Courageous Leadership Series: Empathy Across Difference 

Participating students will develop skills essential to influential leadership: empathy, critical thinking, effective communication, research and public speaking.

Mark Your Calendars 

Date: Sept. 26, 2023 
Time 5:30 to 7 p.m. 
Location: Jesse Wrench Auditorium 
To request disability accommodations for this event, contact 

The Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (IDE) is proud to announce the Courageous Leadership Series. A cohort of 18 undergraduate students were selected to participate in the series. Participating students will develop skills essential to influential leadership: empathy, critical thinking, effective communication, research and public speaking. They will also learn how to engage in culturally responsive practices and gain a deeper respect and understanding of the unique experiences they, and others, each bring to Mizzou.  

Division staff members will guide the cohort through monthly facilitated dialogues, educational sessions and hands-on learning experiences. The series will also provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge, ideas and strategies for change through collaborative research.  

Participating students can receive their National Certification in Peer Education from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and will have the opportunity to attend the annual Meeting of the Minds Conference in spring 2024. 

By participating in this cohort, we hope to inspire our students to learn skills that will position them to be effective leaders both in Missouri and across the globe.  

The series will take place from July 2023 to April 2024.    

Meet the cohort  

  • Madina Band-Ali, Sophomore 
  • Yousef Binalsheikh, Senior 
  • Payton Blanchard, Junior 
  • Jeremiah Coleman, Senior 
  • Lily Duda, Senior 
  • Mya Franklin, Sophomore 
  • Madison Hayes, Senior 
  • Cici Hernandez, Sophomore 
  • Mikayla Higgins, Junior 
  • KeAve Hunter, Senior 
  • Monique Johnson, Sophomore 
  • Lindsay Peters, Sophomore 
  • Rachel Richardson, Senior 
  • Alyvia Roath, Sophomore 
  • Cristal Sanchéz, Sophomore 
  • Anna Schmidt, Junior 
  • Tyson Strong, Senior 
  • Elizabeth Trower, Senior 

Meet the keynote speaker 

Michael Steven Williams, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Missouri. His research program broadly focuses on inclusion, diversity and equity, the social-psychological development of students, and institutional excellence in American postsecondary education. Specifically, he centers his inquiry on two aspects of higher education: (a) interpersonal relationships, particularly socialization, mentoring and belonging for students, administrators and faculty, and (b) the institution, with a focus on organizational improvement and accountability through multipronged assessment and evaluation. 

Before joining the Mizzou faculty in 2017, he served as an assistant professor of public and international affairs at Baruch College, City University of New York. He has also served as a student affairs educator in a number of different roles, including residence hall director, living learning community assistant director and admissions assistant. At the College of Education and Human Development he teaches honors and graduate courses related to higher education. 

Williams’ scholarship has been featured in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, the Journal of African American Studies and the Journal of College Student Retention, among other publications. He is on the editorial board for several journals including the College Student Affairs Journal and the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education and is a member of the Association for the Study of Higher Education and other professional organizations. Williams is committed to translating his research to inform policies and practices that promote social justice and student success in higher education.