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Sonoma State Executive MBA Cohort practices leadership through service

April 18, 2014 9:51 AM

Sonoma State Executive MBA Cohort practices leadership through service

Rohnert Park, CA - After learning of Santa Rosa's "safe parking program" in their North Bay Leadership course, members of Sonoma State's Executive MBA (EMBA) Cohort 5 joined together to serve the homeless population who utilize this social initiative.  On April 4th, through purchasing, packaging and passing out food to approximately forty individuals, they applied their leadership skills from the EMBA to this service- learning environment. 

"I've never had the fear or anxiety of not knowing when my next meal would come or where I would find shelter and I've never adequately or fully appreciated that or the freedom it has allowed me," said Tara Bartosch a member of the cohort, "Nothing humbled me more than spending an evening preparing and serving dinner to a fraction of Santa Rosa's homeless."

To fulfill a course requirement, Janus Karcz and others of the cohort wrote an article introducing the "safe parking program" to fellow classmates. Rebecca Kendall, who is a member of the cohort and happens to be Director of Advancement and Communications for Catholic Charities, the organization that developed the "safe parking program", urged the group to take action through direct service.

This past January, Catholic Charities saw the necessity for shelter against the unusual freezing temperatures of the North Bay Winter.  Until recently, it was illegal to reside or sleep in a car for more than three hours. Now with this new parking program, individuals and families can use the Sonoma County Fairgrounds parking lot as a safe haven for sleeping, shower and restroom facilities during the night hours.

"The people were so grateful we had brought them food, genuinely thankful," Karcz said, "I work in the hospitality industry so I hear 'thank you' a lot, but hearing it from the people at the safe parking program, they really meant it. You could see it in their faces."

The cohort is currently completing the North Bay Leadership course, which takes place about midway through the EMBA program. This course is a unique part of Sonoma State's program as it is centered on the leadership facets of civic engagement, sustainability and social responsibility within our local economy and businesses.

 "Philanthropy and volunteering are essential facets of civic leadership," explained Kendall of Catholic Charities, "When we give locally of our time and resources, we more fully appreciate the North Bay for the tight-knit community that it is.  We feel a greater sense of connection with our neighbors from all walks of life, and a willingness to help shoulder the responsibility for our shared fate."

"The power of connection as a cohort and putting that to work in the community is central to Sonoma State's Executive MBA program.  It's exciting to see how these students put that into action through service," explained John Stayton, who added that he and faculty are working to incorporate more hands-on learning projects into all the MBA programs.

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