We are excited for a new chapter for MECOP with the onboarding of our new Executive Director, Yuliya Dennis. Before coming to MECOP, Yuliya directed alumni career programs for Oregon State University’s Alumni Association for five years. When considering applying, she found the position intriguing because it entailed what she cares about most. “The values that motivate me are passion for the organization's mission, creating work ready graduates, improving DEI efforts, being a good steward of the organization and being accountable to the stakeholders.” Yuliya has a drive for helping the next generation succeed. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is another major area that Yuliya will focus her efforts.
Yuliya’s goal is to be a good steward, “...not someone who comes in with their own ideas and says this is what I want done. A steward seeks to understand what is it that people need and want.” Yuliya has devoted the first few months to a listening tour to uphold this pledge. The focus of the listening tour is to meet with every company representative and as many students as possible from a variety disciplines, universities, and different points in the program. So far Yuliya has visited with more than 130 company representatives and about 30 students in the program. Her goal is to meet with all 150 companies and reach out to more students. She has also introduced herself to all current students taking the internship seminar course. Yuliya sees the importance of including students in the listening tour because one of the core mottos of MECOP is student first.
Yuliya asked everyone she met three questions: tell me a little bit about yourself, what is going well, and what can be improved. Through this approach, everyone’s voice is heard. Yuliya has developed a well-organized Excel spreadsheet which has over 160 ideas. These ideas will be forwarded on to the appropriate committees, board, or staff who oversee these various areas. While not every idea may be implemented, every idea will be noted and forwarded.
What people have to say really matters. The other thing that’s important to me is that students especially know that we care deeply about them. We care about their experience.
Yuliya encourages everyone to keep sending her ideas so she can stay up to date on the things that matter most. A summary of the listening tour will be shared with the board, members, institutional partners, and students after it concludes.
What Yuliya found so far is that MECOP is solid and always improving. MECOP is working to elevate the student first motto and DEI efforts. Good stewardship requires consistent and on-going collaboration and communication to ensure all parties involved are aligned and achieving the mission together. Stewardship means never stop listening. With Yuliya’s passions and professional experience, this makes her a great fit as the new Executive Director. The board and the organization are excited for the future of the organization under her leadership.