Diego Navarro joined Anne Murray Allen and Katie Mingo for a conversation about the power of dignity and belonging to build communities of engaged and empowered people, as Diego has seen firsthand in the academic sphere. The lessons he’s learned from helping students succeed offer some valuable insight into what it takes for organizations to build cultures of connection, performance and well-being.
Diego Navarro founded the Academy for College Excellence (ACE, formerly the Digital Bridge Academy) an accelerated education program that helps at-risk young adults prepare for community college and for careers in professional fields. Evidence of the program’s effectiveness has been shown in a number of longitudinal studies, offering a new way of teaching that values community, dignity and belonging as critical ingredients to self-actualization.
Diego first met Conversant during his time at Hewlett-Packard, and his deep familiarity with our tools and principles has served the development and success of the ACE programs. Throughout the conversation, he shares how the Conversant teachings apply in the academic context, particularly to building empathetic and respecting student-teacher relationships, developing greater emotional agility in faculty, and growing a sense of trust and safety in these learning environments.
There are clear connections between the relationship leaders have with those they lead and that of teachers and their students. Power dynamics and the presence of cultures of threat vs. dignity impact retention, engagement, transparency, and the likelihood that people will bring their full gifts and contribution to their work. Which culture are you consciously or unconsciously creating in your organization?
Diego Navarro has been training faculty in affective learning approaches since 2006 when he was funded by the James Irvine Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to replicate ACE. The experiential learning courses he developed have been taught both in classrooms and online. At WGU his affective course enrolls over 1,500 students per month and has served over 60,000 students. Navarro also developed the Five-day Experiential Learning Institute (FELI) to teach faculty how to employ non-cognitive learning exercises in their classrooms. Over 1,500 faculty and staff from more than 90 institutions have participated in these FELIs.
Navarro has served as a coach on the California Guided Pathways Project and received appointments as a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching at Stanford and University of California, Santa Cruz. Diego received the prestigious American Association of Community College Trustees, William H. Meardy National Faculty Award in 2009 after receiving the Pacific Regional Award. Diego’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York and other nationally-known funders. Diego earned a graduate degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business where he performed research with Rosabeth Moss Kanter and J Richard Hackman. He has led two high-tech start-up companies and his years of experience in social science research at Hewlett Packard Laboratories were utilized in the design of ACE.
Learn more about Diego and his work on his website: www.diegojamesnavarro.com.
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