Professional News

2024 WELD participants announced

Mark Cornelison | UK Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 19, 2024) —The University of Kentucky Women’s Executive Leadership Development (WELD) program has announced its 2024 cohort of faculty and staff participants. The eight-month WELD program seeks to develop a new generation of leaders of higher education who can adeptly navigate our complex environment and successfully chart the future of the university through retreats, monthly meetings, conversations with upper-level administrators and other group interactions.  

WELD is supported and organized through the Office of Faculty Advancement (OFA) and is currently in its 10th year. Current Faculty Trustee Hollie Swanson was the initial director of the program, followed by Professor Chana Akins, who currently serves as the chair of the Department of Psychology.  This year’s director is Jennifer Bird-Pollan, professor and associate dean in the J. David Rosenberg College of Law. 

To date, over 200 faculty and staff members have participated in WELD. Between 20 and 25 faculty and staff join the cohort annually with about half staff and half faculty every year. To kick off the 2024 WELD program, 2016 WELD program graduate Shari Veil will present a talk titled: “Communicating with Care: Crisis Leadership for Academic Administrators.” Veil has served as dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications with a faculty appointment in the college as a tenured full professor since July 1, 2020. 

Veil previously served UK as associate dean for undergraduate affairs in the College of Communication and Information and chair and professor in the Department of Communication. Veil oversaw the recruitment, advisement and retention of more than 1,900 undergraduate students in five majors, four minors and two undergraduate certificates and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in risk and crisis communication, organizational communication and mass communication. 

Prior to arriving at the University of Kentucky, she taught strategic communication and served as the director of the Center for Risk and Crisis Management at the University of Oklahoma, coordinating research, funding, graduate education and training programs specific to risk and crisis communication. Her academic program development and research on organizational learning in high-risk environments, community preparedness and communication strategies for crisis management have been supported by more than $1.9 million in grants and contracts and resulted in more than 80 scholarly publications. 

The kickoff address will be hosted in the William T. Young Library Young Auditorium at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 22, with a reception to follow. This event is open to the UK community, but participants are asked to register in advance  here. 

From an extremely strong pool of over 70 candidates, 24 individuals were selected to participate in the 2024 WELD cohort.  This year’s participants are: 

  • Jill Abney (staff); CELT, associate director
  • Marci Adams (staff); ITS Strategic Planning, Comms, PM, communication and strategic engagement assistant director 
  • Alexis Allen (faculty); Marketing and Supply Chain, associate professor
  • Fazleena Badurdeen (faculty); Mechanical Engineering, professor
  • Laureen Cagle (faculty); Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies, associate professor 
  • Adriane Grumbein (faculty); Integrated Strategic Communication, associate professor 
  • Beth Hanneman (staff); Career and Academic Support, director associate 
  • Miranda Hines (staff); UK Online, associate director 
  • Shawntaye M Hopkins (staff); College of Law, communications director 
  • Shelley Irving (faculty); Physician Assistant Studies, assistant professor 
  • Cindy Jong (faculty); STEM Education, professor
  • Rosalynn King (staff); EVPHA IT, manager 
  • Jayoung Koo (faculty); Landscape Architecture, associate professor 
  • Amy Laub (faculty); Library Administration, Librarian III
  • Natasha Lucas (staff); Extension Field Programs, agriculture extension regional director 
  • Christie Maier (staff); Transformative Learning, student affairs director 
  • Magdalena Mastalerz (staff); Pharmacy Services, pharmacy director 
  • Priscilla McCutcheon (faculty); Geography, associate professor 
  • Brittney Ragland (staff); Utilities and Energy Management, director associate 
  • Erin Richard (faculty); Biology, senior lecturer 
  • Karen Rignall (faculty); Community and Leadership Development, associate professor 
  • Amy Timoney (staff): UK Public Relations and Strategic Communications, executive director, strategic and institutional communications
  • Kathleen Wheeler (faculty); School of Art and Visual Studies, senior lecturer 
  • Laurel Wood (staff); UK Police, director, Center for Disaster Recovery and Resilience, UK Police Department. 

To learn more about the WELD Program, click here. Questions about the program can be directed to Jennifer Bird-Pollan.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.