Spotlight on Our New Director of Digital Learning

One of my mentors once told me that the best way to build a team is to surround yourself with people that bring to the table strengths that balance your own weaknesses. In other words, embrace hiring people that are strong and talented in areas that you are not. I am happy to say that I have taken this advice seriously. I recently demonstrated my belief in this philosophy by hiring Lorna Gonzalez, Ph.D. as Director of Digital Learning. Those of you that have worked with Lorna already know, she is organized, patient, and tremendously focused on student outcomes. You also likely know that she is an expert and reflective educator with a deep knowledge of pedagogy. What you may not know is that she is also accomplished scholar and technologist. During her time as Assistant Director for Innovation & Faculty Development, she reminded me of the power of intentional programming focused on outcomes and she taught me how to be organized enough to accomplish these goals. Our campus is lucky to have Dr. Gonzalez transition into this new role. In this position, she will lead TLi and manage the small but mighty team focused on cultivating a space and professional home for learning, literacy, innovation, and productive play as we transition to this next phase at CSUCI.

Jill Leafstedt, Ph.D.
Interim Dean of Extended University and AVP for Digital Learning

The Digital Learning/Teaching and Learning Innovations team is thrilled to continue our efforts under Lorna’s guidance. Below is an assortment of comments and thoughts shared by members of TLi and the CI community about her.

Lorna is an empathetic leader who not only brings out the most in everyone she works with but also lights up the room with her positive energy. Her ability to juggle all that life throws at her with grace and dignity is nothing short of inspiring. And don’t dare challenge her with anything involving sugary sweets or a business burrito, because that is a challenge you’ll lose.

Lorna has been an incredible resource since I started working with the TLi team. She is an incredible and empathetic listener who has always been there to offer support and encouragement. She has the wonderful ability of not only observing people’s strengths and contributions but also actively recognizing their efforts. I’m so thrilled she is moving into this leadership position. I know she will lead with care, integrity, and a truly innovative vision.

Just when I thought it would be impossible to continue my journey with TLi, a light at the end of the tunnel shined brighter than ever because Lorna made it possible. Lorna doesn’t only recognize our talents and skills but she celebrates them when we achieve our goals. The empathy Lorna shares among the team has no script because she lends out a hand, an open ear, she’s emotionally connected, and communicates to us that “We’re not alone”. Most bosses that I have worked for in the past become known as just “The Boss”; but not Lorna because her leadership goes beyond expectations. She’s not just “The Boss” but rather, a friend, an ally, and most importantly, a part of the TLi family. Thank you for everything, Lorna.

Working with Lorna makes me better at what I do every day. Her knowledge, thoughtful attention to detail, and work ethic continue to influence the way I think about, organize, and approach my work.

Lorna has a particular gift. She’s got a collection of them, and they make her a born leader. She listens and communicates. She asks questions. Best of all, she operates on the assumption that people are good at their jobs. That alone creates an environment  conducive to real magic, the kind that happens when skillful people have the support to be confident, create and innovate. She leads so gently you don’t know you’re being lead. It’s exciting to think about all the things she’s going to make happen.

I have had the pleasure of working with Lorna in different capacities over the last couple of years and her integrity, commitment, and shared love for data are only a few of the “characteristics” that have endeared her to me. Throughout her time with TLi, she has demonstrated time and again her genuine care for the CI community. I especially appreciate her willingness to collaborate with me in the pursuit of my professional goals by encouraging me to stay true to myself and reminding me that my thoughts and opinions are important. As a leader, she is thoughtful and compassionate in her approach to problem-solving and does not hastily make decisions, particularly when they impact others. I look forward to many more semesters of sharing GIFs, laughs, collaborations, and memories.

Please join us in celebrating Lorna’s transition into this new role at CSU Channel Islands.

2 thoughts on “Spotlight on Our New Director of Digital Learning

  1. Fantastic news, Jill! Congratulations, Lorna! Lorna’s gifts of unmatched intelligence, kindness, and patience are her hallmarks. I have worked with Lorna on several longer term projects and what a joy she is! All of us at CI are very lucky to have her expertise and her grace on our side.

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