This is my last semester after a 2.5-year journey through the MPS in Organization Development and Change program at Penn State. At every step of the way, the coursework has been immediately applicable to my client work, which made this a deeply satisfying graduate program. I am a far better consultant than I was in 2019 because of the content and the instruction along the way.
The capstone experience was no different in that it involved a challenge in a current client engagement. For my capstone project, I conducted an equity, diversity, inclusion, and access (EDIA) needs assessment and created a roadmap for a nonprofit client that is building a new science center in Northeastern Maryland. My client has the opportunity to hardwire EDIA considerations into their facility and programming right from the start, instead of retrofitting the organization to be more accessible as others have had to do. We learned that an accessible organization is more than just wide doorways and Braille signs. It is a core value that permeates all facets of the culture. Fortunately for us, culture is much easier to mold when an organization is standing up versus when they’ve been in operation for years.
As part of the capstone project I interviewed numerous science enters around the country. Not only did we learn what is working elsewhere, but we developed relationships that will benefit my client into the future. Interviewees were uniformly passionate about this topic and possessed a sincere desire to affect change. Interestingly from the literature review that I conducted, I learned that many of the commonplace tactics are barely scratching the surface of the problem. Instead, culture change has to take place both on the part of the science center and the target community, which is the approach my client and I will take moving forward.
I reread my first blog post in preparation for writing this closing blog post. In it I wrote that my goal was to provide better service to my clients by being more knowledgeable about the subject of organization development and change. I’m happy to say I feel that I have completely achieved this goal, thanks in large part to the interactions with my fellow classmates, who taught me how OD is applied in a myriad of different settings. I’m grateful for their generosity and keen intelligence. They set the bar high, which benefits everyone in the program.
Cheers to my classmates who are graduating and moving on in their careers. And double cheers to those who are continuing their studies — I know I’m really going to miss this program and the experience of working with such a smart group of people.