Kelly Maxwell

“I have more of a feeling of responsibility for others as a result of the program because CEW invested in me, so I feel a responsibility to do the same. I want to invest in the University in a way that gives back what I’ve gained from being part of the community here.”
Kelly Maxwell
Kelly Maxwell

Kelly Maxwell wears two hats at the University of Michigan: Co-Director of the Intergroup Relations program (IGR), and a tenured faculty member in the Department of Psychology. Kelly started out as the Associate Director of the IGR program in 2001. A few years later, she applied to the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP) at the Center for the Education of Women in order to develop her skills to become the IGR Director.

Kelly met a variety of people from across the University in ALP. “It was fascinating,” she says. “I’m not used to the health system, for example, or plant operations, and we had people from those areas. I learned a lot from them, because their work environments were so different from mine.”

“I enjoyed the leadership development sessions in particular,” Kelly says. “Laurita Thomas gave us cards related to developing the leader within you. All these cards had different values on them: accountability, integrity, recognition, loyalty, passion, balance. We had to look through the cards and determine for ourselves about a dozen values that were the most important to us. We had to whittle it down to the two most crucial values that we believe in for our work life. I think that had a big impact, because it forced me to make some decisions about what is most central to my value system as a supervisor, as a manager, as a leader, as a woman.”

Kelly describes CEW as a “touchstone place” to which she sends colleagues to learn similar skills. “I have more of a feeling of responsibility for others as a result of the program because CEW invested in me, so I feel a responsibility to do the same. I want to invest in the University in a way that gives back what I’ve gained from being part of the community here.”

Kelly has also been involved with CEW through the President’s Advisory Commission on Women’s Issues (PACWI). She has seen PACWI influence policies such as parental leave, stops in the tenure or time-to-degree clocks, sexual assault prevention strategies, and increased support on campus for postdoctoral researchers who may feel isolated from both the graduate student and faculty communities.

“I think the actions of PACWI are very important,” Kelly says. “It’s advocacy. PACWI stands up and lends its name in support to whatever cause is particularly relevant to gender issues. As I grow in my career here at the University, I think it’s been really good for me to be part of the committee.”