Not all those who wander are lost
-J.R.R. Tolkien


Jason Mockford is the Director of Leadership & Service in the Dean of Students office at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. He is originally from Auburn, California and holds a B.S. in Graphic Communication and an M.A. in Counseling & Guidance, Higher Education, both from California Polytechnic State University.


Jason has been involved in a leadership role with NODA, the Association for Orientation, Transition and Retention in Higher Education as a Transfer Services Network Chair from 2011-2014 and as a member of the Annual Conference Advisory Committee in 2014. For six years he has been responsible for advising Cal Poly’s orientation board, Open House committee, and developing the nationally recognized orientation leader training program. He has served in leadership roles both on the Cal Poly campus and in national organizations. On top of all of these roles he is also a mediator with Creative Mediation in San Luis Obispo and serves on their Program Advisory Board.


He believes leadership is about leveraging social influence to motivate others to action towards a shared vision or common purpose. When asked what he is passionate about he explained that he likes to play where science and art meet.


Lauren Irwin is a Coordinator of Center for Leadership. She is originally from Santa Maria, CA and studied Anthropology and Education Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) before completing her M.A. in Student Affairs Administration at Michigan State University (MSU).


Lauren’s passion for leadership began during her undergraduate experiences as a Resident Assistant, Volunteer Center Fellow, and in a College Honors leadership class at UCLA. Since then, Lauren has worked in residence life, social justice programs, international student involvement, student engagement, and leadership education at UCLA, MSU, and the University of South Carolina. Additionally, Lauren feels strongly about supporting professional development in student affairs and serves as ACPA’s Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals Next Generation Conference Coordinator. Lauren strives to support the development of socially responsible leadership at Cal Poly and plans to pursue her Ph.D. in higher education in the future.


Lauren believes leadership is primarily a process that occurs among people. Leadership begins with self-awareness and the ability to act in congruence with one’s own values and beliefs. With a strong personal foundation, individuals are able to successfully develop meaningful and effective relationships. Ultimately, leadership should support a continuous process of self-discovery, cooperative and collaborative relationships, and positive change. Lauren loves baseball (and is working on seeing a game in every MLB stadium), spending time with friends and family, pop culture, hiking, reading, and female-driven comedy.


It is out choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities
-J.K. Rowling


In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.
-Audre Lorde


Elizabeth Thomas is a Coordinator in the Center for Leadership. She is originally from Austin, TX where she developed a love for tex-mex, karaoke, and water sports. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from DePaul University in 2013. During her undergraduate career, she served as an Orientation Leader and Welcome Week Coordinator. These experiences sparked her interests in mentorship, leadership, and student affairs in general. After graduation, Elizabeth worked in the Chicago real estate business for two years before obtaining her Masters in Higher Education from Loyola University Chicago.


During her time in graduate school, she gained experience in campus activities and residence life, and was introduced to Cal Poly’s campus as a NODA intern for New Student & Transition Programs during the summer of 2016. Elizabeth’s passion for leadership became more prevalent while teaching a course on leadership and service for first year students during the second year of her master’s program.


In her work, Elizabeth strives to integrate social justice and leadership and show how these subjects contribute to the holistic development of students. She believes that leaders are made, not born, and that the most important facet of leadership is cultivating a passion for learning from and with others. In her spare time, she loves to explore the outdoors, hike, kayak, and delve into her creative side through singing and playing guitar. She also values time with family and enjoys spoiling her niece and nephew every chance she gets.


Kelsey Hayes works as a Graduate Assistant at the Center of Leadership. She is originally from the Bay Area and earned her B.S. in Business Administration from Cal Poly in 2010.


For the next several years, she worked with both nonprofit and for-profit businesses before deciding to return to Cal Poly to obtain her M.A. in Counseling & Guidance, Higher Education/Student Affairs.


When she was an undergraduate, Kelsey involved herself with several orientation programs, such as WOW and Open House. She eventually became a co-chair for the Open House committee during her senior year. These experiences shaped her interest in event planning and student affairs and inspired her to return to Cal Poly for the Counseling & Guidance Program.


Kelsey cares deeply about student leadership development and is excited to become an advocate for all students. She believes that leadership starts with understanding one’s own self and strengths before utilizing that to best collaborate with others toward a common goal.


Kelsey understands that leadership requires a great deal of empathy and courage and is largely based on understanding how to support and empower those around you.

When she’s not helping students at Cal Poly, Kelsey loves to run, be outdoors, spend time with friends and family, and explore new local restaurants.


Inspired leadership requires vulnerability: Do we have the courage to show up, be seen, take risks, ask for help, own our mistakes, learn from failure, lean into joy, and can we support the people around us in doing the same?
-Brené Brown


"Failure is another stepping stone to greatness"
-Oprah Winfrey


Isheeta Rahman is a Graduate Assistant for the Center for Leadership. She is originally from San Diego, California and earned her B.A. in Political Science from UC Irvine in 2015. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on a historical comparison of California’s Congresswomen, and presented her findings at the 2015 UROP Conference at UC Irvine. She is currently enrolled in Cal Poly’s Counseling & Guidance in Higher Education/Student Affairs graduate program.


As an undergraduate student, Isheeta worked for Residential Life for three years, as a Community Programmer, Community Assistant, summer Resident Assistant, and a supervisor to a team of summer Resident Assistants. She attended the 2012 PACURH and 2013 NACURH conferences as a Residential Life delegate for UC Irvine. She also worked for three years as a Campus Representative, giving campus tours to visitors. These positions transformed her undergraduate experience, and sparked a love for the holistic development of students in higher education.


Isheeta believes that leadership exists in everyone in beautifully diverse ways, and that we learn to be leaders by living our values with integrity, appreciating ourselves and others, and engaging in personal and community-wide development.


In her free time, Isheeta has a wide array of personal hobbies and interests. She loves to sing and enjoys playing many musical instruments, such as violin, piano, guitar, and ukulele. She loves to exercise, both in and out of the gym. And she loves adventures of all kinds.

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Spring 2017 Events

  • Spring Emerging Leaders 1

    Tuesday, May 2nd, 3 - 5 p.m., UU 219

  • Spring Developing Leaders Series

    Wednesday, May 3rd, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., UU 218

  • Spring Emerging Leaders 1

    Wednesday, May 3rd, 1 – 3 p.m., UU 218

More Events