Tim Tai, Staff Photographer

Emerge, a program meant to increase diversity among Yale’s leaders, kicked off with the first full day of instruction on April 12. 

Emerge was first announced by University President Peter Salovey in October 2020 as a part of the Belonging at Yale Initiative. The program trains a cohort of candidates from historically marginalized backgrounds to serve as University leaders, with the promise of eventually promoting the members of the cohort to higher ranks or responsibilities. Senior Vice President for Operations Jack Callahan told the News that Emerge began with its orientation a few weeks ago and called the new program “very exciting.” 

“For a new program, it has a very sound design,” Callahan said. “It is going to be something we can really leverage as we go forward, so I am very excited for that.”

When Salovey announced the program, which was then called the Staff Leadership initiative, he wrote that the program was designed to “develop the pipeline to leadership.” At the end of every academic year, Salovey said he would ask each dean and unit leader to nominate “high-potential staff members” who would bring “excellence and diversity” to the leadership ranks at Yale. 

Currently, in the University Cabinet, three of the members out of twenty four are from historically underrepresented groups. In the original announcement, Salovey wrote that the percentage of Yale managers and professionals from historically underrepresented minority groups has more than doubled in the past decade, although there is still “much work to do” at the top levels of University leadership. Jane Savage, associate vice president of union management and strategic initiatives, wrote to the News that participants in the program are meant to receive a “career outcome” during or within months of the program’s completion. 

Savage wrote that a career outcome from Emerge may include promotions, assignments expanding one’s portfolio, a managerial assignment for someone who does not currently work as a manager, an assignment to another unit or a special project assignment in another leader’s unit.

“The intent is to identify up and coming managers across staff, [with] a little bit of a bias towards having good representation of underrepresented leaders and to kind of give them different areas of training,” Callahan said. 

Savage wrote to the News that the announcement from Salovey has served as the “north star” in the planning of Emerge, and the program is seen as an “integral part” of the Belonging at Yale initiative. 

As the conceptualization of Emerge began in late 2020, approximately 13 months have elapsed from the start of the design work to the first orientation session in March. The seven-to-eight month program, Savage explained, features an orientation and eight one-day instructional workshops led by instructor-guests from the School of Management. University leaders also teach topics related to their roles and outside group Zenger-Folkman provides a “360-degree feedback instrument” used in Yale’s managerial training.  

Workshop topics include the self-assessment of leadership skills, navigating leadership as a learner and with a “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging lens,” strategy to improve operations, financial acumen, navigating change and communicating as a leader. Savage wrote that the program also includes coaching both before and after the program, along with coaching on the participant’s manner and lunches and dinners for networking opportunities. The program also includes an “action-learning project” that culminates in a final report and works in parallel with the curriculum. 

Savage wrote that the current cohort is composed of 20 staff members, and another cohort of 20 is planned to begin this fall through the spring of 2023. However, she explained that they will evaluate the success of the current cohort before proceeding with the second. 

“While we envision a similar cohort model for the future, we will take stock and obtain feedback from participants, managers, and university leaders after the completion of Cohort 2, in order to inform the design for future cohorts,” Savage wrote to the News. 

According to Savage, the leaders of Emerge asked the University Cabinet members to nominate staff from each of their units, and some leaders were given more than one nomination based on their unit size. Emerge will include nominations from each cabinet member in the first year’s program in either the first or second cohort. 

The success of Emerge will “take some time to play out and measure,” Savage said. She added that challenges exist at Yale in “enabling staff to be seen across units,” but Emerge is currently seeing a “fabulous cohort of talented individuals” from across various units at the University.  

“Yale’s staff members have many backgrounds, perspectives and experiences,” Kimberly Goff-Crews, secretary and vice president for university life, wrote to the News. “Their diversity is key to sustaining and furthering the university’s excellence. Talent in one area of the university may not always be visible to everyone; with teaching, research, artistic practice, preservation of collections, clinical care and everything else important to Yale’s mission, the university can be a complicated place. Emerge promises to make more visible some of our talented staff for opportunities across the university, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups.”
Belonging at Yale forms part of the University’s five-year effort to support DEI initiatives.

Sarah Cook is one of the University editors. She previously covered student policy and affairs, along with President Salovey's cabinet. From Nashville, Tennessee, she is a junior in Grace Hopper majoring in Neuroscience.