A lead role

For Ann Flaherty, director of Elon’s new leadership and professional development office, leadership is not confined to the boardroom, classroom or steering committee. It’s personal.

“Who you are as a person and your commitment to being the most effective person you can be, whether it’s at work or at home, is the driving force” of any leader, says Flaherty, who joined Elon this summer.

With more than 20 years of experience, she would know.

Originally from Boston, Flaherty’s first lessons about group dynamics came from growing up with four brothers and a sister. After obtaining a master’s degree from the University of Houston and a doctorate degree from the University of Denver, she followed professional opportunities across the country, from frigid New Hampshire to scenic Colorado. Prior to coming to Elon, she worked for 11 years at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C., an organization that helps groups and individuals worldwide develop as creative and effective leaders. There, she facilitated and managed all of the organization’s feedback, which is an essential piece of being effective in any position, she says.

“I’ve always looked at feedback in professional development as both personal and professional,” she says. “You spend so much time at work, but at the same time, home is such an important part of your life.”

In her new position at Elon, Flaherty will develop the Office of Leadership and Professional Development, which will serve as a resource for Elon staff members and the community.

“One of the things that struck me about Elon is its long-term commitments” to attracting and supporting a world-class faculty and staff, she says. “When I read the job description I loved it, because it’s kind of my dream job.”

Since starting her job a few months ago, she’s kept busy. She has settled into her new office on the second floor of Alamance Building – a Brita filter of fresh water, tall plastic cups and peppermint candies are set out on the table for those who walk in to visit. She has started to learn her way around campus, thanks in part to the map she carries at all times. She also has started to put names to faces, which has been a challenge considering she has more than a thousand names to match.

“Thank God for that directory,” she says with a smile.

Her office’s first workshop, “Communicating and Connecting,” took place in July and focused on the importance of openness and collaboration in the workplace. Paul Damiano, president of Good Works Consulting who worked with Flaherty at the Center for Creative Leadership for seven years, led the workshop.

“I think Elon hit the jackpot when they found Ann,” Damiano says. “She will be able to combine both her academic credentials and applied experiences in psychology, human development and learning to create a unique learning environment at Elon. And she will do it all with integrity, class and good humor!”

Flaherty will work closely with a 12-member committee that will advise her on areas such as programming and funding. She says she hopes to facilitate staff development by bringing to campus some of the best and brightest experts related to leadership and development. Her eye is also on faculty and staff interested in sharing their knowledge and skills.

“I am struck by how many incredibly knowledgeable people are here at Elon already,” she says. “It’s not only bringing people in from outside of Elon, but it’s also using the incredible knowledge base we have here.”

To learn more about the Office of Leadership and Professional Development, click here.

By Kellye Coleman ’12