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Professional development programs enhance workplace, employee growth

HR @ Your Service

Professional development is critical if employees are to keep growing in their work lives. It is something that a great workplace values and certainly benefits from as these individuals return to the workplace with new experiences and insights.

MIT has relationships with two excellent professional development programs for employees of color--the Partnership Inc. and the YMCA Black Achievers. Participants of these programs are sponsored by Human Resources.

The Partnership's Associates Program trains young professionals to develop their leadership capacity by creating professional and civic opportunities in the early stages of their careers. The Fellows Program trains mid-career professionals to expand their leadership capacity. Several MIT staff members have participated in this program, and Chancellor Phillip Clay is a member of the board of directors. MIT staff members Karina Vielma and Rashmi Tiwari are two of the 2008 awardees, which comes as no surprise when you read about their contributions to the MIT community.

Vielma is an assistant dean in the Office of Minority Education and was nominated by Associate Dean and Director Karl Reid, a 2000 Partnership alumnus. In his nomination letter, Reid described Vielma as a creative and systematic thinker with great empathy for students. Her accomplishments include formalizing the Office of Minority Education's Student Advisory Council, conceiving and designing the office's graduate pipeline Laureates and Leaders Program, and suggesting new minority-student events for campus preview weekend. Vielma says she takes "pride in producing opportunities for undergraduate, underrepresented students in the math, science and engineering fields."

The second Partnership associate, Rashmi Tiwari, is a program coordinator and analyst in the Office of Community Development and Substance Abuse Programs. Associate Dean Daniel Trujillo, a 2007 Partnership alumnus, noted in his nomination letter that Tiwari has played a key role in the strategic planning for assessment and evaluation across the Division of Student Life. Her ability to communicate and practically apply research and evaluation strategies for others is remarkable. In addition, Tiwari creates connections across departments at MIT and functions as a mentor. Tiwari would eventually like to "focus her work on how group membership affects individual behavior, as this topic area would have utility across a wide swath of educational and business areas."

The YMCA Black Achievers Program recognizes black professionals and connects these individuals with YMCA youth. The program aims to promote mentoring relationships and create channels for continued community involvement by business and industry. Awardees are asked to volunteer 40 hours in youth programs over a 10-month period.

Since 1979, numerous MIT faculty and staff have been recognized as Black Achievers. This year's recipient, Marlisha McDaniels, executive assistant in the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, carries on this tradition. Arnold R. Henderson Jr., associate dean and co-director of Student Support Services, nominated McDaniels, who has been at MIT since 1987. McDaniels has consistently served as an invaluable supporter of student, faculty and administrators who have sought to improve the MIT community and make it more inclusive. McDaniels has given 14 years of dedicated support to the Martin Luther King Celebratory Breakfast, which, due to her efforts, is one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year. She has served as a liaison for student groups and administrators and has worked closely with corporations to help them recognize minority students who are seeking employment. McDaniels notes that it has become "an important part of my life to share what I have learned with others and give back to the community."

Three exceptional MIT employees who are growing and giving back. Think about who you might nominate for next year.

HR @ Your Service is a monthly column from Human Resources.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 27, 2008 (download PDF).

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