About Us - UO Leadership Academy

Program Facilitators

Sierra Dawson
Sierra Dawson

Sierra Dawson currently serves the University of Oregon as an associate vice provost for leadership & faculty development. She began as faculty in 2003 and is best known for her love of innovative pedagogies. Sierra was a facilitator for the UO LeaderShape program, and has taught a graduate seminar on leadership for many years. Sierra is passionate about creating inclusive environments, and supporting the continual growth of those around her whether they be undergraduate/graduate students, faculty, or administrative leaders. She is excited to be spearheading UO’s first university-wide leadership development program.

Jennifer Espinola

Jennifer Espinola currently serves the University of Oregon as dean of students at the School of Law. Jennifer’s career in higher education spans over 20 years with most focused on leadership education and development. Along with assisting to create the UO Leadership Academy, Jennifer is also helping to design the School of Law’s Frohnmayer Leadership Program. Enhancing the personal and professional success of others is her mission and these new initiatives are exciting efforts to advance those goals.

UO Leadership Academy Participants 2019, 2020, 2021

Looking to connect with one of the program participants? This spreadsheet includes participants from the last three years sortable by cohort year, unit and role on campus. 



The UO Leadership Academy was designed by Program Coordinators Sierra Dawson, Jennifer Espinola, and Chris Esparza. The first cohort met during the 2018-19 academic year, and Dr. Idahlynn Karre was hired to serve as the program facilitator. Dr. Karre utilized curriculum she had developed from working with other university leadership programs. Jennifer Espinola, Sierra Dawson, and Chris Esparza participated in the original cohort of the program, with a plan to take over as facilitators during the 2019-20 academic year.

Together, the trio coordinated and facilitated the 2019-20 and 2020-21 cohorts building upon, modifying, and refining Dr. Karre’s original curriculum to best suit the UO context and the particular moment in time. In September 2021, Chris Esparza departed the UO to serve as the Vice President for Leadership & Culture at Koppett. He left a lasting legacy as a coordinator, developer, and facilitator of the program.

Sierra and Jennifer continue to coordinate and facilitate the program and acknowledge, with deep gratitude, the curricular insights, knowledge, and experiences that Idahlynn and Chris contributed to the program’s formation.