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Meet David Wold, the man who knows a lot about helping people become effective leaders. Many of the students at Principia who hold leadership positions attended this year’s Leadership Summit, which was held the day before classes started in late August. Wold designed the workshop to help students with team building exercises. He encouraged captains of athletic teams, club presidents, student government leaders and resident assistants to work with one another to create a more unified structure within the college community and “lead with courage”.

Mr. Wold, a Principia alumnus, went into marketing and advertising after graduation. He started his own small business working with various client company executives on marketing strategies and what their organizations were trying to accomplish. After 15 years spent working with different companies, Wold certainly has the background necessary to teach leadership. After his time as a small business owner he and his wife, Deb (currently the Public Services Manager at the Marshall Brooks Library), decided that they wanted an “adventure”. Wold became resident counselor of Sylvester House, and he and his family moved to Elsah, where they stayed for 2006-07.

David Wold, the new hire in charge of helping with leadership at Principia, chats with seniors Bekah Charlston and Christian Richardson, the presidents of the student body. photo / Kelly McGinnis

It was during his time as an RC that Wold started to develop his idea for the Leadership Institute, through which he hoped “to provide students with opportunities to learn more about leadership, develop some skills that will help them be better leaders and have opportunities to discuss with each other how to best lead.” This inspiration came about after Wold noticed many students ending up in leadership roles without much experience or advanced understanding.

Wold wanted to provide those students with resources and opportunities to explore what they were trying to do. He said, “My hope is that the combination of my business experience in working with corporations, state agencies, and government entities …, where I was applying leadership principles in the field, combined with an academic background in it and also some experience in OSL and being close to students… that combination provides me with some nice reference points.”  And he hopes that students will leave school with the “skills and knowledge they can apply to their work and communities”.

After being an RC, Wold and his family spent some time in Switzerland and France. He received his master’s degree from Webster University in Geneva, Switzerland.  While in Switzerland, Wold worked on an independent project related to the United Nation’s environmental program, UNEP. Wold worked to partner the UN with different companies in order to establish a connection with private enterprises. He worked on a team made up of people from around the world, engaging him with perspectives different from his own.

photo / Kelly McGinnis

Once Wold and his family came back to the United States, he got back into consulting work with previous clients. In 2009 Wold contacted Dr. Palmer and proposed his idea for the Leadership Institute. The institute was founded in the spring of 2010 with Wold at the helm as an independent contractor. It was during this time that Wold “put together programming to see how students would respond and to see how the community would respond to the idea of a more formal and structured approach to leadership.” Wold has spent this last year developing different activities and programs to engage the level of student interest and determine opportunities down the road. After determining the institute had the value and traction to continue, the administration conducted a national search for director which resulted in Wold’s appointment to that post.

It seems the Institute has already contributed to the caliber of leadership on campus, and Wold’s expertise clearly adds to that. The Student Body President and Vice President meet with Wold every week to discuss their roles as leaders. Vice President Bekah Charlston said, “He’s so genuine and he’s such a great leader himself that you really trust what he’s teaching you.” President Christian Richardson added, “He’s really awesome – he knows everything about leadership!”

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I am a junior at Principia College, English major and a staff writer for the Principia Pilot.