Founding Fellows

Garry Sanders

Garry Sanders

Leadership Fellow

Garry Sanders is a Leadership Fellow with the SAIL Institute and an executive coach serving both individual leaders and teams in all industries, with a focus in higher education. He is Principal of AssistLeadership, LLC, a leadership coaching and consulting firm, and sees his mission as a coach as being a ladder–a steady presence to help clients as they discover their strengths and courage, and to serve them as they transform themselves and their organizations.

He was trained as an executive coach at Georgetown University, and is certified by the International Coaching Federation. Garry is a Leadership Coach for the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, a collaboration between Georgetown University and Arizona State University, and he coaches higher education leaders across the country.

He is a product of the State University of New York, having received his baccalaureate from the University at Buffalo and his Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University at Albany. He is a certified practitioner of The Leadership Circle Profile™ Certification for Individual Leaders and Teams, a 360 degree assessment tool. He is a trained facilitator of the Professional Strengths, Values and Story Survey™ designed to help people understand what is most meaningful and motivating to them in their work lives and how to leverage these strengths for the good of their institutions and teams.

Garry served as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Research Foundation for SUNY, and began his career as a United States Presidential Management Fellow. He has served as a faculty member for the National Council of University Research Administrators’ Executive Leadership Program and focused training for NCURA on leadership style and influence.

Susan Phillips

Susan Phillips

Leadership Fellow

Susan D. Phillips is a Leadership Fellow with the SAIL Institute. She is a professor in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology as well as the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies at the University at Albany. In addition to joining the faculty in 1979, she has also served terms as the Director of the Psychological Services Center, the Director of Doctoral Training for Counseling Psychology, the Chair of the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, Dean of the School of Education, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships (a position that included service as the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences Center). Active in promoting excellence in academic programs and professional practice, she chairs the National Advisory Council for Institutional Quality and Integrity, developing recommendations to the United States Secretary of Education on matters of higher education institutional accreditation and quality assurance. Previously, she led the American Psychological Association Committee on Accreditation – one of the largest accrediting agencies in the nation

Leanne Wirkkula

Leanne Wirkkula

Leadership Fellow

Leanne Wirkkula is also a Leadership Fellow with the SAIL Institute. She is also a creative strategist with expertise is higher ed leadership and institutional performance informed by 28 years of practice in public research universities. At the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, she was named Chief of Staff in 2014 and served as Vice President for Planning, Policy and Compliance through 2018. Prior to that, she spent 23 years at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Academic Affairs, the schools of education and business, and intercollegiate athletics. Leanne remains affiliated with SUNY as a Leadership Fellow with SAIL, where she develops and delivers leadership development programs for higher education professionals, and provides executive coaching services to SUNY leaders.  

 

Leanne’s passion for helping academic leadership teams to steward colleges and universities with greater strategy, creativity and excellence led her to found Black River Road, LLC, a higher education consultancy focused on strategic institutional development and executive coaching for organizational performance and academic excellence. Black River Road also contracts production services for academic conferences and scientific proceedings.

 

Leanne holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development from the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, in addition to a M.A. in Educational Policy and Administration-Higher Education, and a B.A. in Journalism. In her quest to remain a lifelong learner, she recently earned an executive certificate from the THNK School of Creative Leadership in the Netherlands and she is an ICF-certified coach. Leanne’s skill as a visionary organizational strategist coupled with her knowledge of how the academy operates and innovates delivers unique perspective and invaluable insight to higher education and NGO leaders alike.