Students collaborating with Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership

It may have a new name and a new partner, but the goal is still the same: identify the best leaders in the United States.

This spring, five Marietta College students are working on the Top American Leaders (TAL) project, a collaboration between The Washington Post and the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The McDonough Center for Leadership and Business and its students have worked on a similar project in past years when Harvard collaborated with U.S. News and World Report. This is the first year that CPL is collaborating with The Washington Post on this selection process. The research teams help identify potential nominees, research nominees and compose descriptive profiles for the TAL National Selection Committee, which will convene at Harvard on March 1.

Dr. Robert McManus, Associate Professor of Leadership Studies and Communication, is once again serving as faculty adviser for the McDonough research team. This year Marietta’s team includes team leader Alison Matas ’ 11 (Kent, Ohio), as well as team members Emma Vierheller ’11 (Orrville, Ohio), Amber Vance ’12 (Washington Court House, Ohio), Valerie Price '13 (Parkersburg, W.Va.) and Cody Strahler ’13 (Waterford, Ohio).

“I find working on the Top American Leaders’ project to be particularly rewarding because it allows me to look at how leadership is applied in a practical way,” Matas said. “Each of the leaders our team researches uses a different leadership theory, and it’s very interesting to see what type of leadership succeeds in various environments. I also enjoy the conversations our team has with Harvard about what constitutes leadership and what being a ‘good’ leader means.”

Dr. Gama Perruci, Dean of McDonough, is excited the Leadership students are involved in the project again, as well as personally getting the opportunity to serve on the panel of judges.

“We are so excited to be able to provide research assistance to this project. It is a wonderful experience for our students,” Perruci said. “They work closely with Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership staff and learn about leaders who are making a difference in the world.”

The McDonough Center for Leadership and Business was the result of a $5.5 million gift in 1986 from Alma McDonough, the widow of industrialist and entrepreneur Bernard P. McDonough, and the McDonough Foundation.