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Three program leaders from the Northern Marianas College’s Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services (NMC-CREES) recently completed the LEAD21, or Leadership Development for the 21st Century: Linking Research, Academics, and Extension program. They competed with other applicants across the land-grant university system for a seat in the recent cohort.

LEAD21 is designed to develop leaders in land grant institutions and their strategic partners who link research, academics, and extension in order to lead more effectively in an increasingly complex environment. 

The three CREES leaders who completed the program are Mike Ogo of the Aquaculture and Natural Resources program; Tayna Belyeu-Camacho of the Family, Community, and Youth Development program,; and Dr. Virendra Verma of the Agriculture Production program.

“Mike, Tayna, and Verma have many notable career accomplishments thus far,” Interim Dean of CREES Patricia Coleman said. “In addition to these accomplishments, they continue to remain committed to building their capacity as leaders as they have demonstrated through the completion of LEAD21.” 

The LEAD21 program consists of a one-year core curriculum that includes three sessions and a concurrent individual learning component. Ogo, Belyeu-Camacho, and Verma started the program in February of 2021. 

Dr. Virendra Verma, lead agriculture scientist, said that the LEAD21 was an excellent professional development leadership course that enhanced their capacity to lead a cohesive team.

“It provided opportunities for collaborative engagement with the diverse leaders from various disciplines and developed leadership skills through diversity of perspectives. The course also invited self-reflections to enhance critical understandings of personal and professional skills that are crucial for effective leadership.” Verma said.

“Throughout my year-long journey in the program, I was able to play an active role in my leadership development while engaging with other professionals within the Land Grant Universities,” Belyeu-Camacho said. “With the guidance of my mentors, facilitators and peer group, I was able to put theory into practice by developing and implementing my personal development plan.”

“The comprehensiveness of the leadership development program along with my peer group enabled me to challenge myself by stepping out of my comfort zone. It was a phenomenal experience and a worthwhile investment of my time and effort. I am truly grateful to Dean Patty, the LEAD21 team, and LEAD21 Class 17, especially my peer group Y4, for their encouragement, guidance and overall support in helping me grow in my leadership abilities,” Camacho added.

Aquaculture and Natural Resources Program Leader Mike Ogo said that he sees a complete change in himself for the better as far as working with his colleagues, students, and the community that NMC-CREES serves.

“The training, through their self assessment program, allowed me to understand myself as far as where my strengths and weaknesses are as a leader and how to improve on them,” Ogo said. “The training also provided many tools at my disposal to be an effective leader at our organizations; tools such as " Design Thinking" which encourages leaders to use processes to design programs or products based on a clear understanding of the needs and wants of the stakeholders or tools like "Leadership Dilemma"  where it teaches leaders how to handle and resolve issues within the organization to eliminate potential threats and encourage teamwork.”

Their participation in LEAD21 allowed them to network with other leaders within the land grant system that will enable them to develop relationships that will be mutually beneficial for their institutions.

NMC president Galvin Deleon Guerrero, EdD also expressed his congratulations to the three leaders for their hard work and dedication to the program.