July 12, 2024

Kimberly Young: Connect-Ed

It’s hard to pin down Kimberly Young.

UMW Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

UMW Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

As executive director of Continuing and Professional Studies, she darts daily among UMW’s three campuses, canvassing for community partners, zipping up connections wherever she can.

She was already revved up when she came to Mary Washington in spring 2017 from the University of Missouri, where she built a similar program from scratch. She set straight to work sweeping herself into the culture of UMW and the greater Fredericksburg area, matching faculty expertise to the region’s professional needs.

In just over two years, she’s established relationships with key organizations like Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, the Central Rappahannock Regional Library and Mary Washington Healthcare, and launched more than a dozen non-credit and single-credit courses.

Thanks to a grant that came through this spring, a new cybersecurity certificate program that targets an underserved area is now up and running. It’s the result of a hugely collaborative effort.

“It was a lot of work,” Young said. “Getting everyone on the same page and willing to work together was a tremendous feat that required shared vision and a commitment to improving our region through education.”

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: When my work makes an impact. I love seeing a faculty member teach an executive class and nailing it, or putting together a program to help a client do business more innovatively.

Q: Most challenging?
A: In order to increase our presence and credibility in regional workforce and professional development, I have to dynamically prioritize daily. That requires a broad base of knowledge, from regional economic development to the latest trends in adult learning.

Q: What question do colleagues most often ask?
A: How they can help. I love that! Faculty and staff call and pitch ideas for classes. We help each other grow and build.

Q: What’s the most interesting course you’ve come across? Is Underwater Basket Weaving really a thing?
A: I’m not opposed to it! We had a collaboration with an art museum in which we applied Visual Thinking Strategy to works of art to help participants sharpen observation and problem-solving skills. They learned about 19th-century artists, as well as how to think deeply and ask questions to become better leaders.

Q: What are the characteristics of an effective leader?
A: Self-awareness, empathy, and the ability to formulate and communicate vision. The lack of self-awareness is a big de-railer. It limits the ability to recognize blind spots and impairs a leader’s ability to be flexible and adaptable.

Q: What item in your office is most special to you?
A: My graduation stole from Duke University. My senior class was the first to allow kente cloth stoles for African American students to wear during graduation. We worked tirelessly to impress upon university administrators the importance of representing both this great accomplishment and our heritage. It reminds me who I am and where I come from, and makes me proud.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I love to cook. I’m passionate about the art of the dinner party and home entertaining. There’s nothing more special to me than creating and sharing a meal with someone or having them do the same for me.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: To whom much is given, much is required.


  1. Mitchell D Young says

    This is my child with whom I’m well pleased!