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Emma Webb: Multicultural Leadership Program


Emma

Come along and observe the wonderful time I had in completing the MSLP with Des Moines Performing Arts

By: Emma Webb

Day 1

My day began full of anxiety and excitement. Despite not needing to arrive until 9 AM, I woke up bright and early at 6:45 AM to start my day. The first day jitters were upon me and I couldn't help but heat up my curling wand and change into more professional attire. I walked to the Civics Center with my grandpa, who would not leave until he knew I made it into the building safely. He also loves meeting and talking to people, so it was a bonus for him when he was able to meet Shay who greeted us at the ticket office doors. I had actually gone to the wrong entrance, but luckily, I survived. We began the morning with a little paperwork and then we were able to join the company's "huddle." This represents a time where all the full-time staff come together and discuss their week and highlight on any important information in their respective departments. Shay brought bagels to celebrate the July birthdays that would soon be upon us; this was a nice first day perk despite the fact that I had eaten a big breakfast already. In the morning, we received a tour of the entire Civic Center building and got exclusive looks at different behind the scenes features. During this time, we learned more about the history of DMPA and the specific workings of different production elements. This tour enabled me to better my understanding in just how a show is able to come to life for a large audience. Following the tour, I was able to have lunch with Shay, Bri, Jacob, and Katiana at JJ. Jasmine. The restaurant had delicious spicy Mongolian beef and it was great to try a new local place. This time was so fun as it allowed me to better get to know the other MSLP participant, along with the DMPA staff who developed the program. Everyone was so nice and welcoming and made my first day the best it could be. After lunch, I had the honor of meeting Ann Wright. Ann was so sweet and taught us so much regarding our learning and working styles and how knowing that information can aid us. Through this DiSC Leadership Discussion led by Ann, I learned I am a "C," meaning "conscientiousness." I was not surprised by my results, but I do feel like the qualities I possess and how I work can change on a weekly, even daily basis. Still, this time enabled me to learn more about myself as well as the people I would be working with for the next two weeks. I then journaled about my day, the highs, the lows, the pros, the cons, and headed out. I genuinely could not have asked for a better first day.

Emma
Emma

Day 2

The morning began with coffee and small talk with the DMPA staff. This was a bit anxiety inducing for me, despite the natural setting and casual conversation that was taking place. By the end of it, I relaxed a bit more and realized there was nothing to be afraid of. We began the day with an overview of the staff at DMPA, learning the flow and hierarchy of each position. This allowed me to learn each employee a little bit better and what their job entails. The next activity of the day included receiving a more in-depth session regarding the Human Resources Department and what the job consists of. This session was very informational and expanded my knowledge about HR and the technical and nontechnical aspects of the job. While I still do not plan to work in the HR department, it was helpful to learn more about the real inner workings of a company. HR representatives have many essential functions in an organization, and are a very much needed glue for a company. Then came the most exciting part of the day where Katiana and I had the privilege of going to lunch at the Embassy Club located on the 39th floor. Not only did we get to eat lunch at a fancy restaurant and new location, but I had the opportunity to eat with Jeff Chelesvig, CEO and Laura Sweet, COO of DMPA. This experience was so fun and showed me a different side of both Jeff and Laura and allowed me to be my authentic self. After the elegant and tasty lunch, we went to tour the Temple Theater with Dani Roth. Dani was very nice and answered any and all questions we threw her way. Luckily since it was a whopping 90 degrees outside, Shay picked us up and took us back to the Civic Center. It was time to journal after the tour, and then we headed to an all staff meeting. The staff meeting allowed me to put some names to faces and see how everyone interacts within the company. This showed me the company culture in a real example, and in listening, I was able to learn more about the company's finances, its mission, and future development opportunities. It was then time to go home after an eventful and exciting day.

Emma

Day 3

As per usual, the day began with coffee with the DMPA team, but not just any ordinary coffee, as today I picked up coffee from Scenic Route Bakery on my way. This delicious caffeinated drink started my day off with a bang. After coffee chat time, we had a resume and interview workshop with Shay (HR and executive assistant), Bri (ticket office), and Bill (HR). Everyone provided such helpful advice as they have experience with hiring and viewing multiple resumes. Furthermore, Shay and Bri worked to develop the MSLP along with Jacob's (digital experience) help. Thus, their feedback about my interview and my personal resume was very beneficial and helped me realize my strengths and weaknesses. Then for arguably the most exciting part of the day, we met with CEO of DMPA, Jeff Chelesvig. Jeff gave us a presentation on DMPA and its background, as well as his own personal background. He allowed us to ask all the questions we wanted and get to know him as a leader of such a meaningful nonprofit organization. Day 3 was easily my favorite, as we then got to have lunch with COO, Laura Sweet and CEO of Hoyt Sherman Place, Robert Warren. Laura and Katiana, as always, were lovely company, and meeting Robert was a highlight of my time during the program. He reminded me of Jeff in the sense that both are so passionate about what they do, and they both work so hard to strengthen the arts community by providing purposeful entertainment. Lunch was at A-DONG, which was a new restaurant to me, and I ate some delicious chicken fried rice which gave me fuel for the rest of the day. Following lunch, we toured the absolutely stunning Hoyt Sherman Mansion and Theater and learned history about the building. This was my first time at Hoyt Sherman, and it was an amazing experience. Once arriving back at DMPA, we got to learn CFO, Heidi's world and see her role in the company. She showed us the budgeting she did for Ain't Too Proud and answered all of our questions regarding finance and how she paved her way as a woman in leadership. It was a privilege speaking with her.

Emma
Emma

Day 4

Day 4 was our last day of week 1, thus we talked about our takeaways from the program, as well as provided feedback regarding what could be altered within the program. Shay, Bri, and Jacob who all contributed to creating the program were so open-minded and wanted to hear our ideas to make the program the best it could be. This helped me realize how great of a company DMPA truly is, as everyone is eager to learn, grow, receive feedback, and implement change. After this session, we drove to Kemin Industries for a presentation, lunch, and a tour. We had the privilege of meeting Kemin's VP of Worldwide Communications, Lauren Burt. Lauren shared with us what Kemin does as a company, the organization's mission, and some background on how the company was created. Lauren also provided us very helpful and eye-opening advice that she wished she would have known before stepping out into the work force. I greatly appreciate any information and advice people are willing to provide, as it makes me feel better prepared and less fearful for what comes next in my adventure. Lunch was delicious, as we ate in Kemin's restaurant which had many great options. Following lunch we received a tour of the entire facility. Prior to arriving at Kemin, I was clueless as to what the company did, and the tour helped me further understand all of the departments and objectives within the company. We also got to see inside the labs of Kemin in addition to touring each department, and this was super interesting because I personally did not know the scale of the work being performed. When the tour was over we headed back to DMPA where we journaled about our day before heading to the Des Moines Art Festival with Bri! Though it was very toasty outside, I had a great time seeing all of the amazing art from people of all ages. I also got a strawberry smoothie which was a bad idea because it was expensive and not good. This is my own fault and I learned my lesson. Day 4, like the others, was a great day and I learned so much.

Emma
Emma

Day 5

Onto week 2 and day 5, we started the day a bit later than usual, arriving at 11:30 for check in. I was totally fine with this, as I got to sleep in a little. The first matter of business was an EDI lunch and conversation based on Brené Brown's book 'Dare to Lead." Shay was even able to get us a copy of the book which was awesome. Our lunch was from Taste of Africa and it was delicious. It was also nice to try something new, and throughout this program, I tried a lot of new places which in itself is a big accomplishment for me. It was my first time taking part in an EDI lunch and I would say it was a very rewarding and beneficial experience. Equity, diversity, and inclusion is so important and it is highly necessary that an organization works to constantly improve these efforts, and it seems DMPA is an organization that heavily values EDI. After this insightful and informational session, we got ready for the grad panel. The grad panel consisted of relatively new graduates who began their careers recently. We were able to sit down and have a conversation with the recent graduates and ask them any questions we could possibly think of. As someone who doesn't have everything planned and is constantly looking for reassurance because of that, I loved the grad panel. The recent grads made me feel comfortable in not knowing what comes next, and even admired the feeling. They shared their individual experiences with stepping out of college and making the transition into the work force. My key takeaway after speaking with everyone is to say yes to virtually any opportunity that comes my way. To say yes to things that seem scary and are outside my comfort zone. To try new things and learn from the experience regardless of it went how I anticipated. This session was very helpful to me personally. After the panel we got to meet the production team which included Janet, Nick, Ryan, Brian, Jamie, and Dani. It was great getting to know the production team, and it was very different than the corporate team. Everyone was so much fun and very laid back; that is, until workers started arriving to begin unpacking the trucks and arrange for the show Ain't Too Proud. Everyone put their game faces on got right to work during this time. Katiana and I got to wear hard hats and observe the production team at work, as well as sit in the audience with the amazing Janet. She would narrate what everyone was doing and answered any questions we had about the load in. The production team would be working on load in until 10pm that night, and would come in bright and early the next day to make sure everything gets finished before the 7:30pm show. After about an hour of observation, we journaled about our experience and checked out.

Emma
Emma

Day 6

As I approach the end of the program, I realize just how much I will miss being a part of the organization. I am reminded of this during coffee with the team on day 6. It's nice to keep up with everyone and hear what is going on in their lives. The best part of my day came next, when we went to the Food Bank of Iowa and met with CEO, Michelle Book. Michelle gave us a presentation on what the Food Bank of Iowa is and does, and walked us through her role as CEO. She shared how she worked hard and had the drive to earn a leadership position. She was very inspiring and her passion for the Food Bank of Iowa really stood out to me. We were given a tour of the Food Bank, both the departmental side and the warehouse side. It really tugged on my heart strings to hear about specific programs the Food Bank does and just how important the nonprofit organization is in helping so many families throughout Iowa. I learned that I want a job as fulfilling as Michelle's where I know I am making a difference. It has become increasingly important for me to work at a nonprofit organization and share its story and mission with others. The Food Bank of Iowa really opened my eyes to how meaningful work can be. Following the presentation and tour, we headed back to DMPA and walked to our lunch destination. Today we were eating at La Mie with the Education and Programming Team at DMPA. Lunch was delicious and Education and Programming were great company. They had so many words of wisdom to share and spoke with us about their job duties and how they came to be in their current positions. Everyone was so awesome and I was so grateful to spend time with them and receive such helpful advice and information. After lunch, we reviewed brand standards which contained lots of information that was beneficial to know. After reviewing, we were able to meet with DMPA's Director of Development, Ben Luczak. Ben was so kind and shared his story and progression throughout his career. He told us what his job consists of and how important it is in maintaining stability for DMPA. Donors are hugely important in a nonprofit organization, and Ben talked with us about DMPA's amazing donors and how they make the organization's dreams and missions possible. 

Emma
Emma

Day 7

Day 7 was a great day for many reasons. The day started with a coffee chat, but it wasn't the ordinary coffee chat. The topic consisted of food hot takes or our slightly controversial food opinions. It was very entertaining to listen to everyone's opinions, and how strange some of them seemed. This most definitely brought a laugh to my morning. We then met with Kennedy from the Ticket Office and learned more about what goes on within the department, and what her position consists of. We got to witness their daily, 9:45am meeting which was interesting, especially following night one of Ain't Too Proud. We also got to see firsthand the actions following a customer call, and the staff in this department receive these frequently. Seeing how the ticket office functions and how the different personalities shine was so fun and interesting. Similarly, we got to meet Allie in Guest Services better, and she was super nice and laid back. We learned what her job consisted of, and got to see the concessions area too. The company just keeps growing in my eyes and it is fascinating to see the evolvement of it, as each area or department is very different but equally unique and has much to offer. Following our meetings with the Ticket Office and Guest Services it was time for lunch with not only the marketing, communications, and digital experience departments, but also with some of the cast of Ain't Too Proud. This was such a unique and thrilling experience, and I learned a lot about what the casts' lives are like and how they came to be. This was also a realization that they are normal people with so much passion for the arts. Upon arrival back to the Civic Center, I learned a lot more about what the marketing managers do for the organization and on a daily basis, what the communications department does in forwarding the organization, and digital experience's role in supporting these efforts. This time was very valuable to me as someone who would love to pursue a career in marketing, and learning about each person's individual duties was very insightful. It helped solidify what I think I want in my career, and I can certainly see myself functioning in these different company areas/departments. Day 7 rocked and I am so sad for this program to be coming to an end. 

Emma
Emma

Day 8

Day 8 started with the routine coffee chat where I was able to check in with others and get to know them and their lives a little bit better. We were also able to meet with the Director of Communications, Jonathan, who helped us solidify our ideas for our DMPA project. Our project represents a means of expression for us to showcase our time throughout DMPA. As visibly clear, I chose to create this website to share my experience, all the fun we had, and the things we learned. I would love to help future students who are interested in becoming participants of the program learn all about it and its benefits. Next came the most exciting part of the day which took place at the Des Moines Art Center. I was honored to meet the center's Director of Development, Tiffany Spinner, and hear her story as well as the sincere advice she had to offer. It was truly a blessing to meet her, and to have lunch with her, Shay, and Katiana at the center's restaurant, Tangerine. The food was great and so was the atmosphere. We then toured the Art Center and admired all of the unique sculptures, paintings, and pottery all throughout the building. We talked about what we personally thought about the art, what it made us feel, and how we interpreted the piece. This was very insightful and such an eye-opening experience as art is so subjective and everyone sees a different story within. After the wonderful time we had at the Art Center, it was time to head back to DMPA and work on our projects, which was this website for me. I wanted to make sure I included all of our exciting adventures in photo form, and these can be seen under the images tab. I knew I wanted to share a little bit about myself so other students can learn a little about me and see that they too can be a part of this amazing program. I also wanted to share about each of my days, so future possible participants will have lots of information about what the program consists of. Most importantly, I knew I wanted to highlight what this program has really taught me and the main pieces of information I have learned because of it. What I learned can be seen on the bottom of this page. My time with the organization has been nothing short of fulfilling and I am so thankful to have been lucky enough to be part of it.

Emma
Emma

About

Emma Webb - MSLP Participant 

I am a student at Grand View University here in Des Moines, IA and I will be entering my third and final year of college. Despite living close to the university, I live on campus to be more involved in my school. I am a member of Diversity Alliance Club and will be Co-President of our Viking Volunteers Club come the 23-24 academic year. ‚ÄčThis program stood out to me for so many reasons. Before seeing the listing for this program on Indeed, I had not heard of a company creating and hosting such an experience, let alone, an experience specifically for people of color. Immediately I was intrigued, and knew I had to apply. Seeing that the company who posted the listing was Des Moines Performing Arts only further encouraged me to apply. The combination of the arts and business stood out to me, as I would love to work for a similar organization in my future. The feeling of working for a meaningful non-profit organization would bring pride, fulfillment, and purpose to my job. Completing the program with the company has brought me all of these feelings and more. The program presented so many learning opportunities and advantageous sessions and meetings that will benefit me forever. I am beyond grateful to have been chosen for such an educational and gratifying adventure. 

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