Martha Gilliland
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Martha Gilliland
Key Topics:
  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Business
  • Energy
  • Education
  • Bio Info:
    Martha Gilliland brings 40 years of experience and success as an executive, pioneer, and risk-taker to her dynamic speeches and workshops. She is a master at leading and living for possibilities, in her own life and as she helps others reject either-or solutions, reject mediocrity, and reject the status quo.   She was and remains a pioneer for women, obtaining a Master’s degree in geophysics at age 23 and a Ph.D. in systems ecology and environmental engineering at 28, while raising two children. By 32, she had won a major research award.    At 40, she was named a Fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, providing a three year fellowship for leadership development and opportunity for world travel.   By 55, she was Chancellor of a large public research university overseeing a budget of $300 million.   In 2008, at age 63, she successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.    She regularly takes her grandchildren on river rafting adventures, dinosaur expeditions, and assorted learning trips.

    Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro: Reality and Metaphor; the Journey or the Summit

    Martha shares her story of successfully climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at age 63.   She uses the Mountain as a metaphor for reaching high to go after any type of dream—regardless of how impossible that dream seems at first thought.      The program includes stunning pictures and stories of the climb. It is powerful as a dinner or luncheon speech or a kick off speech for a conference. And in its expanded form, it is a three hour experiential workshop for acknowledging big dreams, identifying, acknowledging and dealing with fears, and enjoying the journey.   Martha’s 10 month journey included five months of indecision, five months of training and 10 days on the mountain.    It was fantastic and changed her in ways unanticipated.   

    Living and Leading in Possibilities

    Did you ever find yourself frustrated in that “space” between what the reality is now and what you see clearly is possible?    Your friends and colleagues are explaining all the reasons why accomplishing the possibility is impossible.    This workshop is about causing those possibilities to emerge into reality.    It is about converting “either-or” barriers to “both-and” possibilities. It is about balancing being and doing.   And, it is about the effective use of vision and goals, conversations and relationships, projects and actions, and data and evidence.     She grounds the tools in theory with great humor. And, she draws on terrific examples from her own experience of succeeding and failing.  

    Public Universities: Turning into the Skid to Enhance Performance and Support

    Just as recovering your car from a skid on an icy road requires a counterintuitive move, recovering state and federal support for public universities requires counterintuitive action.   Martha brings rich stories and examples to help you turn into that skid and make the key moves.   She says: “it starts with telling the truth”. Do we speak with full integrity?     Who are we really serving; who has top priority and in what order--- the state, the students from the state who provides the dollars, other students, the federal research dollars, the faculty, or the administrators?    Is diversity action more than tokenism?    Which programs are actually excellent and which are awful?   Do we accept some accountability for the learning of the students or only for the teaching of them?      Do we actually use the pedagogies that we know work best?    How do we acknowledge and integrate ways of knowing that go beyond classrooms, libraries, books, and homework.    “The truth will set you free”.    Speak the truth and then ask for help.   The skid is reversed with firm grounding in the direction producing both results and money.

    The Energy Imperative: Nexus of Economic Stability, Sustainability, and National Security

    Martha brings 35 years of research and policy analysis to this speech on the nation’s energy imperative.    She places fossil fuel reserves and consumption in perspective and clearly delineates a way forward.    Just how we move forward on the energy front, she says, will determine our economic strength, our ability to have a healthy planet, and our ability to insulate ourselves from terrorism.    Everyone has responsibility---the oil and natural gas companies, the coal industry, the nuclear industry, the emerging solar industry, the government, and each and every individual.     Martha identifies the actions each can take.  

    Success in the Search Process for Dean, Provost, or President of a University

    I’ve learned that certain principles rule during the search process for a university presidency.   The process is fraught with short attention spans, hidden and conflicting agendas, unclear objectives, and ambiguous instructions. Moreover, a potential mismatch between the university and you is a very real possibility.   The people who advance you through the process (usually a faculty committee) are different from the people who make the decision to hire or not (the Board of Regents). The process is tedious, time consuming and full of bureaucratic and intellectual challenge. This speech or workshop focuses on five principles that will carry you through, five principles around which to structure your preparation each step of the way.    

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    Travels From:
  • Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro: Reality and Metaphor
  • Living and Leading in Possibilities
  • Public Universities:Turning into the Skid to Enhance Performance and Support
  • The Energy Imperative: Nexus of Economic Stability, Sustainability, and National Security
  • Living and Leading Spiritually: What Does it Mean for You?
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