed today. Central to the discussion was the differences between leadership traits and leadership skills. According to Stephen, leadership is not innate but something that can be learned; this understanding supports the notion of leadership skills over leadership traits.

RLF Recap: "In the Arena: Translating Thought Into Action as a Young Leader"

For the second session of the Fall 2020 term of RLF, the Fellows were joined by their first guest speaker, Nate Fick ’99, whose session was titled “Into the Arena: Translating Thought to Action as a Young Leader.” Prior to the session, the Fellows were asked to read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance” and a speech given at West Point by William Deresiewicz. The focus of both articles was the power and importance of solitude, in all its connotations, to leadership. Although a perhaps surprising combination, Nate began his time with the Fellows by elaborating on his personal experience with solitude and how it has benefited him in his leadership roles. Nate believes that solitude and leadership are closely related, and that solitude enables you to know yourself better, and in turn better understand others.

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow Reflections

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow (RLF) alumni, Oyebola Olabisi '06 and Jenny Ratner '08, reflect on how the RLF program continues to impact their leadership today.

RLF Recap: "Business, Strategy, Society"

On Thursday, February 17th, Professor Curt Welling ’71 came to talk to us about the leadership challenges presented by controversial social issues. Professor Welling graduated from Dartmouth College as part of the class of 1971, and later graduated Tuck Business school in 1977. After graduating from Tuck, Professor Welling spent 25 years working in the investment banking and securities industries, and then spent the next 11 working for AmeriCares as their president and chief executive officer. He now teaches classes on Impact Investing, Social Entrepreneurship, Business and Society.

During our session, he spoke to us about how to handle potential obstacles that might arise due to controversial social issues. He began by outlining all of the various considerations that a leader must take into account when faced with a challenge. After that, he helped us establish a framework by which we could lay out the opportunities and obstacles that are associated with facing a difficult challenge. He then took these concepts out of the abstract and had us role play through a real-life case study.

RLF Recap: "How to Frame Three Hard Cases: Abortion, Same-sex Marriage, and Affirmative Action"

On February 6, we were joined by professor Sonu Bedi, a professor in the Government department and Director of the Dartmouth Ethics Institute. Professor Bedi’s research focuses on issues of constitutional legal theory, identity, and justice.

RLF Recap: "Don't Go It Alone: Effective Delegation and Empowerment for Leaders"

Alison Fragale graduated from Dartmouth in 1997, majoring in math and economics. After graduation, she worked as a management consultant for McKinsey before leaving to pursue her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, with a focus in social psychology, at Stanford. Currently, Alison works as the associate professor of organizational behavior and strategy at the University of North Carolina’s business school. Additionally, she does research on interpersonal hierarchies in groups and organizations.

RLF Recap: "The Art of Telling People What They Don't Want to Hear"

The real distinction in Washington lies not between Democrats and Republicans, or liberals and conservatives, but between Political Hacks and Policy Wonks.  The Hacks consist of consultants, pundits, and professionals who believe campaigns are won and lost on strategies including image, polling, advertising, and turnout. The Wonks consist of policy experts and academics who believe voters care what a candidate stands for and will do in office. In order to identify the problems on Americans’ minds and develop and pass policies that solve these problems, we need collaboration between Hacks and Wonks.     

RLF Recap: From Public Narrative to Policymaking

How does one translate personal stories from a place of “we’re mad” into a force for lasting change? On November 14, Shasti Conrad helped answer this question in an evening session with the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows on “Activism and Institutional Change: Tools for People-Powered Policymaking”. Shasti Conrad holds positions as Chair of the King County Democrats, and most recently as U.S. campaign manager for the 100 Million Campaign. She has worked with three Nobel Peace Prize winners, including President Obama, Malala Yousafzai, and Kailash Satyarthi. As of October, Shasti left the foundation and is now working with the Democratic presidential campaigns to connect artists, actors, and musicians to their campaigns. 


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