Podcast Ep. 93: Achieving Community Engagement and Social Impact Through a Community-Based University Partnership

May 13, 2022

In this episode of The Forum Podcast Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (Capella University) and Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (Capella University) explore how an established direct path is possible between talent, employment, and leadership skills through strategic partnerships.

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Through thoughtful partnerships between community-based organizations and universities, an established direct path is possible between talent, employment, and leadership skills. These strategic partnerships help mitigate social and economic inequities and give back to employees, thus changing lives where they work and live. The aim is to positively impact our community and regions through the power of education and applied scholarship.

The community-based and university partnership’s mission focus is to provide fellows from cultural and economic development groups, local government, and major employers with the tools, resources, and experiences to make a lasting impact on our society.

This podcast episode provides best practices, outcomes, and strategies for engaging members ready to demonstrate active leadership, community engagement, and a commitment to help mitigate social, economic, health, racial, and educational inequities within their communities.

Learning Outcomes
  • Develop community engagement strategies that provide a direct path between learning and employment
  • Examine the tools, resources, and experiences used by participating employees to impact society
  • Explore a model for talent, community engagement, and leadership development through partnerships

Sponsored by

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The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.

Speaker 1 (00:00):
The Forum on Workplace inclusion’s 2022 podcast series is sponsored by best buy more diversity in tech means more ideas that can change the world. Learn more@bestbuy.com slash more of this.
Speaker 1 (00:16):
Our deep dive learning opportunity is returning this June, the Forum on Workplace inclusions, professional development labs, sponsored by target. Join us on June 23rd for purpose and belonging. Two key ingredients for an inclusive culture with Brandon Peele, author of purpose work nation and CEO of unity lab join Peele and others from the unity lab team to learn how to activate purpose, belonging, and inclusion on your teams and effectively lead diverse teams, professional development labs, or PDLs are half day interactive learning experiences intended to develop professional competencies that support leaders in reaching their next level in their DEI leadership. Unlike traditional workshop sessions, PDLs are goal oriented and include personal and professional action and accountability planning for next level leadership that’s purpose and belonging. Two key ingredients for an inclusive culture. June 23rd, 2022. Visit our website forumworkplaceinclusion.org for more information, and to register that’s forumworkplaceinclusion.org, interested in presenting at the Forum plan to submit a proposal. When our call for proposals opens this June, the call for proposals or CFP for short is the process we use to collect presentations to be considered for our program year, which is January through December, including our annual conference proposals collected. When our CFP opens in June will be for our 2023 program year. Join our email list to get notified. Once our CFP process opens,
Speaker 1 (01:46):
We get to engage people, advance ideas and ignite change because the generous support from our community. If you find our resources meaningful or valuable, please consider supporting the Forum today. Visit forumworkplaceinclusion.org/donate that’s forumworkplaceinclusion.org/donate. Thank you very much for your support and generosity. Thank you to all our listeners and subscribers. You help support the growth of the podcast and reach new listeners. If you like what you’re hearing on the Forum podcast, please consider writing a review on apple podcast or wherever you listen to your podcast. If you’ve already written a review, thank you. Please consider sharing our podcast with a friend, family member or a colleague you think might find value in the content word of mouth is the best way the Forum grows. So thank you very much for listening and sharing. Thanks again, and enjoy the show.
Ben Rue (02:34):
Hello and thank you for tuning into the Forum on Workplace inclusion podcast series brought to you by best buy I’m Ben Rue program manager here at the Forum. We’re really looking forward to today’s podcast, achieving community engagement and social impact through a community based University partnership with doctors, Charlyn Hilliman and Barbara Butts Williams of Capella University through thoughtful partnerships between community based organizations and universities. An established direct path is possible between talent employment and leadership skills. These strategic partnerships help mitigate social and economic inequities and give back to employees thus changing lives, where they work and live. The aim is to positive impact our community and regions through the power of education and applied scholarship. The community based and university partnership’s mission focus is to provide fellows from cultural and economic development groups, local government, and major employers with the tools, resources, and experiences to make a lasting impact on society.
Ben Rue (03:37):
This podcast episode provides best practices, outcomes, and strategies for engaging in members, ready to demonstrate active, active leadership, community engagement and commitment to help mitigate social economic health, racial, and educational inequities within their communities. This podcast will help you develop community engagement strategies that provide a direct path between learning and environment examine the tools, resources, and experiences used by participating employees to impact society and explore a model for talent, community engagement and leadership development through partnerships. Dr. Charlyn Hilliman is the chief diversity officer and vice president of academic enrichment and learner support. She also serves as the co-chair for the president’s commission on diversity equity inclusion at Capella University. Previously, she served as the Dean of public service leadership at Capella Charlyn has worked for the University since 2006 in a variety of positions, including the chair for public administration and research faculty. As part of her service to university, she served on the institutional review board as a scientific merit reviewer, a residency instructor, a subject matter expert in research, criminal justice and public administration.
Ben Rue (04:55):
As the comprehensive examination lead before joining Capella University faculty, she spent her career in healthcare information, technology leadership at Columbia universities, department of biomedical informatics in Florida international University, and has worked as the director of healthcare policy development for the New York Presbyterian hospital. Charlyn holds a PhD in criminal justice and a master of philosophy in criminal justice, both from the graduate school and University center of the city, University of New York and a master’s in public administration from John Jay college of criminal justice. Dr. Hilliman has served on several community boards, including the health equity task force at the Florida department of health in Hernando county Alliance, youth development, the destiny Baptist church board of trustees, community liaison, and previously stable community services, a social services agency. She also served on the central high school’s school advisory council and the central high school war cadet parent booster club.
Ben Rue (06:03):
Charlyn is dedicated to helping her community and is active in multiple aspects of her son’s high school. Dr. Barbara Butts Williams is an independent board director and accomplished corporate academic and community leader, a strategic and innovative thinker with strong business acumen, leading to business growth and sustainability barber’s expertise in cultural and organizational transformation, talent management and fluency and diversity equity inclusion has had a positive impact on several premier organizations in both regulated and non-regulated industries throughout her career. In her current role as executive Dean’s social responsibility and community engagement. Barbara is recognized for her compelling work, serving and supporting others to make a difference in lives and communities throughout the country. Previously at Capella, she served as Dean of school of business and technology and Dean of education with leadership responsibility for P and L and growth strategies, external relations and business partnerships, academic programs, learner, success, outcomes, and faculty and staff, a key leader at Capella.
Ben Rue (07:08):
She has worked closely with corporate and community leaders, academic institutions, external accreditation agencies, and regulatory authorities throughout the U.S. Additionally, she has established relationships with universities and businesses in Latin America, India, and the United Arab Emirates. Barbara has received numerous recognitions honoring her exceptional board leadership, governance, expertise and leadership and social responsibility and community impact leading twin cities, business magazine, outstanding board of directors award in 2019 junior achievement, upper Ridge west business hall of fame Laureate 2019, a a R P slash pollen, 50 over 50 top 10 inspiring business leaders, honoree 2017 and Minneapolis St. Paul business journal women in business career achievement recipient in 2016, Dr. Butts Williams is recognized by the national corporate board of directors association as a board leadership fellow. Dr. Butts Williams holds a PhD in human and organizational systems from fielding graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA California ma in organizational development also from fielding at ma LS, leadership and development from Hamlin University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at BA in history and political science for Morgan state University in Baltimore, Michigan.
Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (08:37):
Hello, welcome to the podcast entitled achieving community engagement and social impact through a community based university partnership. Hello, I am Dr. Charlyn Hilliman, the chief diversity officer at Capella University. I have with me today, Dr. Barbara Butts Williams, the executive Dean for social responsibility and community engagement. Welcome Barbara.
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (09:08):
Hello, Charlyn
Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (09:10):
For our listeners, here is a bit of background on the exciting Capella University fellows program. This podcast focuses on the Capella University fellows program. The mission of the fellows program is to help leaders build the talent and leadership skills required to mitigate social and economic inequities. Community based organizations want to invest in employees, talent, head leadership skills, committed to leading the work necessary to mitigate social health, education, economic, and racial inequities within impacted communities. This session highlights how the Capella University partnership educates the fellows and provides opportunities to engage in conversation. Learn from social justice leaders, participate in discourse and create positive action through community engagement and professional development. Without access to the fellowship. These occasions are not readily available. These opportunities may increase community based organizations’ ability to attract, retain, and develop diverse candidates. Moreover fellows attend networking events with university leadership, community leaders and other fellows. They gain access to professional coaching and development opportunities and engage with their peers. The final projects, address aspects of social and economic inequities in partnership with community based organizations and the community. Barbara, can you tell us why Capella University decided to start the fellows program?
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (11:27):
Sure. At Capella, we’re continuing to find ways to invest in promising leaders across the country. We established the Capella University fellows program to focus on this purpose and positively impact communities and regions through the power of education and applied scholarship. We’re working with over 50 community based organizations and five metropolitan areas from cultural, social service, mental health, education, employment, and job creation, health and wellness, homeless and economic development groups, local government and major employers. And we strive to give our learners the tools, resources, and experiences to make a lasting impact on our society. We’re honored actually to help build talented leadership and five metropolitan areas in the twin cities, which is the Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas as part of our effort to help mitigate social and economic inequalities in communities.
Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (12:49):
Wow, this is fantastic. I can see that the Capella fellows program continues to grow and is community focused and centered to that end. How does the fellows program contribute to greater community based involvement in extending diversity and changing lives where the fellows work and live?
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (13:13):
We’re hopeful that the fellows program will make a difference and have lasting impact. Here are a few examples of what our fellows are telling us about the needs in their communities and how they plan and are making a difference because of this opportunity. A new fellow stated her goal is to support healthcare providers in understanding the damaging effect of adverse childhood experiences on a child’s physical and mental health. With this awareness healthcare providers will be better equipped to provide trauma informed care to this vulnerable population. She’s hoping to create a positive cultural shift that meets the unique needs of children who have faced adversity. Another fellow told us that her primary goal and mission is to do her small part in the restoration of human dignity. And that is so often casual, which is so often a casualty of poverty through working with individuals in correction of facilities, transition services and other resource centers.
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (14:34):
She will serve adults who have cycled through the judiciary system and face challenges where education and behavior modification can positively impact their lives in ways that support what she called the beloved community yet another fellow hopes to utilize her degree, to strengthen her community through organization development, service collaboration between social services and the criminal justice system. And to advocate for policy that focuses on evidence based practices in terms of holistic and harm reduction approaches with a master’s degree in public health, a fellow told us that he hopes to gain the skills, to develop and manage client focused trauma informed community programs. He is very interested in how the beliefs, biases and social economic backgrounds of programming staff and the leaders who hire them, influences how a program is received by the community. He’s hoping to answer the question, are we healthy or are we feathering sanctuary trauma? Another fellow seeks to now give the treatment that he has helped so many obtain over the last few years, by completing a master’s in clinical mental health counseling, he wants to lead the charge to decrease the stigma of men seeking mental health treatment.
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (16:17):
A fellow in our doctorate and nursing practice program wants to continue to assist economically disadvantaged populations by providing free treatment and reducing the burden of healthcare accessibility. It will also help acquire and improve skills needed for the ever evolving health demands and vulnerable population. One fellow told us that they have a passion and a desire to have a greater impact in communities that are disproportionately affected by HIV. He hopes to address the trauma that can lead to barriers, to maintaining health, such as issues related to chemical health and homelessness. This would then lead to further reducing the transmission of HIV and the community. A project aimed to explore a philanthropic behavior of millennials of color directly from communities that are most affected by racial education and opportunity gaps is a goal of another fellow that same fellow aims to help nonprofit organizations refine their social impact data, to ensure their longevity and ability to continue serving those who need their service.
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (17:39):
Most a fellow also wants to address the disparities in accessing housing, especially for people of color. Her goal is to work to transform systems and improve outcomes for homeless use families and communities of color through education, which will lead to economic growth and vitality. She plans to combine the work of community organizing and advocacy to facilitate community centered solutions that reflect the interest of homeless families, community of color, marginalized communities, and those living in poverty. Finally, as a first generation college graduate, a fellow shared her goal is to create opportunities. She never had for her clients and community with an MBA from Capella University, she aims to develop comprehensive programming tools and resources to empower clients, to dismantle economic barriers and establish opportunities for business ownership, property obtain, and generational wealth. Charlyn. These are the voices of some of our fellows discussing how the program will enable them to contribute to their communities. We are prepared to work with them throughout their degree program to help them reach their educational goals.
Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (19:06):
Wow, Barbara, wow. The fellows were doing groundbreaking and very important work in their organizations and in the community at large. I’m just gonna say, wow again. Can you tell the participants, listening to the podcast about the collaborative model and how the university seeks these partnerships?
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (19:31):
Yes. Thank you. Charlyn, as I mentioned, we have over 50 diverse organizations that are CU or Capella fellow partners. We reach out to these organizations directly because their mission aligns with Capella’s mission and values and the work they are doing in their communities. In addition to their full-time employees being eligible to apply for the fellows program, we offer up to 50 full tuition scholarships that are awarded annually across five metropolitan areas. We offer 10 in each one of those areas. Scholarships are available in both the masters for doctoral programs, and there are networking opportunities and invitation to exclusive Capella University events. In addition, we offer other educational benefits to employees who are not part of the fellows program.
Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (20:33):
What strategies do you recommend to strengthen the organization’s culture and to assure better mission alignment and what role does university play in that process?
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (20:50):
We’re all cultural champions at Capella. Everyone has a role in building and strengthening culture. We’re all part of a team. And understanding team is critical to building and sustaining culture. The most mire organizations attract, hired and retain top talent because the organizations get it and recognizes culture. Each strategy for lunch, these organizations continue to seek ways to be more diverse, inclusive, and equitable in all aspects of their operating ethos measures and analytics are valuable tools. If the organization is measuring the right things and accountability is built into the process with a positive, energetic, and supportive culture is priceless. Especially when employees fit and align with the mission. Diversity, equity and inclusion are core to any organization. It must be part of that operating ethos to be sustainable. And part of the cultural norm DEI is not an initiative. It’s an imperative. And when we developed the fellows program, our intent was to focus the fellows projects on helping to mitigate the social economic disparities and communities. We wanted to build capacity with the fellows program to support the mission of the community based organizations who were making a difference in their communities. We are making progress and helping to support organizations and people who are making a difference and making a long term commitment to their communities.
Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (22:40):
Thank you for that, Barbara. I love that statement. DEI is not an initiative. It’s an imperative. This gets me excited as a leader in DEI work at the university. So tell me what tips can you share to support recruiting and retaining talented community based employees, including millennials?
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (23:03):
Great question. I do think the expectations of talented CBOs and millennials are very similar. I would offer for, for tips first, keep your purpose driven mission at the forefront of your recruiting and messaging conversation. Second show the relationship between the mission and making a profit, be prepared to answer the question. Why, why do you exist and why do you do what you do? Third, build a culture that people wanna belong to and lastly, understand why people leave and why people stay with your organization.
Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (23:55):
Yes, yes. The purpose driven, purpose driven mission. I like that. And I agree with your observation regarding the similarities between CEOs and millennials. But let me pivot, I’d like to pivot and discuss data. You talked about data a little bit before, so discuss data and the process improvement. So what strategy did the leaders use to develop metrics and processes?
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (24:27):
Yeah, externally we’re just beginning to work with our partners to provide relevant information linked to their human capital and talent development reporting processes. And this takes time the results so far of their employee participation in the fellow’s application and selection processes are becoming part of our reporting protocol. The other agreements that we have from our education agreements results will also help provide organization with data, showing the number of employees enrolled in our programs by degree, the data we provide will be visible to them in other ways, as you know, because of our, because of family educational rights, privacy act or Feba we are limited in what we can share. However, we are working with organizations to help support their data requests within the law.
Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (25:28):
Okay. Okay. How often are the data reviewed and what steps do the organizations take to ensure collaboration yields the attendant results?
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (25:41):
Yeah. we review the fellows success metrics on a regular basis, actually. The teams here, the Capella teams work closely with our advising team to ensure learn or as we call em, fellows are on track. We track the community based organization’s participation rates after each application cycle to determine if their special outreach is needed. If we see concerning patterns of nonparticipation, we reach out to the organization to offer support and that support might be through an employee meeting or through one on ones with the HR department or their talent managers to explain the program better and to provide additional support overall, I would say that the results have been very positive on both ends,
Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (26:41):
Definitely the, the program, you know, it sounds like a great model for the intersection between learning and employment. So what are your final words recommendations? What do you want our listeners to hear?
Dr. Barbara Butts Williams (26:56):
Thanks. thanks again for this opportunity. You know, the mission of Capella University fellows program is to help leaders build the talent and leadership required to mitigate social and economic help education and racial inequalities within their communities. At Capella, we seek to provide the most direct path between learning and employment, but we don’t wanna stop there. We believe in giving back by changing the lives where we work and live. We have extended the fellows program beyond the twin cities, Minnesota, to Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Washington DC metropolitan areas. And we are committed to these communities and their work forces. We know that the intersection between learning and and employment can be a force for positive change in people’s lives. The Capella University fellows program is our ongoing effort to meet that goal. Capella University is seizing the moment to give back and to help change lives when you know better, you do better – Mya Angelou.
Dr. Charlyn Hilliman (28:13):
I love that quote. That’s one of my favorite quotes. Barbara, I would like to thank you for sharing this valuable information with our audience regarding how Capella University achieves community engagement and fosters social impact through the fellows program. I look forward to hearing more about how the fellows continue to impact their communities.
Ben Rue (28:37):
Thank you so much Dr. Hilliman and Butts Williams for this wonderful podcast and thank you to our listeners and sponsor best buy to learn more, please contact CDO@capella.edu. New episodes of the Forum podcast are available at forumworkplaceinclusion.org/podcast. You can also find our podcast on apple podcast, Spotify, anchor, and Stitcher. Thank you again for listening. Have a great day.
Speaker 1 (29:02):
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Speaker 1 (29:25):
The Forum on Workplace inclusion podcast is recorded at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of the most diverse private colleges in the Midwest Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate degrees to 3000 foreign students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the twin cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota location. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders in Augsburg. Education is defined by excellence in the local arts and professional studies guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church and shaped by its urban and global settings. Learn more@augsburg.edu.

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