When Lariel Turner heard about the Justified Anger Leadership Institute, she jumped at the opportunity to be involved. She found the program’s focus on the intersection of leadership and identity exciting and knew it would help her further develop her own leadership style and philosophy. Learning alongside other emerging black leaders in Madison only added to the appeal.

The nine-month journey did not disappoint.

“I have learned so many valuable lessons as a participant in the Justified Anger Leadership Institute,” says Turner. “This program has allowed me to reflect on my mission and through each session, I have truly found my center.”

By working collaboratively with other participants, learning key leadership techniques and strategies, as well as how to manage challenges leaders of color often face, Turner feels more equipped to challenge inequity in productive and meaningful ways. She also has a better understanding of what true leadership looks like and how to embrace her own leadership skills to affect change.

“I have learned to value who I am as a leader and how my identities shape my perspective,” she says.

For her Community Project, Turner served as co-chair for the 2019 Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU) Student Diversity Conference, held at Edgewood College. Through this project, Turner helped bring together undergraduate students from eight different institutions to center diversity and inclusion. The project allowed her to take on a significant leadership role for a state-wide event designed to make higher education accessible to underrepresented students. Turner is passionate about this movement and believes she is better equipped to continue this work following this experience.

“I truly believe that I am more prepared to advocate for students and their experiences,” says Turner. “My goal is to coordinate diversity-centered leadership development programs within a college athletic department.”

Turner will follow up her education through the Justified Anger Leadership Institute as a student in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Program at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The work she plans to accomplish will empower student athletes on and off the field.

“Not only do I plan to help student-athletes unpack their own identities, but also [understand] how identity is interwoven into societal structures,” explains Turner. “Ultimately, I want to encourage student-athletes to think critically about the world around them.”

When asked what she would say to potential Justified Anger Leadership Institute participants, Turner says she would encourage other emerging black leaders to become involved, citing the Institute’s challenging coursework and supportive environment.

“This program has given me so much and I valued the opportunity to connect with an amazing group of leaders. I was challenged and encouraged to grow,” she explains. “No matter the situation, I was sure that I had a soft place to land. I am not the same person who entered the program and the relationships I gained are invaluable. The Justified Anger Leadership Institute has prepared me to both further my education and career, and I am extremely grateful.”

This article was authored and edited by Lisa Adams with interview participation by Lariel Turner.