Leadership positions were challenged by the changes that came with the social distancing landscape. Some leaders are succeeding by adapting, being innovative, and getting more creative.
Lisa Bartle is the Coordinator of Collection Development for the John M. Pfau Library and works as a reference librarian.
“Librarians are masters at – you know – duct tape and cardboard,” Bartle said. “We make something happen, just something, even if it’s not what we would ideally like.”
Bartle and her staff repurposed cell phone charging lockers into a contactless book delivery system to continue providing a library resource while addressing social distance recommendations.
CSUSB Associated Students Incorporated (ASI) Executive Vice President and undergraduate senior, Marina Stone, commented that, “It’s a time to be even stronger for the students that we are serving. We have to be creative to get students engaged in our programs, and with an academic perspective as well.”
Stone’s leadership experience started in middle school when she was part of the Associated Student Body.
“Something small sparked inside of me and I just kept going,” she recalled. “I think it’s really important to lead people with a pure heart and to have the right intention.”
The Inland Empire Future Leaders Program (IEFLP) is another leadership organization that adapted to changes and continues leading and serving students in the Inland Empire and its surrounding areas. It is a volunteer-based, educational, nonprofit organization.
Some IEFLP board members refer to CSUSB as a type of ‘home base.’ The CSUSB campus has served as a venue for some of the nonprofit organization’s events.
IEFLP board Director Dr. R.C. Heredia discussed the organization. “Now in its 37th year, from its inception to now, it maintains the same purpose and the same mission, which is to address the Latino student dropout rate in the Inland Empire and surrounding areas, and to provide leadership training,” Heredia said.
An annual summer leadership conference is among the focuses of the group. The leadership conference generally serves about 130 students annually. They adapted to the social distancing guidelines and hosted a virtual conference in 2020.
For now, the IEFLP board of directors will continue another year of a virtual summer conference amid ongoing state-recommended COVID-19 gathering restrictions and as the eligibility for vaccination extends.
IEFLP Executive Conference Director, Vanessa Segura Ibarra, highlights the in-person conference pre-pandemic.
Ibarra is an attorney and CSUSB alumna. She traces some of her leadership exposure from a young age. Ibarra said, “I always grew up having a commitment to my community and an awareness.”
Heredia and Ibarra recommended seeking out mentors to those interested in acquiring leadership skills. And if there isn’t access to mentors, Ibarra recommended online videos as a resource.
Stone added, “I would definitely say to just start somewhere, start somewhere small if that’s where you’re comfortable, but start somewhere and do something out of your comfort zone, for sure.”
Stone said that leadership is something that you gain through practice. “You don’t have to be president the first moment you walk into a room,” she noted.
Heredia also mentioned to consider kindness as part of leadership. Bartle and Ibarra both mentioned that they considered empathy to be an important part of leadership.
Bartle shared that she appreciates her staff’s dedication as essential workers during the pandemic. She also said that CSUSB has resources for her staff to continue to develop leadership skills and thinks it’s a great resource that is offered for staff throughout the university.
Bartle said that staff members have used this resource, and that she too continues to learn from what the staff shares with her, from what they learn through the university’s leadership resources.
The CSUSB staff development center has been a campus resource since 2017 and focuses on staff success.
Trainings and workshops are among the ‘featured offerings’ on the center’s website. Among its content are the topics of leadership development, personal development and diversity and inclusion.