Joanne Smikle to helm Professional Leadership Program for Women

By Rebecca Kirkman on January 5, 2022

Applications for the program, now part of the Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute, open through Jan. 13

Maryland-based leadership consultant Joanne L. Smikle, Ph.D., joins the Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute as the new program facilitator for the Professional Leadership Program for Women.

Headshot with black background

The eight-week, cohort-based program is designed for women who are committed to increasing their capacity for leadership and influence through hands-on practical learning and coaching in a supportive environment. 

Since 2015, more than 150 women have completed the Professional Leadership Program for Women. Participants come from across sectors and leadership styles and levels. Applications for the 2022 cohort, which begins in February, are due Jan. 13.

The Professional Leadership Program for Women is one of the Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute’s three signature programs. Launched in summer 2021, the Grasmick Leadership Institute is an interdisciplinary engaged research and practice institute forging a new standard of innovative practice and pedagogy that advances the development of leadership for the region, state and nation.

Smikle brings extensive background as a leadership consultant and executive educator to her new position.

She serves on the board of trustees of Saybrook University; the national advisory board of ElevateMeD, a national nonprofit advancing medical students of color; and the Maryland Oversight Committee on Quality of Care in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities.

Smikle also acts as a mentor to mid-career women preparing for advancement through her membership in the Executive Alliance, an organization that accelerates the success and leadership of accomplished women by expanding their impact and influence.

A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, she enjoys golf, pickleball, travel, antiquing and cooking.

We spoke with Smikle about her passion for leadership and plans for the upcoming cohort.

Why are you excited about joining the Grasmick Leadership Institute and leading the Professional Leadership Program for Women?

I'm really excited about connecting with women and helping them discover things they didn't know were in them. I'm really excited to be a part of TU, and I really applaud the Institute for delivering a program specifically for women leaders because it's so important.

Why are you passionate about leadership development?

Leadership shapes more than revenue and company bottom line; it shapes our world. I believe when we have effective, committed, well-trained, well-educated leaders in organizations, it benefits all of us. The ability to maintain and cultivate human capital, corporate social responsibility—it all comes from leadership.

I also often see what I call the “promoted but not prepared syndrome.” People are promoted because of their technical expertise, but they have little in terms of leadership expertise. They get into these roles they are not qualified for as leaders, and they don't succeed. And it's not their fault; it's a system failure.

What changes and enhancements will you bring to the program?

I don’t want to spill the beans on everything, but I have put enhancements into the program like additional coaching sessions and lots of opportunities to network. The women will build not just leadership competence but a network of people who are like minded and interested not only in advancing their own careers but in advancing their peers’ careers.

There’s also going to be a focus on mindfulness because it's so important for leaders to thoughtfully reflect. We're going to have fantastic guest speakers, too, such as Linda Roszak Burton, author of the book “Gratitude Heals,” and other women who are really modeling principles of ethical, progressive leadership.

Do you want to develop your strengths and learn to leverage them in your professional life?

Learn More Request Information

What can participants expect to take away from the program?

They can hope to enhance their skills, build on the capabilities that they already have and discover capabilities they didn’t know they had. They can expect to build strong, sustainable connections with other female leaders. They can expect the opportunity to stop the constant motion and doing, the harried frenetic pace we live with, to really reflect on the outcomes they want as a leader and for their life. They can also expect to be challenged and learn how to become fully present in their lives and their leadership.

Who is a good fit for the program?

A woman who is ready to examine her career trajectory and position herself for the next step. You don't have to come in certain you want to be a VP next year, you just have to come in with a curious mind about yourself, about what you have done, what you want to do next. Also, it’s a good fit for a woman already in a leadership role who wants to get the skills she needs to be more effective and have more impact.

Because of the focus on honing and refining your skills, it's a program that is for any woman at just about any stage. You could be early career and say, “I want to get these skills now.” You could be mid-career but say, “I should have gotten these skills a long time ago, but they weren't offered.” I hear from a lot of women, “I wish I had this opportunity earlier in my career.”