By Leigh Critchley
Executive Director, Strategic Education Alliances
The other night I was watching the Golden Globes, one of the few TV shows I watch live and with commercials. I have seen a number of Grand Canyon University commercials over the years, but it was not until that night that it hit me.
I have been fortunate in my career and had a lot of wonderful opportunities, but many of my jobs often felt hard and stressful or – worse – boring. I would not say I fell into these jobs because in some cases I aggressively pursued them; however, I looked at my options through a very narrow lens.
My first job out of school was with a big company – an organization that at the time was known for high pressure and burnout. My friend’s older brother role-played with me to prepare me for my interview so I would portray myself as an aggressive salesperson. Although I was successful in that environment, I was miserable.
In my 30’s and early 40’s, I moved several times in order to advance my management career. I worked everywhere from London to North Sioux City, South Dakota with several other stops along the way. I left behind friends, family, pets and a substantial amount of furniture in order to progress.
By the time I reached my mid-forties, I was less interested in getting ahead and more focused on creating some stability in my life. I was laid off from a computer company during the tech bust early in 2000. I made a decision to take the severance package and moved to Scottsdale with a plan to find a corporate office in Phoenix and never move again.
I attended a University of Phoenix event where Brian Mueller was speaking and approached him directly in search of a job. He referred me to one of his directors and I found myself in a lower management position earning exactly one-quarter of my previous salary. I put a hefty down payment on a house with my severance pay and happily started this next phase of my career.
A lot happened between then and now, but needless to say, it all led me to Grand Canyon University where Brian Mueller is the president and CEO.
Now well into my 50’s, I yearned to be in a role where I felt like I was making a difference. I saw what GCU was doing for the community and I wanted to contribute. My role as executive director, Academic Alliances, overseeing the Canyon Educational Participant (CEP) program, was expanded to include organizations about a year ago. This program provides a number of benefits to organizations that include scholarships and discounts for staff and their spouses, access to professional development and GCU’s online job board, among others. But it is in the final bullet of the agreement, “Other benefits may be available as mutually agreed upon by both parties” that has led me to my purpose.
It is my goal to connect organizations to GCU resources in order to help them fulfill their missions. I have found along the way that these connections are equally beneficial for the GCU departments, staff and students who step in to assist.
I have never had a job this fulfilling.
Grand Canyon University offers educational alliances that help benefit public, private and charter schools, as well as business and organizations. Learn more by visiting our website or contacting us using the Request More Information button at the top of the page.
Leigh Critchley joined Grand Canyon University in May 2009. As executive director in the Strategic Educational Alliances group, Leigh oversees the Canyon Educational Participant (CEP) program that provides opportunities and benefits to organizations and charter schools. During Leigh’s tenure at GCU, she started the Non-Degree Studies Department and launched the dual enrollment program. Leigh also participated in the development of the STEM Scholars program, which received White House recognition for providing underserved high school students with tuition-free college courses that lead to degrees in STEM fields. Before joining GCU, Leigh held director positions at the University of Phoenix and Gateway, and started an international division of a technical training company in London. Leigh earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Toronto and a Master of Education in Adult Education Distance Learning from the University of Phoenix. Leigh has a passion for travel and enjoys hiking both near and far.