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ASA Yale Program Director Interview with Professor Moitoso

How is the class experience?

The class experience for the students (and for me) is enlightening.  We are applying and learning important leadership and business concepts that I have learned in my life and in my work, as a teacher and an Executive Director of a non-profit organization.  For instance, I am teaching the students about strategic planning, leadership styles, and management.  What I appreciate about my role as their teacher is that I make sure that I have done all the exercises that I am asking them to do.  We are learning together.

What really engages the students?

I think they’re really engaged by working in groups.  Also, they like the give and take conversation style we have in the classroom.  They want to learn about their strengths and weaknesses. We recently did the Lakota Wheel exercise, which is a way for the students to begin to think about their different leadership styles and to begin to learn that diversity can be good for teamwork.

Do high school students need leadership training at this stage in their lives?

In a perfect or ideal world, everyone would have access to this kind of training.  There are constant messages that youth do not have a voice, that they are not empowered to actually get involved in a meaningful way, and that big issues are something adults take care of as part of their adult responsibilities.  However, students do have a voice and a right to use it to make a change in the world.  We, at Summerfuel, are providing some strategies and skills to make sure they go about using their voice effectively.

What do you think about the students’ experience being on a college campus?

This is what you and this team, as representatives of ASA, really care about, which is giving them practice at being responsible before they head off to college.  Here, they learn how to balance social and academic responsibilities.  It also doesn’t hurt that they are attending one the most prestigious universities in the world.  ASA at Yale is a great place for them to learn leadership tools that I only learned as an adult in my work as Executive Director of a nonprofit.

Tell me something you’ve learned from your students.

I have learned that the ‘high school experience’ is very similar for most students, regardless of where they come from in the world.  Many of them report that high school can be challenging because students are often boxed into categories — ‘jocks’, ‘nerds,’ etc.  All of them find these categories restricting.

Tell me a random fun fact about yourself, Lenny.

Well, I had a mouse sushi last week at a New Haven restaurant.  I think it says a lot about my willingness and openness to trying new things.

How was the mouse sushi?

Mousey, let’s say.  I probably won’t have it again.

Tell me one value a leader must have.

Dedication.  There is nothing more important than being committed to your work or your cause.