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WELD participants announced for 2023

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 17, 2023) — The University of Kentucky Women’s Executive Leadership Development (WELD) program has announced its 2023 cohort of faculty and staff participants. The eight-month WELD program seeks to develop a new generation of leaders of higher education who can adeptly navigate our complex environment and successfully chart the future of the university through retreats, monthly meetings, conversations with upper-level administrators, and other group interactions. 

WELD is supported and organized through the Office of Faculty Advancement and is currently in its ninth year. Current Faculty Trustee Hollie Swanson was the initial director of the program, followed by Professor Chana Akins, who currently serves as the chair of the Department of Psychology. This year’s director is Jennifer Bird-Pollan, professor and associate dean in the J. David Rosenberg College of Law.

To date, over 180 faculty and staff members have participated in WELD. Between 20 and 25 faculty and staff join the cohort annually with about half staff and half faculty every year.

To kick off the 2023 WELD program, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman will be giving a talk titled: “Women Leaders: The Willingness To Act.” 

Plowman became the ninth chancellor of the University of Tennessee in 2019. She returned to Rocky Top after nine years at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where she served as executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. In that role, she oversaw academic affairs, student affairs, the Office of Research and Economic Development, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She earlier served for more than six years as the James Jr. and Susan Stuart Dean of UNL’s College of Business Administration.

The kickoff address will be hosted in the Grand Courtroom in the College of Law at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 27, with a small reception afterward starting at around 5 p.m. This event is open to the UK community, but participants are asked to register in advance here.

From an extremely strong pool of over 50 candidates, 22 individuals were selected to participate in the 2023 WELD cohort. This year’s participants are:

  1. Molly Blasing (faculty); Arts and Sciences, Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
  2. Ramona Carper (faculty); Health Sciences, Physical Therapy.
  3. Jagriti Chadha (faculty); Medicine, Internal Medicine.
  4. Monica Diaz (faculty); Arts and Sciences, Hispanic Studies.
  5. Maureen Dreckman (staff); Campus Planning.
  6. Rae Goodwin (faculty); Fine Arts, SA/VS.
  7. Meg Grady (faculty); Engineering, Mechanical/Biomedical Engineering.
  8. Tanya Graf (staff); Medicine, director of Communication.
  9. Catherine Hayden (staff); Communication and Information, director of Communication.
  10. Emily Lee (staff); Internal Medicine, associate dept. administrator.
  11. Fadyia Lowe (staff); Student Success, associate director of Student Wellness.
  12. Andrea McCubbin (staff); Medicine, associate dean for Research Administration.
  13. Stacy Miller (staff); CAFE, director of Extension HR.
  14. Johné Parker (faculty); Engineering, Mechanical Engineering.
  15. Amanda Potterton (faculty); Education, Educational Leadership Studies.
  16. Molly Reynolds (staff); Student Success, Transformative Learning.
  17. Jenny Rice (faculty); Arts and Sciences, WRD.
  18. Sarah Simpson (staff); Financial Services Administration.
  19. Liz Swanson (faculty); Design, Architecture.
  20. Kim Taylor (staff); Registrar.
  21. Virginia Valentin (faculty); Health Sciences, Physician Assistant Studies.
  22. Meredith Weber (staff); Office of Philanthropy.

To learn more about the WELD Program, click here. Questions about the program can be directed to Jennifer Bird-Pollan.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.