Testimonials

Spring Project Clients

Graduates

Kara Vernor
(Class of 2006)
Adolescent Health & Wellness Manager, Grants Manager, and OD/HR Special Projects
Novato Youth Center

In my current position I am almost always required to work laterally--across programs, departments and organizations--and as such, I use the skills I learned in Sonoma State's OD program daily. The program taught me to identify root issues quickly, work with the momentum of the group, and both model and foster shared leadership, all of which is essential in the nonprofit sector where multi-stakeholder collaborations are more and more the norm.

Ellen D. Lewis - Class of 2005
International Development Consultant
PhD Student, Hull University Business School Center for Systems Studies, England, United Kingdom

As a bilingual, bicultural, mid-career professional, I was seeking a Master's program that would weave together my life experiences and knowledge with the theory, models, and personal development and result in a significant leap into the next stage of my career. SSU's Masters in Organization Development was pivotal in increasing my capacity to skillfully and compassionately support individuals, communities, and organizations solve problems through inquiry, dialogue, collaboration, and diplomacy. An additional outcome, one that is difficult to measure, is the circle of friends and colleagues who are, evermore, cornerstones to my success personally and professionally.


Candis Coulter (Class of 1999)
Facilitator - Performance Improvement
St.Joseph Health System - Sonoma County

Candis Coulter is now Facilitator - Performance Improvement at St.Joseph Health System - Sonoma County. She is currently working on "lean" implementation in health care, applying continuous improvement tools and problem solving approaches taken from Toyota to health care.

It is so exciting to continue learning and to support organizational learning and culture change!

Jon Pappas, M.A. (Class of 1999)
Manager of Training and Organization Development
Foster's Wine Estates Americas

What I like about Sonoma State's OD Program is that it emphasizes learning by doing. The learning environment is less like academia and more like today's constantly changing workplace: one day we'd write a proposal with our project teams, the next day we would clarify expectations with our client, and another day we'd actually facilitate a meeting. Stimulated by our hands-on learning, we then knew what to look for in our reading.

Nubia Padilla (Class of 2002)
Director of Family Services
Becoming Independent

The OD program at Sonoma State University was a life-changing experience for me. I learned that OD practice is a constant opportunity for personal and professional growth. I had the opportunity to work with clients almost right away, which made it easy for me to understand the concepts, look for ways to apply them, and assimilate the reading material. Since I was coming from another culture, the cohort concept was very significant for me because it offered a safe learning environment that promotes self-awareness. Now in my practice, I apply OD in almost every aspect of my work and even in my personal life.

Rachel Laws
Organization Development Process Manager
Pacific Telesis Shared Services
IT Department

My work involves building information technology teams at Pacific Telesis. The OD Program taught me how to design interventions and processes that help teams improve their own effectiveness.

Monica Sallouti, M.A.
Quantum Leap Consulting
Graphic Recording
Organization Development

I describe this program as a journey that took me in two directions at the same time. I took the outer, visible journey as I built my practitioner's tool kit, read voraciously and engaged with clients in real organizations. I took the inner, less visible journey as I began to trust myself as a dependable instrument and have confidence in my capacity to facilitate change in an organization.

Mary W. Richardson
Executive Search and Consulting
Herrerias and Associates

I would stack the SSU OD Program against any other in the US. The three-pronged approach--theory, practice, and group dynamics--sets the student on the right path. The discussions of ethics and responsibility are crucial to OD practice. It's not teaching that's done to you; you're immersed in a learning environment that realistically prepares you for professional practice.

Elizabeth Youngquist
Quality Deployment Leader
Optical Coating Labs, Inc.

I've accepted a position at OCLI as a Quality Deployment Leader, leading the Advanced Photonics Division towards ISO 9001 certification by next July, a challenging but manageable goal! I'm looking forward to putting all my change management skills to good use!

Thanks to the OD program for the practical experience and confidence I needed to make this step. And, I'm happy to report that the hard work of the culminating paper paid off, as my interviewers and the Vice President of the division asked to read it!

Good luck to others on their paths!

David Moylan
(Class of 2000)

My job is to visit clients in the North Bay and San Francisco area to conduct risk assessments and help the client develop and implement strategies to reduce or eliminate the risks. I conduct presentations and training. The training is primarily focused on educating and creating a self-sufficient client. My time spent with clients is a direct cost to The Zenith and not to the client, so I am encouraged to spend as little time as necessary with the client and to advocate an effort on the client's part to administer training and develop risk reduction strategies.

What I am excited about is that I am bringing OD skills, theory, and methodology into a field that rarely employs such techniques to bring about awareness and change in safety and health. I am discovering that the consultant skills that the OD program teaches are invaluable in my work and most importantly the successes of the client--things like relationship building, team building, and authentic communication are paramount to this work.

I am floating on air. Thanks for teaching me the magic Saul. It is so refreshing to be practicing something that adds so much meaning to my life, my work, and the work of others.

Catherine Curtis
Trainer
City and County of San Francisco

I was hired by the city and county of San Francisco as a trainer. It is going well and I hope to move over into the staff development area where I can do teambuilding and other OD related projects as well as training. That is my goal. I just thought you would enjoy hearing a success story.

Also, I have been working with Pathways to Peace with Sheldon Hughes and David Wick. I have put together an annual report that will be presented to the Attorney General of the United Nations this September. I continually get email from participants of how dazzled they are with the result of the report. I have been working for a number of years in this organization on an inquiry called Peace within Organizations. We have been asking the question, what if, in the 21st century, the role of business was to do more than build wealth for its stockholders? What if organizations were responsible in some way to the communities in which they dwell, the environment and social equity etc.? What would this look like?

We have been holding events with speakers and collecting a lot of data and now are in the final process of creating a white paper which will also be presented to the Attorney General in September. One of the goals of this process is to see organizations include peace building goals in their vision and mission statements, then follow it up with concrete behaviors and activities that demonstrate a commitment to the peacebuilding vision/mission. The categories that we have addressed include: purpose and role of business in the 21st century, sustainable development, social responsibility, money and new economics, whole system change, creative people practices, and ethics, principles, and values. The broader vision is to explore business within the larger system of the planet. How does business affect government, education and the rest of civil society and how is business affected by the economic and financial systems?

I'll leave you with a quote from the late Willis Harman.

"Real Peace will require fundamental transformations of our own thinking, our organizations, and our whole network of institutions. Because of its central place in modern society, business will be at the heart of that metamorphosis--either as part of the problem or as a force for creative change."

Theresa Richmond
Queen of the Valley Hospital
Napa, California

Theresa Richmond, a 1998 graduate in psychology, has been successfully applying the skills and knowledge she gained from the psychology MA special-focus program in organization development at SSU. As a human resources manager at the Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa, she is in charge of employment, employee relations, and organization development. She currently directs the STAR project, a three-year initiative to improve human resource management systems. STAR is an acronym for the four key improvement areas of this program:

  • Staffing and selection
  • Training
  • Assessing and managing performance, and
  • Rewards and recognition

This initiative is geared to maintaining the hospital's competitive effectiveness in the health care area by providing continued professional development opportunities for staff, increasing employee satisfaction, and recognizing and rewarding superior employee performance.

Richmond is also continuing to follow the outcomes of a Future Search conference she conducted in Napa over a year ago. Responding to a request by Terry Longoria, director of Health and Human Services for Napa County, Richmond helped organize a special conference for 170 participants from all relevant sectors of the community. The conference brought together a remarkable consortium of stake-holder groups, including child care, education, health care, transportation, employment, housing and utilities, job training, local government, and churches.

The Future Search conference method has been used in many communities and organizations around the world. For example, it has been used to work with difficult issues such as regional water resource management, economic development, and sustainable timber practices. In Napa County, the need was to plan for impending changes in welfare regulations and funding at the state and federal levels--changes that threatened to leave large numbers of people without support or shelter.

Richmond says that Saul Eisen, professor of psychology at SSU, provided training and support for the Future Search project.

Saul actually walked us through the entire process. And people had great things to say about SSU's organization development program. People like Michael Doyle, who wrote the book How to Make Meetings Work. My contact with Saul and Frank Siroky and the folks at SSU really opened many doors.

Over a three day period--about 16 hours--17 groups of stakeholders relating to the welfare situation in Napa County searched for common ground in their perspectives, developed a systemic understanding of the social trends and forces affecting the welfare situation, and generated a shared vision of desirable futures for the county. On the basis of this shared vision, they generated concrete action plans for addressing the needs of welfare recipients and of the county community as a whole. Participants were impressed with the kind of collaboration and creativity that emerged from the process.

Theresa plans to continue her community involvement as well as her professional leadership at Queen of the Valley Hospital. She will attend an advanced workshop on conference and facilitation techniques sponsored by the hospital. She credits the rich learning experience in SSU's Organization Development Program for the professional preparation it provided her.

Published in Insights A Sonoma State University Magazine Volume VI, Number 1, Spring 1999.