This week’s Spotlight features CFAR Manager Erin Konkle. Erin brings over 10 years of experience in higher education and community organizations. Her research, practice, and teaching are rooted in assets-based organizational development methods, including Appreciative Inquiry, to drive sustainable strategies for change.

How long have you been with CFAR?
1.5 years

What do you enjoy most about your role?
It’s different every single day. The team and clients change along with the challenges and opportunities. It’s fun and rewarding to dig into a challenging situation with CFAR colleagues and our clients and help them reach a good resolution or next step.

What are three words you would use to describe CFAR?
Undaunted, optimistic team 

What has been your favorite memory at CFAR? This is more than one thing, but I will say food! Afternoon snacks in the office to catch up with colleagues, dinner at the airport with a team waiting for rescheduled flights, running between meetings with a colleague for a mid-day snack, and early breakfast before an All Staff Offsite meeting. I find these are times to really connect with colleagues in different ways, and they make me a better teammate.

In five words or less, what advice would you give others in your profession?
We don’t know everything; stay curious (More than five!)

What is your current favorite book or podcast?
I recently listened to a podcast called “Dolly Parton’s America.” I loved that it was an interesting crash course into Dolly Parton, but more so about culture, creativity, and conflict.

If you could gain a new skill in 10 minutes, what would it be?
Surfing. I’m going to surf camp this summer and imagine I’ll need more than 10 minutes.


What are your top three publications that you read every morning?
The Chronicle of Higher Ed, the New York Times, and academic Twitter. There is a lot of gatekeeping in academic publishing, and I find that I can learn more about emerging research that might not have hit mainstream journals on Twitter.

How do you define success?
It changes all the time. I try not to project out what will constitute “success” and stay attentive now. What I thought success was six months or six years ago probably isn’t relevant anymore. I think about our project work the same way. I make a project plan with clients, but I always know that as we learn together, “successful” outcomes will change, and I try to stay open to that and adjust as we go. I approach my life and career in the same way. 

What inspires you?
When I was still teaching, I had a student write me a letter once from a Peace Corps placement that said, “I don’t think I’m supposed to say this, but right now, I find my own life inspiring! It is nothing specific that I’m contributing; in fact, I’m not really contributing, which has taught me to just be in and with the world around me.” I still have the letter and read it often. It reminds me that inspiration can come from anywhere, anyone, if we slow down and look for it. When I need inspiration, I try to find it in regular, everyday things and “to just be in and with the world around me.”