Army veteran and award-winning author Shannon Huffman Polson visited campus this week as the latest presenter in the Hesselbein Lecture Series. One of the first women in the US Army to fly Apache helicopters, Polson served and led line companies on three continents during her military career. She is the founder of the Grit Institute, an organization focused on providing whole leadership training with an emphasis on resilience, on the faculty of the Tuck School’s Leadership and Strategic Initiative Executive Education Program at Dartmouth, and has had her writing featured in publications including Business Insider, MarketWatch, Huffington Post, and Forbes.
Addressing an in-person crowd of nearly 100 university community members, as well as others joining remotely, Polson explored the intersection of purpose and passion that she has found to be essential for success in our rapidly changing world. Her presentation entitled, “Deeper than Why: How Connecting to Heart Purpose Changes Our Lives and the World,” drew upon many of the lessons of her 2020 book, The Grit Factor, encouraging listeners to own their past, engage in the present, and look toward the future in their own lives.
The Hesselbein Lecture Series is part of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum at Pitt’s Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership and features proven leaders and thoughtful scholars presenting state-of-the-art ideas focused on today’s key management challenges and opportunities. Named in honor of the late Francis Hesselbein, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, and one of the most highly respected experts in the field of contemporary leadership development, the series has brought presenters including FBI Supervisory Special Agent Vineet Gill, former Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally, and retired US Army General Lloyd J. Austin III to campus in recent years. This week’s event was co-sponsored by the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies, whose director Dr. Michael Kenney led a question-and-answer session with Polson following her presentation.