As the university’s first Chief Organizational Learning Officer, Sonya Jacobs is charged with creating programs and strategies to build the professional capabilities of faculty and staff by overseeing the diversity, equity and inclusion training and education program and Learning & Professional Development in University Human Resources, along with the Medical School’s Faculty Career Development program.
“I love to build—that’s my thing,” says Sonya, who joined UHR in September 2016. “My role here is all about helping people to develop in the two areas I’m passionate about: DE&I and leadership at all levels.” Sonya hit the ground running to put a strategy in place for learning and development, and her team is busy designing and implementing new programs to support DE&I and leadership development across the university.
Sonya will work with B&F on workplace culture and leadership development in support of the goals outlined in the B&F Strategic Plan and our five-year DE&I plan. “I’ve said a lot about leadership development, but it is vitally important that we are focused on staff,” she says. “I see staff as having important leadership roles and I am committed to providing development opportunities for them to thrive and engage in U-M’s success.”
Sonya also serves as the Director of Faculty and Leadership Development at the Medical School. The dual appointment allows her to spot opportunities to strengthen collaboration, identify available resources and replicate best practices across our campuses.
On a personal level, Sonya describes herself as a relationship builder and collaborator who is passionate about people. She began her U-M career as a consultant in 2002 designing and implementing DE&I and leadership training for supervisors in the Health System (now Michigan Medicine). Now she’s thrilled to take on this work for the entire university, in a role she couldn’t even imagine 15 years ago. “I have what I call a dream job. My dream job.”