Hampton University
Hampton University WRHLI Holds Annual Meet The Leaders Lectures Series/Retreat
12/07/2020 - #94

HAMPTON, Va. (December 7, 2020) – The William R. Harvey Leadership Institute (WRHLI) held its annual Meet The Leaders Lecture Series and Advisory Council Retreat on Saturday, October 10, 2020. 

“Hampton University remains THE Standard of Excellence as we continue to provide the best education possible to our students, even during these unprecedented times. The William R. Harvey Leadership Institute Annual Retreat is a great chance for the Leadership Fellows to continue learning dignity, responsibility and the path to becoming great leaders,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.

The day started off with a surprise for the Leadership Fellows, as Hampton Alumnae, Ms. Khalilah Miles ’03, introduced many to the art of meditation and yoga for the first time. She shared her experiences as a student at Hampton University and her path to become a business owner.   

“The Leadership Fellows continue to adjust to our novel normalcy and over the summer I wanted to incorporate a theme of Mind, Body and Spirit for the Fellows this academic year.  Ms. Miles provided them with the necessary tools and techniques to incorporate as they find their time for self-reflection and stretching exercises,” said Dr. Jarris Louis Taylor, Jr., Director of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute.  

Ms. Melanie D. Palmas, a political appointee to the Trump Administration and currently a Special Advisor to the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) served as the keynote speaker.

“Ms. Palmas shared her journey that included trials and tribulations and how her steadfast faith, as a ‘PK’ preacher’s kid, and two instrumental leadership programs directly contributed to her journey working at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., The Penn State University RULE Rural-Urban Leadership Program and the Anne B. Anstine Excellence in Public Service Program. She expressed how proud she was of the Leadership Fellows for joining a prestigious leadership program,” said Dr. Taylor.

Prior to working at HUD, she worked at the White House Office of American Innovation, the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Ms. Palmas’ “Leadership Launch” included three assignments that she shared with the Fellows: (1) Meet the locals; (2) Meet the politicians; and (3) Meet everyone.   

Palmas was an adjunct professor teaching Spanish at The Lincoln University and Harcum College and it was evident by the lively discussions she had with the Leadership Fellows that she misses being in the classroom.  She lived and taught in Korea and has extensive knowledge and experience in the African-Caribbean regions. She is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and earned her master’s degree in Urban Education from Eastern University. 

The afternoon belonged to the WRHLI Advisory Council led by its president, Mr. Ahmaad Edmund and vice president, Ms. Kennedy Peace.  The Institute panel was very helpful especially for the freshmen who have no idea what it is like to walk to class for their 7:00 a.m. class every Monday and Wednesday.  They were able to live vicariously through the panelists and have visions of the Academy Building. There was also a Leadership Mix/Mingle/Find Your Big session and the day was closed out with a game of Leadership Scattergories led by Ms. Camille Birdsong.  


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