Thomas Nelson president Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon (at left with micrphone), Veronica Hurd and Dr. Latitia McCane were the panelists at the Women's Leadership Forum presented by the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon was excited to be a panelist at a recent Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce event, and the reason was simple.
“One of the things I shared early on in my tenure was that Thomas Nelson cannot be the Peninsula’s best-kept secret,” said Brannon, who was named the College’s ninth president in January. “In order not to be the best-kept secret, we have to show up at these events, not just to be present and to show what Thomas Nelson faculty, staff, students and leadership looks like, but also to open up the opportunity for partnerships.”
That is why she joined Veronica Hurd, the director of the Academies of Hampton, and Dr. Latitia McCane, the director of education at The Apprentice School, in discussing education, leadership styles, challenges and more at the Women’s Leadership Forum on July 8. The event’s presenting sponsor was The Miles Agency, and the leadership sponsor was Thomas Nelson Community College.
In addition to imparting advice and wisdom to the attendees, these types of events offer chances for the partnership opportunities Brannon covets.
“After the presentation, after an event like this, it’s those conversations that happen when people come up to you and say, ‘Hey, there’s an opportunity that I think I have where the College can play a role,’” Brannon said.
She said it goes beyond expanding or exposing the College. It can lead to partnerships that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
“You may say something that resonates with someone,” Brannon said. “Or maybe this person says something that aligns with your motivation, passion or mission.”
But she noted it wasn’t just her responsibility to take advantage of these opportunities.
“It’s important to every member of Cabinet, our deans and associate deans and our instructors, it’s important for us to be seen,” she said.
That certainly was the case at the first in-person event of the year for Women’s Leadership Forum. Of the 86 attendees, 13 of them were from Thomas Nelson, including deans and department heads.
“We each represent the College,” Brannon said.
Brannon participates in similar events about once a month, but would love to make it once a week.
“I don’t know if we could do that enough,” she said of outreach and community appearances.
Potential partnerships aren’t the only benefits the College receives from these events. Brannon mentioned being represented on community-wide panels offer validation for the College.
“People see you in a different light when they get to hear you speak, when they hear about your motivation, when they hear about the things you’ve accomplished and what you hope to accomplish,” she said. “I think it validates your value to the community.”
She notes it’s also an opportunity for the community to hear what the College is working on, its innovative spirit, its entrepreneurial spirit; that it is more than an institute of higher learning.
“And I think it helps validate people’s interest in partnering with you.”