Karen Wiley-Sandler, Ph.D.

Karen Wiley-Sandler, Ph.D.
Position: Chancellor Emerita
Institution: Penn State Abington College

What does leadership mean to you?

For me, leadership has always been linked to my passion for education. A leader expresses the qualities of a committed teacher and applies these attributes on behalf of her or his community. Effective leaders listen, learn from successes as well as challenges, communicate in a culturally appropriate manner, infuse energy and purpose into community activities, and embody integrity and empathy in identifying and fulfilling the institution’s vision. Finally, as a teacher cares for and follows her or his students’ successes, so the leader knows that the community’s success is not a personal triumph but a collective one.

Why is networking/mentoring important?

While there is a lot of learning to be gained by solitary contemplation, study, and discovery, people also learn from collective wisdom and experience. Networking gives us the opportunity to discover individuals who have such learning to impart to us and who are willing and eager to do so. My mentors have taught me the importance of “paying forward” and have encouraged me to take risks and to have confidence in myself. They also provided the safety net as well as infinite encouragement and – in many cases – lifelong friendships.

Why are you a member of PAACE?

I have been passionate about advancing women since I attended my first ACE-sponsored workshop and began to learn how essential it is to create and sustain diverse professional environments. This started as a concern for my female students and then bloomed into a fuller understanding of inclusive communities and how essential they are to everyone’s learning and progress. Someone once said that you cannot defeat “organized evil” with “random good.” While I certainly don’t see all issues as struggles between good and evil (I really resist such labelling), I do think the principle message is important: when there are social injustices affecting our lives, we need to be focused and non-random in the way we work to correct them. PAACE has given many women this focus and awareness, identifying factors that may be slowing down social progress simply because their full impacts are unrecognized and the corrective steps are “random.” PAACE and ACE offer a way to “organize” our “random good” instincts into effective measures to promote inclusivity and thus enrich our whole society.


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