Today we feature Tara Lonsdorf, a leader at Rowan University. Tara is the managing editor for The Whit. She is a senior Geology major with a minor in Geographic Information Systems from East Windsor, NJ (Mercer County).
This story is part of a series spotlighting campus leaders during Women’s History Month.
What is your role in your organization?
I was co-Editor-in-Chief of The Whit last year with Miguel Martinez. I currently serve as Managing Editor, where I get the great opportunity to serve and support the current EIC Kalie VanDewater as she leads.
What have you learned in your role as a leader?
Because I wear many hats (writing, editing, publishing, doing finance, serving as liaison to the SGA, guiding page layouts) my role as a leader has always been putting out fires wherever they start. The most obvious thing this has taught me is that a good leader has to be flexible and understand every detail of how their team operates; this will help with the firefighting. Even more important, but far less obvious, is that good leaders are able to identify the unique strengths of everyone on their team, and can trust them with responsibility; this will create new firefighters and a happier team overall.
What’s your favorite memory as a leader or at Rowan in general?
The best leadership moments are when my members of my team have told me that I’ve impacted them in a positive way by encouraging them and trusting them. I’ve personally recruited a few individuals to work on The Whit, and others I’ve pushed to be more confident in taking on larger roles. It’s rewarding to know that they’ve benefitted from my belief in them and that I’ve positively impacted them in some way.
Who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by the Whit team: Kalie VanDewater, Brianna MacKay, Corey Rothauser, Luke Garcia, Helena Perray, Mohammed Faud, Alexander Rossen, Joel Vazquez-Juarbe, Vee Concepcion, Taryn Guettler, Jana Jackstis, Julia Quennessen, Natalie Arch, Christine Harkinson, Kara Guno, Destiny Hall and Nicholas Diulio. They all bring their best every single week and inspire me to do the same.
What’s the most significant barrier to women today?
The most significant barrier to women leadership is probably institutions insisting on women leadership … without actually removing the barriers in the first place (ie. childcare, insurance coverage of women’s reproductive health, ousting high-ranking serial harassers). This “the leaky pipeline” involves institutions throwing women into hostile situations where they’ll be set women up for failure, while still taking credit for the “diversity effort” that just traumatized them.
This conversation must also note that this leakiness only compounds for women of color (especially those who are Black and/or Indigenous), disabled women, trans women, intersex women, same-sex attracted women, Jewish and Muslim women, overweight women and older women.
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?
My advice for the next generation of leaders: talk with your team, not at them. They made it to your team for a reason, and probably have a different background than you. They can give insight into areas you may never have even begun to consider.
Is there anything else you would like to include?
Being a leader is about using all of the strengths of the people around you to their best ability. I think women tend to make great leaders overall because we’re socialized to pay attention to the big picture of the organization, rather than just the objective.
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Marian Suganob, senior public relations and advertising double major