It All Started in Stockholm…

Sarah and her husband, Mike, at Drottningholm back in 2002

Sarah Staley  currently serves as the Associate Director of Talent Management and Development at Wellesley College, where she leads a team of human resources professionals focused on strategic recruitment and retention, employee and organizational development, and labor and employee relations. Prior to this role, Sarah specialized in organizational development, leadership development, and employee engagement at Harvard University’s Center for Workplace Development. While at Harvard, Sarah also worked at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at the Kennedy School where she managed leadership development programming and action research projects with organizations like the Sierra Club and the Episcopal Church. Before moving into higher education, she was an educator with the TeachforAmerica organization. Sarah received her Ed.M in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her B.A. from Brown University. Sarah holds a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from William James College. She studied with The Swedish Program in Spring 2002.


Apartment Dinner

Many things inspired me to apply to study in Stockholm with the Swedish Program in my junior year at Brown University. In particular, as a Public Policy major, I wanted to study Sweden’s social policies, representation laws, and educational system, while immersing myself in Swedish culture and community. The Swedish Program offered me curriculum precisely aligned with the issues that I wanted to study and explore, and I loved tackling my course work on education, gender, class, and culture with the city of Stockholm right outside my door step.

When I was applying for the Swedish Program, I also applied for and received the Olof Palme Scholarship, and became tremendously inspired by his example of educational and political leadership. Before Olof Palme was the Prime Minister of Sweden, he was Sweden’s Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs. Olof Palme’s social democratic ideology was aimed at large scale political and economic equality, and he believed that the key to social equality was giving power to the people, in the form of education. I too believe that democracy depends on providing an excellent education for all children, and so upon graduation, I joined TeachforAmerica, a national corps of teachers committed to two years of service to under-resourced public schools, and taught social studies for sixth and seventh graders in New Orleans.

Farewell Reception

During the Swedish Program, I also connected with another classmate immersed in the study of education and committed to teaching and learning. Mike and I began dating about a month into the Swedish Program, and stayed connected long distance when he returned to Bowdoin and I to Brown during our senior year. After college, he lived and worked at a school in Connecticut while I taught middle schoolers in Louisiana. After about two years, Mike and I both found ourselves, not coincidentally, in the Boston area, where he got his Masters in Teaching from Lesley University and began what is now a 14 year tenure teaching 8th grade Social Studies in Acton, Massachusetts, and I began a 13 year career in Learning and Development at Harvard University, where I also got my Masters in Educational Policy and Management. We will celebrate our 11 year anniversary in July and our twins, Elizabeth and William will begin 2nd grade in the Acton school district in the Fall. We hope to take them to visit Stockholm sometime in the next few years.

A little over a year ago, I moved to a new position as Associate Director of Talent Management and Development at Wellesley College. I was drawn to Wellesley’s mission to provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world and to the network of alumna who have increased the representation of women leaders in many organizations and fields. The educational mission and passions that were ignited for me on the Swedish Program continue to inspire my work and career. As I now work on an undergraduate campus, I hope that the students we serve find their own educational passions and programs that propel their careers, and I will highly recommend the Swedish Program to them any chance I get.