Posted on Monday, October 3, 2016


Submitted by the Office of Professional Development

As Virginia’s Community College celebrates 50 years of progress, it’s natural to ask ourselves who will lead us to the promise our future holds? To answer that question, just look to the graduates of the 2016 Classified Staff Leadership Academy and you will know that the future of the VCCS is in good hands.

Attendance at this annual two-and-half-day rigorous leadership program is limited to one classified staff person per Virginia community college campus who must be nominated by their president. Designed to prepare VCCS staff members for greater leadership responsibilities, the academy enhances the readiness of staff professionals who are committed to advancing the VCCS mission through effective leadership and supervision.

“This course is different,” said Dr. Abigail Stonerock, the VCCS Director of the Office of Professional Development and an expert in faculty and leadership development, “because we make every minute count. It’s designed to be an immersive, experiential, educational and intellectually engaging experience. The result is a class culture that is provocative, evokes reflection, and challenges every participant to lead from where they stand.”

Since Stonerock redesigned this and other Chancellor’s leadership academies three years ago, the course’s popularity and ratings have soared.

“Attending the CSLA was an honor that I took as a personal compliment since candidates are vetted and nominated by their College President. The presenters were wonderful! The training materials and topics were timely, current, and significantly enhanced the learning environment, and the information was valuable and pertinent to issues we deal with every day,” said attendee Randall Franklin, Human Resources Director at Central Virginia Community College 

“This is a meaningful program that allows participants the chance to develop and enhance their professional leadership skills. The course provides an open forum to meet and interact with leaders from across the VCCS. The opportunity to network with representatives from all campuses, as well as VCCS directors and coordinators from the system office, was very beneficial,” said Cory Werkheiser, a Career Services Specialist at Patrick Henry Community College.

Franklin further explained that the course itself is just the beginning: “Our group was very engaged and interactive. We left with a unique bond and connection that we will sustain throughout our careers.” That desire to stay connected is already at play as the class members move forward with the creation of a list-serve and a Facebook page, enabling class members to stay in touch, share resources, and continue the dialogue.

Leadership scholar Warren Bennis once said that growing leaders from within the ranks isn’t just a duty of a leader, it’s an obligation. The VCCS leadership development program has proven to be a successful GYO (grow your own) talent management program that champions promotions from within. Noted Werkheiser, “I’m proud to be a part of an organization that values the development of the next generation of leaders so highly.”

For more information on this and other professional development opportunities, please visit, or contact Dr. Abigail Stonerock at or (804) 819-5393.'

Laura Osberger

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