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New Director Sets Vision for the Center for Transformational Learning & Leadership

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It’s a new year and a new opportunity for Denise Yost, Ph.D.  Yost recently took the helm of the Center for Transformational Learning & Leadership (CTLL) within the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. Yost replaces former CTLL Director Kim Kidwell, who departed in November for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Yost is a WSU alum who completed her undergraduate degree in 2000 in Wildlife Science.  She returned to WSU in 2014 after completing her Ph.D. in Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maryland in 2010 and working as a scientist in the fields of genetics and physiology. While her academic discipline is in the hard sciences, she has been a student of personal growth and transformation since 2004. She said her training in mindfulness and leadership skills stemmed from her experience being part of dysfunctional teams, both in the private and academic settings.

“It was a personal and professional journey,” Yost said. “I returned to WSU (in 2014) to give back and elevate a community that allowed my development and success,” she said.

Now as the director of CTLL her vision is to strategically grow a thriving center that is meeting the needs of students and teams “who are invested in creating greater personal awareness, integrating avenues of communication, and taking action to manifest what they value.” She and the CTLL team of trained facilitators teach these skills through multiple avenues:

  • Tidal Leadership, a national award-winning, online 16-week course for graduate students, working professionals, and women.
  • Provost’s Leadership Academy, designed for WSU emerging leaders to increase self-awareness, confidence, and values-based leadership.
  • Human Development 205, life skills course for undergraduates that has been shown to increase student retention and progress to degree and is one of the most popular classes on campus.
  • Customized workshops for WSU departments and businesses on specific topics including but not limited to: mindfulness, building consensus, resiliency, navigating conflict, values-based leadership.
  • The Transformational Change Initiative, a multi-component plan for increasing student success at WSU that supports students emotionally, socially, and academically and that produces graduates positioned for life-long success.

CTLL’s team is dedicated to developing and supporting people’s well-being.

While there are other leadership and personal development programs out there, what sets CTLL’s program apart is its integrated approach to learning and practicing skills every day on the job and in day-to-day life. “People are hungry to explore, discern and become proficient in skills that reach beyond their discipline to support living a full life, less dominated by stress and angst and more rich with possibility,” Yost said.

Another distinction is the transformation program participants’ experience from the personal, reflective content and practical, life-management skills that are central to all of CTLL’s offerings. “Many students in our leadership programs have awe-inspiring experiences because they discover for themselves the transformational power that is already present within them,” said Yost.

As more people are seeking well-being, self-care, life and leadership skills, Yost said CTLL will widen its offerings for undergraduate and graduate student classes, internships, international experiences, and facilitated development possibilities for public and private groups. For more information on CTLL or to financially support the work of CTLL, visit


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