Staff Professional Development Academy

NIU aspires to develop a workplace culture that provides opportunities for growth and collaboration, supports individual/team success and prioritizes professional development. NIU is also committed to building shared leadership at organizational, team and individual levels.

The Staff Professional Development Academy is a year-long, cohort style program that both promotes professional development and creates a network of leaders across campus. We aim to have diverse cohorts with representation across campus and encourage staff at all levels to apply.

Goals and Structure

If selected to participate, you’ll:

  • Learn about NIU’s goals, operations and governance, as well as the current higher education landscape
  • Have opportunities to build leadership skills, such as consensus building, conflict resolution, self-awareness and creating shared goals
  • Be matched with a mentor

You’ll attend in-person meetings once per month during the fall and spring semesters. You’ll also attend monthly meetings with your mentor. 


If you’re a permanent, 12-month, SPS or civil service employee, you’re eligible to apply (except SPS with rank or tenure). Supervisors can also nominate employees to be invited to apply.

You should have:

  • A minimum of three cumulative years of service at NIU by the application deadline
  • The support of your supervisor and/or department head

How to Apply

A call for applications is sent out by the Office of the President each spring. The application includes:

  • Current résumé
  • Letter of interest (up to 500 words) indicating your interest in and expectations for the program, as well as your career goals
  • Evaluation form completed by your immediate supervisor

2022-2023 Cohort

Read an NIU Today article about the 2022-23 cohort, which includes:

  • Carrie Aldrich, interpreter/cart coordinator, Disability Resource Center
  • Yuko Asada, musical instrument technician, School of Music
  • Heidi Carlson, assistant director of events, Holmes Student Center
  • Cody Carter, associate director of the Northern Fund and donor experience officer, University Advancement
  • Linda Condon, University Honors program advisor, Honors Program
  • Melanie Costello, campus director/outdoor education coordinator, Lorado Taft Field Campus
  • Kellie Dyslin, director, funding development and lifecycle enhancement, Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships
  • Steph Horgan, academic advisor, Department of Management, College of Business
  • Daniel Leifker, sergeant, Public Safety, Department of Police and Public Safety
  • Destiny McDonald, acting director, Student Engagement and Experiential Learning
  • Julie Ann O'Connell, assistant director, Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies
  • Nancy Prange, Director, dietetic internship, Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Health Studies
  • Yasmina Sefiane, director, Center for Child Welfare and Education, Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development
  • Lauren Teso-Warner, senior associate director of residential life, Housing and Residential Services
  • Patricia Wallace, research compliance coordinator, Research Compliance, Integrity and Safety
  • Passion Williamson-Bandele, nursing program advisor, College of Health of Human Sciences


Matt Streb
Chief of Staff to the President

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