Season 2, Episode 4 - Marquita Chamblee and Leonard Savala

Host Annmarie Caño speaks with academic leaders at Wayne State University to learn how they have developed their careers while empowering themselves and others.

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Episode notes

Marquita T. Chamblee is the associate provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer of Wayne State University. Leonard Savala is the director of the university's Office of Multicultural Student Engagement. They join EmpowerED to Lead to shine a light on how diversity and inclusion complement each other and share a bit of their "secret sauce" for how they authentically collaborate.

Drs. Marquita Chamblee and Leonard Savala wearing headphones smiling in front of microphones

About Marquita T. Chamblee

Marquita T. Chamblee is the associate provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at Wayne State University. Chamblee leads efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion across campus and into the community, ultimately creating safer, more welcoming and more supportive spaces for as many people as possible.

About Leonard Savala

Leonard Savala is the director of the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement at Wayne State University. Using a holistic approach that is rooted in collaboration and cooperation, Savala is focused on championing all Warriors — particularly first-generation, underrepresented and underserved students — to success as they transition to college.

Additional resources

Benioff, Marc, and Langley, Monica. Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change (2019). New York, NY: Currency.

Bordas, Juana. Salsa, Soul and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age (2007). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Brown, Brené. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. (2018). New York, NY: Random House.

Burns, James MacGregor. Leadership (2010). New York, NY: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

Williams, Damon A. Strategic Diversity Leadership: Activating Change and Transformation in Higher Education (2013). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Follow Marquita T. Chamblee on Twitter @mtchamblee and LinkedIn.

Follow Leonard Savala on Twitter @savalale or email him at leonard.savala@wayne.edu.

Follow WSU's Office of Multicultural Student Engagement on Twitter @WSUOMSE.

Follow EmpowerED to Lead on Twitter @WSUFacSuccess.

Transcript

Annmarie Caño:
Welcome to EmpowerED to Lead, a Wayne State University podcast for academic leaders who are committed to empowering their community to succeed. I'm your host and Annmarie Caño, Associate Provost for faculty development and faculty success at Wayne State. In this podcast, we'll explore the personal journeys of academic leaders, both current and emerging. To learn more about how they've developed their careers. We'll speak with faculty and staff about their work, and how they have empowered themselves and others along the way. By doing this, we hope to empower listeners like you as you continue on your leadership path.

Today we're speaking with Dr. Marquita Chamblee, the Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer. In this role, she is responsible for leading efforts that advance diversity, Equity, and Inclusion across campus and into the broader community. This involves supporting student success, promoting intercultural skill development, enhancing faculty and staff diversity and strengthening leadership accountability for diversity and institutional equity. Marquita has spent most of her 35-plus year career focused on creating safe, welcoming and supportive spaces for as many different people and as many different settings as possible.

We're also speaking with Wayne State Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement, Dr. Leonard Savala. Leonard is responsible for the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement where his key focus is on improving the success of first-generation underrepresented, underserved and all students on the Wayne State campus to support the transition into college. In order to meet multicultural students' needs, Leonard takes a holistic approach in providing student services and support that is based on a spirit of collaboration and cooperation across the university community. Welcome, Marquita and Leonard.

Dr. Marquita C.:
Thank you.

Dr. Leonard S.:
Thanks for having us here.

Annmarie Caño:
So let's start off with what you each love about your jobs.

Dr. Marquita C.:
Well, for me, it's easy. I love the people. I've always worked for and with people and in this role, in particular, I actually depend on the people across the campus to collaborate with me in making this an inclusive campus. And so the thing that I love the most is the opportunity to engage with some really awesome people.

Annmarie Caño:
How about you, Leonard?

Dr. Leonard S.:
Yeah, I think on a daily basis, we have students coming in and I think at the epicenter of our work is like helping students reach their goals. So I would say like, that part of when they come in and they're talking about, okay, what do I want to be? Where do I see myself? And then helping them sort of envision that, sort of motivate them and encourage them to pursue that dream. I also like hearing about when students travel abroad or go international do things outside of their comfort zone, coming back and then talking about how that experience is so life-changing. I think is like just seeing the looks on their faces and hearing about all of the things that they did, I think that certainly brings Joy. I feel like it's, this isn't necessarily I work at times because of that. That way we get to engage with students and sort of be authentic in that.

Annmarie Caño:
And so you're both talking about people, that people is what makes the job so rewarding and I think sometimes when people hear diversity inclusion, they have different ideas of what that means. What does that mean to you? Especially, I'm asking this question for leaders or aspiring leaders who might have different ideas of diversity inclusion. What does that phrase mean?

Dr. Marquita C.:
I mean, I think diversity is simply kind of an accumulated mass of different qualities and characteristics of different people. Diversity is probably the easiest part in some ways to accomplish. Inclusion really is more about making sure that the people that live, work, study, whatever it is on this campus feel like they belong here. And so I think belonging is at the heart of inclusion that we can bring different people together. But if they're not engaging with one another and engaging in the campus and feeling like they have a sense of belonging on the campus, then we're not really being inclusive.

Annmarie Caño:
Right.

Dr. Marquita C.:
And so our task really is to take the diversity that we already have on campus and make it inclusive through engaging with folks to kind of make sure that the environments that we're creating are more, create a sense of belonging for the people that are on the campus.

Dr. Leonard S.:
Man, I think, Dr. Chamblee, I mean, you hit it right on. I mean, the only other thing I think I could add to that is that about creating spaces for students to have their voice and for students to have that place to like process, think through what they're experiencing. And so as I think about diversity and inclusion, I think about adding on to what Dr. Chamblee said is about providing that space, allowing students to learn from others and allowing students to be a little bit vulnerable in what they don't know. And creating that space where they can sort of ask those questions and get to learn a little bit about the people that are around them. And again, in an authentic way, in a non-confrontational way. But sort of like this humble approach of how do we get to know who's around us? Yeah, that's, I think those are the things that sort of come to mind for me.

Annmarie Caño:
Okay. So there's the sense of belonging and feeling like you can participate fully and authentically as your ... As who you are. But then also providing the spaces for people to be able to do that.

Dr. Leonard S.:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Annmarie Caño:
So sometimes when people talk about safe spaces or sense of belonging, they feel like these fuzzy sorts of concepts that people have a hard time figuring out, how do I enact that? So that all sounds good. I know when I'm in a safe space, I know when I feel like I'm myself and I'm not having to put on a mask. But how do we ... What are some concrete actions we can do to make that happen whether we're in a committee meeting, or teaching a class or whatever spaces we find ourselves in?

Dr. Leonard S.:
It's really challenging to create a space where everyone feels like they can be authentic and really be who they want to be and feel safe. But I think what we can do is lead with some sense of vulnerable ness. So in those meetings, so leading with, this is me, this is how I show up in this meeting. And sometimes that's kind of hard because when you show up as authentic, it's sort of it goes against the sort of your centric view of leadership in a meeting. You don't bring in your baggage or whatever else you're dealing with. You bring in what's the project? Where are we going with it?

But we also got to think about the people that are coming in that room and what they're bringing into the room and until we can address that piece of what folks are dealing with, then I think we show up at meetings running over folks and sort of sliding folks and talking over folks without really creating a space where everyone can feel authentic, feel state safe and feel like I can honestly contribute in this space without feeling like if I say something, it's going to be, I'm going to have, it's going to be a microaggression coming my way.

But also you also have to bring in the room some of the things that like imposter syndrome that folks might be dealing with in that room as well. So if it's a diverse room, there may be some folks that have had to overcome a lot to get into that space. And so for them, they may not feel like they can adequately talk about that experience because they're still looking internally. They're still analyzing, second-guessing their own good feeling where other folks in that room are like now, this is what I think, this is what I do. And that person with imposter syndrome or might feel sort of like held back.

So I think there's so much in those meetings, whether it's with students, whether it's professionals. That sort of all airs itself in those meetings or in those student clubs and organizations. But I think, if some of us can just be very vulnerable and begin to live that, I think it could be a trend.

Annmarie Caño:
Yeah, if you're running a meeting, let's say, to step in there and to acknowledge that maybe you made a silly mistake that day, or I'm also thinking about the things that we don't see. Like when I would get up in front of a bunch of students, 350 students, they see a mature professor.

Dr. Leonard S.:
Right.

Annmarie Caño:
And they don't know that I was first-generation college students, that I did really poorly my first year of college, they don't see that, they don't know that unless I tell them. And so finding ways to connect and to say, "Hey, that was me", or it's maybe sometimes easier when the power differential is so big. So if I'm a professor going in to see first-year students, I don't really have that much to lose to tell them about this struggles that I had. Where it gets a little bit more difficult when I'm dealing with peers or potential bosses. But it sounds like what you're saying is if we can show some of our vulnerability, whether it's telling people or having a self-deprecating sense of humor.

Dr. Leonard S.:
Right. You are on it.

Annmarie Caño:
That those kinds of things can model that inclusiveness or that hey, we all belong here and we all have our things that we bring.

Dr. Leonard S.:
Yeah, you said a keyword. And I think we, I think about we a lot and I think about the students that sort of come in the office, I do sometimes I get that. I remember zero point in Chem 141. And I remember going home with my mom and being like, "Yo, I felt this." And she's like how do you go to class every day and then still zero-point this class. So I came back and three-fived it, right?.

Annmarie Caño:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Leonard S.:
So it was just more about me refocusing coming in feeling comfortable, getting a better hand on the content and the material. Wasn't that I couldn't do it. And I think that's where we, that's what our office tries to articulate to students to say, "Hey, you have one bad class, you had one bad day, get back in there, It's going to be ..." And so that's a part of our work that I think goes unnoticed. It's hard to evaluate that, it's hard to put that in a spreadsheet. But I think it's the ... To letting them know that it's all of us in this, we're in this together. My success is your success as a student. So, yeah.

Dr. Marquita C.:
I mean, I think it's about how you show up. And really, really paying attention to who's in the room with you or who's across the room with you, from you. And so I'm an introvert, so I tend to pay attention and not talk a lot. And so I think sometimes it's really about stopping and saying, okay, who's in the room with me? How am I showing up? And am I showing up in a way that invites people to bring their whole selves to the conversation? And I think what happens over time is, it's also recognizing that if you're in a leadership position people watch you. And they watch when you show up authentically, they watch when you show up outside of the values that you're espousing. And so they'll either trust or not trust you based on how they've observed you over time.

And so I think part of it is trying to show up as authentically as possible over time and then people see that, and the other thing that happens is people tell their friends. And so it used to happen to me a lot when I dealt with students. You help a student and they'd bring their friends from different majors from ... That had nothing to do with me but that they knew that I would help whoever kind of showed up across my door. And that happens today with staff in the faculty and occasionally students who feel like they're not being heard and in the environments in which they are, can they come to me and trust that I'll be able to listen in pathetically and then offer assistance when and where I can. And that's something that you can't make people watch that and people see that.

Annmarie Caño:
Yeah. And the overtime piece is so important too. So you may have good intentions to signal to people, I want to hear your ideas, I value each and every one of you at the table. But that doesn't guarantee that people will feel safe. So it takes time for people to build that trust and to see okay, I see how Marquita is responding to this person's question. And she, I see her responding to this other person, I see her taking notes and she's looking at people as they're talking and she looks thoughtful. That takes time, especially if you've been ... If you've experienced other situations where that didn't happen, then it's going to take a little bit longer to say is this person for real or are they just play-acting.

Dr. Marquita C.:
Yeah.

Annmarie Caño:
Right.

Dr. Marquita C.:
Well, that's about meeting people where they are and recognizing that when that person comes in who's been wounded through some other situation. It's really about saying internally, that whatever defensiveness or whatever's coming across is coming from some source.

Annmarie Caño:
Right.

Dr. Marquita C.:
That has nothing to do with me. And if I can stay with that person where they are in a very nonreactive way, then I can connect with them at a deeper level than their wounding is presenting to be, if that makes sense.

Annmarie Caño:
Sure. Yeah. And it's not just people who've been traditionally marginalized, who have been wounded. But also people with great privilege and power who have been wounded and it comes out maybe in slightly different ways. But how many of us get that training as we're coming up that when someone else is staying in the sidelines not getting involved or lashing out or doing whatever. That there are reasons for that, that we may know nothing about. And to approach that situation with humility and grace, even if it may be difficult for us to do in the moment as well.

Dr. Marquita C.:
I think it takes a while to get there. But I do think and I do think it's really important to see people see beyond what they're presenting. And that's been, that's not I magically did that. It's been over years and years of engaging with people and around issues of that aren't always easy. Issues of race, issues of sexual orientation or some of the other things that are not easy conversations to have. So really being intentional about recognizing kind of who's sitting across from me and what we may or may not have in common and trying to find some kind of common ground if I can. Some sense of humanity in the person that's across from me. So I think it happens over years.

Annmarie Caño:
Sure. So one of the things that I've observed in seeing the two of you work together. So, Leonard, you report to Marquita?

Dr. Leonard S.:
Yes.

Annmarie Caño:
Right. But you lead together so seamlessly and as a team that I've admired this, just watching the two of you work. And I was one of you could talk about that collaboration and teamwork that you have, together how-

Dr. Leonard S.:
Nope, it's a secret sauce.

Annmarie Caño:
It's a secret sauce, but other people want the recipe.

Dr. Leonard S.:
Yeah, yeah. Well, do you want to share the secret sauce? I'll share some pieces of it, but we got to keep the key ingredients to yourself. Now I think what I have thoroughly enjoyed about my work is working with Dr. Chamblee. And I think she's loud space for me to continue to learn and develop and not necessarily be, lead with a heavy hand or lead in a very judgmental way. And I've really appreciated that. I'm always saying, have you seen this piece, have you read this? Or here's a book or, and for me that just ... That helps. So I don't feel I'm stuck I feel I'm learning, gives me the reins to work with my team of folks. But I think there's a sense of deep respect in terms of decisions that are made, that go forward, that I'm always conferring with and always checking with this like, am I heading in the right direction here sort of thing? What are your thoughts about this?

And half of the time, she just listens. And I work myself out of whatever I was thinking or going through. And I think that has been a great space to be in. I'm sort of jealous, I mean, that I envy this space because it's like, I'm not sure how those spaces are cultivated around in other spaces on campus, but true, truly supports the students. Truly, I think if she had the time she would add students, undergrad students, to her schedule and try to meet with them endlessly. But I think anyone that has sat with Dr. Chamblee will know that you leave that meeting feeling like you're going in a good direction, or that you feel like okay, I've said what I needed to say and I got the advice that I needed and I'm off. So it's hard to put into words but, yeah, that's all I feel.

Dr. Marquita C.:
I mean, I think it's mutual respect that's evolved over time. And I know for a long time I've known Leo since he was a graduate student at Michigan State. And so I think that helps that level of comfort in being in conversation and I think the other piece is I trust Leo's leadership that I don't have to feel like I need to manage what he's doing, that he knows what he's doing. And he's comfortable doing what he's doing. And so there's ... It's a relief to not have to be chasing around after him, making sure that he's doing what he needs to do. Its if anything, I have to pull on the reins and say, "Slow down a little bit you're going to burn yourself out if you're not mindful of the fact that you can't do everything at once". So I think there's been a lot of give and take, but I think it's a lot of trust and a lot of mutual respect.

Annmarie Caño:
And it sounds like there's, if you didn't have the trust then you wouldn't be able to talk out your ideas to be able to come to a solution. And it sounds like the listening is a very non-judgmental listening, and listening with your best interest in mind. So to make sure that you don't burn yourself out. That no is not no because Marquita doesn't want you to shine too brightly but it's so that you don't burn out in that way. So and then being able to trust the person who reports to you and really see them as a colleague, is something that several of our guests have talked about, that's something that they really value of their supervisors and that they try to emulate for other people as well. But that it takes time to build that trust. That it's, it really is all about relationships. So how do you go about building that trust between a supervisor and a supervisee or collaborators who are working together? What are some strategies?

Dr. Marquita C.:
I mean, I go back to how you show up that you emulate kind of what you want to see in other people. And in that in a phony way, I mean, I think different people have their different skills, et cetera. And so I think part of it is modeling for folks what that might look like and then engaging them in a back and forth conversation, depends on what you're working on. But I think it's always about showing up as who you are, and listening and paying attention to the person who's across from you, the people that you're working with. So that it's like I said before they see who you are in a variety of different settings. And that you're not out of your integrity in any kind of way.

Annmarie Caño:
So there's a consistency to who you are, that you're bringing yourself. It may play out in different ways depending on the audience, but you're still at the core the same person.

Dr. Marquita C.:
Yeah, I mean, it's a lot easier to be who you are than to be somebody else.

Annmarie Caño:
Yeah.

Dr. Marquita C.:
This is who you're going to get and it's a lot easier for me to do that than to play some kind of role. And that doesn't mean that I stayed totally in my comfort zone. I mean, I try to put myself in spaces where I'm growing. But even in the spaces where I'm growing or I'm on ... I have a lead and learning edge. I'm still trying to be myself if that makes sense.

Annmarie Caño:
Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Leonard S.:
That's a challenge. I mean, it's a big campus. It's a lot of different people and a lot of different places, dealing with a lot of different things. And I think it does go back to the consistency and showing up. So as you're building these teams, maybe working with a smaller team, maybe working to build that relationship and that you get to know these folks. But I would say it's about being authentic and that's not easy for a lot of folks. That's a lot of people aren't ready to go there in one on ones, in fully being transparent in the work that you're doing. And being I don't have an ulterior motive here. The motive here is to help students succeed and leading in being truthful about your purpose.

And that I think can start that journey of building that authentic relationship, but I also think it takes time. I don't think it's going to happen in a semester or something like that. But showing up, being respectful, being honest, being who you are, like not trying to be somebody else. And I think also, at the core just reminding yourself while you're here. If you keep that front and center in any meeting, then I think that trust in that, that will just grow out of that. But that takes a lot of work. I mean, that's a lot of work.

Annmarie Caño:
Yeah. So keeping this in mind, so you try to show up with integrity in your authentic self across a variety of situations. Have there been any challenges that the two of you have faced together? That was a difficult situation for you, and how did you navigate through that space?

Dr. Marquita C.:
We don't have no challenges.

Annmarie Caño:
Campus challenges, societal challenges that have impacted the campus and-

Dr. Leonard S.:
Everywhere [crosstalk 00:25:50]. I think we're always having like these Campus conversations, these campus dialogues. And I think we learned a lot at different points in time within those campus dialogues or conversations. And so a conversation could be about a specific topic. And so I think we arrived there with what are we going to learn about what's going on in this space? And how can we use that information to help improve that space?

And so I think we don't go into it with some preconceived notions about this places like this, but what are the people saying, and how can we elevate their voice? So that we can come up with some remedies for things that are going on around. So I don't think we're like whack-a-mole, something comes up and we're like, well, there's that issue. I think we're more like thoughtful, more like what can we learn about this situation, if that makes sense?

Annmarie Caño:
Yeah. Can you give some specific examples of the kinds of campus conversations that you've led together. After what kinds of events.

Dr. Marquita C.:
So there's always some kind of event that happens in the US that creates spaces where people feel some kind of way. And so over the last four years or so, three or four years, we've hosted multiple campus dialogues to talk about the issues. And so in a couple of cases, we were talking about issues of race and racism, where we bring people together. And I think part of what's worked for us, in collaboration has been we're co-creating the space. It's continues to be about creating a space where people feel like as Leo said, their voices are elevated. But not just where people can come together and wail and gnash and be all upset about what's happening, whether it's about the election which was a big-time when people really needed to talk all over the campus. We created some spaces for that to happen.

It's not just about coming together and saying, "Oh, I'm angry or I'm I feel some kind of way about all this." We also always create an additional space in that time that we're together to talk about what can we do? And I think you can't leave people you could. It's not wise in my mind to leave people in their feelings, just in their feelings. I'm angry, I'm sad, I'm scared and whatever. But then to say, "Okay, how can we as a community come together to make the kind of changes that are necessary for our community, we can't necessarily change the narrative in the country, but we can talk about our community and the kind of campus we want to create." And I think that's been useful to let people not just feel how they're feeling because that's important, but then also give them something to do with it. Here's what we think we can do as a campus to make this a better situation if that.

Annmarie Caño:
And going into those situations, so it's a very good lesson and practice and inclusion. But it's also a leadership practice of not running away from difficult topics and difficult feelings or things that feel like they have no solution, well, then I'm not going to even touch it and we're not going to do anything about it, which sometimes happens. But being able to say, "Let's bring people together and talk and figure out what's happening because what's happening for me, how I see the situation or how I'm experiencing it may or may not be similar to what someone else is experiencing." And how can you advance something or change something if you're not all understand, or at least attempting to understand each other.

Dr. Marquita C.:
Yeah. I mean, I had a recent conversation with a leader on campus who has an issue in their unit that seems to deal with race, and they're really concerned about it. And so they were like, they called me and come help us with this. And so I think part of it was, the first piece for that person was to ask for help. Secondly, they listened to the help. I said, well, the first thing you need to do is communicate out to your whole unit that this is happening. So it goes to that point that you made about being quiet and hoping it'll go away. Like no, you don't be quiet about this. You have to say something because everyone knows.

So everyone already knows that something happened. And as the leader, you need to say, okay, everybody, yes, something happened, and here's what we're going to do about it. So the second piece of that was communicate out to all your people that something happened and we're taking action by having a dialogue around it so that we can really begin to address the issues that were raised in the incident that happened.

Annmarie Caño:
Right. Because if the leader doesn't say anything and says, "Well, everybody already knows that this happened." Of course, they know that I don't agree or I, well, no, they don't know that. And they so and then people come to their own conclusions about-

Dr. Marquita C.:
About what the silence means.

Annmarie Caño:
Yes. And so that being able to communicate that out, accomplishes several goals. One is to say, I heard also and here's what I think and we're going to take action, I like so much that you say that dialogue is action. Because I think there's a lot of leaders who think action is only got to change a policy or put a rule in place or reward or punish or, but talking is an action.

Dr. Marquita C.:
Well, I think so. And I would say that it can't be just talking.

Annmarie Caño:
Right.

Dr. Marquita C.:
So dialogue is an action that precedes additional action. Otherwise, then you get accused of just talking about problems and not doing anything about them.

Annmarie Caño:
Right.

Dr. Marquita C.:
So it's both. What I'm doing is creating a space for us to talk about these issues that have emerged. We're going to talk about some potential solutions. And then from those solutions that are talked about at the dialogue, we're going to take some action based on what we've learned from folks.

Annmarie Caño:
Right. Yeah. So and then the other piece that you mentioned earlier too is there's the talking and the listening. So we're assuming that there's listening, authentic listening going on as well. So what other leadership resources books or websites would you recommend for emerging or current leaders who are looking to grow in their leadership?

Dr. Leonard S.:
I got couple of. George McGregor Burns his seminal work on leadership is amazing. And I would encourage folks to take a look at that. You can get a really cheap copy on it for a couple cents of books been out for a long time. And then Juana Bordas, a book who's titled, Salsa, Soul, and Spirit and its Leadership for a Multicultural Age. And in her work, she discusses why incorporating Latino, black and American Indian approaches can enrich leadership and provide an alternate model that is very different from the contemporary model that's out in society right now. Sort of this Eurocentric view of leadership and so one of the key parts of that book that I really like is, it talks about leaderships in communities of color is about generosity. And I had to really think about that, that was like, what?

But this sense of giving in the sense of helping and supporting is intuitive. And then there was another part in the book that talked about the we in leadership, how that is also big in communities of color as well. So it's all of us together, working. And so those are, I think, two books that sort of jumped to mind often.

Annmarie Caño:
Okay. Great.

Dr. Marquita C.:
Yeah, had a few I am like, favorite book or resource or leadership, my God. So a couple of things popped into my mind one relative to my work is strategic diversity leadership. Which is, it's kind of like a Bible for chief diversity officers to talk about the importance of how to create ... How to lead these changes on your campus and what has to ... What's current conditions have to be in place in order for diversity and inclusion to happen. But that's not my daily read. That's kind of the go to from time to time, I would say just about anything by Brené Brown for me has been ... And she has her current book is called Dare to Lead. And talks a lot about vulnerability about showing up authentically and some of those things and so it resonates a lot with where I am.

And then the third is something that someone just recently recommended to me called Trailblazer. And it's it was written by Marc Benioff, the CEO or C something, the President something of Salesforce. And he, what I like about the book, I've been listening to it. Because it's easier for me to do on my commute as he talks very candidly about all of the mistakes he's made as a leader, but how he's grown. I mean, his company is worth an incredible amount. And he probably has more money than God but anyway, but he seems very humble and very thoughtful about what his problem, what his challenges have been. And he as a white, straight man has taken on issues affecting LGBT folks nationally.

He talked about the problems that he had in his company with gender inequity in pay, he and how he dealt with it and he talked about race and he just, he's not afraid to take things on. And so that's my kind of my current listen is from him. There are tons of really useful pieces of book here and there, but those are three that popped immediately in my head.

Annmarie Caño:
Okay, great. Thank you. So given your leadership and diversity, inclusion and equity, how do your personal identities inform the work that you do?

Dr. Marquita C.:
I think for me, I can't separate my personal identities from the work that I do, that I actually got into this work many years ago, I considered by accident. But it was because as an African American person, I had questions about what my institution, I was a student. What my institution was doing to support African American and other students of color on our campus? And that was just kind of a natural extension of the kinds of things that I thought about a lot. Even though my major had absolutely nothing to do with humans.

Annmarie Caño:
What was your major?

Dr. Marquita C.:
My major was Animal Science.

Annmarie Caño:
Okay.

Dr. Marquita C.:
So and there are times actually when I still prefer animals to people because they're much less complicated. But and I think over time, I've become more of who I am. And that's been important to me, I think another pivotal moment for me was when I decided to come out at work because that was something that for years and years, I just didn't and I didn't, kind of didn't have to. And I think as I've come to understand more and more about myself and how I want to show up authentically, then how can I encourage other people to bring their whole selves to an engagement or into a work or to school if I'm not bringing my whole self. So I think I'm coming from a place of making sure that I'm bringing my whole self in all of my identities and then I'm also creating spaces that are ... That allow people to be courageous about bringing their own identities as well.

Annmarie Caño:
So living, this is coming back to something you said earlier about living authentically and modeling that for others because people are watching.

Dr. Marquita C.:
Right. And I was living partially authentically.

Annmarie Caño:
Okay.

Dr. Marquita C.:
But not fully authentically. I think it's an ongoing lifelong journey to become more and more authentically yourself. And so that's been just another layer to bringing more of the fragmented pieces of myself into wholeness.

Annmarie Caño:
Sure. Thank you.

Dr. Leonard S.:
That's heavy and I think, as I think about how I show up. I think it's really a mix of the people I've engaged with. Definitely, all of my lived experiences as well. So first-generation college student grew up in a single-parent family household, oldest sibling. Oldest male in the family. What else? First to get a bachelor's, master's and a Ph.D. So I think there was a lot of first time first. And so I recognize that the people in front of me, whether it's their first time, whether their the first in the family or the second in their family, the third. That everyone comes to higher education with a mixture of their experiences and I think I try to stand back and hold all of that, what's in my lenses. And I really try to reflect on their experiences and where they're coming from, without any preconceived notions or any sort of judgment.

Because I think Dr. Chamblee did that for me. she is like showed up there as a graduate student, not knowing what's next and where I wanted to go, just being patient and sort of really working with me to get where I needed to be. And I think I've emulated that patience, for sure. But I think ... What else is in there? I think that showing up as a cisgender Latino male. I remember that, I also remember growing up in a family of four women and what that's like sharing a bathroom. And so I've learned patience. But I think, gosh, all of that informs my work. I mean, on a daily basis, I think I'm always running through my privileges, so to say. And so I'm making sure that I'm not leading with those privileges, that I'm being remembering that I thought that is a privilege.

And using that privilege to speak as well. There have been times where I've had to speak up, I've had to say things and I think it's been a challenge. I think back to my undergrad, I think back to my undergrad years and getting to college for me was a lot of work. It took a lot to get there as a incoming transfer student from a community college. And as soon as I got there, there was so many student clubs and organizations, students from all over. And it was just like eye-opening for me. And I remember the activists over here, I remember the fraternities over here. I remember the honors clubs here. And I think for me it was like, wow, how am I going to get ... I just want to learn, I want to get through all of this. I want to engage with so many people, I want to know who I am.

And so I think there's been a lot of those experiences. I've been engaged in a lot of different things that I ... When a student comes in my door, and they say Leo I'm thinking about doing this. And I said, well, have you go in and talk with folks in that group? Have you gone and engage with them? Have you taken the time to learn who they are? And so I really try to navigate them not based on my experience alone, but to help them realize that the decisions that they're making right then and there can impact their academic. So I often remind them back, what is your purpose here? Yes, you want to be super social or you want to be super engaged, but what's the ultimate goal here?

Because I think as a 17, 18-year-old, and there's adults in our space as well, and obviously, that I've learned a lot from. So I think I try to really try to hold those privileges, hold my viewpoints back and really try to help them find their path. And that's not easy because early in my career, it was really, it was a challenge because I really wanted to fix students. As an undergrad, early on my graduate students would come in my door and I'd be like, "go to this." And it wasn't till later, much later that I learned to listen and hold back and students will work things out themselves. So, I come with a lot of life experiences and I try to use those as points of navigation for students, as point of guidance. I don't know if that answers your question.

Annmarie Caño:
Well, thank you so much, Marquita and Leonard for being on the podcast today.

Dr. Marquita C.:
Yeah. Thanks for having us.

Dr. Leonard S.:
Thank you.

Annmarie Caño:
where can our listeners find you online?

Dr. Marquita C.:
I can be found on LinkedIn. I don't tweet a lot. So I do have a Twitter handle @mtchamblee, my initials in my last name and beyond that, I'm working on my Wayne State website. So it's not quite something but feel free to email me at diversity@wayne.edu.

Annmarie Caño:
Great.

Dr. Leonard S.:
You can find me at OMSE, that's the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement. @wayne.edu, so you can find me there. And where else? May be on Twitter. I'm not on Twitter a lot so I don't tweet a lot, but you can find me at @savalale. And if you want to engage with me, but primarily, leonard.savala@wayne.edu is the preferred way to get ahold of me.

Annmarie Caño:
Okay.

Dr. Leonard S.:
Yeah.

Annmarie Caño:
Great. Thank you so much.

Dr. Leonard S.:
Thanks.

Annmarie Caño:
We're glad to have you listening to EmpowerED to Lead. To learn more about our podcast, follow us on Twitter @WSUFacSuccess.