Online Training Focuses on Leadership Development for a Better Workplace

July 3, 2024 | by Heidi Wells, Global Campus |   min read



People from across the United States say they were inspired to work for a more welcoming workplace by what they learned in a University of Arkansas online training program that focuses on leadership development.

The participants said that Awareness, Belonging and Courageous Leadership certification gave them new perspectives on working with people and provided them with tools to lead by example.

Robin Freeman leads UA CURRENTS, which offers the Awareness, Belonging and Courageous Leadership Certification.
Robin Freeman leads UA CURRENTS, which offers the Awareness, Belonging and Courageous Leadership Certification.

Awareness, Belonging and Courageous Leadership Certification is taught online for a fee in two parts by UA CURRENTS, which stands for the Center for the Utilization of Rehabilitation Resources for Education, Networking, Training and Service. It is based in the College of Education and Health Professions at the U of A. The Professional and Workforce Development division of the U of A’s Global Campus assists with delivery of the online training.

The training challenges participants to look at ways of creating a workplace where everyone feels valued, respected and supported as an essential part of fostering a productive and harmonious environment.

Robin Freeman, director of CURRENTS, said the training is for anyone interested in improving their awareness of themselves and others.

“The certification empowers participants with leadership skills to support sustainable action that can lead to organizational transformation,” she said. “Participants explore their cultural lens, take stock of their social and cultural identities, engage in conversations that encourage trust and the building of authentic connections, unpack topics of privilege and microaggressions, and create an action plan for organizational change.”

Participants completed the training online from multiple states, including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, New York, Maine and Arkansas.

Marcus Johnson works on behalf of people with disabilities in Harlem, New York, and found the ABC training transformative.
Marcus Johnson works on behalf of people with disabilities in Harlem, New York, and found the ABC training transformative.

One participant, Marcus Johnson, a longtime disability-rights advocate, logged on to the training from New York. He brought to it more than 25 years of experience as a counselor, therapist, mediator and advocate across diverse populations with a significant focus on championing the rights of people with disabilities. Johnson serves as the manager of Advocacy Programs and Initiatives at Independence Care System, the first and only “health home” program in New York state with disability-expert staff and programs designed to promote the health and independence of people with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and other disabilities that limit their mobility.

Taking part in the U of A training was transformative for him, Johnson said.

“I gained invaluable insights into navigating systemic barriers and more of a sense of belonging for myself and others,” he said. “The training equipped me with the courage to challenge existing norms and lead by example in how to build a more inclusive workplace culture.”

As an African-American man with a physical disability, Johnson said, he applied the principles of courageous leadership to advocate for change and amplify the voices of marginalized colleagues.

“By leveraging my newfound skills, I’ve contributed to creating a workplace where everyone feels valued and empowered to bring their authentic selves to work.”

Maria Buckley, who works for the Maryland State Department of Education, found both the content and presenters impressive.
Maria Buckley, who works for the Maryland State Department of Education, found both the content and presenters impressive.

Another participant, Maria Buckley, a rehabilitation services supervisor in the Maryland State Department of Education, said the presenters as well as the content impressed her.

“I was hesitant and curious about this course at the same time,” Buckley said. “However, I cannot praise it enough. The presenters and educators who put this course on are passionate, informed and courageous indeed. As a woman, I valued seeing references and quotes from women in leadership and leaders of diverse backgrounds overall. So often, the same standard people are referenced. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in something so unique and inspiring.”

The training includes a community of practice component during which participants hear diverse perspectives from guest facilitators and engage in informal discussions on a particular subject such as employee resources groups, disability or cultural identity, Freeman said.

Part 1 is offered in two sessions, July 16-18 and Aug. 27-29, and Part 2 is offered July 30-Aug. 1 and Sept. 23-25. Participants must complete Part 1 before taking Part 2. A discount is available for bundling both parts. Learn more on the Professional and Workforce Development website.


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Heidi Wells

Content Strategist

Heidi Wells is the content strategist for the Global Campus at the University of Arkansas and editor of The Online Learner. Her writing spans more than 30 years as a communicator at the U of A and a reporter and editor at Arkansas newspapers. Wells earned two degrees from the U of A: a master's in 2013 and a bachelor's in 1988.

Wells can be reached at heidiw@uark.edu or 479-575-7239.

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Awareness, Belonging, and Courageous Leadership

The two-part Awareness, Belonging, and Courageous Leadership Certification challenges participants to examine and address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusive leadership in organizations. Participants are empowered with the leadership skills needed to support sustainable action that can lead to organizational transformation.

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