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DSA Staff Professional Development

Learning and Growth for All

We believe that professional development is essential to promoting excellence within a learning organization. Our professional development blueprint is an investment in our staff's learning and growth. It includes nine initiatives, which will be introduced and piloted in 2023-2024 academic year. 

No matter your learning style, your title, or years of experience, there is something for you in this plan. To match different learning styles, the initiatives come in different formats: 

  • Structured Learning Opportunities
  • Informal, Small Group Development
  • Experience-Based Development

Staff will receive information about each initiative as they are introduced. 

Spring 2024 Updates

  • We continue to deliver our VPSA Council & SALT Conversations, where DSA leadership share their expertise on a variety of topics.
  • Book Clubs Continue in late February with "The Fearless Organization" by Amy Edmondson. Sign up!

The Blueprint 

Structured Learning Opportunities 

The onboarding and the first year of the new employee experience are critical. 

The new employee experience program will involve a divisional welcome orientation, and optional sessions throughout the employee's first year to build connections in the division, learn more about the UMD campus, and provide skill development. 

Offered monthly, these sessions provide staff opportunities to build skills, knowledge, and abilities personally and professionally. 

  • Each month will focus on one of the eight dimensions of wellness.
  • Staff will deepen their knowledge about each dimension and create action to engender reflection and awareness.

Upcoming Events:

Intellectual Wellness

May 1, 2024 at 2 p.m.

Jennifer Lindstrom, Department of Resident Life
Discover the power of empathy and critical thinking. This program equips you with valuable skills to foster open-mindedness and empathy, enabling you to navigate complex situations, enhance relationships, and make more informed decisions by considering diverse viewpoints.

Zoom -  RSVP
In-person - RSVP

Vocational Wellness 

June  5, 2024 at 2 p.m.

Dr. Tonya Phillips, University Health Center
Unlock the keys to professional success. Learn how to prioritize tasks effectively, set meaningful career goals, and master time management, all essential skills for achieving your career aspirations

Zoom -  RSVP
In-person - RSVP

Past Events:

Intro to Wellness 101 

November 7, at 11 a.m.

Tami Lee, University Recreation & Wellness, Sarah Wilson & Julia Matute-Kumbalasiri, University Health Center
This program provides participants with a foundational grasp of wellness, introduces them to the 8 dimensions of wellness, and outlines the structure of our comprehensive monthly wellness series, empowering you to take charge of your well-being journey.

Zoom - RSVP
In-person - RSVP

Social Wellness

November 8, 2 p.m.

Dr. Tonya Phillips, University Health Center
This workshop will explore the vital connection between social wellness and your overall wellbeing. At the end of this workshop, participants will be able to discover how nurturing meaningful relationships can positively impact mental, emotional, and physical wellness. In addition, practical strategies will be provided to enhance social wellness

Zoom -  RSVP
In-person - RSVP


Physical Wellness

January 17, 2024, at 1 p.m.

Tami Lee, University Recreation & Wellness
Altering Our Mindset: Movement is Self-Care. Physical activity does not exist simply for bigger biceps and faster race times. Let’s reframe our thoughts on movement and discover the impact it has on our brain, mood and daily living. We will also identify common barriers to physical activity and discuss strategies for overcoming them.

Zoom -  RSVP
In-person - RSVP

Spiritual Wellness

February 1, 11 a.m.

Shayna Hodges, Department of Transportation
Exploration of Your Purpose in Life is a transformative journey of self-discovery. This program invites participants to delve deep into their passions, values, and aspirations, guiding them toward a clearer understanding of their life's purpose and how to align their actions with it.

Zoom -  RSVP
In-person - RSVP

Emotional Wellness

February 14, 2024, at 11 a.m.

Dr. Chetan Joshi, Univesity Counseling Center
Healthy Brain and Our Emotions: We live through our thoughts, emotions, and feelings. We live through our mind, and the brain is the seat of our mind. What is a healthy brain? What can you do to foster the development of a  healthy brain? Using principles of Interpersonal Neurobiology, Dr. Joshi will seek to answer some of these important questions about developing a healthy brain.

Zoom -  RSVP
In-person - RSVP

Financial Wellness 

March 6, 2024 at 2 p.m.

The Psychology of Money program delves into the intricate relationship between human behavior and financial decisions. Discover the hidden factors influencing your money choices and gain insights to make smarter financial moves for a more secure future

Zoom -  RSVP
In-person - RSVP

Environmental Wellness

April 3, 2024 at 10 a.m.

Olivia Mays, University Health Center &  Meg Smolinski, Office of Sustainability
Discover the transformative power of nature with our program ‘Nurture with Nature’. Join us to experience the numerous physical, mental, and emotional advantages of connecting with the natural world and understand how even brief encounters with nature can enhance your overall well-being

Registration: In-person session only
In Person -  RSVP

A community of practice for full-time DSA employees who manage students. Participants will learn how to best support student employees through

  • educational sessions
  • resource sharing
  • peer-to-peer discussion

Human skills are necessary to create inclusive workplaces, develop others, and foster healthy relationships. This program will focus on:

  • developing leaders as coaches
  • managing conflict
  • creating psychologically safe environments, & giving and receiving feedback.

Participants will identify a real leadership challenge and have other participants support in coming up with solutions and approaches to solving their challenge.

Informal, Small Group Development Series 

Introduced in Spring 2023 

This program pairs DSA staff in mentor/mentee relationships. Through regular meetings, pairs will share resources and experiences with each other, and create action plans that support the mentee’s development. 


Book clubs allow socializing and connecting with others who share an  interest in reading. The DSA Book Club will focus on a relevant topic that impacts staff, skill development, and organizational health. 

The books we will offer are:

Our book clubs will be led by volunteers who will facilitate discussion, impact, and shared learning. To sign up for the DSA Book Club, please complete this form online.

Professional and personal development learning circles are small, informal, organized groups of staff who are passionate about self-improvement. Similar to affinity and interest spaces, they will meet to share knowledge, support one another, and build connections. 

Some examples of groups could be productivity hacks, time management, student development from theory to practice, supervising staff, etc.

Experience-Based Development

The Fellowship Experience gives Student Affairs staff professional opportunities in departments outside their own. This program will help staff members:

  • learn about new workplace cultures
  • increase their skills and knowledge
  • gain insight into areas of interest, 
  • gain an understanding of various roles within the division. 

How to participate:

  • open to exempt & non-exempt employees.
  • application open date TBD.
  • selected participants will be onboarded with the department and meet with their fellowship sponsor to determine learning objectives for the experience. 

This pilot program invites staff to apply to complete a project or participate in an approved initiative that may interest them and/or help them gain skills and knowledge. These projects would be solicited from DSA departments with timelines and deliverables.

How to participate

Participants will apply and take part in a review process. If selected, participants will be onboarded with the department and meet with their insourcing sponsor to determine deliverables, and timeline with the department contact.


Council Conversations: SALT Added 2023/2024 Schedule

Join members from the Student Affairs Leadership Team (SALT) for a series of professional development sessions this year! Council Conversations: SALT Added will feature sessions of different topics to be led by a member of SALT.


A Healthy Brain
Tuesday, April 9, 2024 at 2 p.m. - RSVP
Chetan Joshi, Dir. of The Counseling Center


Large Language Models (LLMs) in Student Affairs: A Case Study on Student Engagement Vision
Tuesday, October 10 at 2 p.m. 
Kevin Pitt, Interim Dir. of Fraternity and Sorority Life 

Elevate and Engage: Demystifying Higher Ed and Student Affairs Fundraising
Tuesday, December 12 at 2 p.m.
Ed Kenny, Dir. of Development 

Purpose, Community, and Humility: Grounding Your Work in Collective Healing
Tuesday, February 13, 2024 at 2 p.m.- RSVP
Yvette Lerma-Jones, Dir. of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 

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