Farewell, Fearless Leader!

donnaAfter an impactful eight years leading the launch and meteoric growth of CESR, Executive Director Donna Sockell has decided to move on from Leeds this summer, but she leaves behind a remarkable legacy. Donna has been a passionate advocate for the integration of ethics and social responsibility into the curriculum at Leeds, and along the way has influenced and touched the personal and professional lives of students, faculty and staff.

“Donna has taught us all to be better teachers through her consistent focus on students as the center of our activities.  She has done the herculean work of building this center and a strong network of support throughout the community.  I will miss her humor, counsel and enormous energy as we go forward to build on the solid foundation she built.”  Kevin McMahon, CESR Instructor

“I will forever remember Donna as the individual who’s impacted me most during my time at Leeds. She pushed me to be vulnerable, lead ethically and always question what is right. Thank you Donna for everything you’ve done for me.” Sam Battan, Former Student

“Not only did Donna ignite the flames when she hired me of my then-unshaped desire to be a businessperson and yet make the world a better place at the same time, but she also fostered my personal and professional development in order to further both of those desires.  She has been the catalyst for CESR’s growth and for its major achievements.  Donna hires outstanding people to implement and expand on her fantastic ideas.  CESR would be a mere speck in the Leeds firmament, if present at all, if not for the vision and leadership of Donna Sockell.” Lorna Christoff, CESR Instructor and Former CESR Program Coordinator

“There is no other way to say it, Donna was and is an inspiration. Unlike any other teacher I have ever worked with, she encouraged and inspired each of us to think differently about the world. Ultimately we all walked away ready to make the world a better place. It’s not every day you hear that from a bunch of business school students, but Donna had that impact.” Teen Rollins, CESR Stampede Coordinator and Former Student

“Participating in the year-long pilot Leadership Challenges class was an amazing experience, however what really made the class unforgettable was having Donna as our professor.  With her guidance, I was able to take my critical thinking skills to the next level and gain a wider perspective on what it means to be a responsible leader in the community.  I am also extremely appreciative of her support and motivation throughout the years–she has been a wonderful and inspiring mentor!” Tyffanie Ammeter, CESR Junior Board Member and Former Student

“Donna has had an outsize impact on our student population. Thousands of Leeds students will forever be different people because of her work with CESR and our curriculum.”  Kai Larsen, Professor of Management and CESR Instructor

“I began working with Donna eight years ago when she was teaching two sections of Introduction to Business, each section with 400(!) students. From the challenges of those first classes to the CESR of today, Donna has been a colleague, mentor and friend. Over the years, I learned so much about teaching – from curriculum, best practices and much more from Donna.  On more than one occasion, Donna has had to explain to me WHY she prefers a certain methodology or WHY she made a certain choice.  As for lasting impact – just last week at McGuckins, a local hardware store, the cashier asked me if I worked at CU with Donna. I was a little surprised by his question and although he did looked somewhat familiar, I could not place him. He went on to say that he had been in one of those first large Introduction to Business classes and that Donna was a professor he would never forget. As he put it – she commanded respect and he learned a lot. Now, that is impact!” Catherine Milburn, CESR Instructor

“I loved working in Donna’s group…I think the format she set up, where teams of teachers coordinate with one another for delivery of material, is superb.”  Tracy Jennings, Management Instructor and CESR Instructor

“I had the pleasure of taking several of Donna’s classes during my tenure at Leeds as well as the genuine privilege of working and writing for Donna and the CESR Program during my sophomore and junior years. Her advice and input in my academic career and my personal/professional life cannot be understated. When I was heart set on coasting and partying my way through college, Donna personally pulled me aside after class and gave me the business. She pushed me to succeed and encouraged me to be the best version of myself – accepting nothing less than my full effort. I witnessed firsthand the time and dedication Donna poured into creating and making the CESR program a success. Her mission of bringing integrity, responsibility and consciousness to the classroom in today’s business school is truly a remarkable achievement. Donna’s passion for teaching is palpable, her love of students sincere. She is the single most influential teacher I’ve ever had and I consider myself lucky to call Donna my mentor and friend.” Matt Shirk, Former Student and CESR Student Assistant

“Dr. Donna Sockell taught me how to be a good New Yorker and also how to have humility when the Red Sox beat the Yankees!”  Don Oest, CESR Instructor

“Donna is a remarkable leader and scholar whose dedication to and imprint on the Leeds School will be felt for many years by students and faculty alike.  She reflects the very best of the finest of personal characteristics and professional leadership traits rarely found in academia.  Her drive and selfless devotion to the school, her colleagues and her students will be felt for years to come and the imprint of her footsteps will stand alone as the standard of excellence for all of us.  God Bless you, Donna.” Doug Bennett, CESR Instructor

“I joined CESR on the day it officially became a Center and since then, I have known Donna to be a force of nature.  I never realized to what extent that was true, however, until the CESR banquet when she stayed on the podium and continued speaking above the blaring (false) alarm.  We coaxed her down eventually, but to me it was a perfect picture of Donna’s perseverance where others may have long given up.  Her unwavering dedication despite obstacles is the reason that CESR has grown to what it is today.  Donna, we owe you an enormous debt of gratitude for the impact you’ve had on our lives, as staff and faculty, and on the lives of Leeds students over the years.   We know your heart is always with students and that’s a legacy we plan to carry on!” Birdie Reznicek, CESR Instructor and CESR Managing Director

“Besides her obvious impact on CESR and Leeds, I think I’ve been most influenced by who Donna is as a person – a strong leader with a heart of gold. Donna’s professional integrity as well as her warmth, generosity and authenticity have made a huge impression on me. I have never had a manager who expects so much but also gives so much. I will miss being around her contagious energy and enthusiasm – the heartbeat of CESR.” Anneli Spielman, CESR Program Coordinator

“Donna Sockell was the most influential teacher, boss, and friend that I’ve ever had. She treated me as an adult and colleague in a world of students, challenged me to do things I had never done before, and to be proud of who I am and what I think. I wish her the very best in retirement; she deserves it!” Nick Mooney, Former Student and CESR Student Assistant

“Over the last 7 years Donna has built an incredible team and a powerful Center that will have a positive impact on our students in the years to come.  Through her efforts, CESR and Leeds have gained national attention for thought leadership on social responsibility and the role of education in producing business leaders with a conscience and a strong moral compass.  We are grateful for all she has done and for the legacy she leaves.” Francy Milner, CESR Instructor

“My Leeds School of Business experience would not have been nearly as meaningful had it not been for Donna.  I had the privilege of not only working for Donna in CESR, but having her as a professor for my mega-section BCOR 1010, BCOR 3010 and Leadership Challenges course.  Donna had the unique ability to connect with her students individually while lecturing; even when in a room of hundreds.  Her presence and enthusiasm as a lecturer and professor inspired me to not only perform to her high expectations, but to adopt high expectations for myself as well.  She didn’t just challenge students to do the work, but rather challenged them to strive to be better people.   Although the students lucky enough to have Donna as a professor will be forever touched by her like I am, Donna’s impact is much more lasting.  By dedicating her time at Leeds to developing a program that helps each student identify their individual core values and the implications of those values on the community at large, Donna will be responsible for an entire generation of responsible and thoughtful business professionals.  I will always consider Donna a friend and my most influential mentor.” Theresa Vertucci Hacsi, J.D., Former Student

“In 2006, I was looking to expand my teaching duties as CU while concurrently beginning work on my doctoral dissertation.  Donna was ramping up CESR and we agreed I’d be a good fit for her BCOR 3010 team.  I was honored for the opportunity which led to a couple of years teaching BCOR 3010 and then moving into the Management Division.  So, without Donna it’s likely I wouldn’t be in position I have today, my dream job.”  Keith Stockton, Management Instructor and CESR Instructor

“Donna gave me the opportunity to teach meaningful classes in a meaningful way.  I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to teach such wonderful students!” Liz Stapp, CESR Instructor

“Donna is a person who truly leads by example; as a student assistant at CESR I was very fortunate to see Donna in action. CESR has grown tremendously because of her vision, advocacy, and creation of an exceptional team. She is a woman who stands for what she believes in and is not afraid to speak up for what is right. Donna’s outspoken, values-driven personality is something I truly admire and strive to emulate in my own life.” Chelsea Kiyabu, Former CESR Student Assistant

“I believe Donna Sockell impacts every life she touches.  She certainly has impacted mine. I retired… I thought…Then I met Donna…and she has made my 6 years at Leeds a wonderful ride. Working with Donna means ‘never having to say you’ve stopped learning’…She will be sorely missed at Leeds.” Beth Cross, CESR Instructor

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