Meet Your Chapter – Rene Ledford

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What organization do you work for and what do they do?

 Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS). It is one of the oldest and largest not-for-profit private organizations with 1900 employees and programs throughout the State of Florida.  CHS’ many services are designed to protect children at risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment; to strengthen and stabilize families; to help young people break the cycle of abuse and neglect; and to find safe, loving homes for children.  These services include case management, counseling, shelter care, adoptions, foster care, early intervention and more.

 What is your role in that organization?

 Director of Curriculum Development and Training.

 I develop e-learning and ILT curricula, oversee all activities associated with the learning management system, facilitate training program and workgroups, develop training plans, and provide consultation and support to our operations and functional teams.  In the last year I have also taken a more active role in quality management and innovations including chairing a state-wide clinical practices workgroup.
 

 How did you get to that role?

 I expressed interest within my organization to be more involved in our statewide learning initiatives and I was known for developing successful training programs for employees. When I was looking for a change, they asked me to consider a full-time position leading our division training program.  I of course jumped on that opportunity!

 What jobs led to your current role?

 I parlayed my education degree, job-related training, and supervisory experience to get my first “official” position as a contract trainer and then project manager for a performance-based training and consulting company. It also helped that they liked how I developed my resume’ as my first job was to work with personnel laid off from Kennedy Space Center after the Challenger disaster. I am grateful for the knowledge I gained about adult learning, competency-based curriculum development, and how to be a facilitator vs. “teacher”. I also enjoyed learning about and designing training for a variety of businesses and industries –from banking to manufacturing — and how to identify the core competencies needed for success on the job. Since earning my social work degree, learning continued to be a priority for my staff and me. I developed and/or facilitated training workshops and programs in every program I managed.  For example, as the Clinical Coordinator for a mental health center I presented public awareness seminars on schizophrenia and other illnesses and facilitated groups.  As an Executive Director with my current organization, my leadership team and I developed several successful training programs.   All of these experiences prepared me to do what I do — and I am still learning.

 Have you had any leadership roles within ASTD?

 Prior to my role as VP of Marketing I served on the Mentoring Committee.

 What do you like most about your job?

 The variety, the people, the challenges, the license to work autonomously and be creative, and knowing that we are making a positive impact on people’s lives every day.

 What do you like least about your job?

 Emails! Also it would be great to have more funding.

 What is your average day like?

 That’s a hard one as they all vary: meetings, developing a training plan or an e-learning course, assisting with LMS user needs, facilitating training or leading a workgroup, travelling to one of our divisions. I am never bored.

 If you had hiring power, what skills would you look for in a new hire?

 When we can add to our department, I will look for someone who is:

  • Able to work independently and think creatively
  • Has a strength-based approach to employee learning and supervision
  • A strong work ethic and excellent boundaries
  • Is committed to lifetime personal/professional learning; genuinely cares about people and demonstrates passion about quality improvement and customer service
  • An affinity for and skills in curriculum development software is a definite plus.

 My belief is that if someone has the right mix of qualities, they can learn most technical skills. Bottom line: the individual’s personal qualities have to be a good match for the organization and support excellence.  

What is some of the best advice you ever received from a mentor?

Do your job and make independent decisions — if things blow up just make sure I know about it first! I still use that line with my staff.

What advice do you wish you had received, but did not?

You don’t have to do it all today! I have a much more balanced approach now and am not afraid to ask for help when needed. I work hard but also make personal health, family and friends a priority.

What industry advancements do you see as having a large impact on how you perform your role?

Technology – people want information faster and it still has to be interesting, compelling, entertaining and effective.

If you could attend one industry event this year (time and money are no issue), which do you think would be most valuable to you?

ASTD ICE 2012 or Elliott Masie’s Learning 2012 conferences.

What education/degree/certifications do you currently hold?

  • BS – Secondary Science Education
  • Master’s- Clinical Social Work
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst

I am also a Council on Accreditation Peer Reviewer and Clinical Social Work Supervisor.

 What education/degree/certifications do you plan to go after?

 I am currently preparing to take the exam  to finish requirements for Certified Addiction Professional credentialing and then will pursue my CPLP.

 For your role, what is your favorite or most used tool?

 Laptop! I love being able to access my files and web -based applications work anywhere!

 What, within the Education and Training industry, would you like to get more exposure?

 I think our Learning and Development profession needs to do more to promote all the solutions we offer — beyond training facilitation and curriculum development.

 Who was most influential in your career and why?

 I have to say my husband, who in our previous life was the Corporate Trainer for my first training employer. He is a master facilitator and he taught me things about curriculum design and behavioral interviewing that still hold true to this day. I am also a huge fan of Donald Kilpatrick who proves “that there are more things you can measure than you think”.

 Do you participate in social media? Web site, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter?

 Currently I have a personal Facebook account and help manage the Chapter account. I also have a personal LinkedIn account and manage the chapter group (Central FL ASTD). I have found groups to be a great way to research information and learn from others.  Additionally I have a Twitter account for my role at CHS and I manage the CF Chapter account (ASTDCentralFL).

 Is there anyone online you professionally follow and would recommend?

 What do you like to do in your spare time?

 Go to the beach, workout, read, hang out with husband (exploring, shopping, trying new restaurants, etc.)

 Have you considered being a mentor or a mentee? What are you personally looking for from that experience?

 I was a Protégé’ in our Chapter’s first Mentoring program and then volunteered to serve on the committee the following year.  I learned much and formed some wonderful relationships. I have already volunteered to be a mentor for the next class. As with either role I would hope to enrich my professional knowledge and skills and empower others in obtaining their goals.

What local companies would you be interested in learning more about?

 Human Performance Institute; Sea World

 What global companies would you be interested in learning more about?

 Siemens, Adobe Systems, Articulate, Department of Defense

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