SAIL Institute Fellows

Dr. Giacomo “Jack” Oliva
Leadership Fellow

Giacomo (Jack) Oliva is currently Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, having undertaken this role in July of 2011, after serving as Professor of Music and Endowed Dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 2001 to 2011. Prior to coming to Nebraska, Dr. Oliva served as Professor of Music and Director of the School of Music at the University of Florida from 1992 to 2001, and as Head of the Department of Music at Mississippi State University from 1985 to 1992. Before moving to Mississippi, Dr. Oliva worked for twelve years in the New Jersey Public Schools as a K-12 vocal and instrumental music teacher and as a district-wide music administrator. While teaching in New Jersey, Dr. Oliva also held the position of Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music and Music Education at New York University. He holds the BA cum laude in Music Education and the MA in Applied Music from Montclair State College (now University), the EdD in Music Education and Administration from New York University, and a certificate from the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University. He also holds certifications as a Curriculum Supervisor and Principal from the State of New Jersey.

Oliva’s leadership and service in professional organizations includes serving as President of the International Society for Music Education (2002-2004), as President-Elect of the Mississippi Music Educators Association (1991-1992) and as Chair of the College Music Society’s Committee on International Initiatives (2008-2011).  He recently completed a six-year term as a member of the Executive Committee for the International Federation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI), and has continued to serve as an accreditation reviewer for The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

In addition to his work in education, Dr. Oliva has remained active as a pianist and conductor in both the classical and popular music traditions for the past 45 years. He maintains a special interest in Ragtime and other forms of American popular music, and presents recitals and lectures on piano rags on a regular basis.

Dr. Susan Philips
Leadership Fellow

Susan D. Phillips, Ph.D. is currently Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership as well as of Counseling Psychology at the University at Albany, and Leadership Fellow at the SUNY SAIL Institute.  Previously, she served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at the University at Albany/SUNY, and the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn.  She holds degrees from Stanford University (BA, Human Biology), Teachers College (MA, Psychology), and Columbia University (MPhil and PhD, Counseling Psychology).  She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and a licensed psychologist.  Her work in education, training, and research has been recognized by the State University of New York, the Psychological Association of Northeastern New York, the National School Development Council the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs, and the Society of Counseling Psychology of the American Psychological Association.

Active in promoting excellence in academic programs and professional practice, she is a member and past chair of 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. She has also worked with certification, accreditation, and licensing issues in her leadership of the Joint Designation Committee of the National Register/American Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, and was appointed by the New York State Board of Regents to their policy advisory group, the Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching.

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.

Dr. Leanne Wirkkula
Leadership Fellow

Leanne Wirkkula is 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.

Dr. Kirk Young
Leadership Fellow

Kirk Young is Vice President of Enrollment Management and Institutional Advancement at Jamestown Community College, a position he has held since 2014. Prior to joining JCC, Kirk worked for ten years at Utah Valley University, a large regional university in Utah. Throughout his years working in higher education, he has worked in enrollment and marketing, as well as serving for several years as the director of the Center for the Advancement of Leadership at UVU. Prior to his career in higher education, Kirk worked in sales and management in private industry where much of his work focused on employee development and engagement.

Kirk holds a BA in psychology from Utah Valley University, an MS in sociology from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in leadership studies from Gonzaga University. His master’s studies focused on the social impacts of large-scale mega events, particularly the 2002 Winter Olympics. His doctoral studies focused on the 360-degree assessment as a leadership development tool. His other areas of expertise include transformational leadership, appreciative inquiry, servant-leadership, leadership and creativity, and strengths-based leadership. Kirk is a certified strengths coach with the Gallup organization, and spends some of his time consulting with individuals and teams on strengths-based performance and leadership solutions.

Kirk served as one of a team of four to develop and implement a 360 assessment tool for the Utah Valley Senior Executive Leadership Forum (UVSELF), an annual leadership development program at the university. In this role, he was instrumental in the development of curricula as well as the production of the annual retreat and monthly programming for the program.

Kirk is the founder of 221b Performance Solutions, a leadership and organizational development firm that works closely with organizations across the country to assess performance and design solutions for a variety of challenges. In this capacity, Kirk is responsible for helping individuals, teams, and organizations identify and achieve their potential.