Elizabeth Kutza (1945-2006), KNFP-01 Director, Institute on Aging, Portland State University.
This article was originally published in the February 2003 issue of the KFLA Newsletter.
Quick Fact: Author of The Benefits of Old Age: Social Welfare Policy for the Elderly (University of Chicago Press, 1981), and editor of Diversity in Aging: Challenges Facing Planners and Policymakers in the 1990's.
How have you, though your leadership, made a difference in one of your communities?
Often the connection of community to academia is a remote one. Sometimes, this "town & gown" remoteness breeds indifference, misunderstanding, or even hostility. From the time I assumed my academic leadership position as director of the Institute on Aging at Portland State University, I have worked to provide substantive expertise and to apply sound analytic thinking to issues of aging in my community. As a result, I've served on strategic planning bodies that looked at needs and services for older persons both at the state and county levels. I've been an expert witness in age discrimination cases. In addition, I've not only testified before the state legislature but wrote a paper that detailed the history and operation of our state's model long-term care system. State officials now use that document to explain the system to the many visitors from around the nation and across the world who want to learn from Oregon's experiences. I think that leadership in the community can come about by sharing academic expertise with the policy makers and program administrators facing difficult, practical issues.
How do you practice good self-care?
I practice good self care by: (a) trying to leave problems at the office when I go home; (b) keeping physically fit through exercise and sports; (c) getting regular massages to iron out the kinks of tense muscles; (d) following recommended practices for time management and task completion; and (e) knowing when to say "no" to new assignments.
How do you measure success?
Success for me is measured by the affection accorded me by the colleagues with whom I work regularly and by the respect accorded me by professional colleagues and community contacts with whom I interact less frequently.
If you had to give an aspiring leader one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be quiet and listen before you speak.
How are you different or what do you do differently as a result of your experience as a Kellogg Fellow? Why?
Being a Kellogg National Fellow expanded my world. When selected, I was a junior professor with a very parochial professional orientation. The fellowship experience drew me into the national and international arena of affairs. I still remember and take lessons from the visits our class had with unemployed union workers in Detroit, with the rural outreach health workers in Tuskegee Alabama, and with the urban slum dwellers of Bogota, Colombia. While Americans don't think of themselves as living in a "class-based" society, our socioeconomic status determines the neighborhoods in which we live and the people with whom we interact. The fellowship exposed me to people I would never have met and places I would never have seen.
Can leadership be invisible? How and why have you practiced invisible leadership?
Leadership can be invisible if it involves modeling behavior. Within my organization, I place a high value on mutual respect, especially in relationship between those higher in the organization, e.g., faculty, and those lower, e.g., secretaries, research assistants, and students. When I treat everyone with respect, I provide "invisible" leadership about how I expect relationships to be carried out and the tone I want to set for the organization.