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Global Columbus: Cheryl Warner

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Cheryl Warner

Place of birth: Chicago

Date of birth: Feb. 15, 1960

Titles: Director of the mental health counseling program, associate professor of psychology and interim head of the division of science at IUPUC

Duties include: Teaching classes in the graduate program, various administrative responsibilities such as implementing procedures to help improve and sustain the program

Education: Bachelor’s in business administration from DePaul; master’s in education and community counseling and doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Georgia. Licensed psychologist in South Carolina, where I had a private practice

Family: Daughter, 15; son, 16

Moved to Columbus in: August

Community involvement: Joined the new member class of the Columbus Service League

Hobbies: I travel, I do a lot of reading (mystery novels, especially those from Jonathan Kellerman), because mystery novels tend to be puzzles, so they’re intriguing. I have two mixed-breed dogs which I take for walks. I also like live art, such as plays or musicals or music, and over the Christmas break I went to see my first hockey game, which was exciting.

What was your first job?

In high school, I worked at the Gap on Michigan Avenue.

What were the primary lessons you learned from that job?

Responsibility. I grew up in a hardworking family, but it’s different to actually be on a schedule; have to have the sense of accountability from people outside of your family. It also helped me understand that no matter what you pursue, you will have to learn to get along with co-workers, share space and be able to communicate effectively. It was also a lesson in balance, because I was still going to school at the time.

What do you like best about

your job?

I love my field, counseling, psychology. As an educator, I think we have a really important role because we’re teaching the next generation of professionals. It’s hard enough to feel isolated or depressed and to need help, but it’s even harder to want to seek help and not be able to find it. I also like that this position gives me the opportunity to start a new counseling program, to nurture it and to move it along. That’s very attractive to me. These types of opportunities are very limited. It also allows me to combine my interest in psychology and education with my entrepreneurial background.

What are the biggest leadership lessons you’ve learned?

I believe in the importance of others and viewing success more from the perspective of the community than the individual. Leaders are only as good as their followers. You really need a community of folks to make something successful. Our program, for example, is part of the psychology department, which is part of the division of science, which is part of the IU system. It’s difficult to ignore that.

Also, you really have to work on having good forms and open lines of communication. Ask questions, be willing to listen. That lesson was made clear to me during a study abroad trip in Tanzania, where we helped village leaders, for example, to determine a path so that they could bring water into the village.

Regardless of your expertise, ultimately you will have to sit down and talk with people to figure out how to be useful. We had to sit down with the villagers to figure out what their expectations were of us. Every night after dinner, we would sit on the floor and talk to people — even though they spoke little English and we spoke no Swahili. A lot can be lost in translation, but nonverbal communication is often pretty clear.

What advice do you have for people who are just now entering the business world, graduating from high school or college?

Keep yourself open to new opportunities. My path to Columbus has meandered quite a bit. I used to want to be an accountant and worked for Mobil Oil Co., a food company and the business equipment division of Canon. There were 11 years between finishing my bachelor’s degree and starting my master’s degree. You just never know what’s out there or what will spark your interest.

Because people don’t like change, they often stay on one path they’ve chosen a long time ago, but they should keep being open to new possibilities and taking different paths as their interests change. The world is changing fast. There are branches of psychology that a few years ago we didn’t even know existed, and it’s like that in a lot of fields.

Leadership Columbus is a twice monthly Q&A with Columbus’ leaders. If you know someone we should talk to, contact Boris Ladwig at 379-5712 or

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