Washtenaw United: A2Y Chamber's Leadership Program creates new and better leaders in every field
"I have worked for the Chamber for 38 years. I graduated from the Leadership program in 1990-91 and started running the program in 2011. The A2Y Leadership program is in its 41st year having graduated over 3500 participants."
Meg Scaling (Jeryc) is the CEO of Galaxy Brain and Therapy Center, Ann Arbor, MI. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University (1999), an officer on the Michigan Brain Injury Provider Council, and a co-host of the Brainthropolgy Podcast, offering vital brain health insights. She participated in the 2022/23 A2Y Community Leadership Training.
Her comprehensive clinic specializes in holistic therapies- PT, OT, Speech Therapy, Social Work, mindfulness, ergonomics, and more. Galaxy’s ethos is to enable individuals to live their best lives. Guided by their values- build trust, empower positive change, and move forward-give back, the expert team addresses diverse needs including neurodiversity, neurological injuries, trauma, anxiety, cognitive challenges, and more.
Meg launched Galaxy as a home-based practice in 2007 that evolved into a specialized clinic in 2017, with cutting-edge equipment and a soothing ambiance that feels like home, defying traditional rehab norms.
Meg’s commitment to real-life therapy has led to a unique clinic and community integration approach. She credits her success to her amazing team, family, faith-based leadership style, and commitment to being a part of affordable healthcare solutions that serve the community and inspire growth, independence, and joy in life.
David Fair: This is 89 one WEMU. And today, we're going to explore the importance of leadership and creating more diversity in leadership positions. I'm David Fair, and welcome to Washtenaw United. This is a weekly exploration of equity and opportunity in our community. Our guests today both have leadership experience and have gone through a specific leadership program to which both attest has been of great benefit. Now, Barbara Davenport is Vice President of Foundation and Leadership for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber, and she's in charge of the chamber's A2Y Leadership Program. And thank you so much for being here, Barbara.
Barbara Davenport: Thank you, Dave.
David Fair: And Meg Scaling is the CEO of Galaxy Brain and Therapy Center in Ann Arbor. She also serves as host of the Brainthopology podcast. Meg is also a graduate of the A2Y Leadership Program. And I'm so glad you could be here as well.
Meg Scaling: Thank you.
David Fair: Barbara, the program is 41 years old now, and you've been in charge of it since 2011, but went through it yourself back in 1990 and 1991. How has it changed over the decades?
Barbara Davenport: Wow, that's a great question. So, every month, we have a different focus of the program. And each of those days, we try to bring the most current information to that day. So, one year, it's going to look completely different than the next year. So, the program is ever-evolving, ever-changing. It's never the same two years in a row.
David Fair: And what would you identify as the mission statement of the A2Y Leadership Program as it stands today?
Barbara Davenport: We look at it as an immersion program. We want to provide a complete picture of the community. We really are looking to give people kind of the behind-the-scenes look. We want to give them the numbers and the factual information. But what's behind the curtain?
David Fair: And, Meg, when did you found Galaxy Brain and Therapy Center?
Meg Scaling: Well, I started sole proprietor in 2001, and, in 2007, I started my LLC, which evolved into a Galaxy Brain and Therapy center in 2017.
David Fair: And you work with patients who have brain injuries, right?
Meg Scaling: Correct.
David Fair: And how did going through the A2Y leadership program might have maybe changed the way you lead those who work for you, win with you, and, more importantly, the dynamics between the staff you represent and the patients you serve?
Meg Scaling: It's interesting you ask, because I'm a therapist by nature. So, my focus has always been on the client and the client's family and what we can do to help them live their best life. And in going through the program, I realized that, as a leader, I need to be aware of the deficits that the community has, the gaps in the community and gaps in access to care. So, when I went through this leadership training between all the different topics that we covered in addition to the dynamic group that I got to be a part of, there were a lot of questions that were brought up that made me think about how Galaxy can improve access to care and develop programs for those that may not have the services that they deserve.
David Fair: Our conversation on the A2Y Leadership Program continues on 89 one WEMU's Washtenaw United. We're talking with the head of the program, Barbara Davenport, and a graduate of the program, Meg Scaling. Barbara, in its 41 years of the A2 Y Leadership program, you've graduated, as I understand it, about 3500 people. That makes it seem to me like it's a rather exclusive program. How many can you accept on an annual basis?
Barbara Davenport: We can actually have up to 55 each year in the program.
David Fair: And how much does it cost?
Barbara Davenport: For chamber members, it's $1500 annually. And that's a complete tuition for a nine-month program.
David Fair: And are we talking about business, government, or nonprofit leaders that are participating and trying to take forward a new perspective on leadership?
Barbara Davenport: All of the above. I like to say there's two really good candidates for the program. One, people that are new to the community and need to do like a quick crash course in what's going on in Washtenaw County, and people that are siloed. Maybe they're very involved in their area of business but need a broader perspective and a network of people like themselves that they can pull from.
David Fair: What's the price point in issue for you, Meg, when you consider taking it? And did your perspective on that change after completing the course?
Meg Scaling: Well, we were coming off of a really hard year after COVID and had high cancellation rates. So, I was conscientious of how I spent my money, but I really saw the value in growing my leadership skills and expanding my network of professionals that I could lean into. And it was worth every penny. And I am committed to sending someone every year from Galaxy.
David Fair: That speaks a lot to what you took from the program. Barbara, there are still too many people of color in our community who look around and don't see enough Black and brown faces in positions of leadership. Are there scholarship programs or directives in place to ensure each leadership class is in fact diverse and is contributing to changing the leadership dynamics in the community to become more equitable?
Barbara Davenport: Absolutely. We do have partial scholarships available for not-for-profits within Washtenaw County. We have had a really good, diverse group of people each year. We've had lots of different voices that have joined our discussions, which is invaluable. But if money is an issue, we can certainly work with people either a scholarship or payment programs. There's lots of different options.
David Fair: Meg, was diversity and equity a significant part of the training while you were in the program?
Meg Scaling: It was. And I learned so much as a business leader. I think awareness is a key factor in understanding the needs that are out there. And I'm a white woman living in Dexter, Michigan, with a business on the west side of Ann Arbor, so I could stay in this bubble of seeing the same type of people every day in and out. And I don't want that. I want to find out where there's needs and how I can expand. And, if I can quickly say, the information that was shared by amazing Black leaders in my cohort made me think of things I wouldn't have thought of. They asked the questions I didn't think to ask. And I grew so much as a leader by gaining perspective.
David Fair: And it is not lost on me at all that here we are three white people talking about diversity and equity, and that is pervasive throughout the community. It is white people talking to white people. So, Barbara, how do you go about ensuring that the appropriate voices are there to share a new and more broad perspective for the community when it comes to leadership?
Barbara Davenport: I think we are very conscientious. And every single day that we bring the leadership class together to make sure that there are many voices at the table, we try not to dictate the perspective that they're going to bring. We just want a diverse group of people bringing their perspective, so people are hearing from everyone.
David Fair: Once again, this is Washtenaw United on WEMU. We're joined today by Meg Scaling, a local business leader, and Barbara Davenport, who heads up the A2Y Leadership Program for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber. Meg, we talk about diversity and changing what our workspaces look like. How is it manifested in your business practices at Galaxy Brain and Therapy?
Meg Scaling: We're working on it. We're talking almost every week at our leadership meetings about the pool of people that we have. And is there any diversity in that pool and how do we get more diversity? I was invited to the Parkridge community meetings, and I need to make sure I make it a point to go to those every Monday, because that's where you can continue to connect. And we really, as business leaders, have to make efforts to become diverse.
David Fair: Barbara, when you look at the program as a whole over the years and year to year, how do you assess its success? What are the criteria do you look for when tracking the impacts made by the graduates?
Barbara Davenport: Well, I look around in the community, and I can identify, in every leadership position in the community, leadership graduates. Every month when we get together, there's at least half the speakers that are graduates of the leadership program. And they're in positions of leadership currently. The other thing that I have personally assessed is how many multi-generations we've had go through the program. So, the first year I ran the program, we had a son of somebody I went through the program with. And I thought that that was really nice. And they weren't the last. You know, for several years, we've had multiple people whose parent or uncle or aunt had gone through the program and spoke highly of it.
David Fair: And if we were to have this conversation again in ten years, Barbara, what differences in community impact might you like to see?
Barbara Davenport: Well, that's a great question. You know, it seems like we struggle with some of the same issues year after year. Housing in Washtenaw County is such a critical issue. But I feel like, by talking about it, we are making a difference. And if we stopped the conversation, that would be a problem. So, I think just continuing the conversations, making sure that these really critical issues are brought to the forefront every year, the United Way does an amazing job of giving us a really broad perspective on the numbers in Washtenaw County. And they're so important. And I hope that we're always able to continue to do that.
David Fair: Well, I'd like to thank both of you for making time and sharing your perspectives today.
Meg Scaling: Thank you for having us.
Barbara Davenport: Thank you.
David Fair: That is Barbara Davenport and Meg Scaling. Barbara is Vice President of Foundation and Leadership and the head of the A2Y Leadership Program for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber. Meg is founder and CEO of the Ann Arbor-based Galaxy Brain and Therapy Center and host of the Brainthropology podcast and a graduate of the A2Y Leadership program. For more information on the program and today's conversation, visit our website at WEMU dot org. Washtenaw United is produced in partnership with the United Way of Washtenaw County, and you hear it every Monday. I'm David Fair, and this is your community NPR station, 89 one WEMU FM Ypsilanti.
United Way is a proud member of the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce (A2Y Chamber). United Way for Southeastern Michigan teams with the A2Y Chamber to promote early childhood education through United Way’s Early Learning Communities, which provide services and information to parents who want to provide early education for their children.
The CEO and President of A2Y Chamber, Diane Keller, is the secretary of United Way of Washtenaw County’s Board of Directors.
WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw Countyto explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area. And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services. It is a community voice. It is 'Washtenaw United.'
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