NACA® National Leadership Symposium
National Leadership Symposium

The National Leadership Symposium was postponed this summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, NACA and NCLP (National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs) volunteers developed a free webinar to continue conversations around leadership. Leadership Development through Disruption: Learning from 30 years of Leadership Education Practices was presented on July 17, 2020. You can watch this webinar below.

Leadership development has been a part of higher education since the days of the colonial college where the aim of institutions was to educate a select few. In recent years, leadership education has become an important aspect of engaging college students and yet, diverse voices and perspectives have been left out in shaping the field we have today.


Over the past 30+ years, leadership educators have discovered:

  1. There is no universal definition of leadership, but instead, many shared ideologies;
  2. Leadership is a relational process that goes beyond positional titles and responsibility;
  3. Diverse perspectives, voices and people have not been included; and
  4. Leadership matters. 

As the world navigates through a pandemic and higher education professionals strive to find new ways of delivering relevant material, engaging students in the area of leadership and competency development are unknown and disruptive. Collectively we need a strategy that meets the needs of a changing student population which includes incorporating digital resources which help all students feel included and connected.

Join the discussion with our three scholars, Drs. Matthew Johnson, Amer Ahmed, and Nyasha GuramatunhuCooper when we dive into a dialogue of what we've discovered, whose voices have been excluded from the conversation and how we leverage the current climate in developing a pedagogy that is culturally and experientially relevant for our students.

Learning Objectives
Through panel discussions and dialogue, attendees will:

  1. Gain an understanding of the limitations of current leadership theory and educational practices that are rooted in dominant narratives.
  2. Analyze the voices and buckets of knowledge that are missing from leadership research, theory, and literature.
  3. Identify opportunities to reconstruct pedagogy that is culturally inclusive.


Dr. Nyasha M. GuramatunhuCooper

Dr. Nyasha M. GuramatunhuCooper
(Pronunciation Guide: Ñah-shah Goo-rah-mah-toon-whoCooper)
Associate Professor of Leadership Studies
Kennesaw State University, GA

Dr. Nyasha M. GuramatunhuCooper serves as Associate Professor of Leadership Studies at Kennesaw State University. Nyasha was born and raised in Zimbabwe, and the country's social, cultural, and historical background features heavily in her Leadership Studies scholarship. As a Leadership Studies scholar and leadership educator, Nyasha prizes exploration of non-Western contexts of leadership (particularly in African spaces), as well as the connection between leadership and cultural and social contexts. Additionally, Nyasha's teaching focuses on developing intercultural competence and global mindset in leadership education. Recognized for excellence in teaching, research, and service at Kennesaw State University, Nyasha has been honored as a recipient of the University College Distinguished Faculty Award, the University College Excellence in Teaching Award, the Department of Leadership and Integrative Studies Kiesler Service Award, and the Kennesaw State Foundation Early Career Faculty Award. Nyasha is an active member of the International Leadership Association (ILA) and the Association for Leadership Educators (ALE) and has served as a facilitator for ILA's Leadership Education Academy (LEA). With a passion for facilitating individual and organizational knowledge, skills, and, capacity for leadership, Nyasha participates in various communities as a frequent speaker and facilitator as the founder of Girton Road Consulting.

Dr. Matt Johnson

Dr. Matt Johnson
Associate Professor, Higher Education
Central Michigan University, MI

Dr. Matt Johnson is an associate professor of higher education at Central Michigan University. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland in college student personnel. His research focuses on the intersections of leadership, democratic engagement, and social justice. Prior to his appointment at Central Michigan University, Matthew served as a visiting assistant professor at Miami University, and before that, he taught Navy and Marine company officers for the US Naval Academy as part of the Navy LEAD program at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Johnson's scholarship focuses on how colleges can foster students' capacities for engaging in a diverse democracy, particularly conversations about and across differences and social perspective-taking. Dr. Johnson serves a project consultant for the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership and is a board member for the National Issues Forum, which promotes the use of public deliberation to address community problems. He has published over 30 journal articles and book chapters, including publications in the Journal of College Student Development, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, and Journal of Leadership Education. He serves as an associate editor of the Journal of College & Character and is an editorial board member for the Journal of College Student Development and Oracle. 

Dr. Amer F. Ahmed

Dr. Amer F. Ahmed
Director of Intercultural Teaching and Faculty Development
University of Massachusetts–Amherst

Dr. Amer F. Ahmed is an organizational strategist who helps institutions and leaders address diversity and inclusion, equity, race, and intercultural development through consulting, coaching, group facilitation, and keynote speeches. A frequently requested speaker nationwide, Dr. Ahmed's approach is grounded in social justice and commitment to community. He brings his identity as the son of Indian Muslim immigrants and extensive years as an intercultural and diversity consultant as the sources of a pivotal understanding of the depth of diversity and inclusion work. Throughout his career, Dr. Ahmed has worked with large organizations, higher education institutions, non-profit agencies, schools and community groups to create understanding and change among key constituents and institutional leaders.

His thought leadership and keen sense of the latest trends informs his approaches to helping groups address potential areas of opportunity to grow and develop. Dr. Ahmed incorporates deep theoretical knowledge of the field combined with a variety of methods including storytelling, discourse on current events and connections to art and music in order to move audiences to profound awareness of issues and next steps. He has published key opinion pieces and has been featured in media such as MSNBC, documentary film, and other national press outlets for his commentary and critical perspective on news and significant topics in society.

Dr. Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of AFA Diversity Consulting, LLC, a consulting practice dedicated to enhancing the development of organizations through efforts around leadership, professional development, assessment, and strategic change. In addition to his consulting work, Dr. Ahmed serves as Director of Intercultural Teaching and Faculty Development at University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Faculty at the Summer and Winter Institutes for Intercultural Communication and is a member of SpeakOut: Institute for Democratic Education.

Hosts & Facilitators

Dr. Craig Slack, Director, NCLP, University of Maryland, MD

Dr. Dani Hiar, NLS Co-Chair, Central Michigan University, MI

Christie Navarro, NLS Co-Chair, University of California, Davis, CA

Ana Maia, NLS Logistics Liaison, University of Tampa, FL

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