World’s top Organization Development leaders to speak at Benedictine University

October 8, 2013

Lisle, Illinois ~ Four years ago, in the throes of the economic recession, the canned food manufacturer Del Monte Foods reported a 14 percent increase in profits after taking a new approach to its market drivers, use of data and realignment and positioning of systems and processes.

Identifying, planning and implementing this kind of strategic and comprehensive change is what students in Benedictine University’s Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior and Ph.D. in Organization Development (OD) programs learn in order to increase an organization’s effectiveness and viability.

PETER2Yaeger worleypic David Cooperrider Photo wwb3 photo

Sorensen                        Yaeger                 Worley             Cooperrider   Burke

Benedictine University’s OD programs are recognized locally, nationally and internationally as a leader in providing education toward managing the human side of enterprise, which includes global interdependence, workforce diversity and the management of change – the hallmarks of excellent managers and leading-edge companies.

They have also received more than 100 professional awards and special recognitions nationally and internationally, and boast one of the largest alumni networks involving executive leadership at major organizations around the world.

Graduates work in some of the largest Chicago-based global organizations such as Abbott Laboratories, Boeing Co., Kraft Food Groups Inc., Motorola, McDonald’s Corp., and other Fortune 500 organizations such as Texas Instruments, General Electric Co., and General Motors Co.

The internationally acclaimed programs are overseen by Peter Sorensen, Ph.D., a leader in the field and an integral founder in the development of one of the country’s first master’s programs in OD. He, along with Therese Yaeger, Ph.D., another internationally recognized name in the field who is acknowledged as a leader in corporate organization dynamics, have put Benedictine on the map in the OD world.

Students learn from the foremost thinkers and practitioners in the industry and through advanced experiential learning classes, internships and special lecture series that convey some of the most current research and trends in the field.

In November, Sorensen and Yaeger will host a lecture series comprised of the world’s top organizational change leaders in recognition of the more than 50 years the program has existed. Renowned authors, practitioners, faculty members and thinkers in the transformational field of OD will gather for a two-day conference for a slate of panel discussions providing insight on new trends and the future of the industry.

This special two-day event will feature an abundance of top speakers. The event will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 3 on the second floor of the Krasa Student Center on Benedictine’s main campus (30 miles west of Chicago).

Speakers include David Cooperrider, Ph.D., the Fairmount Minerals Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and founder of the revolutionary theory on Appreciative Inquiry, an approach that examines the positive attributes of organizations in order to solve problems.

He has served as an advisor to former President Bill Clinton and Nobel laureates the Dalai Lama and President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica.

Also scheduled to speak is Christopher G. Worley, Ph.D., a senior research scientist with the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and a professor of organizational theory and management at Pepperdine University. Worley is the author of some of the industry’s most referenced and sought-after works including “Built to Change: How to Achieve Sustained Organizational Effectiveness,” and the recently published “Management Reset: Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness.”

W. Warner Burke, Ph.D., the Edward Lee Thorndike Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, will also speak. He is associate editor of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, and is also a fellow of the Academy of Management, the American Psychological Society, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and past editor of both Organizational Dynamics and The Academy of Management Executive. He is the author, coauthor and coeditor of 14 books, including “Organizational Development: A Process of Learning,” and has received numerous awards including the “Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award” from the Academy of Management and the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Organizational Development Network.

Other speakers include:

  • Philip Anderson, Ph.D., principal consultant and owner of BKD Consulting LLC, and an adjunct professor at Benedictine University.
  • Richard Axelrod, co-founder of the Axelrod Group Inc., a faculty member in the professional program in Organization Development at Columbia University and guest lecturer at Benedictine University.
  • Emily Axelrod, co-founder and principal of the Axelrod Group Inc.
  • Allan Church, Ph.D., vice president of organization development global groups, functions and corporate, and executive assessment and development at PepsiCo.
  • Christopher Fernandez, Ph.D., director of organizational effectiveness, learning and change at Magnetrol International.
  • Tim Goodly, Ph.D., senior vice president of human resources for CNN Worldwide, Turner Broadcasting System Inc.
  • Bruce Mabee, managing partner at Milestone Partners LLC.
  • Matt Minahan, Ed.D., president of MM & Associates.
  • Jennifer Smith, manager of human resources process improvement at Molex.
  • Dalitsu Sulamoyo, Ph.D., the president and CEO of the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, a membership organization of 40 nonprofits and public entities that serve communities and economically challenged citizens in Illinois.
  • Janine Waclawski, Ph.D., vice president of human resources for PepsiCo’s commercial and corporate functions.
  • Richard W. Woodman, Ph.D., the Lawrence Fouraker Professor of Management at Texas A&M University.

Tickets for the two-day event are $100 per person, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday and a continental breakfast on Sunday. Registration is required and space is limited. To buy tickets and register, visit (The event is free for program alumni and some professional organization members.)


Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2000-2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.

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