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Lifelong Learner JoElla VanderDoes Finds Growth  Opportunity with a Certificate in Leadership at Wake  Forest’s Executive Education


JoElla VanderDoes always embraces the opportunity to learn. 

“I consider myself a lifelong learner and enjoy opportunities to broaden my thinking,” she said. JoElla VanDerDoes

Mid-career, JoElla expanded her professional view when she initiated a career change, moving  from leading large, strategic projects to becoming an instructional designer. In 2010, she went  back to school and received a Master in Instructional Design and Technology. 

More than a decade later, another opportunity presented itself through Wake Forest University’s  Executive Education department to expand her knowledge around leadership. Without  hesitation, she took it. 

In the winter of 2021, JoElla participated in her first leadership open enrollment program. After  completing four courses, she received a Certificate in Leadership from Wake Forest Executive  Education and the Allegacy Center for Leadership and Character at the School of Business in  the summer of 2022. 

JoElla spent 15 years working for General Electric, which made a significant impact on her as a  professional and as a leader. Today, she serves as AVP of Learning and Performance at  Allegacy Federal Credit Union. Moving companies meant working with a new group of people,  and she viewed this as an opportunity to expand her skills. 

“When moving to different companies, it’s always good to broaden your thinking in order to  adapt to the new environment and culture,” explains JoElla. “While much of what I learned in  leadership at GE is timeless, business environments and workplace cultures differ, and they  change over time. I’m grateful for the opportunities Allegacy offers to continue learning and  adapting as a leader. The Certificate in Leadership is one of those opportunities.” 

She looked to the Certificate in Leadership to continue her learning. The courses cover a range  of topics including different theories about leadership and employee motivation, building  effective teams, and leading at an enterprise level. For JoElla, the content was impactful and  timely. 

“We had just been through the pandemic, and we had a new normal,” JoElla recalls. “The  courses broadened my thinking and exposed me to different methods and thought processes of  how I could engage with my team in this new environment.” 

JoElla shared that while she is a strong believer in the impact of well-designed virtual  instruction, one of the most beneficial aspects of the Certificate in Leadership courses was the  in-person format. This is partly due to the diverse group of participants who come from a variety  of industries, backgrounds, and even geographical locations.

“Through social learning and class discussion, I gained perspective from stories shared by  leaders working in a variety of settings,” JoElla says. “Engaging with other leaders in a face-to-face setting to collaborate, problem solve, and share experiences is an enriching way to connect  and build your network.” 

While she has received her Certificate in Leadership, it does not mean that JoElla’s time with  Wake Forest Executive Education is over. In her current role, she sends a continuous pipeline  of leaders from Allegacy through the program and is able to witness them implementing what  they’ve learned. For her, that’s been one of the most beneficial parts of the experience – not only  applying what she learned in the courses but also seeing others do the same. 

JoElla reflects: “Honestly, it’s a program that I think can benefit anyone. Even if you don’t go  back and say I applied this specific theory or this specific model, you walk away better prepared  to handle the opportunities and challenges presented to your team or business.” 

About The Certificate in Leadership 

The Wake Forest Executive Education Certificate in Leadership consists of several one-day  workshops designed to provide tools founded in theory and proven in practice to lead from a  place of authenticity and confidence. Participants complete four (4) of six (6) leadership  development open enrollment programs, the variety of topics allow professionals to choose their  own learning path within a leadership journey. The Certificate program is an opportunity for  immersion in topics of key personal interest and professional development, ultimately serving as  recognition for the commitment to advancing your career. 

Learn more about the upcoming  Certificate in Leadership workshops and sign up today.

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