Karen Chassin Goldbaum

“It’s a cliché: change is constant. Why, then, do we build structures that are so inflexible?”
Karen Chassin Goldbaum
Karen Chassin Goldbaum

Karen Chassin Goldbaum had already gone far in her career as the Director of Communications at the University of Michigan Museum of Art before she attended the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP) at the Center for the Education of Women in 1997. During her time at the Museum, Karen rejuvenated its communications program, but she knew that there was one area in which she could be focusing more of her energy: networking. “I worked hard at the museum,” she recalls, “but I tended to stay very focused internally.” She decided that she needed to get involved in the University beyond the doors of the Museum. ALP promised to help her to do so.

Karen recalls several helpful training exercises from her time at CEW. One was a seminar about how human beings relate to institutional change. Karen says that the seminar challenged her to think differently about institutional change: “It’s a cliché: change is constant. Why, then, do we build structures that are so inflexible?” Another exercise focused on interpersonal and leadership styles, which has since helped her and her new supervisor better understand and relate to one another.

Karen also describes her participation in ALP as “confidence building.” As she met and made connections with other women in high-powered positions, she found that many of the issues facing these women in different work environments were similar to those she had experienced in her own career.

Karen has benefited from ALP in more direct ways, too. One of her U-M classmates was involved in Foundation work, which fascinated her. A series of talks over coffee led to an informational interview and finally to a job offer at the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. Karen is now the Director of Communications for the Foundation, and finds her work both rewarding and interesting. “Foundation work is very different,” she explains: community projects can take shape and change direction more quickly, and the spotlight often falls on grantees rather than the Foundation itself. “I’m taking it to the next level,” she says, smiling.