About Laura McCoy

Laura McCoy serves as the Assistant Project Manager in the Center for Professional Studies (CPS). She is responsible for managing projects including coordination of resources, tasks, and necessary processes to complete the development and overall implementation of various workforce-training programs. Laura's prior experience is in training and development, and secondary education. She is currently working toward a Master's degree in Human Resource Development at Towson University. Her blog posts will focus on training, and workforce development.


The Towson University Center for Professional Studies is working with the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals to hold the first Mid-Atlantic Leadership Academy for Workforce. The program kicked off at the end of January, and we were very grateful the weather cooperated!  Last month we held a webinar on the topic of Servant and Situational leadership. Our guest speaker was Josh Davies, who has been a key player in the workforce development industry throughout the country, and is the CEO of The Center for Work Ethic Development, based in Denver, Colorado. During the webinar, Josh talked about the attributes he thought made a successful leader. I found his insights really interesting and energizing, and wanted to share them with you.


Here are the tips Josh presented:


1. Be explicit – Don’t use words like “maybe” or “probably.”


2. Raise your expectations – Here he discussed a gas station/convenience store company called QuikTrip. The company has high expectations for employees, and they have met the challenge, giving QuickTrip very high levels of customer satisfaction. Additionally, QuikTrip has become one of the Fortune Magazine 100 best companies to work for.


3. Be authentic – This is a theme that was all discussed by Katty Kay when she delivered a keynote address for the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women and emphasized how important this is, especially for women leaders.


4. Give powerful recognition – When you give recognition make sure you explain what it’s for, why it’s important, and give it quickly.


5. Trade screens for faces – This is definitely one I need to be mindful of! It can be so easy to fire off emails, sometimes we forget the value to take the time to meet in person.




Why Develop Leaders?

The need to develop the next generation of leaders is critical. The JIBS model of leadership, developed by Dr. Alan Clardy, provided a unique way that really helped me to conceptualize the importance of leadership development:

The JIBS model is (c) by Dr. Alan Clardy.  Used by permission.

The JIBS model is (c) by Dr. Alan Clardy. Used by permission.

The model puts leaders into four categories: idiots, bozos, jerks, and stars. If an organization does nothing to develop their leaders, odds are, only about 25% will be stars. Whereas, an organization that invests in developing their workforce, will have a substantial increase in the number of stars. While this is a bit light hearted, it really drives home the fact that we cannot just leave our workforce to “figure it out” on their own.  We must provide them with the opportunity to become a “star.”


2014 Maryland Leadership Academy for Workforce

Here at the Center for Professional Studies, we have worked with many clients to develop leadership programs that meet the needs of their unique workforce. Recently, we have partnered with the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, to establish the 2014 Maryland Leadership Academy for Workforce.


The year-long program will focus on preparing participants to more effectively lead their teams, agencies, and Maryland’s workface industry in the future. Participants will identify their strengths and learn how to engage those strengths in critical leadership areas. Additionally, participants will be trained on Maryland specific issues, complete a capstone project, and be matched with a mentor.


For more information on the 2014 Maryland Leadership Academy for Workforce, please visit this informational page.



In a fast-paced work place, it is not always ideal (or even possible) to have in-person, facilitator-led training sessions. But, that does not mean that there is not new information, or new skills that employees need to be able to do their job more efficiently. Luckily, technology has created several avenues for training in these situations, for example, e-learning courses, virtual classrooms, and streaming video. At the Center for Professional Studies we have been working with clients to develop, film, edit, and distribute training and promotional videos that enhance their employees’ knowledge and skills.


Videos can meet several workplace needs in terms of training. Examples of some of the recent ways we have used videos are to: demonstrate how to do a specific skill (such as use particular website, or fill out a time sheet), introduce a new policy or procedure, showcase work being done in an organization, and depict scenarios (or case studies) for employees to react to and discuss.


CPS Video Team Hard at Work

CPS Video Team Hard at Work


According to Wired Magazine, “By using video communication tools, forward-looking organizations can enhance the employee’s experience by showcasing information from around the organization.” Video provides a lot of flexibility to employers:

  • Video can be used as stand alone or in conjunction with e-learning, or in-person training.
  • Video allows employees who are remote, to receive information in the same way and at the same time as fellow employees.
  • Video is engaging.
  • With the use of smart phones, and tablets, video can be watched virtually anywhere.


There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to developing videos for your organization. As a matter of fact, if you think a video might be what you need, it is probably best to come to the table with an open mind. There are a lot of “out of the box” and engaging techniques that can be used in video, that will help to make your project a success within your organization. For more information on the video production services offered at CPS, please visit our website!



The Towson University Center for Student Diversity and Center for Professional Studies (CPS) partnered to create and deliver a weekend-long Entrepreneurship Boot Camp. The event was held March 14th – 16th at the Towson University Marriot.


Who Attended?

The program was open to all TU students; with preference given to women and students of color. During the application process students were asked to describe their entrepreneurial ambition. All of the attendees arrived at the boot camp with either an idea, or a business they had already started. Their business concepts ranged from henna design, health services, fashion design, and project management services.


What Did They Learn?

Working with Jess Gartner, founder of Allovue, CPS developed a curriculum that included interactive modules and sessions on topics ranging from problem definition to financial projections. Attendees did not spend the weekend passively listening, they hit the ground running doing actual market research, developing budgets, and planning for the future. All the hard work resulted in an 8-minute pitch to investors.  On the final morning of the boot camp, attendees made their pitch based on the work they had done throughout the weekend.


Guest Speakers

In addition to the experience and expertise Jess Gartner brought to the event, attendees learned from several guest speakers. Keynote speaker Kelly Keenan Trumpbour, founder at See Jane Invest, shared with attendees how she entered the world of Entrepreneurship, and how she works to help women entrepreneurs.  Peter Davis, a brand performance expert, energized participants by pushing them to develop a 30-second pitch. Finally, Loleta Robinson, M.D., M.B.A, president and CEO at Sanusek, rounded out the weekend providing her personal entrepreneur insights and experiences.


Wrapping Up

At the end of the weekend, participants received a six month membership to the TowsonGlobal Business Incubator, as a means to say informed about opportunities related to entrepreneurship and stay connected to a network of entrepreneurs.

CPS videographer Mikey Mullens created this video that really captured the outcome and impact of the weekend.  To end, I think this comment from a student evaluation, really sums up the success of the event:

“Overall, I loved the program. I think it’s very valuable to TU students who are serious about starting a business. I appreciated that the students who were selected took it very seriously and tried to soak up as much as possible to get started on their business. I think that setting up a platform for all of us to connect would be great because it would help to know that we can go to others who are on the same path and bounce ideas, frustrations and support from one another. Also, I am very grateful that the TU Incubator has given us 6 months of membership and full access with a mentor. That is extremely valuable and it should help us get much further along as long as we take advantage of it. Thanks again!”



Recently the Center for Professional Studies delivered a two-day Personal Branding workshop for the Workforce Development Center at Hunt Valley to a group of dislocated workers.  The program was designed to help participants re-think how they have been marketing themselves to employers, with a special emphasis on using social media, such as LinkedIn.


What is Personal Branding?
There are a lot of definitions out there for Personal Branding, but at the end of the day, it is all about being who you are – and presenting who you really are to others.  In a Huffington Post article, Adele Gulfo explains why Personal Branding is so important, “…because when you live your Personal Brand, you are being true to yourself; and that comes through when you’re interacting with others — colleagues, other leaders and stakeholders.”


The Personal Branding Workshop
The workshop started with a discussion of how the job search has changed over the past 30-40 years. Trainer Tammy Ditzel, noted that it is important to understand how employment has changed so people can understand why they need to think about things like their personal brand, when their parents may not have needed to.


Participants worked throughout the remainder of the workshop to reflect on themselves, and what they bring to their work.  They developed personal branding statements, and updated various social media sites to ensure the information they were sharing was in line with their personal brand.  At the end of the day two participants expressed how this workshop had completely changed their view of how they should be looking for jobs, and how they should be presenting themselves to potential employers.


Personal Branding is a skill that everyone in the workforce needs to develop, not only those who are on the job hunt.  Effective Personal Brand management may lead to a job with a new company, but it will also show your current employer the value you bring to the table.


Check out this “Personal Branding with Social Media” infographic from HiredMyWay Blog



Click this image to view the entire infographic from HiredMyWay blog




The first step of developing effective training is to perform some type of analysis.  According to Chuck Hodell (ISD From the Ground Up:  A No-Nonsense Approach to Instructional Design) The analysis phase of instructional design is used to answer questions such as:


  1. What is the need?
  2. What is the root cause?
  3. What are the goals of training?
  4. How will the training be delivered?
  5. How will the training be structured and organized?

With the quick pace of business, the analysis phase is often ignored. Organizations will jump right into developing training before they have even identified what the need was, or if training was needed at all. The results are, just as often, poor design, lack of clear objectives and ineffective training outcomes. So a good rule, is plan first, then do.  A simple tool that can be used to quickly gather information for analysis is surveys.


A Recent Project

Towson University Center for Professional Studies worked with the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) to create a survey to gather data which would guide curriculum creation for a Workforce Professionals Leadership Academy.  Using an online survey tool we will distribute the survey to more than 1,000 targeted recipients.  The online survey service instantly tabulates and organizes response data that we used to analyze the needs of Workforce Development Professionals.


Using Surveys Correctly

I know you are probably excited to get started on your first training needs survey, but take caution! The survey will only be as effective as you make it.  A few questions to consider:

  • What types of questions are appropriate?  Should there be open-ended questions or quantifiable questions?
  • Which questions should be included in the survey? Be selective, not all questions can or should make the final cut.
  • Are the questions clear?  Test. Send the survey to three or four people and ask for comments about question clarity and selections for closed-ended questions.
  • How will you introduce the survey to those you need to take it?  Survey participants should understand why they are taking the survey and what the information will be used for.
  • What type of survey is best for your organization?  Online survey tools are typically easy to use and have a lot of great features, but if workers do not have access to a computer, other techniques (telephone interviews, focus groups, and paper surveys) may be appropriate.




Gloria Lawlah, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Aging (MDOA) has made it part of her mission to help older Marylanders become comfortable with computers – from PCs to smart phones.   These technologies keep us connected to family and friends, and they are essential to accessing public and private services needed by seniors. Her drive to make this happen, sooner rather than later, has led to a partnership with Towson University’s Center for Professional Studies (CPS).  The MDOA and CPS are working together to create a curriculum introducing older adults to computers and the internet.


Pilot Program
On September 4, 2013, CPS delivered a pilot Internet Literacy Program at the Baltimore Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc in Baltimore City. Twenty seniors, ranging in age from 65 to 83, attended. The curriculum focused Computer Basics, Email, Accessing the Maryland Access Point Website, online searching, and fraud and security protection.   Stephanie Hutcheson (CPS Curriculum Writer and Trainer) energized participants with her love for technology, and put those nervous to be using the computers at ease with good humor.  Participants practiced on individual laptops provided by CPS. The feedback from the program was outstanding!  One participant summed up the training saying it was “off the hook.”  Many stayed after to ask about future installments and identified groups they thought would benefit from the training.

Moving Forward
With the success of the pilot CPS and the Department of Aging are ready to kick-off the Internet Literacy Program throughout the State!  Starting October 1st CPS will be visiting 20 sites throughout Maryland (from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore), to deliver the program.   We look forward to being a part of Secretary Lawlah’s mission, and continuing our partnership with the MDOA.



Last week I attended a Return on Investment (ROI) workshop by the ROI Institute, hosted by the International Society for Performance Improvement, Potomac Chapter.  Based on my professional background, the lens I used to understand the content and discussions, was training.  As I reflected afterwards, I was left thinking that we, as trainers and developers, really could do a better job demonstrating the value of what we do.  Often times when determining if a training has been a success or not, the only data we draw from is class evaluations, and while evaluations can shed light on trainee reaction and learning, it doesn’t measure success.  I think we can do better.  As trainers, we need to start asking the bigger questions:  Are trainees using the information?  How is this training impacting business?  Has it increased productivity? Decreased re-work? Decreased citizen complaints?


Sometimes the biggest obstacle to answering these questions is being able to identify, from the analysis stage of training development, what is the goal of the training?  It is unlikely, for example, that the goal is simply for trainees to learn a new procedure.  That procedure was not created for the sake of creating a procedure; instead it was created to accomplish a task that works towards a specific goal (increased productivity, decreased errors etc.).  Therefore, the question cannot merely be, did trainees learn the new procedure?  It should be, instead, did trainees implement what they learned and produce some measurable benefit?

Some of the tips Dr. Jack Phillips (ROI Institute) presented were the following:

  • Do not start training development by identifying learning needs, instead, start by identifying the ROI objectives, such as, what are the business needs? Then, build you can begin building your learning objectives.
  • Make your ROI objectives specific and measurable, for example: Decrease accidents by 5% in four months after training has been implemented.
  • Do not wait until the end of a training event to evaluate, you should be evaluating at every stage of the process.




On June 12, 2013 the Center for Professional Studies and Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) celebrated the graduation of 30 MTA employees who successfully completed the Master Trainer Program.  Throughout the fall of 2012 and spring of 2013 the Master Trainer participants attended over 80 hours of instruction, developed and delivered a final presentation, and used their newly developed skills in the workplace.


Graduates spent the day observing a presentation delivered by Don Driskill.  Mr. Driskill has over 25 years of training experience and was able to seamlessly showcase  many of the skills covered during the Master Trainer Program during his presentation.  His innovative and engaging style inspired many of the graduates and prompted ideas they plan to incorporate in their own trainings.


Figure 1:  Donald Driskill

Figure 1: Donald Driskill


At the end of the day family and friends joined the graduates, along with the amazing training and coaching team (Ron Lantz, Betty Caret, Dan Leonard, Ryan Kane, and Fred Demers), former MTA Administrator Ralign Wells, and incoming MTA Administrator Robert Smith for a reception and the awarding of certificates.  The event was definitely a time to celebrate the achievements and hard work of the graduates, as well as reflecting on the importance of having high quality trainers in an organization.


What’s next for the graduates?
Now, graduates will be tasked with applying the skills they have learned, such as the ADDIE model for training development, by training fellow employees at MTA.  They are able to combine their various subject matter expertise with the skills needed to be an effective trainer, making them an incredible asset to their employer.


Figure 2:  MTA Administrator, Robert Smith

Figure 2: MTA Administrator, Robert Smith


The Center for Professional Studies is very proud of the Master Trainer program and the graduates who have completed the program throughout the past three years.  This program exemplifies our commitment to high quality training and we look forward to continuing these courses with the MTA and any other organizations that could benefit from such a unique and valuable program.  Congratulations Master Trainer Class of 2013!


Figure 3 Master Trainer Graduates

Figure 3 Master Trainer Graduates



Laura McCoy serves as the Assistant Project Manager in the Center for Professional Studies (CPS). She is responsible for managing projects including coordination of resources, tasks, and necessary processes to complete the development and overall implementation of various workforce-training programs.  Laura’s prior experience is in training and development, and secondary education.  She is currently working toward a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development at Towson University.