Professor Sarah Smith Orr, a visiting professor in CMC’s psychology department, has served as the Executive Director of the Kravis Leadership Institute (KLI) since 2011. She has officially announced that on June 1st of this year, she will complete her KLI and CMC chapters, after which she will work closely with social entrepreneurs around the world, including one of the Kravis Prize-winning organizations.
Professor Orr has a life-long commitment and passion for the social sector. She holds an Executive MBA degree from The Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University and now owns her own management and consulting firm, Smith Orr & Associates. She is an expert in the social/nonprofit sector and works closely with public and academic organizations. During the past 10 years, her commitment gradually shifted to work with social entrepreneurs, which enabled her to “go beyond the traditional nonprofit model to the multi-faceted, cross-sector work of individuals who harness resources to lead systemic change.”
She initiated her connection with CMC while working for Henry Kravis and several other founding members of KLI during its’ launch in 1994. She is a founding member of the Board of Advisors of the Kravis Leadership Institute and continues to shape KLI into what it has become today. As an administrative leader at Kravis Leadership Institute, Professor Orr is responsible for the institute’s day-to-day operation management, including the organization of a variety of conferences, programs, staff management, and fund development. Education is a primary focus of her work at KLI, and her one of her greatest accomplishments was directing the strategic partnership with Escuela Nueva, a model educational program based in Bogota Colombia and a 2011 Kravis Prize recipient.
Professor Orr expressed, “I have loved working with the Kravis Leadership Institute. KLI was a means to manifest my love, study, and application of leadership. CMC students are the best! I have loved working with them as both a professor and as a mentor/advisor.”
When asked about her favorite memory at CMC, Professor Orr revealed the sense of pride she felt when CMC was named the champion of the Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U. “It was a vision of mine which began over six years ago. Actively pursuing that dream brought people and resources to bear to eventually receive the designation through Ashoka. It was a proud moment to hear the selection team report that CMC, we, had proved ourselves worthy to be one of 30 colleges and universities across the United States and beyond which are part of Ashoka U,” Orr commented.
Beyond CMC, Professor Orr is involved in many different programs at CGU. She serves as a lecturer for Applied Women’s Studies program and serves as an adjunct professor at the Drucker School where she teaches a course for the Arts Management Academic Program called Leading a Sustainable Community-Based Organization. In addition, she received the “Faculty Member of the Year” award in 2011.
Besides her academic contributions to the Claremont Colleges, Professor Orr has left a legacy with many colleagues as well. “I was always impressed with Sarah’s passion, enthusiasm, and capacity for hard work. Moreover, she was a terrific people-person, and did a wonderful job of engaging students, board members, leadership scholars, and faculty alike,” co-worker Professor Riggio commented.
Professor Riggio and Professor Orr have tackled many project together in the past, and Professor Riggio noted that he miss how well his and Professor Orr’s ideas of leadership aligned. “Whether it was co-organizing and hosting a conference (we did several together), a writing project, creating a program or initiative, or working with the KLI Advisory Board, we were always on the same wavelength about how to get the job done,” Professor Riggio reminisced. “I think I will most miss Sarah’s passion for leadership, and particularly for leadership in the social (nonprofit) sector. She had a deep and broad background working in nonprofit organizations, combined with a knowledge of the academic literature on leadership, and that combination is so hard to find.”
When summarizing her experience at CMC, she expressed her respect for former CMC president, President Gann. She reflects, ” I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with extraordinary advisory board members and two college presidents. Pam Gann, for whom I have deep respect, and I reach back to her first days at CMC as its President. I have also been blessed to work with extraordinary academic colleagues. All in all it has been treasured journey, one which has been enormously gratifying. I will miss the CMC community as it is very dear to me.”
Professor Orr states that as her life-model, she plans to capture her life in chapters. This next chapter will consist of working with global entrepreneurs, returning to Smith Orr & Associates by serving as a management and leadership consultant, and continuing to teach as an adjunct professor at several colleges and universities.