Our EdD program brings together experienced professionals from education, the private sector, nonprofits, government, philanthropy, and other sectors to find creative solutions to pressing challenges. In our cohort-based approach, students examine real-world practice through a scholarly lens, leverage their leadership and professional experience, and prepare to lead meaningful change in their organizations and beyond.
How does learning fit in at a place like JPMorgan Chase?
We are all fortunate to live in this age of acceleration where the velocity of change continues to propel society. Our role as educators or learning executives is to ensure that we are positioning our workforce in such a way that we can truly optimize innovations in a way that drives value. By calibrating lifelong learning, we can increase organizational output and help employees maximize their career trajectories as professionals. And as we know, learning is portable. So to the extent that we are successful, the work we do here is also a greater good to society in general.
Can you describe your Problem of Practice (POP)?
My POP focused not on theoretical or scholastic contributions but on operationalizing and understanding best practices. We have the privilege here at JPMorgan Chase to onboard more than 20,000 new hires on an annual basis. I wanted to explore ways of doing that work more effectively. How can we leverage that work to further diversify and provide greater opportunities and connectivities to new markets? I had defined my POP pre-COVID-19, but the pandemic made me dig deeper. How do we build more bridges to ensure that the great work that many of us are doing in diversity, inclusion and equity doesn't come to a stop as a result of a global pandemic?
What attracted you to this program?
NYU Steinhardt’s EdD program is an excellent platform for the cross-sector engagement that is so critical to solving the big problems facing us as executives today. More tactically, the program provides the opportunity to work with public-sector, not-for-profit and commercial executives to get a much more in-depth understanding of what these executives are facing. Equally important, a number of thought leaders were brought in to help us think about how to leverage ideas across sectors. We have an obligation as global citizens to ensure that we're not leaving individuals behind at a time where change is truly increasing in velocity.
Why NYU Steinhardt?
The integration of academic theory with practice was very appealing and represents a form of education that I really believe in, which is where you can connect learning and life. I was also attracted by the background of the program founders. They have worked outside of academia but have also done a lot of scholarship and teaching in universities, so I felt confident that they had designed a program that would meld professional practice and theory in a way that would be grounded in the professional experiences that matter so much. The Problem of Practice was also very interesting because it would allow us to closely integrate our learning with the challenges that we would be grappling with on a day-to-day basis throughout the whole course of the program.
What was the focus of your Problem of Practice (POP)?
Broadly, my topic was private-foundation philanthropy in China, which is a relatively recent development. I ended up narrowing in on the role of staff in foundations that are working in China and how their experiences reveal some of the contemporary challenges and realities of implementing philanthropy in China. The program provided some interesting lenses to help propel me toward thinking about the role of specific players and people within the ecosystem of philanthropic implementation in China. I hope one of the applications of my POP can be to focus attention on the cultivation of human talent in organizations, so that leaders of organizations can think ahead and more thoughtfully about how to motivate and retain and support the growth of people who are integral to carrying out their missions.
What impact has the EdD program had on you?
I’ve been promoted twice since starting this program—not only because of the credential but also because of my ability to connect everything I’ve learned in the past two years and translate that into the work. It’s also been a life-changing experience personally. Since day one, the faculty have been very intentional about believing in all of us and creating a cross-sectional community of people who want to do good, so I’ve had a community of people cheering me on and supporting me at every step of the way.
How did your Program of Practice (POP) take shape?
Food insecurity has become a global systemic issue, especially during the pandemic, so I focused on documenting students’ lived experience with food insecurity at a Hispanic-serving institution. I interviewed 20 brave students who shared powerful stories about how they've lived with food insecurity, and I hope that their voices will pave the way to equitable and systemic change in our education system. There’s still a lot of stigma about admitting that you’re hungry, and my work addresses that and proposes ways that support services—food pantries, counseling, health services—could create an ecosystem to support student success.
What are the benefits of the cohort approach?
I didn’t realize the immense value of the cohort model until I joined this program. Doctoral programs can feel isolating, because people don’t understand the depth of what you’re trying to do. Having that group of people who became friends and supporters really filled that gap for me. We each took on a different role in the cohort—one member kept track of deadlines, another always made us laugh—and we depended on each other. I learned so much from the exchange of ideas.
What was the focus of your Problem of Practice (POP)?
The school where I work takes a unique approach to education, focusing on developing each child as a whole person within a sophisticated academic and artistic environment. I was interested in codifying the school’s methodology and exploring its impact on the child. Why is respecting the child as an individual important? Why is arts education important? Digging deeply into these things has been a powerful experience. Now I’m bringing that back to my organization and looking at how we can apply what we’ve learned to different demographics and in other schools.
What was most impactful about the EdD program?
For me, the essence of the program is the combination of tried and true research with actual practice. The most interesting theories in the world happen when you cross disciplines, and that’s also true when practice meets academia. The students are all in practice in our own fields, so we’re able to bring real-world problems and industry data together with academics to create change. I also appreciated having the latitude and the space to take a slightly different path with my POP [Problem of Practice] than the rest of my cohort. I was able to pursue the particular subject that interested me instead of having to conform to a predetermined idea of what a POP should be.
How did your Problem of Practice take shape?
My POP addressed a problem that I have been thinking about for at least 10 years. In my industry, people talk a lot about creating a culture of compliance—but no one really knows what that means. I wanted to define the concept and find a way to measure it to give compliance officers a framework. The more I dug into this issue, the more it became apparent that the way people have been talking about it is not grounded in research on human behavior when it comes to culture and ethics. By bringing together theory and practice, the work I did has implications beyond just one organization. The framework and the ideas could be applied to any number of institutions.