In The News

Alumni Spotlight

Steven E. Wallis, B.A Sociology, '94, MA Psychology, '98

Alumni Steven E. Wallis has published a new book, Avoiding Policy Failure: A Workable Approach, that provides a new way to analyze policy by comparing the structures of logic that are internal to the policy. The book covers policy application in economics, military, and international relations. Here, three case comparative studies use propositional analysis to compare a successful policy with a policy failure.

"SSU is where I earned my BA in sociology and my MA in psychology (with an emphasis on organization development). My experience in the sociology program provided me with a strong sense of social responsibility. The inherent limitations of sociological theory has impelled me on a life-changing search to find new tools to develop better theory and better policy so that we may more effectively improve the world in which we live." This book is available online at

Organization Development: Mastering the Future

[The following is reprinted from an article on the SSU News Center, May 2012 issue.]

One of the foundational principles of the Masters of Arts in Organization Development program is that of "learning by doing." This program provides professional preparation for developing organizations and communities that are more sane and effective.

In four semesters, participants gain the practical skills, conceptual knowledge, and field-tested experience to successfully lead organization and community improvement efforts.

With that focus, the curriculum includes hundreds of hours of internship time in which students work collaboratively with local businesses in the private, public and non-profit sectors, and thereby gain valuable work experience.

They offer their time for free, or sometimes at greatly reduced fees, in exchange for opportunities to hone their skills and learn through real-life experience. OD alumni, likewise, are continuing to learn in this hands-on manner and to work this way in the community as they build their resumes, professional networks, and skills.

Some examples of organizations with which graduates and students have recently worked are: Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County, Legal Aid of Sonoma County, SSU Faculty Retreat, Sonoma County Office of Education, City of Walnut Creek, City and County of San Francisco, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Earth Island Institute, Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, and Women's Initiative for Self Employment.

Collaborative community projects are varied and numerous. For example:

  • A team of graduates did a project with the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission over the summer of 2011, in which they put together a forum of more than 60 area human rights organizations to discuss ways to collaborate with one another.
  • A team of alumni worked with local broadcasting station KRCB as they develop their community based programming and partnerships.
  • One of the alumni is designing and leading a multi-year, multiple stakeholder, community-wide partnership for identifying gaps and priorities in youth-serving organizations in Petaluma, and doing community capacity building in the Petaluma City School System.
  • OD faculty and alumni were principally involved in the Windsor Future Search collaboration with that community, which focused on creating a better future for the youth of Windsor. More recently the OD program hosted its own Future Search conference, inviting members of the SSU community and Sonoma County area stakeholders to consider the future of this MA program, and ways to maintain its vital connections with the community. Alumni hold leadership positions in community and collaboration-oriented organizations such as Catholic Charities, The Arc of California, Ag Innovations Network, Becoming Independent, Summer Search North Bay, and the Santa Rosa Police Department, among many others.

Future Search Conference

In January 2012 the SSU OD program hosted a Future Search conference with Marv Weisbord and Sandra Janoff. The conference, "Co-Creating a Vital Future for the Organization Development Program at SSU," brought together 60 stakeholders, including SSU faculty and administrators, students, alumni, and a diversity of business and nonprofit professionals from the broader community, who are connected to the program in a variety of ways. The conference was a resounding success, energizing and strengthening the commitment of our stakeholders. Some of the common themes that emerged included:

  • staying true to core values;
  • integrating virtual technology and a more global outreach;
  • increasing diversity in our faculty and student body;
  • and enhancing collaboration with our community partners.

In order to begin implementing some of the goals that emerged from the conference, we have hired a project management team and created a Steering Committee to coordinate the work of ten project teams focusing on: Alumni; Core Values; Community; Curriculum & Structure; Diversity; Fiscal Sustainability; Global Initiatives; Partnerships; Technology; and a campus-based Center for Effective Leadership.

For more current information, or to see the documentation of the conference, please go to ssuodfuturesearch.

Recent Student Award Winners:

In 2011, at the annual Organization Development Network conference, two of our students (Lisa Nielson and Talia Eisen) won first and second place in the Student Paper Presentation award and one of our students (Gillian Haley) was awarded second place in the Student Research Colloquium Showcase.

Each year, OD Network invites students in OD programs around the country to submit original research papers to be published and considered as presentations to be made at the annual OD Network Conference. Winning criteria include originality, innovation and imagination - and the extent to which the paper makes a significant contribution to OD practice or represents a new or creative approach to thinking about our work. These papers will be posted soon:

Article Features OD Student

Read the Press Democrat article featuring Samie Moazzami, a second year student in the Organization Development Program at SSU,