Dear Organizational Psychology MA Students,

Happy February.

I have been watching the Olympics as much as possible this month. I find the athletes' dedication and perseverance inspiring and awe-inducing. They remind me that focus, hard work, and grit really do sometimes make dreams come true. I have also enjoyed watching and thinking about the interplay of cooperation and competition between and among people and teams from all over the world. The Olympics invite us to be our best selves together. Yet, concurrently, I know when the stakes are high corruption can follow. It is hard to watch so many young talented athletes living out their Olympic dreams without also thinking of Larry Nassar's atrocities. Another atrocity, the Florida school shooting this week, also has me reeling.

I spent many hours the last two weekends in my own children's school, watching my 14 year-old perform in 9-5: The Musical. When my son first announced last September that 9-5 was his school's musical for the year and that he had earned a coveted spot in the ensemble, I was thrilled for him, but a bit puzzled by the choice of show. My son and I assumed 9-5 had been chosen because it has numerous significant female parts and there are often more girls than boys who want to participate in the school musical. Yet, soon thereafter the #metoo movement erupted and the themes of 9-5: The Musical were in perfect concert with what was happening in the world regarding sexual harassment at work. As I watched my son and his peers perform a show set in 1979, I felt disheartened that the plot was still painfully relevant almost 40 years later. At the same time, watching 50 young people sing, dance and act their hearts out in a musical that portrays dismantling sexism was powerful, moving and hopeful. Further, my son related many intense and thoughtful conversations he and his theater friends were having about gender roles, power and privilege over their many months of rehearsals. He reminded me again and again of the power of groups to fight injustice and to shine light into our darkest places.

So this month I have been trying to acknowledge and learn from the atrocities in our midst while also holding on to the joy and promise of all those who work toward justice-- whether the brave gymnasts who spoke out against a predator, or the young athletes giving it their all at the Olympics, or a group of teenagers who love to perform and want to tackle sexism while they're at it. You all are also reminders to our community of hopefulness and joy, in your hard work, dedication, energy and commitment. I am grateful to you.

I hope all of us can enjoy the rest of this short month as much as possible. Spring will be here before we know it.

Warm regards,

Sarah Brazaitis, Ph.D.

Alumni Profiles

Nina Traylor

Nina Traylor is a first generation immigrant by way of Jamaica and Puerto Rico and by way of somewhere in Africa. She is a U.S. Army Captain and graduated from the Organizational Psychology MA program in 2018 through the Eisenhower Leader Development Program (ELDP). ELDP is conducted in collaboration with the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership (BS&L) at the United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point, New York. Before enrollment at Teachers College, she served as a logistics officer in a U.S. Army Special Forces Unit and on two combat deployments.

Currently, Nina is assigned as a Human Resources Officer in the U.S. Corps of Cadets at the USMA, West Point.  Using many of the theories she learned in the Organizational Psychology MA program at Teachers College she analyzes gaps in Army policies, procedures, and doctrine to better deliver administrative functions to 4,600 people and aligns talent and culture with the integration and implementation of a new Army Human Resources system.

Outside of Teachers College, Nina teaches yoga at a small studio near West Point. She is interested in understanding how the yoga way of life can bring about better job satisfaction, deeper organizational commitment, organizational citizenship behavior, and affect managers' goal orientation.

If you'd like to connect with Nina, feel free to do so via LinkedIn.

Mitchell Walton

Mitchell Walton is a 2017 MA Program graduate and now works as a Senior Talent Management Analyst for McKinsey & Company in NYC. Originally from Seattle, WA, Mitchell is an avid Seahawks fan, and is at his happiest with a hot cup of coffee on a cold, cloudy day.

Prior to graduate school at TC, Mitchell worked for a boutique consulting firm specializing in employee engagement survey analytics. This experience helped develop his passion for the field of Org Psych, but left him dreaming about, one day, creating actual change for organizations and their people. He credits his time in the TC's Organizational Psychology program with making that dream a reality.

In his current role, Mitchell focuses on talent management and strategic human resources for McKinsey's technology and digital talent; working on organizational design, workforce planning, performance management, and (bringing things back to his roots) engagement surveys and people analytics. In one of his current projects he is helping the Firm to understand better what motivates and engages technology talent and is excited to implement targeted solutions for attracting, developing, and retaining colleagues in the technology space. Mitchell routinely draws on the skills and knowledge that he gained from the program and regularly uses learning from Human Resource Management, Group Dynamics, Organization Change, and the Understanding Behavioral Research courses all of which influence many areas of his work.

Mitchell enjoys remaining an active member of the Social-Organizational Psychology community at TC, regularly meeting with prospective students through the MA program's virtual open houses, and connecting students to internship opportunities with McKinsey. Since graduating, Mitchell has been using his new-found spare time to catch up on reading, to spend time with friends and family, and to explore his "official" new home here in NYC.

If you'd like to connect with Mitchell, feel free to do so via LinkedIn.

Recommended Readings

We all know global, virtual teams are here to stay. Many of you have been a part of such teams for a long time and if you haven't, you surely will be at some point in your career. Here is an interesting article about the latest trends in collaboration tools for virtual teams:

If, like me, you are hitting a mid-winter slump - wishing for early morning daylight and warm weather, while knowing we have at least six more weeks of the dark and the cold - you might benefit from additional strategies to avoid procrastinating (also, like me). See if you find this piece useful:

Just try not to read it instead of studying!