Leadership Pipeline: Darcy Johnson

Continuing the Leadership Pipeline series. The eight participants that make up this year’s class will share their experiences about participating in RMASFAA’s professional development program.


What is your current position and how long have you worked in financial aid?

I am currently the Student Loan Coordinator at Emporia State University in Kansas. I’ve been here 5.5 years.

Who is your Leadership Pipeline mentor and describe your relationship with them.

My mentor is Peg Mason from Colorado School of Mines.

Picture this: I’m on the elevator in the Holiday Inn in Rapid City, SD heading down to attend my first Leadership Pipeline event. I say to a random stranger in the elevator, “I have that exact same shirt at home!” Then I look at her nametag and realize that it was Peg! We knew we were a perfect match from that point forward.

Peg is a great listener and gives wonderful advice when we have our monthly calls. In addition to business, we always take a few moments to discuss her grandchildren and my cat.

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

A colleague had completed the program a few years ago and I witnessed how it benefited him and was hoping for that same opportunity.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?

I am a Red on the PACE Palette, and I should sit next to Yellows in a staff meeting to temper my potential outbursts. Also, since returning from RMASFAA in October, I’ve done my best to adopt a Zero Inbox philosophy. I feel that it has helped me become more efficient and less stressed by my emails. (Full disclosure: there’s been at least two emails left there at all times).

What is it that you are hoping to come away with at the end of the program? 

“REDs tend to be more concerned about what’s happening right now than in the future.” Throughout the work we’ve done so far, I’ve self-examined how much involvement I can volunteer to our state and regional associations at this time, brainstormed with Peg ways to improve my communication, and learned tips and tricks (and even shared some) on being more efficient in the workplace. I know that the next six months will continue to provide many more learning opportunities that I’m going to continue to absorb.

Why would you recommend the Leadership Pipeline program to others?

None of us will ever know it all. Why not take the opportunity to learn from peers and leaders in the industry? From my own experiences, I feel that anyone who completes this program will learn a great deal about themselves, make lifelong friends with many financial aid peeps (and let’s face it, FAAs are the most fun!), and grow as an employee and a leader. Take the plunge!

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