Wildfire Participant Veronica Lenegan Credits Program With Helping Her Embrace Servant Leadership 
March 22, 2017

Thanks to CUPA-HR's Wildfire program, six early-career higher ed HR professionals have been immersed for the past nine months in all that is CUPA-HR and the profession. Over the past few weeks, we've been profiling this year's Wildfire participants and hearing their stories firsthand. We've already heard from Kristina Gravellese, David Elliott, Katryn Stewart, Andrea Alfano and Clarity White. Last but certainly not least, we'll meet Veronica Lenegan.

I’m Veronica Lenegan, and my road to higher ed human resources has been a winding one, with a few detours here and there — but now I feel as though I’m here to stay! 

After receiving my bachelor’s degree in environmental science, my first professional work experience was as a research assistant at the National Academy of Public Administration in Washington, D.C. Eventually, I moved west and started working at UC-Berkeley, primarily in program coordinator support roles in the School of Education and the College of Letters and Sciences. 

I then left higher ed and wandered a bit, pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in creative writing and working at a bookstore for a couple of years. Eventually I returned to higher ed as a program coordinator at UC-Berkeley Extension, supporting two certificate programs in the art and design department. After that, I joined Mills College as an HR generalist, and last month I accepted a job as HR coordinator in the office of admissions, financial aid and visitor services at Stanford University. The Wildfire program has helped me navigate this transition and has enabled me to cultivate a new way of thinking as I learn and serve in this new role. 

I've been fortunate to have connected, through my Wildfire experience, with the CUPA-HR Northern/Central California Chapter, where I currently serve as secretary on the board of directors. The chapter work with my fellow board members has proven very rewarding and formative, and their committed, collaborative, generous examples of volunteer leadership in action continue to inspire me.

The Wildfire program and experience, through the evolving, meaningful connections and relationships with generous mentors and my Wildfire peers, has also encouraged me to continue to explore and serve higher ed HR. As I deepen my capacities and competencies, my hope is that I will be able to provide greater value and service to the individuals within my institution and to the CUPA-HR community. 

Perhaps most important for me has been the exposure to an organization that fundamentally serves and supports the higher ed HR professional community and intentionally welcomes others into that community. The individuals I have come to know through CUPA-HR are knowledgeable, dedicated and passionate; they are eager to share and support others as they, too, seek to better understand how to serve their institutional communities and improve their work quality and capacities while doing so. They have generously shared their time, experiences and often hard-won wisdom. 

CUPA-HR is an organization of established and emerging leaders who value collaboration, connection and community, and who openly seek to share their stories and their passion for their work — and I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of this welcoming, knowledgeable and supportive community. I look forward to the continued learning ahead and to growing with and alongside my remarkable cohort, each of whom I now call close friends and each of whom have inspired me and taught me so much. I’m also looking forward to meeting and supporting the next group of Wildfire participants as they embark on what is sure to be a formative and memorable year in their journey as higher ed HR professionals. 

In short, the Wildfire program has cultivated a uniquely enriching space for myself and my cohort to grow together as individuals and professionals, and that exploration process has been a transformational one for me.