Title: Senior Training and Development Specialist

Company: West Virginia University

Location: Morgantown, West Virginia

Education: PhD, instructional management and leadership; master's degree, early childhood education; bachelor's degree, elementary education

At West Virginia University, Dennis coordinates the Mountaineer Leadership Academy, an award-winning leadership development program that offers many of the essential tools required to improve performance, enrich team effectiveness, and energize the university. She oversees the academy's schedules and online learning management system, and delivers more than 80 professional development programs a year.

What excites you about the talent development profession?

Being in the talent development field is rewarding in so many ways. Each day, I get to learn something new and continue to grow both professionally and personally. Assisting others in their professional development and career pathways is meaningful and supportive of our OneWVU initiative. Being in the talent development profession has allowed me to expand upon my strengths and serve as a catalyst for leadership development in higher education.

Biggest Achievement

My goal is to continuously learn and grow. When I was in high school, I set a goal. And, at that time, it was far out of reach but, at the same time, achievable. I wanted to complete a doctor of philosophy degree by age 30. In April 2013, I was accepted into Robert Morris University's, Moon Township, Pennsylvania, PhD Instructional Management and Leadership program. After three long years of research and coursework, I am set to graduate with a doctor of philosophy, just shy of my 31st birthday in July.

So, at age 30, I did it—I met my goal that was set more than 15 years ago. Now, it's time to develop new long-term goals.

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Staying Current in the Field

I maintain several professional memberships with talent development organizations that continuously add to the field. These organizations are conducting research that is innovative and supported by evidence. These organizations include the Association for Talent Development, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

Additionally, I use the services provided by LinkedIn and follow several notable researchers, organizations, and national presenters. I also maintain partnerships with several talent development colleagues that are in both public and private sectors.

Advice for New Professionals

Find your leadership style, look into what your strengths are, and continuously use those to expand upon your capacity. In the words of Simon Sinek, "Start with your 'why.'" Because when you go back to your "why," you will form a foundation for your purpose in the field and look forward to sharing your interests and strengths with others.

Your passion can be contagious. Just let it be, and learners will follow in the journey with you.

Extracurricular Activities

I consult and maintain a working relationship with one of my former employers, ASSET STEM Education. It is a national education improvement nonprofit whose focus is to foster STEM fluency and college/career readiness by providing all educators of students pre-K through career with highly effective professional development, hands-on educational materials, and consulting services.

Favorite Quote

"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow." —Anthony J. D'Angelo