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ETSU offers graduate certificate in community leadership

KINGSPORT (Aug. 5, 2016) – A new graduate certificate program in community leadership will be offered starting this fall by East Tennessee State University.

Intended for individuals who do not need a master’s degree but desire or need certification in leadership skills, the program consists of four courses that may be completed in a minimum of one year.  It is designed to help leaders of community, government non-profit and for-profit organizations to further develop their leadership and management skills.  In addition, students in master’s or doctoral programs in other fields might find the new courses beneficial as electives.

It was developed by Dr. Deborah Harley-McClaskey, an associate professor in the Department of Special Education Foundations and Special Education in ETSU’s Clemmer College of Education.  She is nationally recognized in the field of leadership development and the author of a recently published book, “Developing Human Service Leaders.”

Harley-McClaskey said the idea for the new program came through her work as a consultant and certified facilitator of many different leadership seminars.

“In working with groups all over the community – from student organizations at ETSU to non-profits in the service learning arena and other organizations – I started to see certain skill sets that are missing,” she said.  “I’ve just been doing a lot of listening.  I hear a lot of ‘I wish I knew this’ and ‘I really don’t understand that part,’ so the certificate program is designed to fill those gaps.”

The first course in the series is “Strategies for Personal Productivity and Interpersonal Effectiveness.” 

“This course is all about how you manage yourself and the roles in your life, as well as your ability to communicate with others,” Harley-McClaskey said.  It covers dialogue and listening skills, building trust, handling conflict and creating an atmosphere of accountability in the workplace.

“Foundations for 21st Century Leadership” is the second course, which focuses on building and leading teams.

“It’s understanding what’s required in the role of a leader, what’s required of a team member, and what’s required of an organization to support teams,” Harley-McClaskey said.  “We’ll look at how to screen members when you select folks to be on a team, and then how to jump into getting a team up and running with a mission, vision and goals.”

“Financial Leadership and Resource Development,” the third course, provides a study of financial and resource management of community organizations.

“Far too many folks, unless they have business degrees, don’t understand all those spreadsheets,” Harley-McClaskey said, “or they might apply for a grant but aren’t sure how to manage those monies.  We’ll also look at fundraising.”

The fourth and final course, “Empowerment, Collaboration and Advocacy for Change,” is a capstone study of community leadership that provides students with hands-on experience.

“We’ll study what it takes to build and lead a collaboration within a community,” Harley-McClaskey said.  “Then the group will handle case studies.  These will be ‘moving’ case studies, in which I will add a change factor each week.  The group will need to make decisions and figure out how to resolve the new issue.  It’s based on all the things the students have learned in the previous three courses.”

All classes will be held at ETSU at Kingsport Downtown, 300 Clinchfield St., Suite 460.

A bachelor’s degree and admission to the ETSU School of Graduate Studies are the only prerequisites for entering the program, which requires no thesis or comprehensive exam for completion.

For program information, contact Harley-McClaskey at 423-439-7683 or .  For admission information, call the ETSU School of Graduate Studies at 423-439-4221 or visit

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