Learning Leadership

CAFNR web professional uses opportunities at MU to grow

Genevieve Howard and her pony, Pixie, a 2-year-old Shetland.

Genevieve Howard, senior multimedia specialist in CAFNR Communications, was one of 30 University of Missouri employees selected to participate in the Chancellor’s Emerging Leaders Program (CELP).  The program is designed to enhance the skills of those who seek to become leaders at Mizzou.

CELP is offered to individuals who have demonstrated high levels of responsibility in their current position, have the potential for leadership growth, and have an interest in enhancing their understanding and effectiveness as leaders.  CELP classes combine active participation, personal and professional assessment information and direct application of skills to improve leadership competencies.

The program consists of seven sessions over the course of several months, including a three-day workshop based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Courses include team-building, ethics, cultural competency work-life balance, networking and mentoring, budgeting, solving leadership dilemmas, and managing workplace conflict.

Coming to Columbia, Sight Unseen

Howard was born in Santa Monica, Calif., and earned her undergraduate degree in language studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

She came to Columbia because she wanted her son to grow up in a four-seasons climate and be around friendly people.  She and her husband Logan used their local library to research Midwest college towns.  Columbia seemed like the best possibility, so they sold everything and flew east to Missouri, sight unseen.  They figured they would give Columbia six months.  If it didn’t work, they would head to the next city on the list.

That was 14 years ago, and the Howards are still here.  They own a hobby farm north of Columbia with one horse and one pony.

Howard began work at the MU College of Education as a special events coordinator, then came to CAFNR in 2006 as a web professional.  Since then she’s started the College’s social media presence and earned a master’s degree in Educational Technology – a degree she now uses while teaching a Communicating on the Web class  at MU.

College’s Brand Gatekeeper

Howard’s work at CAFNR involves more than keeping the CAFNR web and social media efforts operating –  technically she’s the College’s brand gatekeeper.  From concept to implementation, she is the person responsible for what is often the first impression that diverse audiences – alumni, student, prospective student, faculty, staff, media and general public – get about the College.

That often means she must exercise leadership in keeping the artistic impulses of various stakeholders focused on the strategic communication goals.

“Genevieve’s positive spirit has infected the groups with whom she works,” said Kristen Smarr, CAFNR director of communications.  “It’s not that she’s a pushover, just the opposite.  She’s strong in conveying her opinion and defending the College’s brand positioning.  She has a positive way of bringing people together for the greater good.  She can move difficult projects forward by bringing coalitions together and that has allowed our College’s web and social media presence to become highly regarded among our peers.”

Last year, Howard led the CAFNR web redesign project which resulted in a first-place finish in the website category from the National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association (NAADA).  She currently is a member of the Division of IT website redesign external steering committee.  Last year, she was a member of the advisory committee for Learning Systems Design and Development focus area of the Educational Technology Master’s and Educational Specialist in Education program.

Helping With Horses

Leadership training has an additional benefit to Howard – it helps with her after hours work in horsemanship.

“You have to be a strong leader when training dogs and horses, or you’ll get kicked or bitten,” Howard said.  “Horses have to know someone is in charge, or else they will think the position is open.”

The leadership training has made Howard a better horse trainer, she said.  “It has improved my perspective.  Now I can better analyze the information given and how it was received. You can set up horses, and people for success, but you have to make the path clear to them.”

Learn more about the Chancellor’s Emerging Leaders Program.