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Leadership pop-up will train current and future campus student leaders

Students are invited to register for a one-day Leadership Pop-Up to be held April 15. Created by and for students, the event seeks to help current, incoming and aspiring leaders of campus organizations form connections and polish their skills.

Student leaders can be found all over Stanford: not just in student government, but on sports teams, in fraternities and sororities, in community centers, in arts-based groups, in student clubs, and in Residential Education.

Now, two students have led the creation of a one-day Leadership Pop-Up, to be held April 15, to help current, incoming and aspiring leaders of campus organizations form connections and polish their skills.

“We want the Leadership Pop-Up to be a place where student leaders from across campus can come together, learn together, and build relationships,” said Layton Rosenfeld, a computer science major from the Class of 2024, who organized the event with Timi Adeniyi, a symbolic systems major from the Class of 2023. They have been working on the event with Diane Friedlaender, associate director at Stanford Living Education.

An interactive agenda

The Leadership Pop-Up will feature engaging workshops and activities in three parts:

  • Morning: The morning session, which will be led by Friedlaender and Rabbi Laurie Hahn Tapper of the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life, will focus on personal values, passion and purpose.

“In order to be a good values-driven leader, you have to understand who you are and what’s important to you,” Rosenfeld said.

  • Lunch: During lunch — provided by food trucks — students will be able to connect with administrators from a wide range of campus departments, allowing them to meet potential mentors and develop relationships with administrators who work with student organizations. Local alumni who held leadership positions in campus organizations will also be invited, providing additional opportunities for mentoring connections.
  • Afternoon: For the afternoon sessions, students will be able to choose three workshops to broaden their leadership skills. Offerings will include ethical leadership, conflict management, mental health and wellness, communication, and club financing at Stanford.

In addition to receiving customized workbooks, stickers and sweatshirts, participants will have access to the Stanford Leadership Pop-Up Fund, which will provide funding for leadership development within student organizations.

A lot of the funding available for student groups has specific requirements attached to it and is not available if, for example, the co-presidents of a student group want to go out to dinner to talk about their goals for the upcoming quarter, according to Adeniyi. This funding would allow expenditures on planning and development.

The need for this type of training is especially acute right now, because the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the transfer of institutional knowledge from one generation of student leaders to the next. Some of that knowledge concerns the logistics of running an organization, from rules about how funding can be used to the process for reserving a meeting space – processes that in many cases were different during the pandemic. Organizations are also working to rebuild their communities after the time away from campus.

“Leading at Stanford is not just about standing up at a meeting and saying, ‘Here’s the agenda,’” said Adeniyi, who became president of the Stanford FashionX club just before students were sent home due to COVID-19 in the winter of 2020 and is currently co-president of Stanford Women in Business. “There’s a whole lot that goes on behind the scenes on the Stanford administration side. All of that used to be passed down between presidents.”

The organizers are hoping that the Leadership Pop-Up can become an annual event.

“We hope to empower student leaders in their vital role as community builders and change makers,” Adeniyi said.

LEAD 101 class

The leadership pop-up grew out of an independent study class that several students, including Rosenfeld and Adeniyi, took with Friedlaender in the fall.

That class — which is being offered this Spring Quarter as LEAD 101 — and the Leadership Pop-Up both use the Social Change Model to look at different aspects of leadership.

The idea behind the course is “go inward, to engage outward,” Friedlaender said. “It is important for students to understand themselves well so they can show up in their communities with authenticity and integrity to themselves.”

The course starts by looking inward to build self-knowledge and then moves outward to engage in relationships with others through the group values of “collaboration, developing a common purpose, and how you negotiate differences in a respectful way,” Friedlaender said. Finally, students learn about ways to work across communities.

Students enrolled in LEAD 101 will get an opportunity to also participate in the pop-up as one of their course assignments.

Both the class and the pop-up are part of the John Ralston Leadership Initiative, named for former Stanford football coach John Ralston.