Why dance?

Why dance?

“I can do that” was my response when asked if I would be willing to dance for the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust, Youth Arts Education fund. I have been asked why, what is the connection to me and my work. For me, I appreciate those who are dedicated to art, culture and community betterment. Coming from a family that has members with art talents, musical abilities, and an eye for what works aesthetically, I have always appreciated art, theater, music and a wide range of cultural activity. To be honest, I appreciate…. (Not necessarily the skilled one in my family!).

Professionally, I think the connection to youth arts education is a perfect fit with WSU-Rochester. The nursing, education, and social work programs are all known for the immersion approach to education. Faculty and students are highly engaged with youth and non-profits across Rochester and the region.

  • Collaborating with partners at the Boys and Girls club to study how programming improves the health of children.
  • Engaging with teachers to launch and participate in an annual STEM camp at Riverside Elementary to inspire children.
  • Actively supporting the work of IMAA through service learning and internships.

These are all examples of how the high-end professionals at WSU-Rochester stimulate creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking through hands on learning. We have been doing this work for over 100 years. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to help my community raise funds to support youth arts education.

  • This is important.
  • This is our wheelhouse.
  • This is why I dance!

Please consider donating to the Gangeness/Ray team, for more information go to:

https://rochartstrust.org and vote (donate) for team Gangeness/Ray at bidpal.net/DFTA2017

Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust, Youth arts education: Research shows arts exposure and integration across the curriculum stimulates the creativity, collaboration and critical thinking skills needed to succeed in the 21st century and beyond. Students are engaged and empowered through an excellent arts education. Over the years, funds raised by the Trust, through its Dancing for the Arts event, have resulted in grants for nonprofit organizations providing unique arts education opportunities not found in the public school system. To date, hundreds of thousands of youth have been impacted.


Creating the right conditions for success…. and failure

Creating the right conditions for success…. and failure

Over the past several years I have been taking mental note of how academic programs are launched by institutions successfully. There are the basics that most folks are aware: student interest, faculty expertise and ability to deliver the program. Under appreciated elements to success are contextual, community, industry, and institution reputation with the potential student market. Appreciating both the basics and the higher level engagement and communication needs are important for setting up new programs for success.

Gauging student interest may be determined by surveying prospective students or current students that may matriculate into the program. Formal and informal engagement approaches may also be helpful. Whether in person or engaging with prospective students that are gathered in physical/virtual classrooms, all feedback and approaches should be encouraged. Be sure to ask for feedback from prospective students in addition to current students as the future students are the ones you have yet to bring on board.

The program has a higher probability of success if there is a market or group that has a need that the new program will address. Engage the community and industry partners early, they should be central to the consideration and development of new programming. Communication should authentic, two way, with the goal of achieving a shared-agenda. Success includes community collaboration, context, and communication. Failure is just the opposite. Below is my summary.

Success Failure
Homework done:

–    Engage with community stakeholders inside and outside (community) of institution (college or university).

–    Ask for recommendations without a solution in hand.

–    Seek prospective student feedback through surveying, formal and informal discussions.

Homework not done:

–    Do not engage with community stakeholders.

–    Come with a solution for “their” problem.

–    Do not survey or seek prospective student feedback.

–    You are the expert – community should feel blessed to have you offering a solution.

Plan ahead:

–    Develop a collaborative curriculum and timeline for launch/ marketing.

–    Achieve approvals of curriculum and transfer agreements 6-8 months prior to launch.

–    Market program with stakeholders and public. Include collaborative partner endorsements.

Fast turnaround, no or limited plan:

–    Plan in a vacuum – without community input.

–    Launch program weeks after approval without marketing or partner endorsement.

Community Engagement is Key

–    These are the folks who are experts in the field, will hire your alums, recruit students for you (and may pay their tuition), and are central to program success.

–    Engage Authentically – be a part of their world and participate in activities that are important to their community and industry.

–    People Matter.

Internal Focus

–    Address the administration, faculty and staff desires. Areas that seem fun and are trendy to invest institutional resources.

–    Inauthentic or no engagement. Show up when something is convenient or honoring you or institution. Do not engage with community and industry interests/activities.

–    Program and agenda above people.

Maintain Communication Lines

–    Stay connected with the community and industry experts to obtain feedback. Then do something about it!

–    Students, faculty and staff communicate about what is working and what needs work to administration. Programs update based on the discussions.

Limit Communication

–    Deliver program. Do not seek feedback or change based on industry needs.

–    Make promises and do not follow through.


A more compassionate career

A More Compassionate Career

“I am a people person”, a frequent response to why do you want to become a nurse, teacher, social worker, and other professions that interact with people. This comment makes me wonder, what career is devoid of people? Does anyone seek that path? I think not, people are drawn to people. We seek connection and compassion in our friends, family and, on occasion, a stranger.

I live in a city where people come for a variety of reasons, but mostly seeking quality healthcare. In this community careers tend to have a compassionate foundation. If you take a close look, you will notice that businesses around the city hire professionals to provide a high level of compassionate service in every industry. If you interact with people, you are expected to interact with customers with kindness and compassion. An expectation and norm of compassion to others is a lovely and unique characteristic of Rochester.

I have given the characteristic of compassion and how it is taught a lot of consideration and believe compassion is an essential trait to a long and satisfying career. Reflecting on a more compassionate career is a natural fit for me as I have taught nursing students and administered nursing and health programs throughout my career. Compassion is an expectation in healthcare careers, but what about the other careers? Actually, the most effective sales, business, service, hospitality, and other professionals are those that demonstrate authenticity, which includes compassion. Valuing professional characteristics, including authenticity and compassion, is key to teaching students and launching individuals into successful careers.

Indeed, we should all be considering how to achieve a more compassionate career, and life.

Photo credit to Renee Rongen 🙂



A Simple Thank You

The simple act of writing a thank you note is one of the most rewarding parts of my week. There are several people who have mentored this practice for me, my mother, my husband, my siblings, community leaders, and my team. I love working with people who reach out and express their gratitude. It seems simple, however the reality, for me, is that I don’t always have a chance to say thank you. For shame, right? Well, I decided there is a way to overcome the urgency of the moment, by reflecting and writing a simple note of appreciation. I do it more to center my life and reflect on the greatness around me.

Over the past 18 months I have had the honor of serving faculty, staff, students, and WSU in Rochester. This community has been welcoming and kind. Regardless of the community member or industry where they work, there has been a welcome and introduction of opportunities that seem uniquely Rochester. One such encounter and relationship that I would like to highlight as both mentor and friend is Don Supalla. He is a community treasure. He walks the walk of gratitude and recognition for great work. I am convinced that his budget for thank you notes outpaces my monthly cellular service costs. When I came to Rochester he welcomed me and we had coffee at Café Steam – for that introduction alone, I am grateful! During that initial visit and over the past year he has provided clear and succinct advice on navigating a new and exciting city. His advice has been true.


There is another group of individuals who rock my world every day – the WSU Rochester staff and faculty. They work hard every day to identify ways to better serve students. When presented with a new opportunity they give it a whirl. Understanding that we are exploring together, I have found safety in their confidence and commitment to better student opportunities. They are true to the population in Rochester and beyond and have been true to me as I learn from their dedication. I am deeply grateful for the team, for Kristi, Brenda, Kelly, Trent, Diane, Jane, Sara, Carolyn, Christina, Sue, Ardell, Paula and Kyle. They are the steadiest of companions and are doing exceptional, often unrecognized work. Thank you!

Over my career I have learned to be grateful and appreciate each twist, turn, and personality. With every step there is something to appreciate, even with failure – we can celebrate the commitment of great people who weathered the storm with us. Celebrations seem even sweeter when we have a team that made the work possible. Everything is truly possible with a team and a culture of gratitude.

With appreciation and sincerity,


Trust, a rare gem


The only way I know how to trust you, is to trust you.

My approach to trust has always been to trust first and then evaluate. I am aware that this approach can result in disappointment, however, I just don’t know a better way. Beginning with trust is part of my authentic approach to people. As a relationship deepens and opportunities to strengthen trust occur, this is when trust can become stronger or weaker. Trust becomes stronger, for me, when promises and commitments are kept, and the individual follows through. Trust weakens when the opposite occurs, promises and commitments are not kept and the rationale is based on factors that imply the relationship is less important than other relationships.

Examples range from personal relationships to employment and sometimes both. Although commitments are not always possible to keep, the rationale for not following through and the frequency of failed commitments impact trust. Trust is tested in every relationship with each choice made by the individual. It is not a constant. True, you can build your trust “bank” with someone. However, rebuilding trust after consistent failure to support and follow through, is almost impossible.

Treasure and commit to those who you value having trust as a part of your relationship. Know that trust requires you to be vigilant and committed to following through with promises and commitments. Trust is different than care or love, you may care for someone and not trust them. And, don’t be surprised when you fail to follow through for someone that they are cautious or choose to not trust you.

I begin with trust as I believe in the possibility of a solid trusting relationship. I also know that trust is a rare gem. Consider your approach to trust…



“That ship has sailed, sweetheart!” My husband replied to my concern about being named the Founding Dean of the School of Nursing. The School was a concept that brought complex academic programming under one administrative leader. It was innovative and collaborative. I had developed a business plan and worked with professionals from both institutions to establish success. Honestly, I hadn’t planned to be named the Dean as I am a good planner and developer. However, I said yes and had a great 3 and a half years of working with some high end professionals who educate a quality nursing workforce. This was an opportunity, not an expectation, it developed out of an idea.

Curious, how often opportunities are a combination of reaching out and engaging with people and professionals who have expertise in other institutions and professions. Courageously choosing a new and different path to address inefficiencies or problems instead of choosing a safe, well worn path. And, finally, engaging with a broad network that includes individuals who genuinely support your work and mission. These three elements are essential to responding to opportunities – 1. Networking; 2. Courage; and 3. Support (playing with a net).

In the above example I networked and established trust with both institutions for 3 years prior to transitioning to a School. It was hard work. My commitment to collaboration was sincere and, together, we found small successes, then bigger successes. Everything came together because those that were part of the team wanted opportunities for students.

Courage is a tough thing when you are walking into an unprecedented area, indeed it is the only time courage is actually needed. Regardless of the great criticism and confusion about complex systems, the approach worked. The questions reflected on the change of the norm and how that was an uncomfortable place to navigate. Courage takes conviction and understanding of complexity, and willingness to step into a place where the footing is unsure. It is scary, and exhilarating!

Finally, support is essential. I am privileged to “play with a net”. I had support from the administration in the School opportunity, I had and have support from my spouse. These are key to success. Further, I have a strong educational background and network that will support other directions and other opportunities.

Over the span of my career I have had many opportunities. At the moment the opportunity was presented, I was not always sure that the direction or choice was an opportunity that fit me and my future. Today, I am pleased to be in a new role where I engage with the community, connect community needs to higher education opportunities. I am blessed… “This ship is sailing”.

Breathing in a memory

Today is a great day for reflection. I say that just about every day. However, today it really has been thought provoking. I was up and getting ready for a morning with the Chamber MLK breakfast, one of my favorite events, and decided – today we take out the Dove. What?

Yes, Dove bar soap, the original (scent) is my favorite because it reminds me of my grandmother. I would walk into her farm house entry and there you would take your shoes or boots off and wash up before you came into her home. On the side of the small sink was a bar of Dove soap. For a farm house, I have to say, I only remember the smell of Dove soap at Grandma’s. I loved going to her house because there was always activity. Raising 15 children translates into a vibrant atmosphere! She was busy with baking or sewing or setting the table or cleaning up after coffee or lunch. I loved visiting with her because she had great stories about growing up, the depression and how she survived. Boy did she survive! She would share when it was just the two of us – rare and precious moments. Grandma Esther was not boastful or talkative as far as I could tell. However, she was wise.

I love the fact that the smell of Dove brings me back to Grandma Esther and her great stories, exceptional managerial lessons, and way of being. Today, I wish for all of you a moment of memories.