KU Libraries and The Commons announce 2023 Engaged Leaders Series speaker

The University of Kansas Libraries and The Commons will host the 2023 Engaged Leaders Series, a virtual lecture program focused on community engagement and leadership, on Thursday, January 12 at 9 a.m. Beronda L. Montgomery, scholar and author of “Lessons From Plants,” has been selected as the featured speaker and will present a virtual talk titled “Leading by Nature: Lessons from Plants on Leading Well.” A virtual discussion with Beronda and KU community members will follow on February 7 at 10 a.m.

Montgomery is the vice president for academic affairs and the dean of Grinnell College. She is a scholar, writer and science communicator with research interests in plant biochemistry, equitable mentoring and progressive leadership. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Plant Biologists, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the American Academy of Microbiology, she was named one of Cell’s 100 Inspiring Black Scientists in America and won the 2021 Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award and the 2022 Adolph E. Gude, Jr. Award for outstanding service to the science of plant biology for writing her book, “Lessons From Plants.”

“Lessons From Plants,” available online through KU Libraries, explores the transformative and dynamic lives of plants and how humans can learn from them. Montgomery dives into the botanic experience and shows how society can improve by better appreciating not just what plants give us but also how they achieve their own purposes. Her talk will focus on her perspectives on leadership and cultivating a vision of purpose.

“The Commons was created as a way to examine the relationships between natural and cultural systems, and this is exactly what Beronda is doing,” said Emily Ryan, director of The Commons. “We don’t have to only be learning from the Western canon of higher education, but rather there are so many sources of knowledge around us, and it’s a really powerful thing to be able to consider and see those in different ways.”

Co-presented by KU Libraries and The Commons, the Engaged Leaders Speaker Series brings the voices of leading engagement scholars to KU to lead intentional conversations that emphasize open, equitable, divergent and critical thinking posed to guide the future university. Both KU Libraries and The Commons are among places on campus that connect university activity with broader audiences and perspectives. 

“There is so much engaged work being done on the KU campus that we don’t always know about,” said Sarah Goodwin Thiel, faculty & community engagement librarian at KU Libraries. “Bringing in other leaders who are focusing on engagement supports the efforts of our own campus scholars and brings a lot of new information to our people.”

The Engaged Leaders virtual event will take place Thursday, January 12 at 9 a.m. via Zoom. Register online. The lecture will be followed by an informal virtual discussion over Zoom with Montgomery on February 7 at 10 a.m. open to KU students, faculty and staff. Register online. 

For more information about the Engaged Leaders Series, please email Sarah Goodwin Thiel or Emily Ryan