Five McDonough Scholars relishing partnership with Harvard project

When a student enters the McDonough Leadership Program at Marietta College they know to leave their egos at the door. Instead teamwork and high expectations are what the faculty stress.

This semester the stakes have been ratcheted up even more for five McDonough Scholars as they work in partnership with Harvard University's Center for Public Leadership on the America's Best Leaders (ABL) Project.

"The ABL Project is designed to highlight the variety of leaders we currently have in the United States. At the same time, the project also reminds us that our society is vibrant and constantly generating great leaders," said Dr. Gama Perruci, dean of McDonough. "I'm very proud of our McDonough Scholars. They are really rising to the occasion and having a wonderful experience."

The ABL Project is a collaboration between U.S. News & World Report and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Every year, the ABL honorees are selected by a committee of government, community and private sector leaders convened by the Center.

This year McDonough is serving as one of three satellite research teams (Stanford University and the University of Oklahoma being the other two) that will help identify potential nominees, research ABL nominees, compose descriptive profiles and contribute to the selection process of the 2008 America's Best Leaders.

"This project is a tremendous opportunity for our Center, for our College, for our faculty members and for our students," said Ashley Wollam '08, the student leader for the team participating in the project. "I'm proud to report that our research team is rising to meet and exceed every hurdle set before us."

Dr. Robert McManus, teaching fellow at the McDonough Center, is serving as the faculty leader for the Marietta team. The team includes Wollam of Westerville, Ohio; Abri Brickner '08 of Granville, Ohio; Joe Ropp '09 of Cincinnati, Ohio; Laura Aldrich '10 of Plymouth, N.H.; and Blakely Dye '11 of Sylvania, Ohio.

All of their work must be completed by May 1.

"I'm honored to have been chosen to lead this team, and gratified by the chance to work with five exemplary individuals who do nothing but raise the bar each and every day," Wollam said. "What I'm learning from this project and from my team cannot be translated into words, but will certainly have a great and long-lasting impact on me. I'm incredibly grateful."

Marietta College's involvement with ABL began in the fall when representatives - Donna Kalikow and Jeremy Haber - from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard facilitated a simulation with the incoming McDonough Scholars.

In the past, honorees have included: Nancy Barry, President, Women's World Banking; Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway; Sandra Day O'Connor, Ex-Associate Justice, SCOTUS; and Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz, Lincoln Center.

"The quality of our students' work has been superb. It has also given our students the opportunity to further refine their personal definition of leadership," McManus said. "Our students place more emphasis upon service and contribution to the community than do most, which is a strong element of McDonough's heritage."

For more information on the ABL Project click here or here.

In 1986, through a generous $5.5 million gift from McDonough's wife, Alma McDonough, and the McDonough Foundation, Marietta College established the Bernard P. McDonough Center for Leadership and Business. The Center offered one of the first comprehensive undergraduate leadership programs in the United States.

During the 2007-08 academic year, McDonough is celebrating its 20th anniversary.