Melinda Klonsky, Ph.D., Department Chair

For Melinda Klonsky, being introduced to the Organization Development (OD) field from her neighbor was serendipitous. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in psychology, she still wasn’t sure what her next move would be in the field of psychology. However, she was intrigued by her neighbor’s OD textbooks. She went on to pursue certification in OD from the National Training Lab in Applied Behavior Science.

Klonsky uses that OD certification and her Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University to focus on systems-oriented work—looking at how entire organizations function optimally (ex. adaptive leadership, consultations, change management)—to help leaders evaluate whether they’re going in the right direction. As an OD consultant, she has used psychological principles and an understanding of people dynamics and organizational dynamics to help improve organizations in local, community, and national nonprofits across the U.S.

OD consultants focus on collaborating with clients. As the process experts, they bring insight about ineffective practices or policies that may be so embedded in the organizational culture that management and employees are oftentimes unaware of their impacts. According to Klonsky, OD is “utilized like a mirror to help businesses see what’s going on from an outsider’s perspective.”

In one particular project, her “mirror” was used to point out poor communication between employees and management, the latter of which considered themselves to have an open door policy. Management realized from Klonsky’s report back about one-on-one talks with employees that they did not always feel comfortable giving feedback to leadership. In turn, management significantly improved the lines of communication.

In previous work positions, she has taught in the M.A. Organizational Leadership program at Colorado State University-Global Campus and in the Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Program at Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio. While teaching at the latter organization, she decided to advance her own knowledge in leadership education by earning a Leadership Educator certificate from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

The mission of TCSPP is what led Klonsky to transition from a former adjunct professor to the current department chair and associate professor of the Business Psychology & Organizational Leadership Department. “Effective leaders create an environment where people can grow and thrive,” she says. “Today’s leaders understand that the mission sparks the passion for leaders and employees to collaborate to achieve the best possible outcome. That’s what I like about The Chicago School; the values of diversity, innovation, and community are what I work to impart to my students.”