Career Connector Reggie Leonard Completes UVA Cornerstone Leadership Program

September 21, 2023
Reggie Leonard Cornerstone Gradutiona

The School of Data Science congratulates Reggie Leonard upon graduating from the University of Virginia's Cornerstone Program. Leonard was part of the 2022-23 cohort of Cornerstone participants and worked on a team project that looked at K-12 programming at UVA. Sponsored by the Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy, the team examined more than 600 programs at UVA, from academic to athletic, and identified challenges and opportunities to improve program experience, accessibility, and operations. 

Leonard is the Associate Director for Career Connections and Community Engagement in the Office of Student Affairs. He overseas employer relations and engages with alumni and friends interested in supporting the School of Data Science and its students. In addition to prospecting for job leads and recruiter connections, Leonard organizes numerous events for students and alumni—from smaller networking meet-ups to large-scale conferences—all over the country.

He particularly enjoys organizing what he refers to as “creative collisions,” pulling people together who should meet but do not normally have a context or reason to be in the same room. “But once they are,” Leonard says, “magic happens.”

Data Science Meetup
Leonard helped organize a Charlottesville data science meetup

For example, the night before the Cornerstone Program graduation, Leonard hosted a data science meet-up in Charlottesville. The event was an opportunity for area data scientists and data enthusiasts to connect and network, featuring a talk by Zak Brown on "Working in NLP in the Age of Large Language Models." More than 40 people were in attendance, and Leonard hopes to keep the series going. 

Leonard was glad to participate in the Cornerstone Program and honored the School of Data Science nominated him for the opportunity. 

"Taking part in this wonderful experience allowed me to step away from my usual duties and connect with top leaders from across the university," said Leonard. "They shared valuable insights that aren't always obvious when you're focused on your primary responsibilities. Additionally, working on pan-university projects in interdisciplinary teams was an incredible way to broaden our internal networks while expanding our professional skillsets."

UVA launched the succession development Cornerstone Program in 2014. Cohorts are selected annually and have 30-40 participants. Participants span the entire organization, including the Academic Division, UVA Health, UVA Physicians Group, and other entities, and are identified in advance by their executive leadership. To date, there are more than 230 graduates of the Cornerstone Program, 70% of whom are women, and more than 50% reporting an increase in their role or responsibilities.  

Participants are nominated by their school, department, or unit and selected for their current and future leadership potential. Chosen participants are given an individual learning plan based on a 360 feedback assessment and participate in a year-long program that includes:

  • Monthly classroom sessions based on leadership theory, tools, and application;
  • Exposure to executive leadership;
  • Focused individual mentoring;
  • Participation on and presentation of a team project.

School of Data Science graduates of the Cornerstone Program include Arlyn Burgess, Emma Candelier, Sadie Royal Collins, and Claudia Scholz. The school's most recent nomination, Jennifer Kirkham, was selected to participate in the Cornerstone 2023-24 cohort.


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