Class of 2020: Batten MPP Grad to Continue Mission of Service

Committed to serving communities in crisis, LeAnn Golding (MPP ’20) prepares for her next step.
Committed to serving communities in crisis, LeAnn Golding (MPP ’20) prepares for her next step with the American Red Cross. (Contributed Photo)

When LeAnn Golding (MPP ’20) entered Batten professor Tim Davis’s class last fall, she had already started her hunt for a job—but she still felt uncertain about her next move. For the course, Values-Based Leadership, Davis asked students to complete assessments concerning their personal values. The exercise helped Golding discover what mattered most to her professionally. “I found out that empathy and giving back were huge things for me,” she says. “I realized then that I needed to work for a mission-driven organization.”

Golding returned to her job search with a fresh perspective, and in November, she accepted a position with the American Red Cross that she’ll begin following graduation this spring. Her respect for the organization has deep roots. Growing up in a military family in El Paso, TX, Golding spent much of her childhood taking part in service activities that benefited members of the armed forces and their families, so the Red Cross’s commitment to supporting service members makes it an excellent fit. Golding says she has always been amazed by “the sheer volume” of the organization’s work, citing the amount of blood the Red Cross supplies to the United States (about 40% of the nation’s blood and blood components), their dedication to responding to emergencies, and the training they offer for everyone from healthcare professionals to 13-year-old babysitters—like Golding herself, once upon a time. 

With its focus on providing compassionate care to those in need, the organization’s mission aligns with the values the Batten School helped her cultivate. “I think Batten does a great job of incorporating service throughout basically everything that they do,” she says. “It attracts people who are service-oriented. I'm so much less about the bottom line than I am about creating a collaborative environment where you can do good for others.”

For the first year of the LEAD Rotational Program, a three-year opportunity for recent graduates, Golding will devote herself to one particular facet of Red Cross service—disaster relief. From the organization’s headquarters in Washington, DC, she’ll work with a team to improve disaster management and response processes.

It’s a challenge she says the Batten School has more than prepared her for. This January, through a Batten partnership with the Department of Public Health Sciences, Golding gained vital on-the-ground experience when she traveled to the islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis and worked with their disaster management personnel. “I’m very thankful that Batten provided me that opportunity, because it’s going to directly inform my next position,” she says.

But beyond equipping her with practical skills, Batten has also helped her develop broader approaches and attitudes that will be essential to her success. As a graduate assistant at the Batten School’s Center for Health Policy, she learned to reframe and better contextualize her understanding of healthcare. “It’s not just about going to the hospital or having access to health services,” she says. “If you’re evicted from your home or you’re uninsured, you’re way more likely to go into the ER. The built environment and the community really affect the day-to-day health of an individual.”

Batten’s leadership curriculum, Golding adds, showed her the best ways to navigate change as a leader, as well as how to “ensure that you’re bringing people along with you” when making major policy decisions. Once the LEAD program ends, she hopes to take on an upper-level management position with the Red Cross, where she can make a greater impact on the organization.

On her path to that goal, Golding feels certain that her experiences at Batten will help her excel. “No matter what your policy interest is,” she says, “I think Batten prepares you for—really anything.”