Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Development, and Service

Background Information

In the Summer of 2011, Shannon Ingram attended the VCCS Leadership Academy.  Participants in the Leadership Academy were asked to develop a project that would benefit their community college at large. Shannon decided to start a Peer Coaching/Mentoring Program for Student Services Faculty and Staff.  Through this program both veteran and new faculty and staff members support each other based on the knowledge gained from their educational background, prior and current professional experience and through sharing of ongoing experiences.  The program would include building relationships among diverse student services members, creating opportunities for collaboration, and developing working relationships amongst college staff who may not otherwise interact.

Currently, there is not a formal staff peer-coaching/mentoring program within the college.  Studies have shown that effective peer mentoring programs between staff enhance employee job satisfaction.  In addition, new and old staff members frequently express the need to develop formal peer relationships with colleagues outside of their departments.


NOVA L.E.A.D.S consist of more than 25 student services faculty and staff members from across the college, representing the following departments; College Financial Aid,  Great Expectations, Learning Technology & Resources, Dual Enrollment, Adult Career Pathways, Pathway to the Baccalaureate, Pathway Connection, Student Services, Counseling, Disability Services & GPS.

NOVA L.E.A.D.S. is a very diverse organization and a true reflection of the overall diversity of NOVA as a community and institution.

 Program Specifics

The original goal of this group was to develop an opportunity for members to be paired with another member who holds similar professional interest and goals while sharing professional development opportunities and experiences.

This later evolved into NOVA L.E.A.D.S, built around the core tenants: leadership, education, advocacy, development, and service.

Organizational tagline: “It starts with Leadership; ends with Service”.


  • February 2012 – NOVA L.E.A.D.S first meeting – Assigned peer pairings based on professional goals interest.
  • June 2012 – NOVA L.E.A.D.S. completes first Community Service Project, Central Union Mission
  • July 2012 – Human Resources & Employee Benefits Presentation
  • August 2012 – Transitioned to peer triad model for peer-to-peer engagement (increase group size and greater flexibility)
  • December 2012 – NOVA L.E.A.D.S completes Annual Toy Drive for Doorways for Women and Children (Raised over $5000 in donations)
  • February 2013 – Professional Development Networking Meeting
  • March 2013 – VCCS Mini Grant Submitted for Leadership Summit
  • April 2013 – 5K Heroes vs. Villains Charity Run & VCCS Mini Grant Application Approved for Leadership Summit
  • May 2013 – Members develop individual professional plans and committees are developed (communications, membership, service projects & good news)
  • July 2013 – 2013 Leadership Summit held at Finance Park
  • September 2013 – Review of 2013-14 Calendar & Upcoming Initiatives


Foster peer-to-peer coaching/mentorship:

  • Pair members based on professional interest and challenges.

Be a professional development resource:

  • Provide professional development opportunities to members of the group.

Increase NOVA’s sense of organizational community:

  • Develop networking opportunities for members.
  • Develop individual responsibility for professional development.
  • Expand program within NOVA.

Grow/increase membership participation:

  • Reach out to members via email inviting staff to join the program.



  • Decrease the level of burnout amongst faculty and staff.
  • Increase the level of retention amongst staff.


  • Increase members’ sense of responsibility within their unit, the college, and the community.


  • Establish a legacy of service and support for the Northern Virginia community through active community engagement.