Educational Leadership Improvement Program Restarts and Expands to 18 Months | News from the FIU

From vice-presidents to full professors, the FIU Educational Leadership Improvement Program (ELEP) has been the training ground for some of the FIU’s key leaders.

ELEP was established in 1993 by Betty Castor, a former Florida education commissioner, who developed the curriculum for the Florida State University system. The aim was to improve the knowledge and professional development of women and minorities in order to make them strong and engaging candidates for senior administrative positions in higher education.

The Educational Leadership Improvement Program was introduced to the FIU in 1993 by Barbara Bader, a faculty member at the College of Education. Soon it became a leadership development opportunity sought after for its unique stream of executive mentoring and extensive travel experiences. Over time, the program was coined as the “Barbara Bader Program”. Twenty-six years since the program’s inception at the FIU, more than 180 professionals have participated in the program.

In 2016, Barbara Bader retired and passed the torch to an alumnus of the program. Elizabeth Bejar, Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, took the helm as Director. Now, two years later, Bejar with the support of Bader has revamped the program.

ELEP gets a makeover

In its new iteration, ELEP now focuses on aligning the training and leadership development aspects of the program with key strategic areas for the FIU and on finding vehicles in which ELEP alumni can contribute to mentor new cohorts and help the FIU achieve these goals.

Under the new program structure, cohorts for ELEP are now 18 months long, starting every two years in August, and include increased intensive sessions of higher education policy at the state and federal levels.

In addition, the program emphasizes increased engagement of alumni through networking opportunities, lunch and learns and a new book club.

“As a former ELEP student, I know firsthand how beneficial the program is for career and personal growth,” said Bejar. “We hope that in this new phase, we can continue Barbara’s legacy and provide future FIU leaders with in-depth experience that will help them develop the skills they need to advance to senior management.”

An annual gathering

At this year’s annual meeting, over 75 members gathered to network and learn about some of the new aspects of the program. Held annually in the spring, the meeting brings together all ELEP alumni for a chance to network and hear a distinguished speaker.

This year they welcomed Natasha Lowell, Senior Vice President of the First National Bank of South Miami in Commercial Lending and a member of the FIU Board of Directors, who shared her journey to leadership and how she has managed from many different situations that both minorities and women encounter in the workplace.

“The most important thing is to find a lawyer,” Lowell said. “The times I’ve grown the most in my career have been when I’ve found a great mentor to show off, defend my interests and give me opportunities. Find a good mentor and he will show you how to be a good leader.

The 2019 ELEP cohort includes:

  • Almi Rodriguez, Registrar, Office of Student Affairs, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
  • Bridgette Cram, Assistant Vice-President, Academic and Student Affairs
  • Carleen Vincent, Associate Chair, Director of Field Experience and Principal Instructor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Elizabeth Perez, Associate Director, CASE Dean’s Office
  • Gabriela Esteves, Assistant Director, Transfer and Transition Services
  • Kimberly Harrison, Professor, Editorial and Rhetoric Director / WAC, Department of English
  • Laura Creel, Senior Accreditation and Quality Administrator, Office of the Dean, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
  • Liesl Picard, Associate Director, Center for Latin America and the Caribbean Kimberly Green
  • Nashira Williams, Acting Director, Women’s Center
  • Rocio Benabentos, Associate Director, STEM Transformation Institute

Janice G. Ball