Dr. Tuesday Cooper Directs area of Emphasis in Nonprofit and NGO Leadership

December 01, 2017

Dr. Tuesday Cooper, director of the new Area of Emphasis in Nonprofits and NGOs in the Organizational and Leadership Psychology Department, began her career as a legal services attorney until she tried her hand at teaching. Half-way through her first day, she realized that she was not going to practice law anymore.

“I don’t know what happened, but that experience touched my soul. I was invigorated by working with adult learners,” says Tuesday, who subsequently taught in the undergraduate and graduate programs at Springfield College.

Since then, she earned her EdD in Higher Education Administration and has taught at several colleges in New England. Initially teaching law-related courses, Tuesday soon discovered another passion: leadership and organizational development.

She explains, “What I like about leadership development is that there are many ways to become a good leader, but they all involve knowing your strengths, competencies and weaknesses. Leaders must be secure in who they are and be able to work through challenges. This is the only way to convince others to follow them,” says Tuesday. “When I facilitate leadership development, I focus on self-discovery, which is probably why I feel so connected to William James– this is an important part of the approach in the Leadership Psychology PsyD program here.”

Cooper adds, “If we look at leadership and organizational development together, we are really talking about individuals working together for a common goal.”

She notes that it’s important to educate people in these areas whether they plan to work at for-profit companies or not-for-profit organizations. “Leadership isn’t about who is the most powerful or flashiest because there are different ways to judge who is qualified to be a leader. We need to broaden the description and make leadership more accessible, recognizing that there are different types of leaders.”

In her role at William James, Tuesday hopes to increase awareness about nonprofit and NGO leadership. She says, “Sometimes people don’t think working with nonprofits and NGOs is a viable career option, but I want to show students that this is a career path, particularly when it comes to consulting with leaders of those organizations.”

Next summer, she plans to teach a course on Leading Nonprofits and NGOs that will highlight the unique aspects of working in these areas. Tuesday explains, “These groups tend to work more closely with the community and often start out as grassroots groups, even if they have grown to become large organizations. This class will provide students with a background in how they work and how they can apply their skills and competencies in leadership development to these areas.”

She also is planning to teach a course on Promoting Resilience in Communities after Trauma. Examples of community trauma include a hurricane, a mass shooting, or the death of a young person in a community. “There are different types of traumas that take place and communities need support from people educated in this area to recover from them and create a new normal.”

In a Wiilliam James podcast on this topic, Tuesday discussed the hurricane in Puerto Rico and how people trained in organizational and leadership psychology could be of great value. “Consultants who don’t work for the territory or the federal government could come in with fresh eyes to identify the various options for getting resources to people in need,” she says.

Looking ahead to her first year at William James, Tuesday says, “This is a dynamic program with students and graduates making a big impact in their communities. I am excited to become part of this unique learning environment.”