Noah Baskett, 2013 alumnus in the Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership program, has a heart for the city. From educational advocacy for urban school development, to hosting a theological roundtable that tackles theology in light of city realities, Noah is actively committed to transformational leadership.
Before coming to Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry, Noah served as an AmeriCorps volunteer for two years, then joining the Northwest Leadership Foundation as a Program Director for their Urban Leaders in Training Initiative. In his director role, Noah increasingly felt drawn to ask the hard questions of how opportunity, equity and justice are distributed in society, particularly in and through systems of education. It soon became clear that graduate study at Seattle University was the next step for him.
The larger Seattle University learning community enhanced Noah?s studies in the Transformational Leadership program. Built-in to the program are opportunities to engage coursework in Seattle University?s Albers School of Business & Economics, the Nonprofit Leadership program out of the College of Arts and Sciences and more (might be worth mentioning the College of Education. This is where I did some of my coursework). Noah recalls how the Ecclesiology course he engaged at the School of Theology and Ministry forever impacted his view and definition of leadership: ?Throughout the course, we continued to ask ?how has this organizational reality known as the church, though precarious and fraught with internal strife , been able to renew itself and survive over the years? What led to its almost-demise, and what has reinvigorated it as a larger community??
More recently, Noah stepped into a new role within the Northwest Leadership Foundation as Director of the Act Six Initiative. The program addresses the issue of college access for under-represented students, and Noah actively works to build college persistence and completion rates for these low-income and first generation college students. Annually, twenty-five scholars are selected from a much larger pool of program applicants, half-way through their senior year of high school. Students are awarded full tuition scholarships to one of five partner universities in the state of Washington for four years. In addition, students engage rigorous training through the rest of their senior year and the summer before college?on topics like practical skills for college prep, money management, leadership development and more. Noah helps students ask themselves: ?What does it mean to be a student that?s charged to be a leader? How can I be a leader within a liberal arts university that may look a lot differently than my urban high school?? Noah additionally directs the program?s work in skill development, including relationship building across lines of difference and intercultural dialogue. Students journey together in a cohort, training together and building relationships throughout the experience. The program boasts a 90% graduation rate. Noah shares:
?Our program serves young people that ultimately want to make a difference in their home community. The college experience is not about escaping their community, but preparation for intentionally returning to their community and helping make it a much more vibrant neighborhood. It is a joy and privilege to participate in this program?s work for the greater good of our urban neighborhoods and larger community.?
In addition to his work with the Northwest Leadership Foundation, Noah serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Pacific Lutheran University. He co-teaches Education 205?s course ?Multicultural Perspectives in Education,? which seeks to develop students? critical thinking, communication and writing skills through innovative and interactive instruction.
When asked about how the Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership prepared him for his now current and future work, Noah shares:
"For me, the power of the Transformational Leadership degree resides in its method: pushing theological reflection to its most practical implications in our urban world. Demanding that leadership needed in our world today must have an eye toward justice on behalf of the ?least of these,? the program pressed us consider what it means for leadership to take this charge seriously.?
With his Transformational Leadership degree under his belt, Noah hopes to extend the Act Six program model in order to serve more underrepresented students in the Puget Sound region and develop new strategic university partnerships.? ?The gap in college access and persistence is one of the most significant issues of educational equity and justice that exists today,? Noah says. ?Tacoma and Seattle need to tackle it head on with as many resources as possible to ensure a vibrant future for our diverse, urban communities.?
For more information about the MA in Transformational Leadership, visit here.
Hear more stories like this from other Transformational Leadership students, here.
For more information about the Northwest Leadership Foundation, visit here.