A year-long journey came to an end when the inaugural class of WVU Medicine’s Pivotal Leadership Academy (PLA) celebrated with a ceremony and a reception Dec. 17 at WVU Medicine Corporate Office (formerly ROC2).

But for many of the 53 participants, the journey has just begun.

For Angelyn McGrew, an administrative assistant at the Heart Institute, the program became a journey of self-discovery.

“The whole thing has inspired me to do better for myself,” McGrew said. That mission, she said, includes studying to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Zachary Craig, a network analyst for Network Services, used the program as a springboard to make more personal connections. Craig works at the Information Technology Center and, although he interacts with multiple WVU Medicine employees every day, most of his communication is done through email or telephone conversations.

“It’s nice to be able to shake somebody’s hand and see them in person,” Craig said.

Getting out of his proverbial silo, Craig reckons, will help his department as a whole.

“I just wanted to help my team and my department in general to work better with other units within the hospital so that we can deliver the best IT experience that we can,” Craig said. “I want to get better at communicating and working together within the organization and with other departments.”

Ashley Burns, also an administrative assistant at the Heart Institute, hopes to eventually use the experience to expand her role at WVU Medicine.

“I’d like to move into a leadership role in information technology,” she said. “I want to be able to help other people in the organization.”

Each participant had to apply to the program and meet a list of personal and professional criteria, which includes a one-year commitment to remain with the organization upon completion of the course work.

The program was divided into three trimesters: Leading Self-Leadership Myths and Challenges; Leading Up and Across the Organization; and Leading Down in the Organization. Its curriculum focuses on the book “360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization,” by John Maxwell and involves discussion and written reviews and analysis of the text.

PLA was created to develop emerging leaders in WVU Medicine by exposing them to leadership concepts and skills and helping them gain confidence to apply what they’ve learned.

“Simply, this program establishes a path for success,” says a packet distributed to each participant.

Heather Malcolm, nurse educator and PLA coordinator, viewed the debut of the program as a success.

“It has been a honor to have had the opportunity to coordinate the inaugural Pivotal Leadership Academy program,” she said. “When implementing any new program, you never know how it will go, but this group of individuals has surpassed my expectations in every way imaginable.

“Each of these individuals is committed to their professional development, influential in their own way and have passion for what they do. I envision great things from them and wish each of them success in their future endeavors.”

McGrew, Craig and Burns were enthusiastic in recommending the program.

“I was hoping to improve my skills,” said McGrew. “What I actually got out of it was learning that I wasn’t alone. I have the same values and principles as a lot of other people. I met a lot of people who are really amazing, future leaders of our organization.”

Craig said the opportunity to participate is crucial, even for participants who don’t have a specific goal in mind.

“If you don’t have leadership dreams in your future or anything like that, getting messages about managing yourself, managing your work better, and taking the time to see how other people see issues -- not just your own little view of the world – is important,” he said.

Burns said, the program is a must for, “anybody who is passionate about healthcare or is connected with this organization and feels like they’ve found their place here. I think this a really great program for them.”

For information about the next class, contact Malcolm.

Photo captions, from top to bottom:

1) Healther Malcolm (right), nurse educator and PLA coordinator, exchanges some parting remarks with program participants Angelyn McGrew (foreground) and Ashley Burns.

2) PLA participants gather for a reception following their graduation ceremony at the WVU Medicine Corporate Office.

3) Lisa Sanders, a PLA participant, left, and Carla Swanson, Sanders' supervisor, take a selfie with Albert Wright, president and CEO of WVU Medicine-WVU Hospitals, who spoke at the graduation ceremony.

4) Participant Mamie Boyce gets a hug from Heather Malcolm after graduation.